There is nothing like gathering around the table with loved ones and enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal. I love adding flavor to nutritious foods with spices and herbs. The flowers and herbs that grow right in our own gardens are a solid choice! When an herb or fruit isn’t in season (or you simply can’t grow it where you live) it can be a real challenge substituting ingredients in that recipe you are so excited to prepare for the ones you love. The solution is adding essential oils to replace those hard to find, out of season ingredients or to just try your hand at this facet of the essential oil world.
Here are a few helpful hints when cooking with essential oils:
Less is More: Essential oils are a highly concentrated portion of their original source. To put things into perspective, think on this: There are approximately 60 drops of essential oil in 1 teaspoon of dried herbs or spices. Essential oils have a stronger flavor than dried herbs and spices, therefore, start with just one or two drops, taste and then add more to your liking.
Ratios: The juice from an entire lemon, orange, grapefruit or lime, can be replaced with 10-15 drops of essential oil. 1 tablespoon of marjoram, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, fennel, dill, black pepper or coriander can be replaced with only 1 drop of its companion oil. For dishes that call for less than 1 teaspoon of an herb or spice, dip a toothpick in the essential oil and swirl it in the recipe to blend it in. The toothpick method works well when using stronger essential oils, like cinnamon bark, clove, ginger, nutmeg and oregano.
Read Labels: Buy oils from a reputable company that has no problem sharing information with you. Do they use pesticides on their crops? Are the plants harvested at their peak? How do they extract the oil? Do they dilute oils with water, alcohol or a carrier oil (olive, coconut, etc.)? Is there testing done after distillation to check the quality of the finished product? This is important information to know, because not all essential oils are created equal. Many of the oils you can purchase are distilled by using a toxic chemical called Hexane. Always look for 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade oils. These are the only oils which are regulated and independently tested for purity. The bottle of oil should not have an expiration date. 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade oils do not contain carrier oils that could go rancid.
Cut Down on Waste: For most recipes you might only need a squeeze of lemon or lime and then are left with the rind, pulp, etc. On occasion, these “leftovers” can be utilized in other ways, though quite often they wind up in the trash or compost bin. What a waste! When you use essential oils, especially if an ingredient isn’t in season, the cost and waste factor are greatly reduced. You only need one to two drops for each recipe and your bottle of essential oil can last for months.
Add Late in the Game: If you are using oils in a hot dish be sure to add them toward the end of the cooking process. Heat won’t change the flavor, but it does change the therapeutic qualities found in the essential oils you are cooking with. Reap ALL of the health benefits and don’t overheat the oils. Add essential oils to a cold dish just before serving.
Essential oils are not only delicious, but are a great source of health and wellness. Lemon draws out toxins stored in the liver. The properties in Lavender oil are known for calming and relaxation. Cardamom essential oil is associated with digestive wellness and can relieve nausea. Clary sage can help regulate hormonal imbalances. Cooking with essential oils is a win-win. Great flavors and amazing health benefits.
When trying your hand at cooking with essential oils, a good rule of thumb is to use essential oils in dishes that you know would be good with dried herbs, spices or fruit juices. Simply try a companion essential oil. Some ideas might be:
- Try cinnamon essential oil with chicken, fruit, sweet potato, squash, breads and fruit juices.
- Basil, oregano and rosemary essential oils go well with Italian dishes and can liven up fish, soups, savory breads and grains.
- Citrus oils like orange, lemon, tangerine and grapefruit, go well with chicken, seafood, fruits, vegetable salads, smoothies, bread, cake and cookies.
- Dill essential oil adds tanginess to fish, chicken, pasta and most vegetables.
- Thyme essential oil is fantastic in poultry gravy, gumbo, pasta and egg dishes.
Here are a couple of our favorite recipes. These are a great way to enter the realm of cooking with essential oils:
Brew a strong cup of your favorite black tea. Steep for 2 or 3 minutes and then add:
1 drop Cardamom oil
1 drop Cinnamon oil
1 drop Clove oil
1 drop Black Pepper oil
Add in whichever type of milk you prefer (almond, coconut, hemp or dairy)
This tea is fantastic for supporting your digestive system. Clove oil has been used for thousands of years for gum and tooth health.
Buttery Lemon Chicken Pasta
Serves 4 Prep Time: 25 Minutes
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 rotisserie chicken, pulled
Freshly ground black pepper
12 oz. angel hair or thin spaghetti pasta
1/4 c. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
5-10 drops of Lemon essential oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
3 c. baby spinach
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook angel hair pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water and set aside.
Add butter to a skillet set on medium high heat. Let melt, then add garlic and red onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in crushed red pepper flakes. Pour in 1/4 cup reserved water.
Add pulled chicken along with spinach to skillet. Gently toss until spinach is wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add pasta and toss. (Add more pasta water if desired.)
Add 5-10 drops of lemon essential oil and toss until combined.
Top with Parmesan cheese.
There are countless cookbooks and internet recipes available to begin building quite a collection of sure to be family favorite meals. The possibilities truly are endless.
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This information should not be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis or courses of treatment. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using these products.
- 1Replace fruits and herbs that are out of season without breaking the bank.
- 2Cut down on waste that ends up in your trash bin by using essential oils in your recipes.
- 3Cooking with essential oils can rid your liver of toxins, promote relaxation, support your digestive system and regulate hormones.
Essential oils are not only delicious, but are a great source of health and wellness. Lemon draws out toxins stored in the liver.
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