A Primer on Cooking Oils & Fats

Posted on August 22, 2015 by Don Roden | 1 comment

The question of which dietary fats are good and which are bad has caused a lot of confusion lately. Some fats are heart-heathy, some are not. Some oils are processed with chemicals, some are not. Some break down at high temperatures, some do not. Some sound healthy because of the word vegetable in their name, but aren’t. What’s a cook to do?

We thought we’d put together a short primer on which fats to use and when. Bookmark this page and refer to it when in question.

BAD FATS/OILS
Most cooking oils on the market are processed with chemical solvents, steamers, neutralizers, de-waxers, bleach and deodorizers before they end up in the bottle. Highly processed seed oils contain very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, that can have detrimental health effects when consumed in high quantities. Sadly, these oils are in nearly everything we eat nowadays. Grain-fed livestock, is also high in omega-6. A diet high in omega-6 is associated with an increase in inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and cancer to mention a few.

Here are the industrial oils to toss from your kitchen:
Canola oil
Vegetable oil
Cottonseed oil
Soybean oil
Sunflower oil
Safflower oil
Corn oil
Grapeseed oil
Rapeseed oil
Refined palm oil
Sesame oil
Refined peanut oil

GOOD FATS/OILS
These are the saturated fats and healthy plant-based oils from meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, and avocados that are loaded with omega-3s. It has recently been debunked that saturated fats cause heart disease. In fact, it’s the very removal of these from the American diet and the increase of sugar and carbohydrates that has attributed to a whole host of health issues, including obesity, diabetes and chronic inflammatory conditions.

Saturated fat has been shown to have positive effects on the body, including helping the liver to function more effectively, boosting the immune system and aiding in the regulation of hormones.

Some things to keep in mind during food prep:

  • Saturated fat is typically more heat stable and doesn’t oxidate as quickly as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which makes it more suitable for frying and other high temperature cooking.
  • Nut oils and olive oil are more fragile and can be cooked with but are best used unheated to retain the most antioxidants, vitamins and flavor.
  • Expeller-pressed or Unrefined oils (where the oil was extracted using a mechanical process rather than chemicals) are best for high temperature cooking such as deep-frying. Avoid anything labeled Refined.
  • The smoke point of a fat or an oil is the temperature at which it gives off smoke, and starts to break down and oxidize, losing nutrients and developing toxic properties. Most foods are fried at around 330°F so it’s always best to choose a fat or oil with a smoking point just above that.

Best fats for hot use (with their smoke points):
Beef tallow (400°F)
Lard (370°F)
Duck fat (375°F)
Schmaltz (375°F)
Ghee (450°F)
Avocado oil (400°F)
Coconut oil (350°F)
Extra virgin olive oil (325°F)
Grass-fed butter (350°F )

Best for cold use:
Extra virgin olive oil
Macadamia oil
Avocado oil
Hazelnut oil
Almond 
Walnut oil
Flaxseed oil
Grass-fed butter
Coconut oil

At The Organic Butcher, we carry a wide array of high quality oils and animal fats, and can help guide you toward the right choice for your needs. Just ask!

Posted in Coconut Oil, Cooking Instructions, Diets, Ghee, Grass-Fed, Health, Oils & Fats, Olive Oil, Organic, Paleo

NEW ARRIVAL: Deborah Joy's Gluten-Free Baked Goods

Posted on April 08, 2015 by Don Roden | 0 comments

The Organic Butcher is now carrying an assortment of Deborah Joy's Gluten-Free and local baked goods. For those of you who are sensitive to gluten or have just chosen to eliminate it from your diet, you will be thrilled when you try these.  

While getting her master's degree in nutrition, Deborah learned that the processed food she was eating could cause problems for her digestive system and create a pathway for autoimmune disease. She changed her diet, eliminating gluten, processed foods, and sugars. Within one month she began to see results, her cholesterol was lower and she had more energy. Since then, Deborah has worked tirelessly to match the texture and taste of her baked goods to conventional recipes.

In addition to making these wonderful treats, Deborah teaches in-home classes on gluten-free cooking in Northern Virginia. She believes that a gluten-free diet shouldn't be a burden, but an enjoyable lifestyle. Trust us when we say that her chocolate chip cookies are seriously some of the best we have ever tried — you definitely won't feel deprived.

Stop in soon to try Deborah Joy's almond, chocolate chip, and peanut butter cookies. Plus, her assortment of muffins, bars and breads. You'll be glad you did!

Posted in Diets, Gluten-Free, Health, Local, New Products

An Easy Beef Liver Recipe for the Timid: Beef Liver & Onion Meatballs

Posted on April 02, 2015 by Don Roden | 0 comments

Dubbed "nature's most potent superfood," beef livers are nutrient-rich and extremely beneficial. When sourced from healthy, grass-fed cows, liver is loaded with a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fat. It is particularly rich in the key nutrients that help keep our brains healthy. These include essential fatty acids as well as vitamin B12.


