Meet Suzanne, a Portland based creative who’s renowned for her incredible and artistic jam company, Pink Slip Jam. Talking about food with Suzanne is one of my favorite things and in the time I’ve spent with her, I always leave inspired to go back to my kitchen and try new things. She’s incredibly talented! If you have the Kinfolk Table Cookbook, make sure to also check out her recipes featured in their beautiful collection of creatives locally and abroad.
Suzanne is multi faceted in her giftings, more of which you’ll learn about in this interview with her on Cooking With Essential Oils, but one of the things that I love talking with her about is her love for essential oils. I got together with her a while back and asked her some questions on the topic of cooking with essential oils and it was incredible! Just wait until you see her recipes below for things like spiced chai and homemade guacamole, only using oils for flavor and spices. Amazing, right?
This is a lengthy article, but it’s full of so much intriguing and informative information on the world of essential oils and I hope you’ll take the time to read it all the way through. Make sure to check back next week for a corresponding recipe that we collaborated on where we make a pound cake and compote featuring essential oils.
Interview by Christiann Koepke & Celine MacKay of Pure Green Magazine
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into exploring the world of essential oils.
I have always been interested in plants ~ my Grandparents were farmers and raised many of the fruits & vegetables we ate. My Mother was an incredible gardener and I have always loved being in nature. I’ve naturally been drawn to herbs, tinctures, and oils throughout my life and became even more aware of their healing properties when I became pregnant with my first son. I used lavender oil for calmness and ginger for nausea.
When I became an RN, I was fortunate enough to work with a variety of midwives and progressive MD’s & NPs in Berkeley. We used essential oils in several modalities in the hospital. Upon moving to Portland, I was introduced to the line of doTERRA essential oils thru my friend Jill Mason at Starflower, her floral shop. Since that time, roughly four years ago, I have been using essential oils myself, with my family, and introducing them to friends. I use the oils for health & wellness, as well as in culinary settings. They have nearly replaced all pharmaceuticals in our family medicine cabinet.
What are the key ways that you personally use essential oils?
I use the oils for my own wellness ~ for hormone regulation I love to use Clary Sage as a way to even out hormonal shifts. I use Peppermint for headaches as well as for digestion issues. I love to use Lemon in my water every day ~ it naturally draws out toxins stored in the liver (did you know that we are exposed to more environmental toxins in ONE day than our Grandparents were exposed to in their entire lifetimes?).
I also use essential oils in cooking tho I will caution people to use only CPTG, Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, for internal purposes. Read labels with care because plant medicine is potent and not all of the essential oils are meant to be taken internally. In addition to my own use, I have used essential oils, mostly thru diffusion, in my school health health rooms as I am a School Health RN. The students have had incredibly positive reactions!
It seems that we are seeing a rise in interest in essential oils as of late. It is an ancient craft, so why do you think this recent surge in interest?
From my personal experience, I feel people are exhausted from side effects and environmental toxic overload. Plants were the original medicine, dating back thousands of years, and pharmaceutical synthetic medications are a recent development. Plants work on a holistic level, are effective, and essential oils cost pennies per drop in comparison with the ever rising costs of Western prescribed medications. I also think more and more people want to feel empowered by taking their health into their own hands and not feeling dependent upon increasingly rushed physicians. The health care system in this country is not serving the needs of most people. In addition, as an ancient craft, more and more people are returning to the ways of their elders as a way to have real connection to what they use in and on their bodies, whether it be in the form of farm-to-table eating, learning to knit & sew, making bread from scratch. I think it comes down to a strong desire to feel empowered and connected as well as more self reliant.
In your opinion, why is using essential oils so beneficial as a whole?
Essential oils are potent, effective and fast acting plant medicine. People need to do their research & work with someone who is knowledgeable because many of the oils are very strong, yet I know them to be safe if used correctly. Peppermint essential oil, for example, is extremely beneficial for stomach aches. One drop of peppermint oil is equivalent to 28 cups of peppermint tea! I have no idea what Pepto Bismal or other OTC medicines cost now, tho I do know a bottle of Peppermint essential oil lasts me months, does not spoil, and I can take it anywhere. I also know that there will be no negative side effects.
Last Winter I was diagnosed with pneumonia and did not want to take antibiotics. I checked the price of the prescription and it was over $100.00 with insurance. Instead, I made capsules of On Guard (a protective blend), Oregano, Lemon, and Black Pepper essential oils and took these capsules 4x/day, as well as drinking plenty of water with Lemon oil in it. My symptoms disappeared within 36 hours. I didn’t need any subsequent medications for the side effects antibiotics usually bring on.
