Homemade Paleo Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Homemade Paleo Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Erin, our guest blogger over at Food Wise Family, has a healthy cranberry sauce recipe that is sure to be your new holiday favorite!

Whether you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family, or you are just bringing a side dish for the upcoming holiday, homemade cranberry sauce is the way to go. Skip the canned stuff and buy some fresh cranberries instead. This dish is perfect for making the day before and grabbing from the fridge just in time for dinner.

Cut Out the Refined Sugar
I can’t have a turkey dinner without cranberry sauce, but when I started eating paleo I wanted a cranberry sauce that wasn’t full of refined sugar. So, I adapted this recipe from my mom’s that she makes every holiday.

To make this cranberry sauce recipe paleo, I removed all the refined sugar and replaced with real maple syrup.

I chose maple syrup because that’s something we always have in the house; however, you can substitute the maple syrup with honey or coconut sugar. If you use coconut sugar, make sure it completely dissolves before adding the cranberries.

Paleo Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1/2 – 3/4 cup of real maple syrup*
1 small piece (about 1 inch in size) of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 cups of fresh cranberries

Instructions
1. In a large saucepan, combine orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup, and ginger. Simmer for about 5 minutes, while stirring often.
2. Bring to a gentle boil on medium heat and stir in cranberries. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop and the sauce starts to thicken (about 10 minutes).
3. Let cool and place in a storage container. Refrigerate until serving time.

*Recipe Note: Use 1/2 cup of maple syrup for a more tart cranberry sauce, or use 3/4 cup of maple syrup for a sweeter version. Personally, I enjoy a tart cranberry sauce!

Cranberry Sauce steps

I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.

See more of Erin’s recipes on our Butcher Block Co. Blog:

Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice

Super Moist Gluten Free Banana Bread Recipe

Try Our Recipe For Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes

 

Try Our Recipe For Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Try Our Recipe For Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes

I would like to introduce you to our newest guest blogger, Erin Higgs, who is a food blogger at Food Wise Family. She creates wholesome, delicious paleo recipes with a focus on family, and she will be contributing to our blog monthly. When Erin is not in the kitchen or writing, you can find her playing peekaboo with her toddler. We hope you enjoy her first, of many, blog recipes!

The long weekend celebrating Labor Day is almost here. I imagine you probably already have an idea of what meat you’re grilling up for the holiday, whether it is a juicy hamburger or some tasty chicken kabobs, so I’m here to talk about making a side dish.

A side dish should be appetizing, but simple. With only five ingredients and quick prep, easy grilled sweet potatoes fit both of these standards.

Easy Cleanup
One of my favorite parts about grilling is the cleanup, or should I say the absence of cleanup. There is no messing with pots and pans. This sweet potato side dish is entirely cooked in an aluminum foil packet, making cleanup a cinch. I double up the aluminum foil to make sure there is no break in the foil packet while cooking.

Sweet Potatoes Are Amazing
We cook sweet potatoes a lot in our house, and there is no exception when it comes to grilling. This nutrient-rich vegetable is not only versatile when it comes to cooking, but also just absolutely delicious. For this recipe, I leave the skin on the sweet potatoes, but you can certainly peel them before cubing them if you prefer.

Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes Prep
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Grilling Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes, washed and cubed
2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil (melted) or olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

* Other spices to consider are sweet paprika, cinnamon and rosemary.

Instructions
1. Place two large sheets of aluminum foil on top of each other.
2. Position the sweet potatoes in the center of the aluminum foil, while keeping plenty of room to fold the foil up. Bring the sides of the aluminum foil up and lightly fold at the top. (Make sure it’s a light fold because we will be opening this back up in the next step.) Tightly bunch both ends of the foil.
3. Open the foil up at the top. Add oil and spices to the potatoes and gently stir to coat the potatoes. Firmly refold the aluminum foil on the top.
4. Place sweet potato foil packet on a hot grill and close the lid.
5. Cook for 30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft. Remove foil packet from the grill with tongs.
6. Allow sweet potatoes to slightly cool and serve directly from the foil packet.

sweet potatoes cubed

spiced sweet potatoes

I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.

Roasted Cauliflower Rice Recipe

Roasted Cauliflower Rice Recipe

The cauliflower rice craze continues to spread and I love it.  Touted as the new kale, it remains a trendy and healthy veggie often prepared as a substitute for rice in recipes. It has also found its rightful place as an alternative ingredient in many gluten-free recipes and even pizza crust!