Gram for gram, liver contains more nutrients than any other food. In fact, liver provides:

  • • An excellent source of high-quality protein
  • • Nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A
  • • All the B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12
  • • One of the best sources of folate
  • • A highly usable form of iron
  • • Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium
  • • CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardio-vascular function
  • • A good source of purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA.

Most of us know it is amazingly good for us but our brains and our taste buds are usually at odds with one another when it comes to liver. For the uninitiated, the taste of liver can be off-putting. This is why we were really excited when we found the following recipe. It combines liver and ground beef so the flavor is more subtle. You'll still get all of the wonderful nutritional benefits but in a much more palatable way. Enjoy!


Beef Liver & Onion Meatballs (Primal Palate)
Serves 4

1 lb Ground Beef
1/4 lb Beef Liver, finely chopped
1/2 cup Onion, diced
2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine ground beef and beef liver.

Season with smoked paprika, garlic powder, cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. Continue to mix with hands until meat is equally seasoned.

Mix in the diced onion.

Form meat mixture into balls, slightly larger than an ounce.

Place in a baking dish and bake meat balls for 25 minutes.

Photo credit: Primal Palate

Posted in Beef, Beef Liver, Diets, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Grass-Fed, Health, Paleo, Recipes

An Introduction to the Paleo Diet

Posted on February 17, 2015 by Don Roden | 1 comment

We get a lot of diehard Paleo customers in the shop as well many who are curious about the tenants of the diet. The following is a general overview of the plan. Not only is it very meat-friendly but it’s more of a guideline for eating than a traditionally restrictive “diet.” Paleo is based on the notion that for optimal health, modern humans should return to a pre-industrial era by eating real, whole, unprocessed foods that promote healthy metabolic, digestive, and immune systems.

This means avoiding grains, gluten, legumes, dairy, corn, soy and sugar. And instead, filling up on grass-fed meat like cattle, bison, goats, lamb or wild game. The Paleo Diet also includes pasture-raised chicken, eggs and pork, and wild-caught seafood. In addition, one should eat a variety of vitamin- and mineral-packed, organically grown, non-GMO fruits and vegetables.   

The Paleo Diet embraces healthy fats. The right types of fat are essential in maintaining healthy arteries, brain function, healthy skin, as well as decreasing systemic inflammation. Healthy saturated fat comes from grass-fed meat, poultry, seafood, ghee, butter and coconuts. Also encouraged is monounsaturated fat from olive oil, nuts and seeds, as well as a healthy amount of Omega-3.  

The Paleo plan welcomes fermented foods that work to support your digestive system with naturally occurring probiotics that boost immunity. Kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi are all great options.

This seems like a lot to remember but it's really not. Below is an excellent and handy cheat sheet from the book Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilipino. As you can see, following this "diet" is hardly restrictive!

Because Paleo is viewed as a template to healthy living, there is room to personalize. Many people find that chocolate, some dairy, and some alcohol fit nicely into their personal regime. However, it’s recommended one stick to the Paleo template at its most basic before adding or subtracting. You may discover food intolerances, reactions, or or allergies you didn’t know you had.

Scientists are beginning to see the benefits of this way of eating. Test subjects who adopted the Paleo Diet reported significant improvements in their general heath, body composition and energy levels. Doctors are finding that it reduces the risks of many diseases, including heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Some reported benefits are:

  • Increased and more stable energy levels
  • Improved sleep
  • Clearer skin and healthier looking hair
  • Mental clarity
  • Improved mood and attitude
  • Improvements in those suffering depression or anxieties
  • Less or no bloating, decreased gas
  • Sustained weight loss
  • Muscle growth; increased fitness
  • Lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer
  • Higher immune function and a general feeling of well being
  • Improved glucose tolerance; decreased insulin secretion and increased insulin sensitivity
  • Improved lipid profiles
  • Healthier gut flora
  • Better absorption of nutrients from food
  • Reduced allergies
  • Paleo diet is anti-inflammatory, most people experience reduction of pain associated with inflammation
  • Improvements in those with respiratory problems such as asthma

The Organic Butcher offers wild, grass-fed game meats, free-range chicken and wild-caught seafood, plus some prepared Paleo foods for your convenience. 

Try our Bison Meatballs or Green Sausage (chicken or pork) and build your meal from there!

Posted in Bison, Diets, Free Range, Grass-Fed, Health, Organic, Paleo, Pasture-Raised, Sausages, Seafood, Trends, Wild Game