All About Oils – What to Use When & A Tropical Traditions

As I have sought to learn all there is to know about fat, one thing I have learned is to keep it simple. It’s easy to get confused and discouraged when trying to remember what’s good for me and what is bad.

Here our list of fats we use on a daily basis:

For Salads:

Use Olive Oil. Olive Oil is best used cold due to its tendency to break down under high temperatures. When you use olive oil cold, you ensure retention of all the wonderful nutrients.

  • Rich in Vitamin E
  • Full of powerful antioxidants (polyphenols)

We use Olive Oil for salads almost always. The only exception is my homemade Probiotic Ranch Dressing.

One of my more famous dressings is my Raw Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing. It is requested often (even by those who eat a conventional diet 😉 ).

Leigh Ann’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing:

In a pint size mason jar combine the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (you can substitute Balsamic Vinegar as well)
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • minced garlic (1-3 cloves)
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1 t basil
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  •  t dry mustard (optional)

Put the lid on the jar and give it a good shake. Store in refrigerator.

Note: It will solidify in the refrigerator. I will just pull the jar out when I start cooking to let it come to room temperature (or at least liquify).

For cooking:

Use butter liberally. The best butter is the kind you get from a local farmer. Your butter should be more on the orange-y side (is that a word?). Most butters that you find in the supermarket will be a pale yellow color.

I want to quote something for you from the book Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck. This book has been invaluable! I highly, highly recommend it.

In her chapter on Real Fats, she explained the reason for consuming full fat milk and entire eggs. It is a lengthy quote, but completely worth your time to read, I think. It was a complete paradigm shift for me. My emphasis added.

Consider, for example, two near-perfect foods: eggs and milk. Both foods are a complete nutritional package, designed for a growing organism’s exclusive nutrition, and must contain everything the body needs to assimilate the nutrients they contain. Thus the fats in the egg yolk aid digestion of the protein in the white, and lecithin in the yolk aids metabolism of its cholesterol. The butterfat in milk facilitates protein digestion, and saturated fat in particular is required to absorb the calcium. Calcium, in turn, requires vitamins A and D to be properly assimilated, and they are found only in the butterfat. Finally, Vitamin A is required for production of bile salts that enable the body to digest protein. Without the butterfat, then, you don’t get the best of the protein, fat-soluble vitamins, or calcium from milk. That’s why I don’t eat, and cannot recommend, egg white omelets and skim milk. They are low-quality, incomplete foods (page 181).

Therefore, cooking with butter is a good idea because of it’s high saturation level. This means it can be heated to higher temperatures before breakdown (smoking) occurs. It is a much less delicate fat. By keeping it intact, your body has a better chance of properly assimilating all the nutrients from the food you are cooking. Not to mention, your food will taste better.

Use a combination of olive oil and butter. Most of us probably use olive oil for our cooking needs. We’ve been told it’s healthy and good for us. I’ve told you some of the possible troubles with olive oil when heated, but I think this will be a hard one to give up for most. However, due to olive oil’s delicate nature, I would submit that you at least use half olive oil, half butter when sauteing. The butter, which is much more stable, will help the olive oil stay in tact.

Use Coconut Oil. This is hands down my favorite oil for cooking. Did you know that the Polynesians, who eat coconuts and coconut oil every day, call it the “Tree of Life?” Coconut oil has been used for centuries, but went out of fashion when saturated fats were said to be bad for you. Thankfully, coconut oil is making its reappearance.

Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain saturated fatty acids, which do not have to be emulsified by bile acids before they are digested. Research shows that the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil boosts the body’s metabolism, raises body temperatures, and helps provide greater energy which can lead to weight loss.

Additionally, coconut oil’s main fat, lauric acid, is an antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral fatty acid, which is also found in breast milk. Interestingly enough, Dr. Mary Enig suggests the average adult include about 3.5 tablespoons of coconut oil per day in their diet to take in an equivalent amount of lauric acid that a nursing infant would receive from breast milk. Furthermore, research shows that lauric acid helps build immunity and protects against (and even said to kill) many infectious diseases, such as HIV, measles, herpes, strep, and more.

