By Claire Galea
I’ve always considered myself a not too bad cook – I’m not afraid to try anything, I make up my own recipes and feel my speciality is Italian sauces with pasta. However, when I started cooking with essential oils, it took my skills, and taste buds, to a whole new level. The vibrancy of the flavours is so intense that quick and simple dishes are easily turned into culinary affairs. Anyone, and I mean absolutely anyone, can turn themselves into a chef by adding this secret little ingredient.
The first time I used oregano oil in my Bolognese sauce, my kids were so engrossed with the flavour: “Wow mum, this is delicious, it’s the best Bolognese you’ve ever cooked!”, that they forgot to complain about the fact there was no meat in it – I do try to squeeze a vegetarian meal into them whenever I can!
Whatever dish you try, the tastes are fantastic and there are absolutely no exceptions to the rule. Whether it’s starters or desserts, sauces or dips, you can add essential oils to absolutely anything – I even add them to my mulled wine in winter, my frozen sorbet and my 48-hour simmering bone broth. One of my customers started her own natural chocolate company and used the oils for her different flavours, and although I’m not a cocktail drinker, I hear they’re also lovely in a fruity cocktail too.
To give you some examples:
There’s no big secret or skill to cooking with essential oils, you can add them to any dish in the way you would any other seasoning or flavouring. Of course, it’s important to choose a food grade essential oil such as doTERRA, but there are other edible available too. Essential oil flavours are many times more potent than fresh or dried herbs, so one caution is that you do need to be careful when adding them to your ingredients - one drop too much can overpower the dish and ruin your efforts. I found this out the hard way while making a guacamole with lime oil and cilantro oil (coriander leaf). The essential oil came out of the bottle too fast and before I could stop it, two drops had gone in instead of one. It actually ruined my guacamole and it was my last avocado. So, definitely measure out your drops on a spoon before adding to your cooking and where you can, mix them with a liquid first for even distribution.
When using essential oils in a meal, like a sauce, casserole or soup it’s best to avoid adding them to a hot oil. Instead, add them along with the other seasonings or as the final ingredients. This is because, when fats and oils are exposed to high heat they can become damaged and toxic, and this is particularly true of polyunsaturated fats, including most vegetable and other oils like canola, corn and sunflower oil. When heated, they release high concentrations of chemicals called aldehydes, which have been linked to illnesses including cancer, heart disease and dementia.
Professor Grootveld, of De Montford University in Leicester, UK says: “People have been telling us how healthy polyunsaturates are in corn oil and sunflower oil. But when you start messing around with them, subjecting them to high amounts of energy in the frying pan or the oven, they undergo a complex series of chemical reactions which results in the accumulation of large amounts of toxic compounds.” 
So, it’s important to cook only with fats that are stable at high heat such as coconut oil, butter or lard with high smoke points.
Cooking an essential oil will also damage its properties, so while you will benefit from the deep and rich flavours, their therapeutic benefits will be lost. This is also the same reason why you shouldn’t really heat an essential oil in an oil burner or over a candle – not only will it kill its healing benefits, but some oils may become toxic above certain temperatures. Even on a very hot day it’s best to keep your essential oils in the fridge as they start to deteriorate at temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius.
Remember, essential oils are extremely powerful so it’s important to avoid using any plastic cooking utensils such as spoons or bowls as the plastics may interact with or absorb the essential oils.
It’s easy to use essential oils to add a bit of excitement to any dish, sauce, soup, dessert or cake and really the only limit is your imagination!
Sources and further information:
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