You're becoming an expert in the kitchen.
But that skillet full of grease? Honey, you know better.
There are a gazillion fancy types of oils out there now. Let's set the record straight on which oils to cook with and learn how to use them properly to benefit -- not harm -- your health.
Quality over Quantity
Buy oils of the organic, extra-virgin and cold-pressed varieties. Organic oils have zero pesticide residues, which is great for you and the planet. The process of cold-pressing locks in awesome natural flavor, scent and nutritional value. Extra-virgin oils have the most delicate taste because they are minimally processed. Stay away from refined, fine or pure oils. And always remember to use all oils in moderation -- they'll still wreak havoc on your weight if you go overboard.
Hot Oil in the Kitchen
Coconut oil is where it's at when cooking with heat, especially in the oven. Sustainable, stable, affordable -- and it smells like a tropical vacation. For you frugal gals, coconut oil's shelf life is about two years out of the fridge, unlike EVOO. Huge misconceptions abound when it comes to its saturated fat levels. But don't believe the lies: Coconut oil is actually great for your heart and your thighs. Because coconut oil contains fatty acid chains, it helps you to shed pounds. For continued smooth digestion and awesome absorption of other nutrients and vitamins in a meal, coconut oil is your BFF. Its solid state at room temperature is still surprising soft, so spoon some out and watch it melt in a saucepan to a liquid in 30 seconds.
Related: 10 Do's and Don'ts of Coconut Oil
The unsaturated fat oils are perfect for a drizzle addition at the end of the heat-related cooking process. Feel free to top your already-plated meals with sesame, avocado, flaxseed or nut oils. For hundreds of years many cultures have cooked food dry or with water and only finished a dish with a dash of olive oil. Give it a drizzle!
Beware of Light
Olive oil is amazing, yes. But it has a dark side that you need to know about. Those green bottles aren't for looking pretty on your shelf; this is done to prevent the oil from breaking down over time. If that bottle is exposed to too much light, it affects the taste and the health-promoting nutrients in this oil.
Save the propellant and aerosol cans for grandma's hairspray. Put away the Pam and try buying a Misto oil sprayer for a chemical-free option. You can fill it will the olive oil of your choice to spray on pots or cookie sheets. For a low price point, you'll have it for a long time. You can also spray your salad and cut down on dressing calories.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
Watch out for the smoke point of olive or peanut cooking oils. Never let oil in a heated pan be forgotten about, or you'll see gas. This is the oil literally falling apart, not only reducing flavor but also kicking up harmful cancer-causing chemicals. Making a fried treat? Don't use salted or seasoned vegetable oils more than once; this can mess with their high, 450-degree smoke points. Think twice about buying cheap, low-quality, mass-produced oils. They have suspiciously low smoke points!
Protect your unsaturated oils from the elements; store them in a dark cupboard or, ideally, the fridge. Air oxidizes these oils, making them rancid, and that isn't good. Shut the top tightly every time or get a corked bottle for storage. The healthy fats and phytonutrients in vegetable oils degrade naturally over time, no matter how careful you are. For those, use the bottle within six months to a year after opening.
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