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Oil is Life – Quality Oils and Infusion Method

Oil is life.  Oil has been a staple in the human diet for centuries and has served us well for much of our human existence. If you ask the ancient Greeks, it was the minor god Aristaeus who the world can thank for olive oil, and it was likely a small bit of olive oil that fueled the Hanukkah miracle.  Oil pressed from olives is renowned for its health benefits and was even at one time used to slather Olympic athletes’ bodies before the games.These days, with turning a profit being the focus of much of the movers and shakers behind our food chain, high quality oils are rarely used in the foods they produce.  Oil made from rapeseed (canola), which was formerly considered only fit to use in industrial applications, has found its way into most food products available for sale today.  Take five products off the store shelves and read the ingredients, it becomes apparent that rapeseed (canola), and other toxic oils, such as highly processed sunflower and safflower oils, are one of the primary ingredients almost every product available on the shelves.  One of the biggest changes we can make as individuals to improve our diet is to eliminate these inflammatory oils entirely and replace them with health oils such as avocado and olive.  Doing this effectively means abstaining from most of the food products offered in stores, especially the center most isles.  The healthy oils that will fill the void have a fat profile rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which support heart health and reduce inflammation in the body.  Oil made from avocados is not only heart healthy and full of nutrients but has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor profile, making it the ideal oil to use in most recipes calling for a more toxic oil like one made from rapeseeds, sunflower or safflower.  Animal fats such as ghee, beef tallow, and lard have been demonized by the same entities that place a false food halo over sugar-based products, advertising them as fat free foods.   In contrast animal fat, specifically the cholesterol found within, is the precursor to our sex hormones testosterone and estrogen.  If you are surviving a winter and all you have available to eat is meat that you were lucky enough to hunt, ensuring you consume eighty percent of your calories as actual animal fat is an essential practice.  In the absence of carbohydrates or fat, a diet of only lean protein can become toxic to the liver.  The quality of oil or fat we consume is an important indicator of the general quality of our diet and food we eat.  Throughout this book recipes incorporating oil will reference cooking oil, ghee or avocado oil is recommended for those applications.  If ghee or oil made from avocados is not available, extra virgin olive oil is a delicious alternative.FLAVORED OIL INFUSIONSInfusing oil is easy and can result in some fantastically delicious flavors.  Adding a bit of infused oil can turn a simple dish extraordinary and can pair delectably with a fine balsamic vinegar as dipping sauce to serve with sourdough bread.  Infusing oil is as simple as warming it gently over the stove for 30-40 minutes with whatever flavor you want to be present in the oil.  Garlic, basil, thyme, and red chilies is a classic combination.   One of my favorite infusions is the Five Spice Garlic Chili Oil featured in this blog, which keeps for weeks in the cupboard, packs a ton of flavor bringing a rich base to Asian inspired dishes, and is also the quintessential dumping dipping sauce when combined with a bit of black vinegar and julienned fresh ginger.

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