Grainlady, oil questions please

trudymomFebruary 18, 2014

So what do you use to saute veggies in if you do not use olive oil? Can you please tell us what are the best oils to use for different things? You are always so helpful to us!! Thank you!


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And I need advice about what oil to use in a cake recipe (a "Hummingbird cake" adapted for a bundt pan - has pineapple & bananas).

Thank you!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 2:21PM
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Trudy -

You can actually sauté veggies in water or broth, which is what I often do, or I might also use coconut oil, ghee, or animal fat. I haven't had vegetable oil, margarine, or shortening in my kitchen for close to 30-years now, and avoid all man-made fats that are considered polyunsaturated.

All fats are composed of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Even lard, which everyone thinks of as a "saturated fat" is 41% saturated, 47% monounsaturated, and 12% polyunsaturated. And canola oil is 6% saturated, 62% mono. and 32% poly.

Olive oil was not a common cooking fat where I live, just as many people have never used/tasted lard - which WAS commonly used here in farm country. I'm sure my mother never purchased a bottle of olive oil in her lifetime; and I was in my 40's the first time I purchased it (after watching Julia Childs on TV and getting one of her cookbooks from the library to use it in a recipe). The only bottle of olive oil in the store was a tiny bottle of Pompeii, way up on the top shelf. Now you can get any number of brands, but it's all thanks to the Food Network, I'm sure. So the use of olive oil, for me, probably has more to do with where I live and ethnicity as much as anything. I grew up with an Eastern/ Central European-Canadian mother and a Scandinavian father who was born in Kansas and grew up in Canada - not your typical olive oil-using folks.

After studying fats as part of my nutritional and food science interests, I learned about heating olive oil and free-radicles, so I just avoided that. About the only time I use olive oil is in a dressing. Now that I have discovered MCT Oil, I'll probably toss the olive oil out and use MCT Oil in the occasional dressing recipe or vinaigrette. MCT Oil has a better shelf-life, and is something I use frequently.

"Best" is pretty subjective. I come from the more natural, whole foods, perspective, and I also come from the perspective of home food storage. My primary fat in storage is coconut oil, which is the winner on many levels for storage AND use (cooking, baking, dairy-free bread-spread, skin, hair, health....), and it stores longer than other fats without going rancid. When it comes to homemade yeast breads, coconut oil is a "secret" ingredient for keeping bread fresh longer. Coconut oil was the primary fat for commercial baked goods pre-1970's because it didn't go rancid and the foods had a longer shelf-life.

Having grown up in the country, we learned the value of chicken and beef fat, which I save after making bone broth and store it in the freezer. I purchase bacon ends at a local meat packing plant and I'll render the fat and freeze it, and use bacon fat when added flavor is in order (baked beans, green beans), and use the cooked bacon pieces instead of buying sliced bacon. A great money saver..... (especially important when I only spend $10 per week on meat). On rare occasions, usually when I can get it free from my cousin when he has a hog processed, I use fresh lard.

I store and use Pure Indian Foods 100% Organic Ghee (delicious on Saturday night popcorn). I use it almost as a food supplement as well as a cooking fat. It's a good source for CLA and vitamins A, D, and K2, which is important in the winter. Ghee also has a high smoke point, so it works well for stir-fry or sautés.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 2:46PM
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I melt coconut oil to use as a substitute for vegetable cooking oil. In many cases you can reduce the amount of oil in the recipe up to 25% and get the same results by using coconut oil.

The link below has a good deal of information if you've never used coconut oil. I purchase LouAna coconut oil at Wal-Mart or Dillons (Kroger affiliate) in the same isle as cooking oil and shortening. LouAna doesn't have any coconut flavor, and I also use several different brands that do have a slight coconut flavor.


Here is a link that might be useful: Simple Homemade - How to bake with coconut oil.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 3:02PM
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What are your thoughts on grape seed, safflower, Rice Bran and sunflower oils? I don't use canola it vegetable oil. I use all the oils listed above. I also use coconut and palm oil. Depends on what I am making.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 11:04PM
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Grapeseed and safflower oil: Highly reactive polyunsaturated fats, therefore when heated forms damaging free-radicles. If you use them, I would suggest you avoid heating them, if free-radical damage is a concern.