I am pretty happy preparing it as an alternative to rice, as I attempt to avoid bad carbs and stick with healthy veggies instead. Like rice, the cauliflower morsels will soak up the flavor of the surrounding seasonings making it very flavorful. There is nothing too fancy about this recipe, but everyone needs a tried and true recipe now and then, and this roasted cauliflower rice can be made just how you like it. Best of all, it is not mushy because instead of it being sautéed in a pan, you roast it in the oven to the desired crispness!

Ingredients

  • 1 bag (16 oz.) – Cauliflower Rice
  • ¼ cup – Garlic Infused Olive Oil or use whatever flavor you like!
  • Fresh Tarragon
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 lemon juiced

Preparation

Preheat to 425 degrees convection roast. For those of you who are true cooking enthusiasts, you may want to make your own cauliflower rice by ricing the florets in your food processor. But if you are like me and looking for the easy route, use the already riced Cauliflower you can find at Costco and other stores.

In mixing bowl, combine cauliflower rice, infused olive oil (Trader Joe’s), salt and pepper. Stir. Spread the mixture on a foiled cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then stir it around a bit. If you like crispy cauliflower rice, continue to roast to desired crispness. Take it out of the oven and add 2T chopped fresh tarragon to the top.  Fresh tarragon is really worth it, so make the extra effort to purchase it. Transfer your roasted cauliflower rice to a serving bowl and add the juice of 1 lemon and stir. Serve.

I like to double the recipe so that I have extra available to add to other goodies I find in my fridge. I will add it to other roasted vegetables, or add some rotisserie chicken to it to create another meal. I even mix it in with my less trendy kale salad!

Kitchen Tips – How To Clean Butcher Block

Kitchen Tips – How To Clean Butcher Block

I have admitted this before…I am actually one of those people who enjoys cleaning!  I find the process to be relaxing and almost cathartic. And for me it is very rewarding because I can usually see a huge difference in a short amount of time – instant gratification so to speak! While most people don’t enjoy it the way I do, I would guess that nearly everyone would admit that after they are done cleaning they feel better, maybe “lighter,” happier, or just plain glad it is over.

Springtime brings with it a new energy. A zestfulness. And for many, the willpower to tackle some household chores that they have been putting off during the winter season. For us at Butcher Block Co., springtime is a good time to remind our customers how to take care of their Butcher Block investment.

So, let’s review some best practices and how to clean butcher block cutting boards, standing blocks, tables or countertops…

Daily Cleaning – Clean butcher block after every use.

  • Scrape – Gently remove any food particles with a scraper or spatula. If you happen to have a varnish surface, remove food particles with a sponge so as not to scratch the surface (remember, you shouldn’t be cutting directly on a varnish finish).
  • Wash – To clean butcher block, wipe the surface with a clean wash cloth dipped in hot water and mild dish soap. Rinse the wash cloth and wipe the butcher block again. (Never submerge your butcher block in water).
  • Dry – Using a paper towel or dish towel, dry the surface of your butcher block thoroughly. Store your cutting boards on edge to dry both sides completely, and to save counter space.

Deodorizing – Keep your butcher block smelling fresh.

  • Neutralize odors before they arise.
  • Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar.
  • From time to time, after you prepare food on your butcher block, clean the butcher block then spray vinegar onto it.
  • Allow it to stand for a least 30 seconds before rinsing and drying.

 Disinfecting – Occasionally disinfect your butcher block, especially after prepping raw meat, fish or poultry.

  • Clean butcher block first following the steps above.
  • It’s necessary to kill germs, not just reduce their count. You’ll need a disinfecting solution that destroys ALL microbes in 10 minutes.
  • Use a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. You can blend your own solution using 35% food-grade hydrogen peroxide by mixing one part with 11 parts of water.
  • Pour the hydrogen peroxide onto the butcher block, spread it around using a clean sponge or cloth and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  • Rinse the solution off of the butcher block surface by wiping with a clean, wet cloth. Then dry the butcher block thoroughly with a paper towel or dish cloth.
  • Follow the steps below to moisturize your butcher block.

Moisturizing – Butcher Block with an oil finish needs to be re-oiled to keep it from drying and cracking.

  • At least once a month (more often if used heavily), oil your butcher block.
  • Use a food-grade mineral oil like John Boos Mystery Oil. Apply the oil with a plastic grocery bag, spreading the oil over all surfaces. Let the oil stand over night to penetrate the wood.
  • The next morning, wipe off any excess oil using a paper towel.
  • Whereas oil penetrates the surface of wood to moisturize it, a good board cream will leave a silky, wax barrier. Seal in the moisture with John Boos Board Cream. Apply the cream over the butcher block like you would apply a moisturizing lotion. Let it sit for a few hours or over night. Wipe off any excess with a paper towel.
  • Note – Butcher Block with a varnish surface does not need to be moisturized with oil or cream.

