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Cooking with Essential Oils

Posted Jul 23 2010 12:00am

Essential oils are different from common vegetable oils such as olive, flax, sesame, or canola. While both have benefits, cooking with essential oils can be a healthier alternative to vegetable oils in many instances. Here are some of the key differences between the two types of oils

  • Vegetable oils contain glycerol, which leaves a greasy residue when applied to the skin and creates a slippery surface (i.e. in the pan); essentials oils do not create a slippery surface (unless mixed with vegetable oil).
  • Vegetable oils are 100% fat; essential oils contain no fat.
  • Vegetable oils are primarily pressed from seeds, nuts, avocados, olives or the bran of grains; pure essential oils are steam distilled from plants (with the exception of citrus oils which are cold-pressed).

The following essential oils are frequently used in recipes: lemon, orange, nutmeg, black pepper, peppermint, ginger, mandarin, sage, tangerine, lemongrass, grapefruit, fennel, spearmint, cinnamon bark, oregano, clove, and basil, among others.

Many people believe that using essential oils in cooking is a relatively new idea; in fact there are thousands of food products that use essential oils for aroma and flavor such as chewing gum, chocolates, candies, and many more. While certain essential oils can be harmful if taken in high dosages, moderate use as flavoring (a few drops per person) is not only safe but delicious!

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