The Healthiest Cooking Oils

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[infobox subtitle="The Healthiest Cooking Options" bg="gray" color="black" opacity="off" space="30" link="no link"]Oil Alternatives[/infobox] Cooking on the line in a restaurant and cooking at home are two vastly different things: canola oil and butter rule professional kitchens while home cooks have the option of using healthier options to whip up delicious meals.  As a culinary school grad I definitely appreciate the canola and butter - food is cooked perfectly, isn't greasy, and served beautifully.   BUT, making the switch to healthier options is easy.  How do you know which oils to substitute?  It's all about smoke points.

What's a smoke point?  Essentially it's the max temperature an oil can reach before catching fire and burning down your house.  If you've ever been cooking and your pan starts to smoke - well, you've reached the smoke point and you better turn the heat off immediately.  Side note - if you ever start an oil fire DO NOT throw water on it as that will only make it worse.

Anyway, back to my favorite oil alternatives.  As a general alternative to butter I like to use Earth Balance.  It tastes, looks, and functions just like butter.  Sauté with it, bake with it, melt it on toast. Delicious!

For general cooking and sauteeing, I like to use grape seed oil instead of canola oil.  I mean, it's hard to pry the canola oil out of my hand if I'm cooking for a crowd and want spectacularly prepared food but grape seed oil is great for day-to-day cooking because the smoke point is 390 F and canola oil's is 400 F.

For deep frying?  Try sunflower oil instead of peanut oil or Crisco.  The smoke point for sunflower oil is 440F vs. the 440 F for Crisco.  Nice light flavor with sunflower oil also...

Finally, I use an olive oil alternative from time to time when making salad dressing.  A good option? Flaxseed oil! Don't cook with flaxseed oil as an alternative to olive oil as it's unrefined with a low smoke point but it's perfect for a raw dressing.  Also a bonus?  There are great health benefits to using flaxseed oil as it's full of plant omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, and other nutrients.