These helpful tips are applicable any time of year, not just springtime. So remember to clean butcher block to keep it healthy and to protect your investment. All it takes is a little tender loving butcher block care.  For more information, check out our Complete Butcher Block Care and Repair Guide.

Lighten Up with Grilled Salad

Lighten Up with Grilled Salad

This grilled salad is killing me. I want to eat it right now, exactly as Claire has made it. I can’t even come up with words for how perfect this looks, so I’m just going to pass the tongs to Claire now so that you all can join me in drooling. Fire it up, Claire!

Like most people, I love cooking out on the grill. I don’t have a great grill, but I do have a little fire table with a grilling surface, and it does the job just fine for my postage-stamp of a back yard. Right now, my town is experiencing prime grilling weather. It’s summery enough that I’ve been thinking a lot about hamburgers lately, but it’s not so hot yet that I’m sweating through my shirt as soon as I step outside. I’ve been smelling BBQ smells in the neighborhood, and it’s got me primed. I’m pretty excited for this summer’s inaugural meal off the grill, but I think I’d like to keep it on the lighter side. My husband has been a little sick, so I’ve been ladling chicken soup down his throat for the last five days, and it seems a little extreme to go right from broth to burgers. Besides, I really need some roughage in my diet after soup week, if you know what I mean. Anyhoo…

A couple of years ago, my best friend took me out to dinner at this super swanky restaurant for my birthday. There were so many things on the menu we wanted to try, we decided to just order them all and split them, tapas style. We must have tried a dozen different things, but try as I might, I can’t recall a single one of them except the grilled salad. It was a full romaine heart, halved lengthwise and grilled. They topped it with some kind of balsamic and little crunchy things. We were so surprised by the grilled lettuce; it seemed so novel to us! In retrospect, it seems so obvious. I mean, grilled veggies are sort of notorious for being awesome. So are grilled fruits, and grilled everything else, for that matter, which brings me to this week’s recipe.

A grilled salad is the perfect transition into summer fare.

Grilled Salad

The best thing about grilling out is that the food gets so much flavor from the grill, there is barely any prep involved. The flip side of that is, because you’re not doing much to dress it up, the quality of the food you start with will be reflected in the meal you end with, so start with the good stuff. When I got to the store, I already knew I wanted to do a grilled salad, but I believe in letting the groceries direct the meal, so I also got some shrimp and apricots. It’s still a little early for stone fruit, but I caught a whiff of these as I was walking past the display, and they just really called to me.

Grilled Salad

For the salad’s base, simply slice the lettuce lengthwise, drizzle or brush a little olive oil on the sliced side, and place them on the grill. Repeat with the apricots, slicing from top to bottom and removing the pits. With the produce, you’re not trying to cook the food through. You just want to get a light char and imbue it with that good smoky flavor.

Grilled SaladFor the shrimp, skewer them, drizzle them with olive oil, and then give them a good hit of salt and pepper. Don’t put too many shrimp on a single skewer, and don’t crowd them, or they won’t cook evenly. With a high heat cooking source like an open grill, they will cook quickly, so probably no more than 30 seconds per side. You want them just barely opaque.

Grilled Salad

To dress your grilled salad, you can go premade, but I like to pull out my food processor and whip something up. In this case, I’m going with basically an eggless Caesar dressing. A spoonful of Dijon mustard, a generous pour of sherry, a couple glugs of extra virgin olive oil, two or three cloves of garlic, the juice of one lemon, a good heap of Parmesan, a few grinds of pepper, and five anchovy fillets. Whir it all together until it’s smooth, lightly dress the lettuce, and top with your favorite salad fixings. Serve it with a good bottle of chilled white wine, and dig in. This grilled salad is a joyful herald of a season of good eating and I can’t wait to get down to it!

Grilled Salad

What’s Trendy? Low-Carb Veggie Noodles!

What’s Trendy? Low-Carb Veggie Noodles!

