Tag Archives: Coconut Oil

The Great Oil Debate

Coco vs Olive 1

Coconut Oil or Olive Oil

Which is better? Is there a ‘better’? What is the difference?

The 1st course in my Holistic Nutrition program focused on the fundamentals of nutrition … you know, the basics … Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Vitamins and Minerals.

Simple enough … or is it?

For me, yes – simple enough. I am intellectually driven by Science and Math (nailed Course 1 with 93.25%). But if there is any History involved, you can count on me falling asleep!

So let’s look at a bit of the Fundamentals of Fats!

Fats are molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Fats can come from animal and plant sources and are insoluble in water.

The structure of fats is where some people get a little sideways … fats are made up of fatty acid chains, which is further detailed as being made up of a methyl (alcohol) group, a carbon chain, and an acid group. Clear as mud!?

We then go further into the kinds of fatty acids … saturated and unsaturated.

I found the easiest way to understand, and explain to non-nutrition-studying individuals, is that saturated fatty acids are hard (think coconut oil or butter) and unsaturated fatty acids are liquid (think olive oil or avocado oil).

Saturated fatty acids can be either short-chain or long-chain and unsaturated fatty acids can be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated … I’m not going to get into the science of these differences.

Short-chain saturated fatty acids are readily burned as fuel – they raise your metabolic rate. Long-chain saturated fatty acids are stored long-term for fuel and can help maintain you blood sugar levels.

Mono- and poly- unsaturated fatty acids help keep your arteries flexible, lubricate your skin and have been shown to improve brain function!

So fats are good, right?

Well, yes … in the right amounts! Too much of anything isn’t good.

Too much fat can lead to fat storage and build-up in your circulatory system and organs of the body. However, too little fat can cause decreased levels of energy, depression and more!

Back to the main point of this post … coconut oil vs. olive oil … is one ‘better’ than the other?

Let’s start with solid vs. liquid – should be easy!

One of my questions in class was “coconut oil is sometimes liquid at (summer) room temperature … does that mean it’s unsaturated?” and the answer was NO.

Both coconut oil and olive oil consist of percentages of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Olive oil has 82% monounsaturated and 8% polyunsaturated (liquid) and 10% saturated (solid) attributes; whereas coconut oil has 92% saturated (solid) and 6% monounsaturated and 2% polyunsaturated (liquid) attributes.

So since coconut oil has a greater saturated fatty acid content, it is solid at (normal) room temperature and is considered saturated.

Unsaturated fatty acids (again, think olive oil) are liquid at room temperature. Their natural chemical structure keeps them liquid at room temperature. We’ve all used olive oil to cook … be it in a pan to saute, used to toss veggies before roasting, or in a baking recipe. Sadly, this is the WORST thing you can do with olive oil!

When you add heat and hydrogen (naturally through exposure to air) to olive oil, you cause the chemical structure to change. The olive oil changes from an unsaturated fatty acid to an unsaturated trans fatty acid.

Although trans fats are edible, they are not used by the body. Trans fats will cause an increased risk of coronary artery disease and could be linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, and infertility in women (to list a few)!

Saturated fatty acids (again, think coconut oil) are hard at room temperature. In most cases you will need to soften them to make them usable.

When you add heat and hydrogen to a saturated fatty acid, you take it from one large saturated fatty acid “blob” and break it down into smaller saturated fatty acids “blobs”. Even though it’s now liquid, it remains saturated. You have simply broken apart the “blobs” but you haven’t changed the chemical structure of the saturated fatty acid.

Coco vs Olive 2

Does this all make sense?

Coconut oil can be heated without causing a chemical change … without it turning into trans fat. You should be using coconut oil when cooking, baking, or adding heat of any sort.

Olive oil will chemically change when heated … changing it to a trans fat. You should use olive oil (specifically extra virgin – the highest quality) for salad dressings, added to the end of cooking (after heat removed) for a burst of flavor, or as a dip for breads.

Also, see the ‘advertising’ on the olive oil bottle in the picture above? It actually advising “for sauteing and grilling”! OMG no! That’s crazy!

I recently noticed many nutrition-driven individuals on social media using olive oil for heat-based cooking … but after doing a bit of research on said individuals, it turns out they are simply foodies and not trained nutritionist – phew! They don’t know any better!

Remember my disclaimer: The materials and content within this blog are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

 

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Cookie Craving Conundrum

craving

noun crav·ing \ˈkrā-viŋ\

Definition of craving

  • an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing

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I woke up this morning with a craving for oatmeal raisin cookies! But I also knew I needed to get some work done to pad my bank account to pay for college … to which I have my Admissions Interview on Tuesday! Fingers crossed!!!

So in between work, I brought up the websites of some of my favorite health/nutrition mentors:

After reading oatmeal cookie recipes on their sites, I settled on the Gluten-Free Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Meghan’s website. I quickly jotted down the ingredients and figured I needed to hit up my local health food store for the necessary flours and coconut sugar.

