Are you confused about the best oil to cook with? There are so many options out there to choose from: coconut, olive, canola, avocado and sunflower oil to name a few…how do we know which oils are the best for our health?
When oils are heated during cooking, they react with oxygen in the air and break down (oxidation), which is not good for our health. Potentially harmful by-products, called polar compounds, are produced during oxidation. These include aldehydes and lipid peroxidases and have been linked to various chronic diseases.
Ideally, we want to choose an oil that resists oxidation (as much as possible) and that produces the least amount of polar compounds. Also, choosing an oil that is high in antioxidants helps a lot as these fight against oxidation and protect the beneficial nutrients naturally found in the oil.
A recent study done in Australia tested 10 different oils for oxidative stability, production of polar compounds and antioxidant content. They found that the best oil was extra virgin olive oil, followed by coconut oil. Seed oils such as canola, grapeseed, sunflower and rice bran tended to perform the poorest in the tests.
Extra virgin olive oil performed well in oxidative stability tests (although coconut oil did even better) but the extra virgin olive oil had the richest source of antioxidants compared to all the other oils which secured its top spot in the lineup. Virgin olive oil and standard olive oil also performed pretty well so if extra virgin olive oil doesn’t fit into your food budget, these are also suitable choices.
There were some limitations to the study, including the fact that the researchers only heated the oil without cooking food as well (which may affect how much the oil is oxidised) and they heated the oils to very high temperatures for prolonged periods which may not mimic home cooking exactly, so further studies are required. For more information about the study, or to book your own personalized nutrition consult, get in touch via our Contact page.
If you’re a fan of Butter Chicken from your local Indian takeaway, chances are you’ll love this easy option to make at home. It’s hard to beat this flavoursome and more-ish curry and because you’re making it from scratch you’ll be in complete control of what goes in it – no nasty additives or preservatives – and you can be extra generous with the spice if you like! Choose between the addition of cream, Greek yoghurt or ground nuts depending on your dietary needs and taste preferences. Delicious served with fluffy rice, naan and cucumber raita. Serves 4.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
500g boneless and skinless chicken thigh, cut into ~2cm chunks
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground chilli
1 whole red chilli, sliced (optional)
1 tin of tomatoes or passata
¼ cup cream, Greek yoghurt or ground cashew nuts
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Lemon or lime juice, coriander leaves to garnish
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frypan over moderate heat. Season the chicken well then fry in the butter and oil until golden brown (it does not have to be cooked all the way through as it will be cooked in the sauce later). Set aside.
Heat the remaining butter and oil in the same saucepan (with all the chicken bits stuck on the bottom) and add the onion, cooking until softened for ~5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and spices stirring to combine. Cook for 1 minute until the spices become more fragrant. Add the tinned tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes stirring well to lift off the sticky chicken bits! Process the sauce using a stick blender or food processor until smooth if you like a smooth sauce. Otherwise you can leave it chunky.
Return the sauce and chicken to the pan and heat over gentle heat until the chicken is cooked through, 10 minutes should be just right. Add in the cream/yoghurt/nuts and the brown sugar and check the flavours, adding in more seasoning if required.
Serve with fluffy rice and the lemon/lime and coriander. Delish!
2 sheets of pre-rolled puffed pastry (or use a pastry block but easy dinners are meant to be easy!)
500g pork mince
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups spinach, finely chopped
3/4 cup carrot or zucchini, grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup cooked quinoa*
Zest of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
*Cook some extra quinoa to use in a fresh salad for tomorrow’s lunch – add in roasted pumpkin, cherry tomatoes, feta, capsicum, chickpeas, craisins and dressing. Easy peasy!
These deliciously crunchy clusters make a nourishing breakfast when served with fresh/dried fruit and Greek yoghurt. Or pop in a zip lock bag with some squares of dark chocolate for an energy boosting scroggin for when you are on the go!
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup threaded coconut
½ cup nuts (I used almonds and Brazil nuts)
1 cup puffed millet
¼ cup each pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons oil (coconut or rice bran)
3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Mix rolled oats, coconut, nuts, millet and seeds in a bowl. Warm the oil and maple syrup honey together in a pot over low heat until combined. Pour the oil mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well, ensuring all dry ingredients are covered. Tip onto a baking tray or roasting dish and spread out to a single layer (I line the tray with baking paper for an easy clean up).
Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through cooking to ensure it is evenly cooked. Don’t stir, instead leave it to cook as a big cluster! It will be golden brown and smelling delicious when it is ready. Allow to cool completely before breaking into clumps. Stored in a sealed container.