Veggie Noodles are the latest trend in the food world, and I’ve got to admit, I kind of love it. I LOVE vegetables, and I’ve been using spaghetti squash as an occasional pasta substitute for years. With the introduction of the spiralizer, I can now make noodles out of zucchini and other squashes, carrots, and just about any other firm veggie! You don’t have to use it as pasta, though. Another great way to use veggie noodles is to simply prepare them as a side dish. Sautéed in a little butter or olive oil with garlic and salt, they make a great addition to any meal. This is one trend I’m happy to jump on board with! Lucky for you, Sarah W. is also a spiralizer fan, and has a spectacular zucchini noodle and meatballs recipe to share with us. This one is particularly friendly if you are on a low-carb diet. Take it away, Sarah!

I have a foodie confession to make: I am not a huge fan of Italian food. Pasta has never been a religious experience for me the way that it seems it should when gauging my social media feeds. (I am fully aware that Italian food consists of more than PASTA, and have indeed eaten my share of other dishes. All are quite good! It’s just not my favorite food genre.) People. Love. Pasta. I am not a finicky eater, but when I go out to eat, I prefer to order something I couldn’t easily make at home, and when I’m cooking at home, my comfort spices include chili powder, thyme, cumin, and hot sauce.

That being said, whenever I picture cooking in the kitchen, it stems from the image of someone’s Italian grandma making sauce and noodles from scratch, stirring a bubbling pot smelling of garlic and love. To me and my fanciful brain, that’s traditional cooking. I just don’t do very much of it myself. So for this week’s blog, I decided to push myself back to basics and see if I could modern it up without being too crazy. The current trend of veggie noodles seemed like a good compromise.

We recently had our neighbors over for dinner, and they are pasta fanatics. I knew I wanted to make something at least Italian-inspired that would also be flexible enough for my current gluten-avoidance. Some Googling led me to this awesome recipe for Lasagna Meatballs, which I adapted and served with a choice of zucchini noodles or traditional pasta in fun shapes. I got a yield of 40 meatballs, which, including sauce and cheese, netted me 1.3 carbs per meatball. Not bad for those counting carbs! Your mileage will vary, depending on the cheeses (ricotta and mozzarella both contain carbs) and sauce you find around you, but this is a pretty delicious recipe that can be easily adapted to different diets by changing the base.

In order to make zucchini (or carrot or let-your-imagination-run-wild other vegetable) noodles, you will need a spiralizer. You can julienne your veggies, but they won’t have the same flexibility and movement that a pasta noodle does. I have a small, basic one and it’s served me well. Its size makes it easy to store since I don’t use it very often. Vegetable noodles are really trendy right now, and it’s easy to see why. They’re not labor-intensive; they can be tailored to go with a variety of dishes; they’re visually appealing and a way to get more color on your plate.

I had never made meatballs before, and these are a little wet, by virtue of the ricotta cheese. I skipped the breadcrumbs/flour usually called for in meatballs, and decided to use some extra Parmesan cheese instead. This was a good idea.

Zucchini Noodles with Lasagna Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey (I used turkey)
  • 1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage (I used sweet)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • parsley, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 cups pasta sauce (I used the lowest carb I could find – 5 carbs per serving)
  • 1-2 roasted red peppers
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 3 zucchinis
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine the sausage, turkey, eggs, ricotta, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic to make your meatballs. Dice or finely chop the roasted red pepper and add to the mixture. I found it was best to have some “rings off” time and combine this by hand. At this point, the meatball mixture is very wet.

Add ¼ cup of your Parmesan cheese. If you still don’t like the consistency, add another ¼ cup.

Form 1-2” meatballs and line them up on a large baking sheet. They can be somewhat close together, as they won’t spread while they bake. Pop in the oven for 25 minutes. Bigger meatballs may take more time. As mentioned above, I got 40 meatballs out of one batch.

Grab a baking dish and start loading your meatballs in. I was able to cram all 40 into a 13” x 9” dish. Cover with sauce. Cover that with mozzarella cheese, finishing up with the remaining Parmesan. Cook this for an additional 30 minutes.

Trendy Veggie Noodles

When you have about 20 minutes left on the bake, use the spiralizer to prep your zucchini noodles. These are fairly simple. Trim the ends of your zucchini. Hold the zucchini firmly in the spiralizer and turn so the blades cut the vegetable. This will produce noodle-shaped ribbons. These can be sautéed in a pan over medium heat for 4-5 minutes in butter. Twenty minutes out is a good time to start boiling water if you’d also like to serve pasta as an option.

Trendy Veggie Noodles

I served these to my pasta-fiend neighbors (while calling them “lasagna meatballs”) and got this reaction: “The meatballs themselves don’t seem like they’d be cheesy, but they’re really cheesy!” They were a hit.

