Embracing Motherhood How to Make the Best Potato Fries

How to Make the Best Potato Fries

As a busy mother of four little ones, I love making healthy food that the kids love that fits our budget. These potato fries do all of those things, and this is why I make a big batch of them at least once a week. I try to make enough so that we’ll have extra, but they don’t usually last very long!


  • 6-8 Potatoes (Organic are best, they are one of the dirty dozen!)
  • 2 T. Coconut Oil
  • Real Salt
  • Pepper
  • Optional: Garlic and Onion Powder


  1. Preheat the Pan: A cast iron skillet would probably be ideal, but for convenience sake, I use a plug in skillet like this. Add coconut oil to the pan and warm it up on a low to medium heat until the oil is nice and hot.
  2. Cut the Potatoes: Wash and cut potatoes. I like to cut mine into strips to make into potato fries, but you could also dice them into little potato cubes or potato circles.

    raw cut up potato fries

    Raw Potatoes Cut Into Fries

  3. Add the Potatoes to the Skillet: When you add the potatoes, the oil should be hot enough to pop.
  4. Cook: Cook with the lid off for about 20-30 minutes on low to medium heat. Flip and stir often. If you leave the skillet uncovered, the fries will be crispier, but take longer to cook. If you cover them, they will cook more quickly, but the fries will be softer.

    potato fries cooking

    Potato Fries Cooking

  5. Season: Add the seasonings of your choice, stir, add a little more, stir, and add a little more. I usually just add a bunch of salt and a dash of pepper.
  6. Serve: My kids like their fries with ketchup of course. For me, I like loading them up like I would a baked potato with cheese, sour cream, and chives. Yum!

    potato fries with ketchup

    Potato Fries with Ketchup

How to Identify and Treat Oral Thrush in Babies

How to Identify and Treat Oral Thrush While Breastfeeding 

I remember nursing my six week old baby Ophelia, when I noticed some white spots in her mouth that didn’t seem to go away. After a bit of research, I learned that the shooting pains I had while nursing and the white spots in her mouth were both signs of thrush.

I had been battling a yeast infection throughout the last half of my pregnancy with her, and I thought I had gotten rid of it…but apparently not. It was quite an ordeal to identify and heal from this fungus, and I just wanted to share my journey of what I did and what I learned along the way that helped us to finally get rid of Ophelia’s oral thrush and my nipple thrush, which essentially saved our breastfeeding relationship.

Oral Thrush in Babies

Oral thrush occurs when there is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida Albicans in the mouth.

Oral Thrush in a Baby (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

Oral Thrush in a Baby (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

Candida Albicans lives in the gastrointestinal tract of most adults and children as one of the microbes that helps to break down undigested food. It is only a problem when it grows out of control. This picture below is actually of a young child who had Candidiasis after taking a round of antibiotics, and while not an infant with oral thrush, I think it gives a really nice image of what happens when Candida grows out of control.

A Child with Oral Candidiasis (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

A Child with Oral Candidiasis (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

Oral thrush typically presents itself in the fourth week of a baby’s life. It is very rare in the first week of life and after 6-9 months of age. As many as 39% of infants will develop thrush in the first few months of life.

Nipple Thrush in Nursing Mothers

Because breastfeeding provides a warm, moist, sugary environment, which is precisely where Candida thrives, babies can easily pass their oral thrush to the mother’s nipples, especially if they are already cracked or sore because of a bad latch. If the thrush isn’t treated, it can pass back and forth between mother and baby.

Causes of Oral Thrush

  1. Yeast Infection During Vaginal Birth: New babies are born with a clean gastrointestinal tract void of any microbes whatsoever. Within hours of birth, however, they start to build their own gut flora through exposure to the mother’s vaginal and fecal flora during a vaginal birth, breastfeeding, and exposure to the environment. If the mother has a yeast infection during a vaginal birth, however, the yeast will be one of the first microbes entering a baby’s clean and pristine gastrointestinal tract.
  2. C-Section Birth: If a mother delivers her baby by c-section (as one-third of mothers in the U.S. do), the baby will not getting any of her vaginal or fecal flora, which helps to populate the baby’s gut with healthy microbes. This new study shows how the baby’s gut flora can be disturbed for up to 6 months after a c-section birth, and research shows how a c-section delivery leads to more pathogenic microbes (including Escherichia coli and Clostridium difficile) populating the baby’s gut. When the good microbes aren’t there first, it makes it very easy for the bad ones to take over.
  3. Antibiotics: If a mother tests positive for group B strep (which affects 25% of women), she will be given antibiotics during labor that will cross the placenta and reach the baby. Routine antibiotics are also given after a c-section (and sometimes before) to ward off infection. Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria good and bad, and when a newborn baby is having something introduced to its system that wipes out all of the bacteria before there is any, it makes it easier for something like Candida to take hold and grow out of control.
  4. Steroid Use: If a baby needed a nebulizer and inhaled corticosteroids for say, a bad case of croup, any steroids that get in the mouth can lead to oral thrush.

