Amazon icon Audible icon Autographed icon Book Bub icon Booksprout icon Buy Me a Coffee icon Email icon Facebook icon Goodreads icon Instagram icon Mastodon icon Patreon icon Periscope icon Pinterest icon RSS icon Search icon Snapchat icon TikTok icon Tumblr icon Twitter icon Vine icon Youtube icon LinkedIn icon

Tag: grapeseed 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

Simple Stir-Fry with Rice Noodles and Tofu

Every so often I get a bee in my bonnet about a food I want to taste. Yesterday, I saw someone eating a delicious-smelling Chinese dish out of a take-out container and I knew right then that I would have to make a noodle stir-fry for dinner.

What I love about stir-frying is that you can toss just about anything in a wok and it will be tasty.

StirFryNoodlesWhat I hate about stir-frying is that it entails so much precision cutting before you start cooking, and then constant attention from the cook once the frying starts. I would prefer not to be on my feet and focused on cooking for that long — hey, I have MS, you know?

But, sometimes you just gotta do it to get the foods you love made from trustworthy and acceptable ingredients.

I began by softening a package of Thai Kitchen Stir-Fry Rice Noodles in boiling water. These have two items on the ingredients list: rice, water. Perfect for a gluten-free meal.

While I prefer to use fresh Extra-firm tofu for stir-fries, the package I pulled out of the fridge expired two months ago — eeeuuww! Luckily, I like to keep a package or two of Mori-Nu Silken Extra-Firm Tofu in the pantry for just this kind of tofu emergency. I opened and squeezed the tofu, then sliced it into bite-sized rectangles. I set the rectangles in a dish and added a quick marinade with one of my faves: Annie’s Naturals Shiitake & Sesame Vinaigrette.

I sliced mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, and a half of a zucchini that was left over from a previous meal.

I heated up my cast iron wok and put in some Grapeseed Oil with a splash of sesame oil. I’ve been cooking more frequently with grapeseed oil these days instead of canola oil and have been really happy with most of the results, especially when frying. (It didn’t do so well in our Rice Krispie treats — they turned out too soggy.)

The sesame oil adds a depth of flavor, but cooking in sesame seed oil alone can be too intense. I like to mix it with another oil.

I rolled the tofu cubes on a plate covered with Sugar In The Raw and set them carefully in the wok. I flipped them as they carmelized, then transferred them to a waiting plate. I know that you’re supposed to cook the meat first when stir-frying, but I think next time I’ll cook the tofu last. I had to wipe little bits of burnt tofu out of the pot later on, which bugged me.

Carrots went in next, were fried, and replaced with asparagus in 1″ lengths, and then the zucchini and mushrooms.

Finally, I took the drained and rinsed noodles and added them to the wok with the fried tofu and some more of the Annie’s.

At the end, it needed just a dash of sea salt to bring out all the delicious flavors, and everyone cleaned their plates. A yummy meal that you can prepare much more quickly by pre-cutting the veggies (wish I had that kind of forethought or pre-planning capabilities!).

Baby Artichokes with Cashews and Lemongrass

I must confess I’m a little obsessed with lemongrass right now.

I’m intrigued by its lemon-y flavor without the citrus-y tang. I’m finding it does great things to Glorious One-Pot Meals (see the recipe for Great Grape Scallops, too!)! Here’s a delicious vegetarian recipe I whipped up, inspired this time by a clamshell of baby artichokes on sale for $3.99 at Whole Foods recently.

Baby Artichokes with Lemongrass
Baby Artichokes with Cashews and Lemongrass

While my kids love eating large steamed artichokes — scraping the base of the leaves off with your teeth, savoring the delectable heart — the last time I trimmed, halved, and sauteed baby artichokes the reception was lukewarm, at best. This time, they pulled the outer leaves off of the babies and ate the infused flowers as if they were larger chokes, then chowed down on the center hearts with relish, so I think it must have been more acceptable (familiar?) to them. The adults ate the chokes in one scrumptious bite, of course!

The cashews add protein to this vegetarian meal, as well as an addictive flavor and crunch. Besides, it’s something different than the usual ho-hum protein source.  🙂

Here’s the recipe for Baby Artichokes with Cashews and Lemongrass:

1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil or canola oil
3/4 cup quinoa
1 cup broth or water
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1-2 large beets, scrubbed and sliced thinly
2 cups cauliflower florets
10-12 baby artichokes, trimmed and quartered
1/2 cup shelled cashew nuts
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 stalk lemongrass

Preheat the oven to 450F. Wipe the inside and lid of a cast iron Dutch oven with grapeseed oil.

Pour in the quinoa and broth and swirl to settle in an even layer and coat every grain. Sprinkle with shallots.

Arrange the beets in a layer, topped with the cauliflower. Set the artichokes on top and scatter the cashews. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Split the lemongrass stalk and smash with the flat of a knife. Set on top, cover, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully-cooked meal escapes the oven.

Great Grape Scallops

Here’s a light and flavorful Glorious One-Pot Meal recipe I whipped together last week from some sea scallops that were on sale at the grocery store and a bunch of purple grapes. It’s a great summer meal… and don’t forget the summer trick of cooking in a toaster oven plugged in on the porch or patio!

I’ve also been playing around with different kinds of oils in my recipes, and this time tried grapeseed oil instead of the usual canola or olive. It seemed to have a lighter touch than other oils. Try it for yourself, or just use canola oil in this recipe and it will be fine. Sesame oil might be yummy, too, here.

Lemongrass Scallops Glorious One-Pot Meal
Lemongrass Scallops Glorious One-Pot Meal

1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp. fresh minced ginger
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1 cup dry multi-colored orzo
1/3 cup broth (vegetable or chicken) or water
1/2 – 3/4 lb. scallops (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cucumber, peeled or not, and cut into 1″ speers
2 cups packed spinach leaves, roughly chopped
10-12 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 cups purple grapes, halved
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sugar or Agave
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 stalk lemongrass, halved and smashed

Preheat the oven to 450F. Wipe the grapeseed oil around the inside of a cast iron Dutch oven and lid.

Scatter the ginger, garlic, shallots, and orzo across the base, then add the liquid and swirl to settle into an even layer and coat all the noodles.

Separate the scallops and lay them on top of the orzo, then blanket with spinach. Toss the Brussels sprouts in, then the grapes.

In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, salt, and red pepper flakes, then drizzle over all.

Split the lemongrass stalk and smash with the flat of a knife to release the oils. Set it on top. Now, cover and bake for about 45 minutes, or until 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully-cooked meal escapes the oven.

This recipe is a little unusual for me because I have 2 greens — spinach and Brussels sprouts — but that was what I had in the house that evening. When this recipe appears in the next cookbook, it will likely have corn, yellow squash, or another colored vegetable in place of one of the greens to make it a more well-rounded recipe. I was avoiding bell peppers simply because I already have a recipe in the current cookbook that contains scallops and bell peppers of various colors and I wanted to do something new. Of course, you can do whatever you want when you make this recipe yourself!  🙂

Orzo is a pasta noodle shaped like rice grains. I often get mine from the bulk food bins at the health food store, but you should be able to find it in the pasta section of any grocery store.

The lemongrass gives this meal a tantalizing lemon essence that’s different from using lemon slices. I’ll be using this in other recipes, I’m sure! Enjoy!