Organic, extra-virgin olive and coconut oils have been parked in my kitchen (the olive oil frequently residing in my refrigerator) for years.
I hardly ever cook with olive oil, since high heat can easily oxidize it (olive oil has a very low smoke point -- 325 to 375 degrees) and some believe high cooking temperatures degrade it. OK, fine.
To make certain I get all of olive oil's benefits I limit its use to dipping, vinaigrette salad dressing and making my homemade all-organic-olive-oil mayonnaise. A food processor makes creating mayonnaise a breeze. The only hassle: cleaning-up the processor.
Coconut oil has a similar smoke point (350 degrees). I know that today because I checked on it for this column and that changed my mind about using it for sautéing because saute pan temperatures frequently exceed that.
The new kid on my block: avocado oil.
I've been reading a lot of positive articles about avocado oil for the past few months. Price was the only thing that stopped me from buying my first bottle. Organic, cold-pressed extra-virgin avocado oil, if you can even find it, is pricey; nearly $38 for a 16.9-ounce bottle. Wow!
Nonorganic, cold-pressed avocado oils are about one-half to one-third that price ($9.50 to $15). No surprise, my first bottle of avocado oil wasn't organic. I'd have preferred organic to avoid pesticide and herbicide residues, but I assume that avocado's thick skin (where those residues could reside) is removed before pressing.
There are many positive things about avocado oil.
Smoke point: Avocado oil has a higher smoke point (375 to 400 degrees) making it better than olive oil to sauté in. Avocado oil isn't flavorless, but there's a wonderful mildly sweet note component.
Health: Avocados and consequently avocado oil is high in what's considered a healthy oil component -- monounsaturated fat.
Rodale's Organic Life website wrote: "Avocado oil is also one of the best sources of beta-sitosterols, plant-derived compounds that are thought to help lower levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, promote healthy blood vessels, and reduce the risk for heart disease."
Also, avocado oil delivers more vitamin E than olive oil.
Since higher heat can destroy some of those positives, I've also added avocado oil mayonnaise to my pantry. It can be pricey, too; around $10 for 12 to 16 ounces, depending on the brand.
Over the last three months, I've sampled three brands from local stores: Primal Kitchen's Mayonnaise with Avocado Oil, Sir Kensington's Avocado Oil Mayonnaise and Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo.
Primal Kitchen's mayo is sugar-free, Sir Kensington's is sweetened with a small amount of organic cane sugar and Chosen uses a small amount of organic honey. They all have similar fat levels per tablespoon. Their flavors are excellent in everything in which I've used them; from slaws to potato salad, as well as spread thinly on a sandwich. I prefer the flavor of the slightly sweetened mayo.
If you're watching your fat intake, simply use less oil or mayo. Either way, they're all great additions to my kitchen.
Last weekend I had to contribute to a large group get-together and wanted to do something healthy with a twist. I came up with a cabbage slaw made with apples and walnuts. My inspiration: Waldorf salad. Give it a try; you'll love it.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@ theleanwizard.com.