Signs of Oral Thrush

  1. White Patches in Baby’s Mouth: It might look like little milk spots in your baby’s mouth, but unlike milk spots, they won’t go away on their own. If you tried to scrape them off, you’ll notice that it’s actually an inflamed lesion that may bleed.
  2. Refusing to Nurse: Your baby may refuse nursing or be reluctant to nurse because its painful.
  3. Fussy Baby: Your baby may seem particularly fussy or up a lot in the night.
  4. Yeasty Diaper Rash: Sometimes a yeasty diaper rash will accompany oral thrush. Look for a diaper rash that’s red and inflamed with small blistery lesions that won’t go away with typical diaper rash treatments. I battled this with my son on and off for months. We tried the pharmacist’s recommended “magic butt paste” (which is just regular diaper rash cream mixed with Monistat) which kind of worked, but once we gave him some probiotics, the rash immediately went away and never came back again.

Signs of Thrush in Momma

  1. Painful Nursing: Nursing should not be painful. If it is, it might be a sign of thrush, especially if you’ve ruled out a bad latch. I remember Nursing Ophelia (who was two weeks old at the time) in front of my sister (who was pregnant for the first time) and she looked at me in shock and horror as I all but howled in pain as Ophelia latched on. The intense pain subsided after a bit and I just thought, well, this is part of nursing. But after I treated the thrush, the intense pain went away. (With her being my third baby, you’d think I would have known better, but I have had some sort of breastfeeding problems with all of my four children!)
  2. Shooting Pains: You may feel a deep shooting pain that occurs during or after feedings because the thrush can embed itself deep within your breast tissue.
  3. Cracked Nipples: Your nipples may also be pink or red, shiny, flaky, and/or have a rash with tiny blisters.
  4. Yeast Infection: If you have thrush, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got a yeast infection too.

How to Cure Momma’s Thrush

  1. Limit Sugar: Thrush is caused by Candida and Candida feeds on sugar. You don’t have to give up sugar forever, but if you can get limit Candida’s food source while treating thrush (especially in the form of pure sugar and processed foods), it will be much easier to get rid of.
  2. Probiotics: Probiotics, such as lactobacillus, feed on sugar too (and prebiotics, which can be found in such foods as raw onion, garlic, and asparagus…or as a supplement), and unless they are wiped out by antibiotics or a poor diet, they will keep the Candida in check. You can get them from fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, sourdough, kimchi, keifer, and yogurt. When battling thrush, however, I suggest getting them in a stronger format as well. My favorite probiotics for treating Candida are Bio Kult Candea and Custom Probiotics.
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral miracle worker. I tried every remedy under the sun, but when I used apple cider vinegar, I was finally able to eliminate the thrush. This is what I did.
    • First, mix a solution in a peri bottle with about 2 T. of apple cider vinegar and the rest filtered water (chlorine free).
    • Then, after every breastfeeding session, squirt some onto some cotton balls and wipe your nipples, then throw those cotton balls away!
    • *If you’re pumping and/or using bottles, you have to really sterilize these components after every use. You can use apple cider vinegar, but really hot water will do the trick too.
    • In addition, wash all of your bras and anything your nipples come in contact with hot water and with apple cider vinegar added to the rinse cycle.
    • You can also mix 6 T. per gallon of water (or about 1 t. per 8 ounces) and drink throughout the day to heal from the inside out.
  4. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a soothing anti-fungal topical treatment. After I cleaned my nipples with apple cider vinegar, it felt really soothing and healing to dab a little coconut oil on them. You can also heal yourself from Candida from the inside out by eating it.
  5. Fresh Air: Candida can survive in oxygen, but it really thrives in dark, oxygen free areas. Going shirtless will not only feel good, but your husband/partner might get a kick out of it too! Get some sunlight on those nipples for extra measure because that also kills the fungus.
  6. *Gentian Violet: They say you can paint your nipples with Gentian Violet to get rid of thrush, but when I tried it, it caused Ophelia to go on a complete nursing strike. It was awful. I do not recommend using this on your nipples unless perhaps you plan to pump and bottle feed.
  7. *Grapefruit Seed Extract: I’ve read that you can mix Grapefruit Seed Extract with equal parts water and clean your nipples with it, much the same way that I did with the apple cider vinegar. I did not try this method, but it seems like it might work. (Read more here.)

