Cooking with Healthy Fats
This week we take a look at various Healthy Fats and Oils to cook with effectively – and why some are better than others depending on what you are using them for!
I am often asked about the various healthy fats & oils available to use in the LCHF kitchen and which ones are best for different applications. This week, I have outlined my five favourite healthy fats and oils and how best to utilise them for various cooking methods within your LCHF kitchen.
- Butter – The chef’s favourite ingredient. Excellent when adding to vegetables to enrich them and fantastic for cooking at moderate temperatures. Regular butter in it’s normal state is not good for cooking (frying) at high temperatures, the milk solids burn at a certain temperature and give a bitter flavour and leave behind their acrid cinders. You can get around this by clarifying the butter – melt and allow the oil portion to rise to the top, then pour the oil into a container and leave the milk solids behind. This clarified butter or ghee is excellent for frying with and is generally delicious added to most things. The ghee will set in the fridge so is unsuitable for dressingss and mayos but it forms the basis of the famous Hollandaise Sauce – a warm buttery mayo essentially. Another great thing about clarified butter is that a lot of dairy-free people can have this, as the milk solids are left out of the equation.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – Has a beautiful, distinctive flavour. They can be peppery like watercress or green like a pine tree and anywhere in between. This fresh vibrant flavour diminshes with heat and is therefore rarely used in kitchens for frying with (it is possible and works perfectly well however). For the price difference if you choose to fry in olive oil, regular olive oil (sometimes called light olive oil) is a much better choice as the “light” refers to the flavour (as opposed to the fat content) and is able to reach high enough temperatures to fry. Both EVOO and regular olive oil are perfect for dressings and mayos.
- Coconut Oil – This is a beautiful fat to cook with. It can reach extremely high temperatures and has a high smoke point making it perfect to fry with. Virgin unprocessed coconut oil tastes like…coconuts funnily enough, so if you want to use it more regularly there are deodourised versions which have the same fatty acid composition as virgin coconut oil but have been processed to remove the scent and flavour. It is possible to make mayo and dressings with coconut oil used in a blend with another oil like olive oil. Coconut oil is also an excellent ingredient to add to smoothies for a boost of fat.
- Animal Fats (such as lard and dripping) – The main fatty acid in beef fat (tallow) is oleic acid which is a mono unsaturated and is the same fatty acid that makes up the majority of olive oil – must be all the grass the cows eat! Animal fats like these are the best cooking medium available. The chef’s at the restaurant often comment about how “clean” the tallow cooks as the smoke point is very high and it provides even colour on the cooked food. Animal fats are solid at room temperature and below, so are mainly suitable for cooking with. They have a light flavour of the animal they come from so they can be quite overpowering adding to dressings, etc.
- Nut and Stone Oils (i.e. Avocado Oil, Hazelnut Oil, etc) – These oils are beautifully perfumed and should only be used where there is little in the way of heat involved in a recipe. Used sparingly they go a long way and add a very clear flavour dimension to the food you prepare, such as in dressings and mayos.