Tweaklet #59 – Cooking Oils

There was a cheesy TV commercial when I was growing up about car oils with two guys speaking in terrible New York accents and the punchline was “oils and ain’t oils”.

It was cheesy but memorable ad! And I mention it today because this also applies to cooking oils. Some commonly used cooking oils are very bad for our health. So here’s some information about oil that I’ve learned.

The first one to avoid is anything labelled vegetable oil. Usually this is heavily refined soybean oil, or possibly heavily refined cottonseed, safflower, corn or grapeseed. Obviously it’s the heavily refined part that is of concern – they are processed under high heat pressure and using industrial solvents!

The other big issue with these vegetable oils is that they are mostly composed of polyunsaturated fats, which is the most reactive type of fat). This means they are prone to oxidation and free radical production, when exposed to heat and light.

What this means for our body is that these oils cause inflammation which can in turn lead to many internal problems and even serious disease such as cancer and heart disease.

There are a number of other unhealthy oils, like Canola and Margarine, which we’ll tackle in Part Two. For now let’s look at the top three HEALTHY alternatives.

Virgin coconut oil – because it is very stable at medium to high temperatures and full of healthy fats that provide great health benefits.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is good for low temperature cooking and to use in your lovely homemade salad dressings.

Real Butter – particularly grass fed butter which contains important nutrients, vitamins and omega-3s.

So remember my fellow Tweakleters OILS AINT OILS and when you’re cooking, baking and making dressings, consider ditching the vegetable oil and explore some new alternatives.

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Tweaklet #57 – Green Tea vs Black Tea

Are you a tea drinker? If you’re not then I might have a few incentives for you to consider.

Next to water, tea is one of the most consumed drinks in the world. Recently green tea has received more attention for its health benefits, than black tea, but actually, they both contain many beneficial substances that boost good health.

So black and green tea come from the same camellia sinesis plant. They are both harvested from the upper buds and leaves of the plant. Green tea is dried slightly and then heated to stop oxidation and enhance the flavour.

Black tea is crushed and rolled and allowed to oxidize and turn a dark colour before it is harvested. This gives it a stronger richer flavour.

Both green and black tea contain large quantities of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, but different types. What they have in common are flavonoids which protect our bodies against chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more.

These flavonoids protect the heart and blood vessels to lower cholesterol, harmful plaque and blood pressure.

Green tea has some other powerful protective compounds that help to burn fat, boost the immune system, help with allergies and asthma. It also contains very useful amino acids and trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, chromium, manganese, iron, copper and zinc.

Green and black tea both contain caffeine, generally green has slightly less, and both have less caffeine than coffee. Interestingly though it’s the way tea affects brain chemicals that for many people make it preferable to coffee.

Tea helps us feel awake and alert but in a relaxed state of mind, which is a really beneficial balance for your brain and your general state of well being. Hmmm, I like it – calm and alert! Something to strive for!

If you’re wondering which type of tea to choose, studies show both types of tea contain similar beneficial health benefits, but green tea wins big in terms of the amounts of antioxidants it contains.

So all that’s left to be said is get brewing! As always choose a quality product and work out what feels good when you drink it. Sharpening our intuition around food that suits our body is a wonderful thing to practice.

Green tea, black tea another tiny food tweak from Tweaklets.

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Tweaklet #32 Cinnamon – World’s No.1 Spice

Let’s take a look at what is generally referred to as the world’s Number One Spice – cinnamon.

Cinnamon has been used medicinally for thousands of years and in cooking it’s sweet and warming and delicious.  It’s well known for its protective antioxidant properties, but also for being antibacterial, antifungal and anti-diabetic!

Cinnamon actually comes from the oily part of a tree so the popular powdered form is actually tree bark. Interesting huh? And of course, it’s really easy to get and so easy to use, just try to get it from a good source and keep replacing it periodically so that it retains its freshness and potency.

And cinnamon really is potent! As little as half a teaspoon a day can positively affect blood sugar and cholesterol…..digestion and overall immunity.. Cinnamon is also effective in reducing the risk of heart disease……., diabetes……and cancer.

You can keep infections and viruses at bay and maintain healthy brain function through the inclusion of cinnamon in your diet.

When we were talking about cutting out sugar cinnamon is one of the spices that can be a helpful replacement, adding loads of flavour and warmth to food without needing to sweeten it.

Grated fresh cinnamon is great but cinnamon sticks also add real depth of flavour to sweet and savoury dishes or add one to hot water to infuse for a hit of cinnamon tea. Ground cinnamon is wonderful and not just for sprinkling over desserts or oatmeal or yoghurt, it’s also excellent to sprinkle into savoury dishes like soups and stews.

You can also buy cinnamon capsules and as an essential oil.

So, I invite you into the wonderful world of cinnamon and all its medicinal and foodie delights.

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