Before we dive into cooking, I wanted to touch on internal usage of essential oils, as they go hand in hand.
Certain essential oils have a rich culinary history and can be used as dietary supplements supporting a variety of healthy conditions. When you sprinkle cinnamon on your oatmeal, sip a mug of peppermint tea, or add fresh basil leaves to your spaghetti, you are actually consuming some volatile aromatic essential oil compounds.
Essential oil contributes many health benefits as well as flavoring and aroma properties to foods. When in their concentrated form, essential oils can be used as dietary supplements for more targeted and potent health benefits. Internal use is a very safe and effective method of application because of the sophisticated physiologic processes of our bodies.
When ingested, essential oils directly enter the blood stream via the gastrointestinal tract, where they are transported throughout the rest of the body. Essential oils are lipid soluble so they are readily transported to all organs of the body, including the brain. Then, like all things we consume, essential oils are metabolized by the liver and other organs and are then excreted.
The composition of essential oils is highly complex. Each constituent possesses a unique set of biochemical properties that react with cells and organs in different ways. Although these mechanisms of action are not completely understood, the positive end results have been demonstrated. However, the body is only equipped to handle appropriate doses of essential oils.
Proper dosing according to labeling recommendations and other professional guidelines should be strictly followed to avoid toxicity.
Effective Methods of Internal Application
- Use oils in recipes for cooking or baking to replace fresh or dried herbs and spices
- Remember that essential oils are much more potent than dried or fresh herbs and spices, so start with a very small amount
- For more potent oils, it may be better to administer them by toothpicks (dip the end of a clean toothpick into the oil and then add to the food) rather than drops
- Add essential oils to water, smoothies, milk, tea, or other drinks
- Take essential oils internally in a veggie capsule or add to a small amount of applesauce or yogurt
Now that we have covered that, lets talk about the cost-effectiveness of using essential oils in your cooking! Because your oils can be used year round, and last indefinitely when stored in a cool, dark location, you can see already how beneficial that is. Fresh herbs and plants go bad quickly, and also have to be in season too! Convenience is also huge, as you spend less time prepping (i.e. chopping, zesting, grating, etc) and more time enjoying your meal!
How much do I use to Substitute my Herbs and Spices?
This varies depending on the essential oil you will be using, but a good rule of thumb to remember is how potent and concentrated the oils are, so you only need a little bit. This is typically one or two drops, but some oils are super duper strong, in which case dipping a toothpick in that oil and stirring the toothpick into your dish is preferable.
If you are planning to add your oils at the end of cooking your meal, smaller amounts of essential oil are best. If you are planning to add them before you simmer, bake, or steam, the oils will evaporate a bit under the heat. For this reason, it’s generally best to add them at the end of cooking. This of course doesn’t apply to some of the stronger oils, that actually benefit from a longer cook time to produce a lighter or milder flavor. Below you can easily identify the stronger oils with (S) for strong.
What Essential Oils can be Used in Cooking?
These add a beautiful and tangy, citrus zestiness to drinks, main dishes, desserts, and more.
- Wild Orange
Sweet Spice Oils
Use these oils for sweet dishes, desserts, and sweet beverages. I love adding some of these oils to my morning Latte!
- Clove (S)
Savory Spice Oils
I love using these oils for my savory dishes. They are perfect for appetizers, main courses, and snacks!
- Basil (S)
- Thyme (S)
- Black Pepper
- Cumin (S)
- Oregano (S)
- Rosemary (S)
- Marjoram (S)
Parsley-Basil Steak Recipe
- Trim excess fat from meat.
- Place steaks, parsley, garlic, olive oil, and Basil essential oil in gallon-sized plastic bag and marinate, 4 hours, in refrigerator.
- Season steak with salt and pepper. Grill or broil meat until desired doneness is achieved.
Which oils are you most excited to try out? Citrus? Sweet? Savory? All of them? Let me know! I’d love to know which oils are your favorites to cook with!