Trendy Veggie Noodles

Have you jumped on the veggie noodle trend? What’s your favorite vegetable to use, and how do you prepare it?

Printer-friendly recipe: Zucchini Noodles with Lasagna Meatballs

Get Healthy With Homemade Stock and Soup

Get Healthy With Homemade Stock and Soup

Happy New Year! Seems like just about everyone I know, myself included, has the post-holiday yuck. Unfortunately, our dear friend Claire Hoenke caught it, too. But the magical thing about Claire is that, rather than wallow in her sickness, she gets motivated to whip up a batch of rich, restorative stock and then make matzah ball soup. Considering my soup skills are on more of a ramen level, this is pretty dang impressive. Claire assures me that it’s actually pretty easy to pull off, and I’m inclined to believe her, so let’s all learn/recuperate together.

Well, it’s 2016, and I’m starting my year off not with a bang, but with a deep, throaty cough. While my coworkers are all resolved this year to really stick to their diets this time and “get healthy,” my only resolution this New Year’s is to actually get healthy and get over this cold as quickly as possible. In the face of a pounding headache and a rumbling chest cold, I wrap up in my warmest pajamas and slippers and head to the kitchen for the best medicine I know: a steaming bowl of soup. I skip the canned stuff in the pantry. Store-bought soup might feel nice enough on a sore throat, but I’m pretty sure real healing only comes from the homemade stuff.

Luckily, stock is actually pretty easy to make. It can be as simple as throwing a whole chicken in a pot of water and just letting it simmer, but I like to introduce a little more depth of flavor into the stock by first roasting the chicken. The nice thing about stock is that you can basically throw anything into the pot. For treating congestion, I recommend hot peppers and ginger, to open the sinuses.

I am going more classic with my get-healthy stock, though, and sticking with the basics. Carrots, garlic, celery, and onions make a nice, all-around stock that you can use to make any kind of soup.

Stock

  • 5 pounds frozen turkey or chicken wings, thawed
  • Chicken giblets
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns

Healthy Stock Soup

(Notice how the juice groove on Claire’s block catches the veggies before they roll off the sides? That dual functionality has never occurred to me!)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken well, and then add the veggies into the bag with the wings and giblets. Add the oil and salt and ground pepper, and then mix them all together to coat. Spread everything in a single layer over two rimmed baking sheets and roast, turning once, for 45 minutes to an hour, until the vegetables are slightly browned and soft and stick to the pan a bit.

Stock Prep 6

Transfer everything from the pans into a large soup pot and add 16 cups of water. Pour about a cup of water into each of the baking pans and scrape up the browned bits. Empty the pans into the soup pot, add bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns, and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hours, until the stock is deep brown and reduced by about 5 cups. Take a nap in the meantime; your body needs to conserve energy.

Healthy Stock Soup

When the stock has reduced, strain it through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a sauce pan, if you’re using it right away, or storage containers, if you’re saving it for later. Throw away the solids. Let it cool completely before covering and storing. After your stock has cooled, the fat will form a layer on the top. This is pure culinary gold. Carefully skim it off and save it for later. As for storing the stock itself, I like to fill an ice cube tray and a gallon freezer bag for the freezer, and an air-tight jar for the fridge. You can keep the stock frozen for up to three months, but once it’s thawed, it goes quickly, so if you don’t have soup scheduled for the near future, freeze the whole batch.

Now you have your soup base, but what’s the next step? This rich stock will happily make any kind of soup you like, but for me, there is only one way to really treat a sore throat. If you were raised by or near Jews, chances are good you’ve had at least one bowl of matzah ball soup in your life. If so, you know the powerful restorative properties that the steaming golden broth and soft, fluffy balls possess. If not, trust that no amount of Nyquil or Tylenol can soothe the way this soup does. This is where that schmaltz (the rendered fat) comes in.

Matzah Ball Soup

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons schmaltz
  • 1/4 club soda or chicken broth
  • 1 cup matzah meal
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

With a fork, beat the eggs well in a medium bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Take another nap while your mixture chills. When you wake up and you’re ready to cook the balls, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Dip your hands into cold water to prevent the dough from sticking and form the mixture into balls. They can be anywhere from one to two inches in diameter, depending on your preference. Carefully drop each ball into the water and reduce to a simmer. Cook the balls for 30 to 45 minutes, until they start to drop a little below the water’s surface.

