Almond oil's light, clean flavor makes it a great substitute for canola oil in baking; it also has a high smoke point, useful for sautéed foods. Before chopping the figs, coat your knife with a little almond oil to prevent sticking. After cooking, dip biscotti in melted bittersweet chocolate for an extra-special treat. View recipe
Neutral-tasting grapeseed oil is ideal for this versatile vegan mayonnaise. Chipotles mask grapeseed oil’s green color, but you can play up the color as well: Eliminate the chipotle and substitute tarragon or basil leaves instead, or make a citrus mayo by using lime juice instead of vinegar. Spread on whole-grain bread and layer with avocado, lettuce, and tomato; use in potato salad instead of traditional mayonnaise; or thin this version with additional oil and vinegar to make a creamy salad dressing. View recipe.
Avocado oil has a light, clean flavor and abundant monounsaturated fats; it’s a great choice when the taste of olive oil would overwhelm. It also has an extremely high smoke point, making it a good candidate for high-heat cooking. This fresh appetizer uses macadamia nuts, but if they’re pricey or hard to find, substitute cashews or walnuts. View recipe.
Hemp oil has a rich, nutty flavor and beautiful green color that make it the perfect counterpoint to creamy, spicy polenta. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, but has a very low smoke point so should never be heated. Reserve it for drizzling over cooked foods. For more color and nutrition, wilt shredded spinach in a little broth over medium heat; toss with hemp oil and serve on top of polenta. View recipe.
Rice bran oil’s high smoke point, neutral flavor, and monounsaturated fats make it a healthy choice for salad dressings, honey-roasted nuts, or other dishes where you don’t want the oil’s flavor to take center stage. Using it to massage raw cabbage softens the vegetable’s texture and flavor. If you don’t have time to soak your cashews, just add a little extra water and rice bran oil. View recipe.
True to its name, tea seed oil comes from Camellia sinensis seeds. Long used in Asian cooking, it has the highest monounsaturated fat content of any plant oil and a smoke point that withstands frying and other high-heat applications. It’s gaining popularity, but if you can’t find it, organic canola oil is a fine substitute. In this recipe, ice water and minimal mixing are keys to a light, crispy batter; if you don’t think you’ll work fast enough to keep the batter cold, mix half at a time. View recipe.
Branch out beyond the olive and become familiar with the wonderful world of healthy oils out there.