How to Cure Baby’s Thrush

  1. Coconut Oil: If you leave some coconut oil on your nipples, your baby can get some that way. You can also dab a little coconut oil on the thrush spots.
  2. Infant Probiotic: I really like this infant probiotic. If you had to have antibiotics for any reason or delivered by c-section so your baby didn’t get any good bacteria from your vaginal tract, I would highly recommend a good probiotic supplement regardless of whether or not your baby has thrush. But if your baby does have thrush (obviously, because that’s why you’re probably reading this) this will really help your baby to populate his or her gut with beneficial bacteria that can crowd out the yeast and help to get rid of the oral thrush. You can mix a little bit with your breast milk and feed it to your baby with a dropper, and/or you can make a little mixture and paint it on the thrush spots with your finger or a q-tip.
  3. Gentian Violet: Gentian violet is an anti-fungal that can be used topically to help get rid of thrush. When Ophelia’s thrush progressed from a few white spots to her entire tongue being coated white (after I misused Grapefruit Seed Extract), I turned to Gentian Violet as a last resort. It tastes awful, it can cause your baby to have an upset tummy, and it shouldn’t be used excessively because there are claims that it can be a carcinogen (when used regularly for two years at 600 times the recommended dose…sorry mice) and lead to mouth ulcers (when not diluted), but after three days of meticulous treatment, Ophelia’s thrush was totally and completely healed. I highly recommend this as a cure for baby’s oral thrush. Here’s are a few tips for using it so that it will be effective:
    Treating Ophelia's Thrush with Gentian Violet

    Treating Ophelia’s Thrush with Gentian Violet

    • Gentian violet will stain everything purple, so put some Vaseline or Bag Balm on your baby’s lips and around her or his mouth before applying it. This will make it easier to clean up the purple drool.
    • Dress your baby in clothes that you don’t mind ruining. (This goes for you too.) I found it helpful to put a bib on Ophelia as well.
    • Get the 1% solution, and mix with equal parts water. (It is too strong if left undiluted. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it will be more effective if you don’t dilute it.)
    • Using a q-tip, paint every part of your baby’s mouth, especially the tongue. This stuff tastes awful and your baby will hate it. I found it best to paint once in the morning, maybe once in the afternoon if it wore off, and once at night. (Don’t exceed three dosages in a day.)
    • Do your best to make sure your baby doesn’t swallow any. It can lead to an upset tummy.
    • You need to do this for three full days/nights. If you miss a dosage and don’t complete the cycle, the fungus will come back stronger and be even harder to treat.
  4. *Grapefruit Seed Extract: I read a lot of articles, reviews, and blogs about Gentian Violet and grapefruit seed extract when Ophelia had thrush, and I decided to go with the grapefruit seed extract first, but it did not go so well. First of all, I made the mistake of not diluting it, so maybe it would actually work if you didn’t do this. (It should be more effective if it’s stronger, right? Not.) I painted it on the thrush spots in her mouth, and they seemed to completely go away in a day, but then the next day, there were more and more and more spots until her entire tongue was coated white. It was like in the absence of the Grapefruit Seed Extract, the fungus grew even stronger and completely took over. It was at this point that I turned to the Gentian Violet which totally worked.
  5. Nystatin: Nystatin is what your doctor will probably prescribe if you take your baby to the doctor to treat the oral thrush (which I don’t recommend unless this is your last resort). Nystatin is an oral medication that is meant to be used topically on the areas where thrush is appearing. There are claims that it’s 80% effective, but that seems a bit high to me. When Ophelia got thrush, I combed threads on the Internet (not always the most reliable sources, I know, but I like reading about personal accounts) and read time and time and time again about how mothers would go to the doctor, get Nystatin for their babies, deal with the side effects of: mouth irritation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, rash, skin irritation, and/or allergic reactions, have the first dose not work, try another dose, still not have it work, and eventually give up on breastfeeding. I actually knew someone who got thrush at the same time as I did with her new baby and she used Nystatin as a remedy. It did not work, and she ended up not being able to breastfeed anymore. Personally, I would try all of these other remedies before turning to Nystatin as an absolute last resort.

