I frequently get asked the question…what’s the best oil to cook with? The answer often surprises. An unofficial survey typically yields the answer of “olive oil”. Contrary to this popular belief, olive oil is not the best oil to cook with. It’s an amazing oil for salad dressings but the heat, particular direct, stove top heat, is too high for olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil. Anything on the stove top above medium heat can breakdown olive oil and cause a loss in some of the benefits. Oven cooking, or indirect cooking is safe, but if you’re using it on the stove over a medium heat, choose a different oil. Just a few excellent oils that can better withstand higher temperatures on the stove top are:
Canola oil – always always always buy organic, expeller pressed canola oil!! This is great for higher temperatures and its neutral flavor lends itself to most recipes very nicely.
Coconut oil – buy organic, unrefined coconut oil. This adds a nice flavor to many types of dishes and is wonderful in baking recipes.
Avocado oil – again a great stove top oil and also a great alternative oil in baking and roasting as well.
Remember that oil does add calories to your dishes so if you’re counting, keep track, and minimize oil use.
Now, let’s talk broth. One of my go-to’s for stove top cooking is vegetable broth. I buy an organic, low sodium version. This is a wonderful way to safely cook any food which also as moisture to food. Depending on cooking time, you made need to add additional broth through the cooking process but broth is very low in calories – about 15 calories per cup as opposed to 120 calories per tablespoon for canola and olive oils – and contains no fat.
Healthy fats are so important to the diet. Remember that you don’t need huge quantities of these fats to gain their health benefits. Best to first get them from whole foods – olives, avocados, coconut, nuts and seeds – and then look to include very moderate amounts in cooking and choose the right oil for the job! Then, try broth, and let me know how you do!