Q: How do the special nut and seed oils I see in gourmet shops rate
A: All oils contain 120 calories and 13.6 grams of fat per tablespoon. One of the main differences between oils lies in the types of fat they contain. Cholesterol-raising saturated fat tends to be low, about 1 to 2 grams per tablespoon, in all the nut oils. Macadamia oil is almost completely monounsaturated fat, and sweet almond oil is mostly monounsaturated, too. Sesame seed oil is a mixture of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. Walnut oil is high in polyunsaturated fat, some of which is omega-3 fat, like that in salmon and fatty fish. Overall, when used in limited amounts to avoid excess calories, these oils can add interesting flavor to a healthful plant-based diet. Some - such as grape seed and sesame oils - can be use in stir-frying or other cooking. Others smoke at high temperatures and are meant to be used only in salad dressings, for dipping or to sprinkle on veggies after cooking. Because they are expensive, it's good that all you need is just a little for flavor.
Q: What is carob?
A: Carob is a large, dried, bean-like pod that comes from an evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean. The pods are roasted and ground into carob powder, which looks very much like cocoa and can be used as a chocolate or cocoa replacement. People who have allergies to chocolate or who are bothered by the caffeine-like substance found in chocolate and cocoa may tolerate carob. In amounts that produce a similar flavor, carob is lower in fat and calories than either chocolate or cocoa. However, the fat and calorie content of the final bakery item or other product that contains carob depends on the total amount of fat, sugar and other ingredients added.
Collins is a registered dietitian for the American Institute for Cancer Research.