In Conclusion

Dealing with oral thrush was probably one of the toughest postpartum things I’ve ever had to deal with, and through much trial and error, I’m glad we were able to finally beat it. With baby number four, I made darn sure to get rid of my yeast infection during pregnancy so that we would not have to deal with this again, and let me tell you, prevention is a much easier path! I also enjoyed researching and learning about why pregnant women are more prone to yeast infections, and I learned some fascinating information along the way. The bottom line is that thrush is nasty nasty business and it is worth all of the effort to prevent it and get rid of not just the symptoms, but the root cause as well.

Embracing Motherhood Sourdough Pizza Crust

Sourdough Pizza Crust Recipe

This sourdough pizza crust recipe is great for getting rid of the phytic acid that is in all grains, but you do need to prepare it about 8 hours ahead of time. If you need something right away, I suggest you check out my quick and easy pizza recipe.

This sourdough pizza crust recipe can be used to make one large pizza, two smaller pizzas, two trays of pizza muffins, or two medium sized calzones.


  • 1 c. Sourdough Starter (Blog Post: Sourdough Starter Recipe)
  • 2 c. Raw Milk (Blog Post: Why We Drink Raw Milk)
  • 4 c. Freshly Ground Flour (I get my wheat berries here, but you can find some similar here too and then I grind them with this.)
  • *2 T. Raw Honey (Optional: It helps to neutralize the sour flavor.)
  • 1 ½ t. Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here, you can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • 1 t. Baking Soda (or aluminum free baking powder)
  • *Optional: Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Oregano, and Basil


Part 1: Mix it Up and Let it Sit

  1. Dissolve the sourdough starter into the milk, add the flour, and stir until combined.
  2. Cover with plastic (or a towel) and leave out for 8 hours (or overnight).

Part 2: Make Your Crust (8 Hours Later)

Sourdough Pizza Crust

Sourdough Pizza Crust

  1. Add the honey, salt, baking soda, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, and oregano. Since the dough is pretty stiff at this point, I find it easiest to just knead in the remaining ingredients. To do this, spread a little flour on the counter top, grease up your hands with some coconut oil, and knead until everything is mixed together.
  2. To make a large pizza, preheat the oven to 450˚F, roll out the pizza crust onto a slightly greased pizza pan, cover with a towel and place on top of the preheating oven for an hour to let it rise (this is optional and will make a softer crust), add your toppings and bake for 15-20 minutes. *If you want to be extra fancy, melt some butter, add some fresh herbs and salt, and spread generously over the edges of the crust.
  3. If you want to make some amazing Pizza Muffins instead (which is what I usually do), click here to see the recipe. *I cook my pizza muffins for 10-12 minutes at 350º F.
Embracing Motherhood Quick and Easy Pizza Crust

A Quick and Easy Pizza Crust Recipe

It’s always nice when you can plan ahead and have some healthy sourdough pizza crust ready for your baking needs, but sometimes you just need to make a meal right away without all of the prep work. This pizza crust recipe is basic, simple, quick, and still full of delicious and healthy ingredients. It is enough for one large pizza, 2 small pizzas, or 2 trays of pizza muffins.


  • 1 c. Hot Water
  • 1 t. Raw Honey (You can use sugar too. The yeast just needs something to “eat” so it can rise.)
  • 2 T. Coconut Oil (I like to buy my coconut oil in bulk here, but you can buy it here and here on Amazon as well, or you could also use Olive Oil.)
  • 2¼ t. Active Dry Yeast (one package)
  • 2½ c.  Freshly Ground Flour (I get my wheat berries here, but you can find some similar here too and then I grind them with this.)
  • 1 t. Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here, you can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • 1 t. Aluminum Free Baking Powder or Baking Soda


  1. Water: Get the water as hot as you can and put it in a bowl.
  2. Coconut Oil, Honey, and Yeast: Add the coconut oil first so that it will melt, then add the honey, yeast, mix, cover with a towel, and let sit for 10 minutes. It should be nice and bubbly when you uncover it.

