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Tag: canola oil

Substitutes for Canola Oil

Reader question: After watching your TED talk and learning more about GMOs, I’m wondering: Do we stop using canola oil entirely, or just switch to organic, non-gmo canola? I don’t fry (because I’m too lazy to clean up), but I do use canola oil in baking, as I don’t use butter or any milk products. For salad dressings, marinades and stuff like that, I use olive oil. Thanks! ~Angel A., Denver, CO

Angel, I personally advocate for avoiding canola oil entirely.

Canola oil should not be your oil of choice when cooking or baking.
I think you should stop using canola oil.

Yes, I know that canola is used in many of the recipes in my cookbook, but I have learned a lot since I first wrote the book in 2001. I used to be a fan of canola oil, but now I know better. And so should you.

Not only is 90% of our canola crop now genetically modified, but canola is not from a plant that we ate during our evolution on this planet. In fact, there is no “canola plant.” A little history of canola oil can be helpful to know:

Rapeseed oil has been used as an industrial oil to lubricate machinery for a long time because it sticks to metal. During WWII there was a high demand for industrial lubricants and Canadian rapeseed oil producers expanded to meet the demand. After the war, there was an intense effort to breed a rapeseed plant that would produce a low erucic acid rapeseed oil to sell as a cooking oil for human consumption. In 1978, they named it “Canola” to stand for Canadian oil low acid.

The rest, as they say, has been marketing genius.

In terms of replacing canola oil, we want to look for a light, flavorless oil with a high flash point so that it won’t oxidize at higher cooking temperatures and can be used for frying, should you want to. Here are some better oils to consider in place of canola:

  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower seed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Rice bran oil
  • Organic soybean oil

Is is Good to Use Canola Oil in A Glorious One-Pot Meal?

Reader question: Hi Elizabeth, I attended your 3rd breakout session at the NMO conference in LA last Wednesday 11/6. My name is Lora, I was sitting in the front row with my pregnant sister (she asked you about pesticides after the presentation…). Anyway, all of your books had been taken by the time I attended your session, so I bought one on Amazon. I was surprised that some of recipes called for Canola Oil. I might’ve misunderstood, but I thought you mentioned that Canola Oil was created by a chemical company (the name Canola even resembled the company’s name?). Can you please clarify for me? I was telling a friend at work that Canola Oil was bad, but then when your book was delivered to me over the weekend I saw it in your recipes. As a side note, I made my first ever all-organic shopping trip with my husband over the weekend and am committed to making-over our meals! Thanks for your insight. ~ Lora E., Phoenix, AZGlorious One-Pot Meals cookbook

Hi Lora. You’re right: there is a disconnect there. I wrote the cookbook in 2000 and I’ve learned a lot about healthy eating since then that has changed my mind about things like canola oil. During my cooking demonstrations I usually mention something to this effect, that I used to cook with canola oil but no longer believe it is good for human consumption.

The copy of the cookbook you are holding was published by Clarkson-Potter in January, 2009, which means I finished the actual writing of that version in late 2007. It is still in print (more than 50,000 copies sold) which means that until I’m otherwise notified by the publisher, I cannot make any changes to the current text.

Aaahhh… the frustrations of the printed page! It’s much easier to publish e-books because you can change text at will; once the plates are pulled for a print run of a book the text is set in stone.

So, the long and the short of it is that I used to cook with canola oil but I no longer think it is a good choice because it is a GMO grain. Here’s a blog post I wrote about my disillusionment with canola oil.

Let me know if you have any troubles as you prepare Glorious One-Pot Meals and remember that your oven needs to be fully preheated to 450 F before putting the pot inside. There are video cooking demonstrations here to help get you started.

Thanks for writing and happy cooking!