Rice bran oil: Predominately monounsaturated (48%) and a bit more stable than grapeseed oil, but only good for low heat applications due to the still high 36% polyunsaturated fats (17% saturated).

Sunflower oil: This is an oil that is artificially and chemically altered. Personally, I would avoid it.

Oils with a high percentage of polyunsaturated fats, or are made through chemically altering them or methods where they are over-processed tend to increase free-radical production in the body. This means inflammation. Inflammation is the common thread in diseases that kill and disable.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 5:03AM
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Animal fats are adivised by no-one if you care about your heart. Here's a very sensible guide.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 5:28AM
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It is simply not true that "animal fats are advised by no-one fif you care about your heart. A number of doctors who are on the cutting edge of knowledge of what's what support use of animal fats. Sorry, I don't have a link right now,and since I'm on dial up it's nearly impossible for me to search for one while I'm on this site. But believe me, it's out there. And these doctors are not nut cases.

Remember that out dated info also told us to avoid eggs.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 6:29AM
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This is an issue where we will have to agree to disagree. I'll always fall on the side of real food, including animal fats, over highly-processed food of any kind, including manmade fats and oils.

The food industry is just too interested in "medicalizing" food (a term I read in Michael Pollan's book, "In Defense of Food" - which I highly recommend), and the food industry can always find someone to pay to do the research to prove whatever is expedient for them. Such as - butter (an animal fat) is "bad" and the chemicalized Really-Doesn't-Taste-Like-Butter (but more like the gigantic plastic tub they sell it in) is better for you, because along with the so-called "bad" fats, we've also removed all the valuable micronutrients we get from butter that are not as readily available in other foods. Those micronutrients are helpful in preventing bone loss. Butter is rich in the most easily absorbable form of Vitamin A necessary for thyroid and adrenal health. It contains conjugated linoleic acid - which is a potent anti-cancer agent, muscle builder, and immunity booster, and many other things...

There are all kinds of conflicting science available, but one thing is for certain, and you don't need to be a scientist to see this, observe people eating a Standard American Diet, which includes lots of manmade fats and oils and highly processed foods. Those people are more inclined to have a laundry list of chronic diseases that seldom strike people eating more traditional, clean, or natural diets.

As I observed just the other day when I ran into my cousin at the grocery store - we are both 61-years old, and have led similar lives. After the "how are you's", she started a list of ailments, doctors and medications. As I looked in her piled-high cart, there were fake fats, fake food, processed everything, and I could understand why she was sick if that's what she eats.

She looked in my cart and asked, "what do you eat"? There were lentils, bananas, mushrooms, dried prunes and apricots, a red onion, peanuts (in the shell), fresh ginger, 3 avocados, and unsweetened coconut. I answered, mostly food....


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 8:13AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I've recently started using coconut oil and am surprised that I like how it heats and I like the flavor...even though I've not been a fan of coconut ever.

What's the story on peanut oil?

And, grainlady, where do you get your MCT oil?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 8:55AM
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I've been ordering MCT oil on-line where I find the best price and shipping. I've been using NOW brand.

I'd have to research peanut oil. It's never been on my need-to-use list. Off the top of my head, it wouldn't surprise me if it has some health benefits, it has a high smoke point and isn't as readily absorbed by foods you cook in it, but not sure if the high-heat turns a beneficial fat into a "bad" free radical. Knowing how it's used for deep-fry cooking, I bet the "bad" comes from heating and re-heating used oil, which is a common problem associated with deep-frying.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:25AM
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Grainlady, I tried to find the liquid coconut oil you recommended from Walmart. Unfortunately it is not available online or in my local walmarts. I can't find any liquid coconut or MCT oil but doesn't cost a fortune.