    Water, Honey, Coconut Oil, and Yeast After 10 Minutes

    Water, Honey, Coconut Oil, and Yeast After 10 Minutes

  3. Flour, Salt, and Baking Soda: Stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder or baking soda. (You definitely don’t want to add the salt earlier as it will prevent the yeast from fully activating.) *To give the dough extra flavor, you could also add some garlic powder, onion powder, basil, and oregano at this time.

    homemade pizza crust with all of the ingredients mixed in

    Notice the Consistency When All Ingredients are Mixed Together

  4. Knead: Grease your hands with coconut oil, and knead the dough until all of the ingredients are mixed together. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. If it’s too stiff and crumbly, add some water.

    Pizza Dough Kneaded Into a Ball

    Knead Into a Ball

  5. Flatten: Start to flatten the dough.

    pizza dough start

    Flatten the Dough with Your Hands First

  6. Roll the Dough: Make sure there is a nice coating of flour on the countertop and that your dough isn’t too sticky before you start rolling. Start from the center and roll out until your dough is bigger than your pan.

    rolling out the pizza dough

    Roll the Dough

  7. Put in Pan: Carefully lift up the dough and place it on your baking sheet allowing to hang over the edges.

    pizza dough on the pan

    Place the Dough on the Baking Sheet

  8. Pinch the Edges: Use your fingers to pinch the edges of the dough until it’s nicely formed.

    pizza crust

    Form the Edges

  9. Toppings: Add your sauce, cheese, and toppings. For more info on these steps, check out my blog: How to Make a Homemade Pizza.


    Add Toppings

  10. Bake: Bake for 15-20 minutes at 450º F (18 minutes usually works for me). Time can vary depending on your oven, number of toppings, etc. When the edges are brown, it’s a good indication it’s done, but if you cut into the middle and it’s still doughy, cook for a few minutes more.

    cooked pizza up close

    Bake and Serve

In Conclusion

Pizza is a family favorite in this household and when it’s made from scratch, it can be a very healthy addition to any diet. If I have time, I prefer using my sourdough pizza crust to make a pizza, but in a pinch, this quick easy recipe works for me. You might also like to check out my recipe for pizza muffins, which are a really big hit with the kids!

Embracing Motherhood Pizza Muffins

How to Make Pizza Muffins

As a busy mom with young eaters who LOVE pizza, I needed a quick, healthy, easy, and convenient way to feed them their favorite food. So after much trial and error, I created these delicious pizza muffins, and they were a BIG hit! The kids love them, and my husband and I love them too! They are so easy to make and they are even good cold which makes them perfect for school lunches.

Pizza Crust

  • Sourdough Pizza Crust: If you can plan ahead by about 8 hours or so, this sourdough pizza crust will taste great and be free from the mineral leaching phytic acid present in all grains.
  • Quick and Easy Pizza Crust: If you’re looking for a quick and easy pizza crust that is made with fresh homemade ingredients, this is the recipe for you.

Pizza Muffins


  • Coconut Oil (For your hands and greasing the pan. I like to buy my coconut oil in bulk here, but you can buy it here and here on Amazon as well.)
  • 15 oz. Tomato Sauce with Added Herbs (I love using my fresh chopped tomato puree when on hand, but even spaghetti sauce will work, you just might want to add a little oregano and basil.)
  • 32 oz. (8 cups) Mozerella Cheese (Any kind of shredded cheese will work really. You can even make your own Raw Milk Farm Cheese!)
  • Toppings: Pepperoni, Ground Beef, Tomatoes, Green Olives, Onions, Peppers…or whatever else you might like!


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Grease the muffin tins liberally with coconut oil.
  3. Tear the dough into the size of about a tablespoon and plop into each muffin tin.

    Pizza Dough in Cupcake Pans

    Pizza Dough in Cupcake Pans

  4. Grease your hands up with coconut oil and flatten the pieces into the bottom of the pan.
  5. Put about a teaspoon of pizza sauce on top of each muffin.

