For thousands of years, people have been using essential oils to improve their health and heighten their senses. Topical and aromatic use are certainly great ways to enjoy the healing benefits of essential oils, but what about putting their powers to work from the inside out?
In addition to spicing things up in the kitchen, the internal use of essential oils can offer potent therapeutic benefits. They’re known to support the body’s organ systems and may help balance the metabolism and diminish the harmful effects of chronic stress. Relaxation, exercise, and a wholesome diet are all important components to our overall health. But, with the high stress and toxic environment of modern life, we can all use a little extra boost. How about at meal time?
First, are essential oils even safe to ingest?
Check if a particular essential oil is certified as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA. If the oil is on this list, it’s safe for internal use.
Also, consider the quality of the oil. Most essential oils are made for the perfume industry. They may smell great, but they are often adulterated with chemicals and fillers to manipulate the odor and extend shelf life. Beware of unsubstantiated terms like “natural” that have no measurable meaning. Go with brands that are trusted and guaranteed for their purity. Use caution with certain oils when giving them to children or pregnant or breastfeeding women. Check the label for warnings and recommended use. When in doubt, consult a healthcare professional.
How do I start using essential oils internally?
Many people will add a drop of essential oil to whatever they are drinking, which can be a great way to introduce essential oils into your diet. But remember that oil and water don’t mix. Because oil does not dissolve in water, it’s best to mix your oil with an oil-soluble drink such as soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk so you don’t get a too-concentrated dose in your stomach. Even distribution is important for absorption. Essential oils can also be added to your favorite recipes. Culinary uses are a great way to introduce oils into your diet, dispersing them with the fats in your food.
Why use oils in my cooking?
Aside from the multiple health benefits of incorporating essential oils into your diet, essential oils can deliciously boost the flavors of your food using only a tiny amount. You can substitute the use of expensive fresh herbs with just a drop of oil and have a vast array of difficult-to-find herbs available to you regardless of the season.
How do I use essential oils in my recipes?
Essential oils that come from spices, herbs, or citrus fruits are commonly used in cooking and are the best ones to use in recipes. Essential oils are very concentrated; typically a drop or two is all you will need. Heating essential oils changes their molecular structure, so it’s best to add them to food after it has finished cooking or heating up. You can also use essential oils to flavor cold foods like salad dressings and smoothies.
Easy Ways to Make Your Food Alive with Flavor Using Essential Oils
- Add a couple drops of orange or cinnamon oil to pancake batter or oatmeal.
- Add a drop of lemon to your yogurt or a smoothie.
- Add a drop of lemon or dill to add tang to spreads and dips.
- Add various herbs, like rosemary, plus some lemon to olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a salad dressing or bread dip.
- Add a drop each of basil, rosemary, and thyme to your tomato-based pasta sauce to really punch up the flavor.
- Add a drop of dill to your potato salad.
- Add 2 drops of lemon per can of tuna to your tuna salad.
- Add your favorite flavor oil to boiling water before adding rice.
Tips on Using Essential Oils in the Kitchen
- Citrus oils are pressed from the peel, so they can substitute for the zest but not the juice.
- To have better control over the amount of oil you add to a recipe, place your drops on a spoon before stirring them in.
- Substitute 1 drop of oil for 1–2 Tbsp. of dried spice or herb and 1 drop of oil for 1–2 tsp. of fresh spice.
- Some oils are really strong, and a toothpick dipped in the oil, then stirred into your mixture, may be sufficient.
- Use glass or stainless steel mixing bowls. Oils can damage certain types of plastic.
- Keep your oils away from heat, light, and humid conditions to maintain a long shelf life. Refrigerator storage is fine.
- Don’t forget to recap your bottles so the oils don’t evaporate out.
- Because oils are altered by heat and may evaporate, it is always best to add the oils at the end of cooking if possible.
- Oil flavors tend to get stronger the longer the food or beverage sits. So add oils later if it will be awhile before you will be serving the food.
- Keep your oils out of children’s reach.
Remember, the most important thing about cooking with essential oils is to go easy at first and have fun experimenting. Keep tasting as you go. You’ll learn that a little goes a long way in flavor and in healthy benefits.