I love cooking with my mom, especially when she’s curious about making healthy ingredient swaps.
Traditional Indian cuisine use a lot of oils such as canola, safflower, and vegetable which are rich in omega 6, inflammatory polyunsaturated fats. These types of oils (which also include soybean, sunflower) promote inflammatory conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes
With heart disease, diabetes and hypertension on the rise for the South Asian population in Canada, there’s no better time than now to make the swap to healthier fats and oils.
Let’s Talk Swap:
When I first introduced mom to swapping ingredients, she got pretty cranky. In her mind, why fix something that’s not broken. Teaching her the benefits of these different oils and how the old ones were impacting her body help build awareness and through the awareness, it built habit.
Ghee: Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine and increasingly becoming popular in North America. Ghee is butter which has been melted so as to remove the milk solids and water.
- Ghee has a higher smoking point: it doesn’t destroy all the important phytonutrients in our foods and prevents oxidization protecting us from free radicals
- Ghee is lactose free and casein free: no milk solids are in ghee so those with lactose intolerance and sensitivities are able to use it.
- Ghee is full of butyrate, or butyric acid, is a short-chain fatty acid that plays a central role in gut health.
- Ghee is packed full of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, K, E all of which play a role of keeping our body healthy.
Virgin Coconut Oil: Is extracted from the meat of a mature coconut. Coconut oil has become very popular in the keto community for it’s ability be a used as energy.
- Like ghee, coconut oil has a higher smoking point than other oils.
- Coconut oil is naturally high in saturated fats, which helps to increase HDL (the good cholesterol) and helps convert the LDL (bad cholesterol) into HDL, which decreases the risk for heart disease.
- A recent study shows that coconut oil (a medium chained fatty acid) could help prevent obesity and help fight insulin resistance.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Olive oil is oil that is pressed from olives, the fruits of the olive tree. Be careful, some lower quality versions can be extracted using chemicals, or even diluted with other cheaper oils such as canola or soybean. Click here for 7 Ways to Spot Fake Olive Oil.
- Olive oil has a high smoking point (420°F)
- Olive oil can prevent heart disease, and reduce heart attacks, strokes and death by 30%
- Olive oil reduces inflammation, decreases LDL cholesterol, and lowers blood pressure
Avocado Oil: Avocado oil is the natural oil pressed from the pulp of an avocado. Avocado oil has similar benefits as coconut oil and olive oil.
- Like coconut oil and olive oil, avocado oil can reduce LDL cholesterol
- Like Ghee, avocado oils help neutralize free radical damage resulted from type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and heart disease
- Like the above oils, avocado oil also decreases inflammation in conditions such has arthritis and osteoarthritis
One of my favourite dishes growing up was Dhal (hindi term for lentils). It was a staple dish that we had multiple times a week. Red dhal, Moong Dhal, Yellow Dhal, Black Channa Dhal, it really didn’t matter because everyone would eat it up and ask for seconds. It was no surprise to me that this was one of the recipes my mom decided to make over, swapping out the canola oil for coconut oil.
Traditional Dhal with Coconut Oil Turka
Swapping out the traditionally used canola oil for the healthier coconut oil. In this recipe I blended Red dhal and Moong Dhal.
- 1/4 cup Moong dhal (dry)
- 3/4 cup Red dhal (dry)
- 1/8 tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 tsp Garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp Ginger paste
- 2 Small tomato, diced
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1/4 tsp chili powder (optional)
- Pink salt to taste
- 2 cups of water
- 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp Coconut oil
- 1/2 Small onion, chopped
- 1/4 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 TBSP fresh coriander, chopped
- Dry Red Chili for garnish
- Step 1 Dhal: Soak the dhal for 10-20 mins. Rinse and place in a pot with 2 cups water.
- Step 2 Bring to boil, cover and then turn down the heat to medium. Cook to tender, about 20 mins.
- Step 3 In a separate pan, heat 1 tsp of the coconut oil and add ginger, garlic, tomato, salt and onion, sauté until fragrant and tomatoes are soft. Remove from heat and cool.
- Step 4 When dhal is cooked, remove cover and add turmeric, chili powder, and salt and mix well.
- Step 5 In a blender, add the cool tomato mixture and blend. Once blended, add to the dhal and stir well.
- Step 6 Add lemon juice and stir, then transfer to serving dish.
- Step 7 Turka: Chop onion and place to the side.
- Step 8 Heat pan and add 1 tsp of coconut oil.
- Step 9 Once hot, add cumin seed, and mustard seed to the oil and wait for the mustard seed to make a popping sound.
- Step 10 Add the onion and cook until brown.
- Step 11 Add to the dhal and garnish with fresh coriander and red chili.
Choosing a couple of your favourite recipes to make the small easy swaps is one of the best ways to introduce healthy habits to your diet. For my mom, swapping the oils was her first step.
What will yours be?
Sumbul Zafar, RHN