    Adding the Pizza Sauce and Cheese to My Mini Pizza Muffins

    Adding the Pizza Sauce and Cheese

  6. Cover the sauce with a generous helping of mozerella cheese.
  7. Place pepperoni and any other toppings you wish to add (green olives, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, green pepper, crumbled bacon, sausage, ground hamburger, etc.) on top. *For you big cheese lovers out there, you can top the toppings with even more cheese!
  8. Place into an oven preheated to 350° F and bake for 10-12 minutes. The cheese should just start to brown and bubble on the sides when done.

    Cooked Pizza Muffins

    Cooked Pizza Muffins

  9. Let the muffins cool a bit, and then use a butter knife to “cut” around the edges and remove from the muffin pan. The bottoms should be nicely browned and firm. If they are still soft, bake for a few more minutes.
  10. Once the kids (and I) devour as many as we can, I put the rest in a Ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator. My daughter loves it when I pack these for her school lunch, and my 2 and 4 year old love eating them cold too.


  • Garlic Butter Muffins: Melt some butter and add salt, oregano, basil, and garlic powder (or better yet, freshly pressed garlic), and spread generously on top of the dough. Then, sprinkle a little cheese on top.
  • Pizza Loaves: I find that my kids like to eat food WAY MORE when they help make it! They love tasting all of the ingredients along the way and helping out with whatever they are comfortable doing.
    Ruby Making Pizza Loaves

    Ruby Making Pizza Loaves

    We have these little mini loaf cooking containers that make for some really cute mini loaves. These loaves took about 15-18 minutes at 350° F to bake.

    Cooked Pizza Loaves

    Cooked Pizza Loaves

  • Mini Pizza Muffins: I recently bought this tray for mini muffins, and I love it! I just made a few batches to send into school with Ruby as her monthly class snack. The are the perfect bite-sized little treat!
Cooked Mini Pizza Muffins

Cooked Mini Pizza Muffins

Which Oils Should I Use?

There are so many different oils to choose from, how do you know which ones to use and which ones to avoid? When shopping at the grocery store you’ll probably find quite an array of oil, from the ever popular canola oil, to the expensive olive oil, to the lesser known coconut oil. But only one of these oils can help you lose weight, have energy, and nourish your body at the cellular level. The rest will either make you gain weight, or worse, lead to array of ailments such as heart disease or cancer.

coconut oil

If you guessed that coconut oil is the only oil that will help you lose weight, have energy, and nourish your body at a cellular level, you guessed correctly! Some grocery stores may even sell coconut oil, but at the rate we use it, I need to buy bulk. My first coconut oil purchase was extra virgin organic Nutiva, which was incredible, but too pricy at $70/gallon for my budget and as much as I would like to buy everything organic, for me staying home with my kids is more important than getting another job to pay for it. We recently bought a fifty pound, five gallon bucket of coconut oil from Country Life for $62.50. After reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, I feel confident in making coconut oil my go-to oil for everything. It does not have a distinguishable odor or taste and we try to cook as much as we can with it. I use it to make my own bread, and I plop generous dollops for cooking eggs, pancakes, stir fries, and even burgers! Not only can it be used for baking and frying, but it has many other uses as well. I love mixing coconut oil with tea tree oil and lavender for my face and body moisturizer. Here are some of the wonderful attributes that make coconut oil so wonderful:

  • satfatpicCoconut oil is made up of 92% saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are structured so that all available carbon bonds are occupied by a hydrogen atom. This makes them highly stable and straight in shape, so that they are solid or semisolid at room temperature. As a result, they are less likely to go rancid when heated during cooking. If you keep coconut oil in its solid state (below 76 degrees) and out of direct sunlight, it can maintain a shelf life of two years.
  • Over two-thirds of the saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil are comprised of medium-chain fatty acids. When your body digests fat in the form of medium chain fatty acids it doesn’t need to be digested in the small intestine with bile acids and lipases like it does with longer-chain fatty acids, but can instead be shuttled directly to the liver and converted to quick energy. This is why coconut oil is great to use if you’re trying to lose weight. As long as you don’t eat it with any carbs it CANNOT be stored as fat! It is also a gentle way for people who aren’t used to eating fat to start incorporating it into their diets. 
  • The main medium-chain fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is a proven antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal agent. It is converted in your body to a substance called monolaurin, which helps you defend against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Basically, it strengthens your immune system and protects you from a wide range of diseases. The only other places you can get lauric acid are in mother’s milk or in small amounts in butterfat.
  • Lauric acid is the most rapidly oxidized fatty acid. The amount of energy used by the body to oxidize it is greater than the energy it provides. Since coconut oil is comprised of 50% lauric acid, it has a “thermogenic effect” meaning that it raises your body temperature, which boosts your energy and metabolic rate. So if you were to just eat a big spoonful of coconut oil, you would actually lose more weight than eating nothing at all!
  • Palm oil is another good tropical oil, but it is only 50% saturated.