Pretty impressive track record, if you ask me.

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, which lengthens its shelf life and makes things flaky when used for baking. As a cooking oil, its chemical structure is kept in tact and therefore is resistant to mutations of fatty acid chains even when used in higher cooking temperatures, unlike most vegetable oils.

Where to buy Coconut Oil?

Finally, I have found that coconut is a scary oil for those who aren’t used to cooking with it.

For this reason, I was excited when Tropical Traditions asked me to try out a jar of their 32-oz. – Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil. We had been using another brand of coconut oil for years. As  a result, I was prepared to be disappointed in Tropical Traditions. Alas, I was not. They have won me over.

Tropical Traditions’ coconut oil is by far the best I have ever had. I found myself dipping a spoon into the jar and eating the coconut oil raw. Yum!

We also used the oil for scrambling eggs, sauteing squash and zucchini, smoothies, and a spread on our toast. I learned that Samuel will eat anything if there is enough coconut oil on it. 😉 He loves sucking on veggies to get all the coconut oil out first.

What I like about Tropical Traditions is their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil  is that it is not mass produced. It is made by families who are coconut farmers using old-fashioned traditional methods that have been used in the Philippines for hundreds of years. Their coconut trees and family producers are certified organic according to strict USDA standards. The families who produce the oil are also trained according to GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) standards and re-certified each year.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Here are some resources to help you explore the benefits of adding good quality fats to your diet and where (not all but) most of my information comes from.

Web information:

Know Your Fats – Weston A. Price Foundation (scroll down to the bottom for lots of wonderful articles)

This post contains my referral link. Please see my disclosure policy here.



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  1. I want to try the Amazing Coconut Pecan Bread Pudding Recipe. Sounds yummy! I love Tropical Tradition coconut oil. Would love to try all of their products!

  2. I will be trying the Gluten-free Applesauce Cookies. I love Tropical Traditions coconut oil, coconut flour, moisturizing cream, body lotion, and RECIPES!!!

  3. Hi Leigh Ann, I came to this post via the link in your 20-Minute Meals ebook. I’m looking forward to trying several of the recipes!

    I’m wondering if you know where on the spectrum of healthy oils sunflower seed oil lies. I live in Tanzania, East Africa, and that’s by far the most commonly used oil here.

    1. I had to go do some reading to get my answer for you. I had a hunch, but wanted to be sure before I responded. Here is the best summary I found (and one I would agree with): “[Sunflower seed oil is] insanely high in PUFAs with little to no Omega-3s to balance them out, sunflower seed oil is a pretty bad choice for sauteeing, baking, roasting, and even salad making. Trouble is it’s everywhere, and it has a reputation for being healthy. Just don’t keep the stuff in your house (not a problem; it’s flavorless, odorless, and completely boring), and keep dining out in cheap chain restaurants to a minimum (or you could do what I do and request everything be cooked in butter), and you should be able to avoid sunflower seed oil.” The problem with fats from oils is that if we eat anything from package (and we do occasionally), we’re going to take in bad fats. I would say let grace cover that and while you’re at home choose a healthy fat that will boost your overall health. When you have a choice, choose butter or coconut oil. But don’t sweat it if you eat out every now and then. Hope that helps!

      Btw – here is the link for the rest of the article: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/healthy-oils/#axzz38skopkUc

      1. Thanks so much for going the extra mile to provide me an answer. I appreciate that! I had been mislead by the false reputation sunflower oil had as being healthy. I’ll start looking for coconut oil. Ironically, there are lots of coconuts grown on the coast here in Tanzania but I’ve never seen coconut oil in the supermarkets. I’m on my way back to the States for a visit so maybe I’ll pick up a couple of jars there to bring back.

        Thanks again for your help!