I felt great knowing I could treat myself safely, effectively, and had everything I needed right at home. I think most people would feel as huge sense of relief if they could also address their own health needs this way.
Not all essential oils are created equally. What should we look for in an essential oil in order to trust that they are pure and healthy to use on our bodies or even ingest?
It’s absolutely true!! Not all essential oils are created equally!
Most essential oils that are inexpensive and readily found in supermarkets are not organic, or, if they are, they have fillers in them which is why they are the price point they are.
Many are not steam distilled or expeller produced. Many oils are expelled using hexane, a chemical which is toxic. I look for the CPTG essential oils because they are the only oils which are regulated and independently tested for purity. CPTG, again, stands for Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade. doTERRA oils go thru rigorous testing to ensure each bottle is of the purest standard and is consistent. Oils which have a Supplemental Facts area on the bottles are safe to ingest. Many of the blends do not have this on the label and are not safe to take internally.
Are all essential oils safe to cook with?
Essential oils are great for using in food and I use them regularly. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is safety and I strongly recommend people do their homework and read labels as well as do the research.
Best practices to keep in mind are that essential oils are very strong ~ one or two drops are all you need and due to their chemical compounds, it is best to use the oils toward the end of the cooking process. Heat does change the therapeutic qualities.
Tell us about cooking with essential oils and the benefits of doing so
I love cooking with essential oils as I get absolute purity of flavor in such a concentrated form! It cuts way down on waste because I only need to use a drop or two of oil, and can have the bottle of essential oil for months! Often people only need a squeeze of lemon or orange and then are left with rind, pulp, etc. For a home cook, often this can be incorporated into something else, though for many people, it winds up in the compost bin, which is a huge waste.
With the oils, especially if an ingredient isn’t in season, the cost and waste factor are greatly reduced.
I love to use Bergamot essential oil in making sauces and flavoring jams. Bergamot is challenging to find here in the Pacific Northwest, is not local, and has travelled hundreds if not thousands of miles. When I do find Bergamot, the cost is prohibitive, so using the oil is a great way for me to have a little bit of this liquid sunshine whenever I want it!
For someone who’s just starting to get into essential oils, what’s an easy recipe to make at home?
Oh! i love homemade chai and make it regularly! Although tastes differ, I have found this combination to be my favorite:
Brew a strong cup of your favorite black tea (I often use PB Tibbs), then once it steeps for 2 or 3 minutes, I add:
1 or 2 drops of Cardamom
1 or 2 drops Cinnamon
1 drop Clove
1 drop Black Pepper
Add in whichever type of milk you prefer, Almond, Soy, Hemp, or dairy.
It’s delicious and you are getting incredible benefits for all the warming essential oils which are also great for digestion. Clove oil has also been used for thousands of years for teeth & gum health!
Do you have any resources or other cookbooks that you can reference on cooking with essential oils?
One of the first cookbooks I ever read that mentioned essential oils is still one of my favorites! This book is Aroma The Magic of Essential Oils in Food and Fragrance by Mandy Aftel and Daniel Patterson. It came out in 2004 and I absolutely love this book! Recently Mandy wrote another book tho I have yet to purchase it. Anything she writes or concocts is worth investigating! I trust her implicitly! Before really delving into doTERRA, I used her Pink Peppercorn and Geranium Chef’s Essences and always absolutely loved the results. I strongly recommend all of her products! I also know that her oil blends for the skin are incredible! When living in Berkeley I used to get facials with her various facial oils and my skin never looked better! Her website is www.aftelier.com and she can also be found on Facebook. I have a website for my doTERRA business and there are several recipes on there as well.
What are some of your go to recipes and/ or current favorites for cooking with essential oils?
I love to make Guacamole and use the Black Pepper, Coriander, and Lime essential oils! That is one of my favorite quick recipes! I also really like to use essential oils in salad dressings ~ the Basil, Oregano, and Thyme oils lend themselves so perfectly for this!
Another favorite of mine is to replace vanilla in baking recipes with something different ~ recently I made lavender shortbread and it had just a hint of lavender which was really lovely. It is also really fun on Summer days to make lemonade and add something like Lemongrass or Basil for a more sophisticated twist!
I use the essential oils in cocktails as well and they add so much unique flavor. I think it is fun just to get in there and play, I highly recommend that people begin to start thinking about the oils like a kid who is presented with a new box of colored pencils ~ just get in there and start to experiment and play! Once you start, it is such an addictive process in the best possible ways!