Heels to Laces Menu

Viewing all items for tag cooking


Best Oils to Cook With and Which to Avoid

Is olive oil or coconut oil better for you? Which oils are safe to cook with and which ones should you avoid? All of the information out there can be confusing. Even though an oil might be deemed healthy, it may not stay healthy when heated.

When you’re cooking at a high heat, you want to use oils that are stable and don’t oxidize or easily turn rancid. When oils undergo oxidation, they react with oxygen to form free radicals and harmful compounds that shouldn’t be consumed. Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are rather resistant to heating, but oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats should be avoided when cooking.oil_and_pan

Best Oil Choices for Cooking:

Coconut Oil

This is one of the best choices for high heat cooking. It is made up of over 90% saturated fatty acids, making it very resistant to heat. This oil is semi-solid at room temperature and it can last for months and years without going rancid.

Coconut oil has powerful health benefits: It is particularly rich in a fatty acid called Lauric Acid, which can improve cholesterol and help kill bacteria and other pathogens. Also, the fats in coconut oil can boost metabolism and increase feelings of fullness as compared to other fats.

When buying, look for virgin coconut oil or raw on the label – they offer better flavor and more health benefits. Smoke point is 350°. Refined coconut oil can be used occasionally for recipes, which require heats over 450°, but make sure it isn’t hydrogenated or treated with hexane.

Clarified Butter (Ghee)

Grass-fed ghee is rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2. It is also rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) — the essential fatty acid found almost exclusively in grass-fed animals, which is now believed to protect against cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes.

Because the milk solids have been removed from ghee, the elements in dairy that many people are sensitive to, have been removed. The removal of the milk solids also allows you to use ghee at a higher temperature -up to 485° F.

Olive Oil

No surprise here, olive oil is a heart-healthy fat that that contains beneficial antioxidants and has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Make sure to choose high quality extra virgin olive oil. It has many more nutrients and antioxidants than the refined oil olives and it tastes much better.

And contrary to many reports, high quality, extra virgin olive oil can be used for high heat cooking as it has a high smoke point (365°- 400°).

Note – there have been many reports lately about unsavory olive oil dealers who have been combining olive oils with cheap vegetable oils. As a result, you might be unknowingly ingesting unhealthy oils. It is very hard to determine if an olive oil is pure. Artisan or locally produced olive oils tend to be your safest bet. Olea olive oils are 100% pure olive oil. They can be found at oleaestates.com.

Avocodo Oil

Avocado is an excellent choice for frying as it has a very high smoke point (475°- 520°). The composition of avocado oil is similar to olive oil. It is primarily monounsaturated, with some saturated and polyunsaturated mixed in. It can be used for many of the same purposes as olive oil. You can cook with it, or use it cold.

Oils to Avoid When Cooking:

Industrial Seed and Vegetable Oils:

These are highly processed, refined products that are much too rich in Omega-6 fatty acids. The world health organization’s (WHO) recommended ratio for omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is about 4:1. However, the average ratio American’s ingest ranges from 10:1 to 25:1! (Look out for a future blog post on Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s).

Based on this overconsumption of Omega 6’s, it is recommended to avoid the following oils altogether, whether cooking with them or simply using them cold.o-5-NEW-USES-FOR-VEGETABLE-OIL-facebook

  • Soybean Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Safflower Oil

Canola Oil

Canola Oil should be avoided as well due to its harsh processing method. To create canola oil, rape seeds (what canola oil is made from) are heated to high temperature so that the oil can be extracted. This oil is then refined, bleached and deodorized Processing the oil under high heat causes it to go rancid, which is why industrial carcinogenic bleaches and deodorizers like hexane are needed. Additionally, about 87% of canola oil is genetically modified.

Fish Oil and Flaxseed Oil:

These are high in omega-3s, but should not be heated because they are sensitive to oxidation.

Nuts and Peanut Oil:

There are many nut oils available and many have amazing flavors, but due to their high level of polyunsaturated fats, it is recommended to avoid them when cooking.

There is one exception. Macadamia nut oil is mostly monounsaturated (like olive oil) and has great properties and is safe for cooking

Happy cooking 🙂

  • Elizabeth Girouard

    Great article Lisa! Thanks for the useful information.

  • Thanks for leaving a comment, please keep it clean. HTML allowed is strong, code and a href.

    Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.


Take Dinner to a New Level!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of cooking with my teenage daughter, Lexi.  She just came home from 2-months in Hawaii where she worked and lived on an organic farm.  Lexi had so much information to share and couldn’t wait to cook dinner for our family.  She cooked with some unique ingredients that I had not used before and made a delicious and healthy meal.  If you are like many cooks and feel like you could use some new recipes and tips – read on…

Our meal was stir-fry vegetables with sticky rice and tofu.  Yes, tofu!  Don’t let it scare you.  It was truly delicious.  Even my two young boys loved it (until I told them what it was)!  Of course, if you choose, you can skip the tofu or use chicken instead.  I have made stir-fry many times and it is often just ‘ho-hum’, but with some new healthy ingredients, we had a super tasty dish that was loaded with vitamins and minerals.