3Now I can finally throw my Crisco away! I used to feel guilty about greasing my pans with my super expensive extra virgin organic coconut oil, but now that I have a fifty pound five gallon bucket at my disposal, I can use it liberally for EVERYTHING without feeling guilty and I can FINALLY throw away this Crisco that I’ve had sitting in my cupboard for more years than I’d care to admit.

In case you’re wondering, Crisco is just about the worst thing you could purposefully put in your body. It is made from hydrogenated oils (trans fats) that block your body from using important fatty acids and can lead to paralysis of the immune system, cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, low birth weight babies, birth defects, decreased visual acuity, sterility, difficulty in lactation, and problems with bones and tendons.

  • The process for making hydrogenated oil is enough to make me want to steer clear of it! It begins with the cheapest vegetable oils possible (soy, canola, or corn) that are already rancid from their extraction process. Then they are mixed with tiny metal particles usually in the form of nickel oxide. This nickel catalyst combined with a high temperature causes a chemical change called hydrogenation which changes the position of the hydrogen atom on the fatty acid chain from the slight bend of a double bond to a straightened molecule. This trans formation is toxic to your body, but your body doesn’t recognize it as a toxin. It actually incorporates it into cell membranes and this wreaks havoc with cell metabolism. After the nickel catalyst, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed into the mixture in order to give it a better consistency. The oil is then steam-cleaned at a high temperature to remove its unpleasant odor and bleached, dyed, and pumped full of strong flavors to get rid of its unappetizing grey color and horrible taste. Now, doesn’t that sound yummy!

1Olive Oil is okay to use every once in awhile. It isn’t likely to go rancid and so it’s great for things like salad dressing and hummus because of its antioxidant properties, but IT WILL MAKE YOU FAT (Beware, so will other monounsaturated rich foods like nuts and avocados!) Use it if you must, but I try to use it sparingly.

  • fa_fatacids02It is comprised of 75% oleic acid, 13% saturated fat, 10% omega-6 linoleic acid, and 2% omega-3 linoleic acid.
  • Oleic acid is an 18-carbon monounsaturated fatty acid that has one double bond in the form of two carbon atoms double bonded to each other and therefore lacks two hydrogen atoms. They have a kink or bend at the position of the double bond so that they do not pack together as easily as saturated fat and therefore tend to be liquid at room temperature but solid when refrigerated. They are relatively stable and do not go rancid easily and hence can be used in cooking (Keep temperatures under 425 degrees).
  • Because it is a long-chain fatty acid, it requires bile acids and lipases from the small intestine for digestion (after they are broken down, they are reassembled as triglycerides, which is basically how your body stores fat) and is more likely to contribute to the buildup of body fat than the short- and medium-chain fatty acids found in butter and coconut oil.
  • Your body can make monounsaturated fat from saturated fat, so there is really no need to consume it if you’re getting enough saturated fat.
  • If you do consume olive oil, it should be extra virgin olive oil, which is rich in antioxidants.  It should be cloudy, indicating that it has not been filtered, and have a golden color indicating that it is from fully ripened olives.
  • The extraction of olive oil is a very gentle process. The process begins by gently by crushing olives between stone or steel rollers using low temperatures and with minimal exposure to light and oxygen, which protects its antioxidants, integrity of the fatty acids, and natural preservatives. The longer fatty chain acids found in olive oil are more likely to contribute to the buildup of fat than the short and medium chain fatty acids found in butter and coconut oil, so you’ll want to use it sparingly for salad dressings and baking, but it is still a much better alternative to the other polyunsaturates.

Polyunsaturated fats make up the remainder of the fats on my review: Canola, safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean, and cottonseed oils should be avoided at all costs. Sesame, peanut, and flax seed oil should be used sparingly if at all. Polyunsaturated fatty acids that have an imbalance of omega-6s to omega-3s are found in the remaining oils and that is why they should be avoided.