I did stop by Safeway on my way to the health food store to see if they carried the ingredients and if so, what was the price point. (Un)luckily, Safeway did not carry the flours or sugar … so one more block to walk!

At the health food store, I was able to easily locate the buckwheat and brown rice flours … and it made me think I might have some at home … but I wasn’t willing to walk home to check! So I grabbed one of each, plus a bag of coconut sugar – something I hadn’t cooked/baked with before. (As it turns out, I did have both buckwheat and brown rice flour at home, but they’d been open and unused for so long, that I felt it was better to toss them and start fresh!)

I had included eggs on my grocery list, but thought I should try to follow the base of the recipe as best possible, which means using “chia paste” instead of egg (also – to keep it vegan!) … so no eggs made it into my basket.

I’m very thankful that all of Meghan’s recipes that I’ve attempted thus far have been very clear and easy to follow. In order to make the chia paste, I needed to grind some chia seeds … and I thought of 3 different “appliances” to make this happen:

  1. Electric spice grinder
  2. Mortar & pestle
  3. Vitamix dry container

Starting with the quickest and easiest … the electric spice grinder (a coffee grinder … but I don’t drink coffee, so it’s never had coffee beans in it). This tool was perfect! It took literally seconds and voila! the chia seeds were now a chia powder!

Mixing the powder with warm water quickly created the chia paste and again – it pasted up in mere seconds!

When making this recipe, I followed the base recipe (wet & dry ingredients) but was VERY skeptical as the recipe called for 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened! HALF A CUP!!! Holy Hannah!

The changes I made were:

  • Raisins instead of chocolate chips
  • Walnuts instead of pecans
  • Cornstarch instead of arrowroot starch
  • Baked 11 minutes in stead of 15 minutes

After the wet ingredients were added to the dry and thoroughly combined, I was still skeptical as the “batter” was very oily …

I scooped out 5 cookies and spaced them well apart on the parchment-lined baking tray … in case they decided to become 1 cookie! I was very pleased to see the cookies completely held their shape and didn’t spread AT ALL!

I was able to fit the rest of the batter, shaped into cookie balls, on the second tray, so not to take too long with multiple batches.

These cookies have great sweetness, but not overly sweet. The coconut sugar definitely has a different smell/taste/texture than regular granular sugar, but it’s so enjoyable!

I’ve changed the color below to show my changes:

Ingredients
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 serving chia paste*
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

*Chia Paste – 1 tbsp chia seeds, ground … mixed with ¼ cup warm water (now, 1 tbsp of chia seeds yields more than 1 tbsp when ground … I only used 1 tbsp of the ground chia seeds … not sure if that was right, or if I should have used the whole amount of ground seeds!)

Make It Like So

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix together coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and chia paste
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flours, oats, baking soda, salt, raisins & walnuts
  4. Add wet into dry and stir until combined
  5. Using 1-2 tbsp of mixture, form into balls and flattery slightly and place in parchment lined cookie sheet
  6. Bake for about 10 – 11 minutes, until golden
05-oatmeal-raisin-walnut-cookies

The rest of the day was pretty lazy … for the whole household …

waszabi-baunzai-january-29-2017

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Recipe Taste Off – Sweet Potato Dishes

A quick look back on contestant number 2 (“Loaded Sweet Potatoes” from the Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook) … after the “Avocado Cilantro Crema” married all its flavours together overnight, it was much more flavourful. Again, as with contestant number 1 (“Dressed to the Nines Sweet Potatoes” from The UnDiet Cookbook), the leftover serving was quite a bit better.

Tonight I tested out a recipe from Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking cookbook …

Contestant Number 2: Thai Baked Sweet Potatoes (picture as shown in the cookbook)

thai-baked-sweet-potatoes

I’ve done my best to make these recipes exactly as detailed. One difference I had to make between this recipe and my version is the chickpeas … I substituted in black beans instead as chickpeas don’t agree well with my digestive tract.

Again, this recipe was easy to follow. It called to rub the sweet potatoes with grape seed oil before baking, but given how the other sweeties turned out without oil, I opted to omit this oil.

thai-baked-sweet-potatoes-3

The book lists a sub-recipe for “Ginger Tahini Sauce” inside the main recipe and it was also very easy to follow. It called for 1 – 4 TBSP hot water to “thin” the sauce and I used 2 TBSP, but honestly, it didn’t really need any water. The tahini & ginger created quite a bit of sediment, so I ended up using a sieve to make it smoother. An after-thought would be to throw these ingredients into the Vitamix to get it mixed up well, and next time I think I’ll use the suggested tahini alternative of peanut butter.