What other oils can handle high heat like coconut oil?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:29AM
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I certainly agree with you about eating non industrial foods - but here, olive oil isn't industrial - you can buy from very small family producers. We get wonderful Greek organic olive oils too as well as Italian....Proper butter is what gets eaten here as well as a little of butter mixed with veg oil - that won't harm anyone.
What I'm suggesting is nothing that you can compare with your cousin's shopping trolley!!!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 11:32AM
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I'm with Grainlady... animal fats/saturated fats are a good and essential part of our diet. Processed vegetable oils are bad news. The heating of most natural vegetable oils destroys them and so they really shouldn't be used for cooking/baking.

As far as what I use for cooking and baking... I sauté veggies in a little water and chicken broth, then just before they are finished I drain the liquid out and add a pat of butter. I cook eggs with butter or bacon fat (if I have any). I use a combo of butter, coconut oil, peanut oil, or sesame oil for stir-fries and things like that.

For baking, many recipes can sub applesauce for vegetable oil, when I do that I usually do half applesauce and half butter. When I don't mind the addition of coconut flavor (or if the recipe only calls for a small amount of oil) I'll use melted coconut oil - I just measure out what I need in a metal measuring cup and melt it on my stove on med-low heat while I prepare the other ingredients.

There are two little videos I like to share when introducing people to the fact that what we think we know about healthy food comes more from industrial food marketing than real science, but I'm not sure how to insert more than one URL. So here's the first one - it's about how the lipid hypothesis (saturated fats make are bad for us) is based on faulty science:

The second one is more specifically about fats and oils and how marketing has pushed this inaccurate 'knowledge' of what is healthy:

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 12:28PM
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If it's for the convenience of a liquid oil, just wait a month when the temperatures change and regular coconut oil will no longer be solid in the container. I've already noticed my coconut oil getting a little softer with a few warm days we've had (actually got up to 73-degrees F yesterday - and only a couple snow drifts left in the yard - woo hoo). If you have an electric candle warmer or a (coffee) mug warmer, sit a glass measuring cup on it and warm coconut oil to a liquid using it. It's an inexpensive solution compared to ordering MCT Oil.

That's interesting - and somewhat amusing - that I can find Carrington Farms Coconut Oil (which remains liquid) out here in the middle of nowhere..... That hardly ever happens, and my on-line shopping would reflect that. ;-)

There are all kinds of oils/fats that have a high smoke point if you need it for high-heat use, the problem comes when the high heat damages the oil making it a dangerous free-radical to consume. I like ghee for high heat uses, and it's a very stable fat, but it adds a distinctive (cooked butter) flavor. I order my ghee because I want it more as a food supplement for the high nutrition it contains from pastured grass-fed cattle, but you can make your own ghee (aka clarified butter) by melting butter and dividing the oil from the milk solids. You can find instructions on-line.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 2:02PM
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First, let me say that I am totally ignorant on this topic, even though it is a very important topic which can mean life and death to many people.

It is surprising that you would think by now there should be definitive scientific conclusions on the various issues. After all, billions and billions of money have been spent by very smart people over the years.

Yet you find contradictory opinions by experts no matter how hard you try, which makes for us, it is a perfect topic to commit “confirmation bias”, which can lead to serious detrimental results to your health.

It is such a complex topic. Genetics (Google Stoccareddo), Culture (Google Seven Countries Study ), age, source of funding, ------------.

It is hopeless to base on science to figure out what I should do, so I use the totally uneducated “dummy” method to decide on what and how I should eat. I simply observe the many cultures globally, who live the longest and healthiest, I just follow the way they eat.

Vegetarians eat no animal fat and lots of vegetable oils, and they are very healthy in general.
The French drinks, use cream, butter, fat, and they are not obese like us.

Monaco, San Marino, Iceland, Italy, The Japanese and the Chinese are healthy and long lived

So I eat what they eat.

Simple and delicious.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 7:25PM
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We picked up some camelina oil (camelina sativa/false flax/wild flax/gold-of-pleasure) at the farmer's market. It's grown and naturally processed fairly locally and is high in omega-3s, so we had to try it. It's good for cooking (475F smoke point) and salad dressings...haven't tried baking with it yet. It's got a bit of a different smell/flavor, but that seems to dissipate when it's mixed with other flavors.