  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids have bends or turns at the position of the double bonds and hence do not pack together easily. They remain liquid, even when refrigerated. Unpaired electrons located at the double bonds make these oils highly reactive. When they are subjected to heat or oxygen, as in extraction, processing, and cooking, free radicals are formed. These free radicals can initiate cancer and heart disease as well as lead to wrinkles, premature aging, tumors, and plaque buildup.
  • omega_3The two polyunsaturated fatty acids found most frequently in our foods are linoleic acid with two double bonds (called omega-6) and linoleic acid with three double bonds (called omega-3). (The omega number indicates the position of the first double bond.
  • The polyunsaturated oils found in the following oils contain a high amount of omega-6 linoleic acid and a low amount of omega-3 linoleic acid. This imbalance disrupts prostaglandins that leads to blood clots and inflammation, high blood pressure, irritation of the digestive tract, depressed immune function, sterility, cell proliferation, cancer, and weight gain.
  • Because your body cannot make omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they are called “essential” and must be obtained from foods. This is how manufacturers get away with saying that these fats are “heart healthy”. However, when you consume enough saturated fatty acids, which help to retain and use essential fatty acids, your body actually needs only a very small amount of essential fatty acids (both omega-3 and omega-6 found in polyunsaturated fats). One great source for getting a perfect balance of omega-3s and omega-6s is pastured eggs.
  • The process for making vegetable oils should be enough to make you want to steer clear of them in the first place! In order to extract the oils in vegetables, they are heated and crushed, which exposes them to damaging light and oxygen. In order to get the last 10% of the oil, a solvent such as hexane (which is a constituent of gasoline) is used. The solvent is boiled off, but a portion still remains (100 parts per million). The high temperatures cause the weak carbon bonds of the polyunsaturated fatty acids to break apart (especially triple unsaturated linoleic acid) and cause dangerous free radicals. Vitamin E, which is a natural antioxidant, is stripped away by the heating process and replaced with BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) as preservatives to prevent fat spoilage and are suspected of causing brain damage and cancer.
  • Canola oil is the worst oil of all and should be avoided at all costs, even though it has been labeled as “heart healthy”. 
    • It contains 5% saturated fat, 57% oleic acid, 23% omega-6, and 10-15% omega-3.
    • It is made from rape seed, which is considered unsuited for human consumption because it contains a long-chain fatty acid called euric acid, which under some circumstances is associated with fibrotic heart lesions.
    • It has a high sulphur content and goes rancid easily. Goods baked with canola oil develop mold very quickly.
    • During the deodorizing process, the omega-3 fatty acids of processed canola oil are transformed into trans fatty acids. This is the worst part of all!
    • A recent study found that it actually creates a deficiency of vitamin E, which is needed for cardiovascular health.

    Safflower, Corn, Sunflower, Soybean, and Cottonseed Oils should also be avoided.

    • They all contain over 50% omega-6 and except for soybean oil, contain only minimal amounts of omega-3. (Soybean oil…and anything with soybeans for that matter, should be avoided for a host of other reasons as well, including its high estrogen content.) Safflower contains 80% omega-6.
    • These oils should never be consumed after they have been heated.

2Sesame and Peanut Oils can be used, but should be done sparingly.

  • Peanut oil contains 48% oleic acid, 18% saturated fat, and 34% omega-6 linoleic acid. Like olive oil, it is relatively stable and therefore appropriate for the occasional stir fry. But the high omega-6 presents a potential danger.
  • Sesame oil contains 42% oleic acid, 14% saturated fat, and 43% omega-6 linoleic acid. It is similar to peanut oil and it contains unique antioxidants that are not destroyed by heat. But once again, the high omega-6 is concerning.

Flax Seed Oil is a great source for omega 3s.

  • It contains 9% saturated fatty acids, 18% oleic acid, 16% omega-6, and 57% omega-3.
  • Because of its high omega-3 content, it is a great remedy for the omega-6/omega-3 imbalance that causes so many problems.
  • It should be kept refrigerated, never heated, and consumed in small amounts in salad dressings and spreads. The fat from flax seed oil WILL make you fat, so use sparingly!

For further reading:

To learn more about coconut oil, read A New Look at Coconut Oil by by Mary Enig, phDfrom the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

For more information read The Oiling of America, by Mary Enig, phD, and Sally Fallon from the Weston A. Price Foundation website.