We started with coconut oil to sauté our vegetables.  I knew that this oil had a bad rap because of it high content of saturated fats, but I learned that the fats in coconut oil are Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are healthy fats.  Because of the way these fatty acids are metabolized in the body, they provide unique benefits such as increased energy expenditure, which has shown to increase weight loss.  In addition, it has been shown to improve cholesterol ratios, fight off yeast and fungus in our bodies and improve thyroid function.

We added the basics – carrots, broccoli, kale, mushrooms and red onions – but you could use any vegetables that you like.  These five ingredients together are full of vitamins such as Vitamins A, C, D and K, as well as calcium, copper, potassium and fiber and many others.

We flavored the dish with brown rice miso.  Many of us know miso from the soup that is served in Thai restaurants of which I have never been a fan.  But the small amount that we used added an amazing complex flavor to the dish, as well as more nutrition.  Brown rice miso is made from soybeans and brown rice.  It is high in fiber and complex proteins.  It also has a dense concentration of nutrients and antioxident properties. And, it is high in polyunsaturated fats, which are known to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Coconut milk. This ingredient is filled with benefits.  To name just a few:  High levels of manganese which helps to metabolize glucose, which in turn helps the body’s metabolism work at a better level. It also contains lauric acid, which has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It also contains high amounts of Vitamin C, E & B, as well as phosphorus which can help strengthen bones.

We added raw sunflower seeds, which I originally thought were just for a little crunch, but I discovered that these little seeds pack an amazing punch of nutrition.  One-quarter cup of these little seeds contains over half the daily recommended value of Vitamin E, as well as high amounts of Vitamin B1, manganese, copper, tryptophan, magnesium, selenium, Vitamin B6, phosphorus and folate.

Then we added lemongrass – it is a perennial plant grown is Hawaii and much of Asia. It is know to have anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and antioxidant properties.  The list of its health benefits really makes me wonder why we don’t all eat it every morning. It has been shown to provide relief from all types of pain, aid in digestion, as well as have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic abilities.  It adds a delicious lemon flavor to foods.  If you can’t find it fresh, you can get a jarred or dried version.

We also flavored the dish with fresh cilantro, which is rich in Vitamins A, C & K. It is a good source of folates and many minerals, such as potassium, calcium, manganese, iron and magnesium.

Lastly, tofu!  Its benefits are numerous and too long to list, but include: high in protein, lower risk of cancer, help lower bad cholesterol, alleviate symptoms of menopause and great source of calcium and Vitamin E.

The amounts below are approximates.  Taste as you go!

Vegetable Stir Fry

stir fry photo


Coconut oil (1 – 2 tablespoons)

½ Red Onion finely chopped

1 large head of Broccoli chopped

3 – 4 large Carrots chopped

8oz package of Mushrooms (any kind)

½ bunch of Kale chopped

1 – 2 cups Coconut Milk (you can also use Lite Coconut milk )

1 Tbsp Brown Rice Miso

½ cup Sunflower Seeds

1 tsp jarred Lemongrass

1 Tblp fresh Cilantro diced

½ Tbsp Curry


To prepare:

Heat coconut oil in bottom of pan

Start adding vegetables – Onions first, then broccoli and carrots, then mushrooms, then kale.  Cook until veggies just begin to soften.

Combine Miso and coconut milk and then add to pan.

Add curry, sunflower seeds, lemongrass, cilantro and salt.

Cook for about 5 more minutes.

Sticky Rice:


1 cup of coconut milk
1 tsp of honey

Sprinkle of curry powder

3 cups water

1 tsp Lemongrass

2 cups of sushi rice rinsed till water runs clear

To Prepare:

Add all ingredients except honey and bring to boil, then cover and simmer till water absorbs. Add honey, mix and serve.


1 package firm Tofu drained

So that tofu absorbs flavors better, do the following to force out the water:

Lay down dishtowel with paper towels on top of it, then place single layer of tofu

Cover tofu with more paper towels on top

Lay something heavy on top to aid in release of water. (cookbooks work well)

Let sit for 30 minutes at least

To Prepare: 

Combine and warm up in sauté pan:

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil

1 Tbsp Honey

½ Tbsp Miso

Sprinkle Curry

Sprinkle Lemongrass

Once heated, gently add tofu and stir until coated. Let tofu cook till brown on one side and then gently turn over.  Keep the heat on stovetop high so it browns nicely.  Remember you are not making scrambled eggs!! Be delicate.

Dig in and Enjoy!

  • Thanks for leaving a comment, please keep it clean. HTML allowed is strong, code and a href.

    Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Facebook IconTwitter Icon