Heat your stock in a separate soup pot, and carefully transfer the cooked balls into the stock. You can add other things to this soup, like carrots or celery or chicken, but sometimes I prefer the simplicity of just a perfect matzah ball in some very good broth, maybe with some fresh dill or parsley to round it all out. This recipe makes about six servings, so it should last you through most of a week of your illness.

Healthy Stock Soup

From my home to yours, I wish you a Happy New Year. Here’s hoping you have paid sick leave and someone to make this soup for you while you lie in bed and re-watch the entire run of Gilmore Girls. Ess gezunterhait!

Printer-friendly recipes: Homemade Stock and Matzah Ball Soup

Healthy Oils for a Healthy You!

Healthy Oils for a Healthy You!

Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to get healthier? Instead of starting off with a huge overhaul of your lifestyle, take baby steps and slowly integrate more healthful choices in ways that won’t affect how much you enjoy your food.

One of the easiest ways to clean up your act is by switching to more healthy oils in your cooking and baking.

These changes can be virtually unnoticeable, but can have a positive impact on your health. This chart provides a simple guide to choosing the most practical and healthy oils for different uses, helping you make better choices based on your common cooking needs. Think about what types of dishes you make most often and invest in a high quality healthy oil for each of your most common needs. If you feel like getting fancy and adding in a few more, go for it!Healthy Oils

Some things to keep in mind when choosing healthy oils:

  • For salads, choose an unrefined version of pumpkin seed, safflower, flax, walnut, or hemp oil. Be sure to shop for shelf-stable or refrigerated oils.
  • Monounsaturated fats are good! These types of oils will stay liquid at room temperature and turn cloudy in the refrigerator. These are good options to use instead of margarine and shortening for baking purposes. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and is a surprisingly delicious alternative for baked goods.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are also good and stay liquid even in the refrigerator.
  • Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and should generally be avoided.
  • Coconut oil is a great replacement for butter or other oils in dishes with strong flavors, like curries. It can also be used in baking, but keep in mind that it will impart a bit of coconut flavor to your goodies (not a problem in my book!)
  • Store all of your non-refrigerated oils in dark containers or in a cool, dark cabinet. If you like to keep your most common oils out by the stove for convenience, invest in some small ceramic bottles and only keep out what you can reasonably go through in a couple weeks. Keep them away from direct heat.
  • Don’t buy in bulk if you aren’t going to use it. While it might be tempting to bring home that very reasonably priced jug of oil from the warehouse store, if it’s going to go bad before you can use it up, you’re better off buying a smaller amount of high quality oil that you can enjoy to the very last drop.

This may seem like an overwhelming amount of information to keep straight, but you can switch to more healthy oils without a whole lot of effort. Don’t freak yourself out about using the healthiest oil every time. Some things just taste better with butter! But if you’re cutting back on butter in general, you can afford to splurge for the good stuff when you do use it. Since I mostly use coconut or olive oil for my cooking purposes, I don’t feel bad about using really high quality organic butter when I make eggs (I realize how snooty this sounds, but I promise you the difference in flavor and quality is worth it).

I only keep a few oils stocked all the time and I find my supply perfectly capable of handling just about anything. Here’s my list:

  • Virgin Coconut Oil – I use this for light sautéing when I make anything spicy or bold, like Indian and Thai dishes. Coconut oil is a great accompaniment to tropical dishes as well and I find it’s delicious for just about any type of white fish. I use it in place of vegetable oil for baking. Coconut oil makes a great lip moisturizer, too!
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I use olive oil for most of my daily cooking. I don’t buy the fanciest, most expensive available (but feel free to buy that for me), but since I use it for dressings and drizzles, I do like to keep a nice bottle around. There is nothing quite like dipping freshly baked bread in a nice, bold olive oil! Throw a little sea salt and rosemary in there and I’m set for life!
  • Avocado Oil and/or Peanut Oil: Because of their high smoke points, these both make great options for stir fry, searing meat, and other high temperature cooking.
  • Flax Oil – I keep this around for salad dressings. Flax oil has a nice nutty flavor and lots of health benefits.  I only buy this from the refrigerated section, as it doesn’t have a very long shelf life and you just never know how long it has been sitting out at the store, or if it was kept in a hot truck or warehouse. When flax oil goes bad, you will know. Trust me.
  • Safflower Oil – This is relatively flavorless and works great in dressings with a separate star ingredient. Safflower is my go-to when I do sweet dressings like raspberry vinaigrette. Sometimes olive and flax are just too overpowering.

See? Incorporating healthy oils into your life isn’t so hard! What’s your favorite way to use healthy oils?