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There was the perfect amount of beans to cover each of the servings, and just the right amount of sauce, too.

thai-baked-sweet-potatoes-5

As I posted this picture, I realized I opened my bag of sesame seeds but totally forgot to put them on the dish!!! #BlondeMoment #IWasStarving

This was a very nice dish. I prefer this one over “Loaded Sweet Potatoes” (contestant number 2), but I think I still prefer “Dressed to the Nines Sweet Potatoes” (contestant number 1) overall!

I had a couple of observers that seemed pretty interested in all 3 recipes!

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This first batch of Recipe Taste Off has been VERY successful and I am looking forward to the next batch which will consist of Soba Noodle recipes!

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Recipe Taste Off – Sweet Potato Dishes

The other night I made the 1st of 3 sweet potato dishes (“Dressed to the Nines Sweet Potatoes” from The UnDiet Cookbook). I had the second serving for lunch the next day and it was almost better than fresh the night before!

Tonight I’m on to the next recipe by Angela Liddon and her Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook …

Contestant Number 2: Loaded Sweet Potatoes (picture as shown in the cookbook)

loaded-sweet-potatoes

This one looks great … let’s see how the recipe turns out!

This recipe was easy to follow. It called for EVOO to saute the garlic & onions, but I was low on it, so I used coconut oil (as I have a huge “tub” of it from Costco!).

Loaded Sweet Potatoes - 1.jpg

Inside the recipe is a sub-recipe for “Avocado Cilantro Crema“. This was easy as well, but I had to use 3 TBSP more water than the 1 TBSP it called for as it was just a little thick, but light, for my Vitamix and wouldn’t stay down with the blades to become creamy.

loaded-sweet-potatoes-2

I cooked the sweet potatoes for a full hour and they were perfect this time. Now to assemble this dish!

The amount of crema that was made seemed like a lot, but the recipe didn’t indicate that you only use a portion of it, so I used half per serving. Same went for the black bean mixture … the recipe called for a whole can, whereas the other recipes call for 1/2 can.

loaded-sweet-potatoes-3

Ok … so there was a LOT of toppings on this spud, and it was a bit over-powered by the crema. But it was tasty.

It’s got a different taste than “Dressed to the Nines Sweet Potatoes” (Contestant Number 1) but it’s also got a completely different dressing being avocado instead of tahini/tamari.

I would recommend this recipe, but suggest making or only using half the crema and beans. Also – the cookbook picture has the sweet potato topped with a white substance, but it was not mentioned in the recipe.

At this point, I’m a bigger fan of “Dressed to the Nines Sweet Potatoes“.

Friday I’ll likely make up the last of the 3 recipes in this Recipe Taste Off and provide my comments and suggestions!

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Recipe Taste Off – Sweet Potato Dishes

Last week I attended the Vancouver Sun’s annual book sale and snagged Meghan Telpner‘s “The UnDiet Cookbook” for a whopping $2.00!!!

Then after work on Friday, I stopped by Indigo on Granville Street to view a couple other cookbooks. I ended up spending a few tens of dollars and picked up Dana Shultz‘s “Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking” and Angela Liddon‘s “Oh She Glows Every Day“.

I spent a great deal of time on Saturday morning looking through each of these cookbooks and found that on a couple, possibly a few occasions, they had similar recipes. So what else is one to do but a Recipe Taste Off!

The first match up features the following 3 recipes:

  • Dressed to the Nines Sweet Potatoes ~ The UnDiet Cookbook
  • Loaded Sweet Potatoes ~ Oh She Glows Every Day
  • Thai Bakes Sweet Potatoes ~ Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking

So I make a list of the ingredients for all 3 recipes, determine what I already have on hand, and reduce my list to the few items I have to pick up. Turns out, 6 medium sweet potatoes can run a person upwards of $10 LOL

One of the recipes is already set to serve 2 and since there is only one of me, I decided to make all three recipes to serve 2 …

Contestant Number 1: Dressed to the Nines Sweet Potatoes (picture as shown in the cookbook)

dressed-to-the-nines-sweet-potatoes

Damn, right!? Ok let’s get this show on the road!!

The recipe was very easy to follow. The amount of coconut oil that is called for to cook the onion and garlic seemed like a bit much, but it worked out perfectly.

I also had to make the “Tahini Dressing” in this cookbook as it was called for as the drizzle on the sweet potato. And this also super easy recipe is absolutely DELICIOUS!!! Holy Hannah it’s got flavour!!!

The sweet potatoes could have cooked for another 10 – 15 minutes longer, but I’d already cooked them the “maximum” 60 minutes as outlined in the book … and I was starving! Plus it all smelled so good, I couldn’t wait any longer.

dressed-to-the-nines-sweet-potatoes-1

Once assembled, and photographed – of course!, I dug right in. I’m really glad I started out with this recipe as it lived up to its typed hype!

dressed-to-the-nines-sweet-potatoes-2

I would absolutely recommend this recipe (& cookbook) and cannot wait to try some of the other recipes!

Just a couple of nights from now I’ll dig into the next Recipe Taste Off contestant! Stay tuned …

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