3 Heart-Healthy Oils to Add to Your Pantry

Remember the 1990s when everybody was terrified of fat and Snackwells were king? The cut-fat-out-of-everything approach turned out to be the wrong one and we’re all the happier for it. Except maybe the people at Nabisco*.

In the spirit of 2012, at the start of this year I decided to add some new heart-healthy oils to my cooking arsenal and I’ve never looked back. Here’s what I keep on hand and why:

Grapeseed oil: As I’ve mentioned, grapeseed oil is a great choice for cooking over high heat, much better than olive oil. Grapeseed oil has a neutral taste and very high smoke point, so I use it for nearly all my cooking. It’s also high in vitamin E and polyunsaturated fats, which help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

Walnut oil: I’ve fallen in love with this nutty, super-healthy oil, which is rich in antioxidants and is a great source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 essential fatty acid that decreases blood clotting and inflammation in the body. Beyond that, it just tastes really good — and I don’t even like walnuts generally. Its delicate flavor is lost when it is heated, so I use it in vinaigrettes or drizzled over soup. Store it in the fridge to keep it from going rancid.

Avocado oil: Like olive oil, avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats, as well as vitamin E. This is the priciest oil of the bunch, so I don’t use it very often, but when I do, I keep it simple, drizzling it over vegetables and fish, or mixing it into a creamy cilantro dressing. Avocado oil should also be stored in the fridge; it will get cloudy, but will clear up again when it comes to room temperature.

I also keep an unrefined extra-virgin olive oil on hand, which I mostly use for vinaigrettes (can you tell I love vinaigrettes?) or for drizzling over already-cooked ingredients, since the flavor is so much better if there is no heat involved. And I occasionally cook with virgin coconut oil when its intensely coconutty flavor and scent are appropriate.

In general, look for oils that are expeller-pressed, which means the oil is extracted by pressing the seed/nut/fruit rather than by using a solvent like hexane.

Upgrading your oil collection isn’t cheap, but unless you’re swigging the stuff, each bottle will last you awhile. And your happy heart will thank you.


* Is it just me or does the new Snackwells campaign have a Fifty Shades of Grey S&M vibe? Because nothing goes with patent leather stiletto boots like individually-portioned fudge pretzels!

Friday Links: September 7, 2012

Thanks to Amazon Instant Video, I’ve been catching up with Julia. (Follow me on Instagram: anjaliruth.)


What I’ve been reading:

Introducing Microgreens: Younger, And Maybe More Nutritious, Vegetables – NPR

I’m Sick of Food in Martini Glasses – Bon Appetit

Regulations do change eating behavior – Food Politics

The Truth About Sugar – Eating Well


What I’ve been cooking (on The Kitchn)

Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs

South African Cheese, Grilled Onion & Tomato Panini (Braaibroodjie)

…and thinking about cooking:

Black and Arborio Risotto With Beets and Beet Greens – The New York Times

Fermented Fruit Kvass – Green Kitchen Stories

Charred Fresh Garbanzo Beans

Last week our CSA box from Silver Lake Farms had an ingredient I’ve always wondered about, but hadn’t yet cooked with: fresh garbanzo beans! Still attached to their stems and hidden away in pods, they are the young, chubby-cheeked version of the usual dried-up old chickpeas.

I had to eat one raw, just to see what it was like, and it reminded me of a fresh pea: sweet and a little starchy. I’ve heard they can be treated like edamame, steamed or boiled and eaten out of the pod with a sprinkling of salt, or shelled and whizzed into a green hummus, or sauteed and dressed with a vinaigrette.

I decided to char the pods in a cast-iron skillet with oil and sea salt, and serve them in the pod as a finger food for a Saturday afternoon cocktail gathering that included Hilary and Alexi of Dawdling Darlings. I was running behind in my preparations, though, and didn’t get as much of a char on the pods as I wanted, because they arrived and the dog was flipping out and I had to take the beans off the heat so I could rescue my guests.

Next time I’ll keep the dog in the kitchen and let the garbanzos cook a little longer.

I’ll also be more careful to pick out the very yellowed pods, as the beans inside are a little too dry and starchy for this preparation.

Despite those caveats, this is a dead-simple little snack that is as fun and tasty as edamame, but a lot more interesting.

Get the recipe: Charred Garbanzos at New York Magazine

(Look for fresh garbanzo beans at farmers markets or Whole Foods.)

EYG Gets a Makeover

Welcome to my new look! Thanks to the talented Lindsay at Purr Design, Eat Your Greens is a newer, prettier, better-organized version of its old self, with nicer printable recipes and a more useful design. I hope you like it!

Speaking of liking, I also have a Facebook page now, ready for you to like. Or “like.” Whatever, just click the button. I’m not sure what will happen, but probably exciting photos and recipes and healthy-food-related tidbits will occasionally show up in your feed.

Now get off the Internet and enjoy your long weekend!

Fragrant Yellow Rice

You guys, I feel really bad. I gave you a recipe for spiced lentils and promised to give you the recipe for yellow rice to go with it, and some of you* went out and immediately made the lentils. Without the yellow rice. You need the yellow rice.

So here it is, too late for yesterday’s dinner, but hopefully you liked it enough to try to again. And I’m sorry for depriving you earlier.

This rice recipe originally came from an Indian cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey that I bought at a thrift store many years ago. I think I picked it quite randomly, but it it so good, I’ve made it at least once a month ever since. Though the recipe is Indian, the rice also goes well with Mexican-style food, so I sometimes top it with cumin-spiced black beans and salsa, or put it in burritos.

To make it even more international, I make it with Thai jasmine rice, since that is the white rice I always happen to have on hand. I’ve thought about trying it with brown rice, but haven’t yet gotten around to it. With white rice, it takes all of 20 minutes to make, the rice bubbling in a pot with a cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves, a bay leaf and some bright yellow turmeric. After steaming, a little butter gets stirred in — you can use olive oil to make it vegan, but I strongly encourage the use of butter if possible — and you have a fragrant pot of bright yellow rice that is so much more than just plain rice.

Now go make some lentils and yellow rice already.


* At least three of you. I think that officially makes mujadarah the most popular recipe on this site. I knew it was special.

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