For plain vegies I do about the same as emorems0...steam/braise in a bit of water, drain and finish with butter and seasonings. We like coconut oil for fried potatoes.

We also got a bottle of rice bran oil to try, but mostly use coconut, olive and butter. They were pushing avocado oil today at Costco and I see they're carrying coconut oil also. I had to google MCT oil, lol.

Here is a link that might be useful: camelina oil

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:52PM
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Does camelina oil have an odor similar to linseed oil? Or if you've ever milled flax - that smell - which always reminds me of linseed oil (which is made from flax).

I was interested in buying the seeds, but they cost more for shipping than the retail price at your link, so I'll look on-line for a better price.

Has anyone made their own oils? The link below is for a seed oil press.


Here is a link that might be useful: Lehman's - Seed Oil Press

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 9:10AM
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GL, we decided it smells like broccoli stalks. Maybe that is a little linseed-ish. Makes a good vinaigrette though.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 10:41AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

dcarch and others, Gary Taubes had an interesting piece in the NYT on why nutrition information is so confusing....

Here is a link that might be useful: Taubes Op Ed

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 11:18AM
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Thanks for the update. Looking on-line someone said it was a little like almonds and another said "beany". I'll have to decide myself because I ordered some oil and seeds from Marx Foods (free shipping).

I nabbed this recipe from another web site:

Lemon-Sesame Salad Dressing with Camelina Oil

1/4 C camelina oil
2 T rice vinegar
juice from 1/4 lemon (a little less than 1 T)
1 t sesame oil
1 t tamari/soy sauce
1/2 t Dijon mustard

Combine all in a mason jar, close lid tightly, and shake vigorously.


Here is a link that might be useful: Marx Foods

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 12:17PM
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Grainlady, thank you for responding to my question. I'm not one who bakes very often, but once a month I take a coffee cake to a volunteer group meeting. I'm just going to stick with recipes that don't call for oil or shortening. Butter, sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk, applesauce....those are ingredients I'll look for. I'm not experienced enough to play around with a cake recipe.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 12:31PM
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Agreed pretty much across the board, to avoid dangerous fats, eliminate processed foods.
Just start there. It is that simple.
Starting there, and using whole foods, you've got many choices. Knowing where your food is sourced, less hands involved, you will find pure, less processed products.

Many of the diets studied around the world that dcarch refers to are most likely sourced close to home. Probably eating local produce and using oils processed nearby? A much different diet than vegetable oils here. Those that use olive oils know how to cook with them. A low heat or med heat is fine using olive oil. Save the first pressing for dressings or a drizzle. A bit of heat will change the fresh flavor so save it for later off heat. The second pressing is lighter in flavor and color and better for cooking. Can handle a higher heat.
Really depends on your cooking style. If you blast your veggies with high heat, most oils will burn and smoke.
My coconut oils are always solid. I warm them and add other oils to keep it fluid. I rarely use high heat for anything but water to boil. And baking bread. A slow and low saute just needs a tbsp or less for a mirepoix and then broth to steam tender veggies or a slow roasting in the oven with even less oil.
I just don't buy into the 'capsule on-line' supplement oils and their health claims. Raw and fresh food oils are in many things. Cold pressed/expeller oils are so easily available that it doesn't make sense to buy oils that use heat processed and chemically treated extraction methods.

Use real butter over the cheap spreads like margarine and veg oils. Even some butter tastes weird and rancid. Buy quality organic and just use less. Research the source, buy local/fresh.
Or a brand that you and others trust. It really does taste so much better.
We don't use that much butter but have it in the freezer. We prefer good olive oils infused with herbs and garlic for fresh warm bread. Butter with eggs and toast or waffles with maple syrup.
Just personal preference. A cod/fish cake, crab cake, i have to use good butter.
I like the flavor for some things.

No reason to change the way you cook completely and avoid oils.
Or using gobs of butter on everything more out of habit rather than flavor.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 6:10PM
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