Cooking with essential oilsCredit: istock
Essential oils belong as much in a kitchen as they do in the medicine chest, first-aid kit, diffuser or bedside table; and there are numerous essential oils that are well suited for your day-to-day cooking.
If you are like me, you’re quite concerned at the quality (or lack of it) of the food that comes before us. And of course there are the health risks in so many of the ingredients that are used in our foods. Well, provided you’re using pure and unadulterated therapeutic-grade quality essential oils, you can reduce the risks and enhance the quality and taste of your meals (and beverages).
For starters, essential oils used in your food can kill unwanted microbes, increase the natural enzymatic secretions in your GI tract, and allow for more energy and oxygen uptake by your cells.
What about fresh and dried herbs? Surely they’re as good as essential oils. Well fresh and dried herbs are great, but they don’t have the shelf life of essential oils. Provided you keep your essential oil bottle sealed they will remain potent and stable for years. And unless you have your own herb garden you are relying on what is available in the market, where you have a lot less control over issues of quality.
Using essential oils you only need around 1-3 drops with most dishes (depending on what you are cooking and the desired taste). A typical 15mL bottle of essential oil has over 300 drops, so think of the cost savings. And your small bottles of essential oils are more portable than herbs, if you happen to be travelling.
Oils to use in recipes and cooking
Provided you keep your essential oil bottle sealed they will remain potent and stable for years.
The following list are oils that are GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) and have been listed as food additives by the US FDA: Basil, bergamot, black pepper, cinnamon bark, clove, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mandarin, marjoram, nutmeg, orange, oregano, peppermint, rose, rosemary, sage, spearmint, tangerine, tarragon and thyme.
You’ll recognise many of the citrus oils that I’ve written about previously (The Benefits of Citrus Essential Oils).
What to use and where to use them
Desserts: For desserts, the essential oils you might want to consider are cinnamon, clove, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, lime, mandarin, nutmeg, orange, peppermint, spearmint and tangerine. For apple pies or spice cakes you may wish to try 3-4 drops of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove or ocotea. Peppermint and spearmint essential oils work a treat in chocolate cakes, brownies or icing.
Meat dishes: Try basil, clove, dill, fennel, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme. Add the oils when you’ve finished cooking the meats and let the meat cool in the pot, saucepan or pan so that the oils can soak in. Remember these are strong oils, so you may want to try using a toothpick or at most 1-2 drops of oil. For seafood, try black pepper, fennel, lemon, lime, orange, rosemary, sage and thyme.
Vegetables and salads: If steaming your veggies you can try using lemongrass, ocotea and lemon. If making salad dressings try adding basil, clove, lavender, lemon, lime, rosemary, sage and thyme to your oil. If you’re making a tomato sauce for pasta or pizza, oils like oregano, marjoram, thyme and basil will go very well.
Beverages: Grapefruit, lemon, orange, mandarin, peppermint, spearmint or tangerine added to water with a teaspoon of agave syrup will make a great alternative to the carbonated soft-drinks on the market. Personally I enjoy these oils in water on their own without the agave. One of my favourite combinations is orange, grapefruit, spearmint and tangerine. Be sure you shake the bottle up before using, as these oils will sit on top of the water. For more on this check out Essential Oils For the Summer.
Till next time!
Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not
constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.
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