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Cooking with CBD oil is only worth it if you keep these 4 rules in mind

We’ve officially reached peak CBD obsession. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a non-inebriating compound in cannabis believed to soothe anxiety and pain, as well as facilitate sleep, among other benefits. CBD oil has emerged in a myriad of food products—not only your classic gummies and chocolate bars, but even salad dressing, pizza, and tacos. Whether it works, especially in the small doses that go into food, is still up for debate. Still, you can hit up countless dispensaries and eateries for CBD-infused bites, and you can also whip up your own. As with any ingredient, though, there are a few cardinal rules for cooking with CBD.

Henry Lu, executive chef of Loosie’s Kitchen in Brooklyn, and Gabe Kennedy, cofounder of cannabis wellness brand Plant People and the Season 3 winner of ABC’s primetime cooking competition, The Taste, dished advice on how to cook with CBD oil to ensure your CBD-spiked dishes are not only delicious and responsibly sourced, but also retain the compound’s potential efficacy.

Do your research

Treat CBD as you would any ingredient, and investigate how it was sourced. In general, CBD extracts fall into three categories: full-spectrum oil, broad-spectrum oil, or isolate powder, Kennedy explains. Full-spectrum oil contains high levels of CBD and less than 0.3% THC, the compound that gets you high. (CBD and THC are cannabinoids, compounds that act on the body’s endocannabinoid system, hypothesized to help regulate pain, mood and other biological functions.) CBD oil also contains other cannabinoids, terpenes (compounds that give cannabis its smell), and phytonutrients. Broad-spectrum oil contains high levels of CBD, no THC, and lower levels of other cannabinoids and terpenes than full-spectrum oil, while CBD isolate consists almost entirely of CBD.

Plant People, for example, uses full-spectrum oil. “From our perspective, the closer to the whole plant, the better,” Kennedy says. Indeed, some research suggests that THC and other compounds in cannabis act synergistically to yield its various biological effects, which Kennedy likens to how whole foods offer greater nutrition and other benefits than dietary supplements.

He also suggests checking a product’s lab results to ensure that it contains what the company claims it contains, and that it doesn’t contain heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, or residual solvents from the extraction process, which may also be harmful. Many companies publish lab results on their website, and some product labels display quick response, or QR codes that direct you to them.

Start low, and go slow

Everyone responds differently to CBD oil. Kennedy suggests limiting yourself to 10 mg of full-spectrum oil to start out. If you feel good, add a slightly higher dose the next time around. And if you have any questions regarding dosage, consult with a medical professional.

Don’t overheat it

Don’t cook CBD oil over direct heat — don’t even saute with it, and definitely don’t deep fry with it, Kennedy says. Lu agrees, and also recommends not heating it above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. “It’s not a very good cooking oil,” he says. “It gets really bitter.” Overheating the oil could also cause the CBD to lose its potential efficacy. Lu likes blending it into vinaigrettes or using it as a finishing oil.

For hardcore culinary geeks, he suggests poaching with CBD oil at very low temperatures using an immersion circulator, a device that allows you to cook food slowly, with precise temperature control. Try poaching tomatoes, which are in season now, in CBD oil. “Get them nice and tender,” Lu says. Add herbs like rosemary and thyme into the oil for extra flavor.

Let its natural flavor shine

Although flavor varies from one brand to the next, generally speaking, CBD oil tastes like “a very earthy, aggressive olive oil,” Lu says. “There’s a very distinct smell and flavor to it, almost like cut grass infused in olive oil.” It may not be a flavor you’re used to, but that doesn’t mean you need to mask it. Lu’s philosophy? “If you’re going to use something, let it shine.” You can add a pinch of salt and a spritz of lemon before drizzling it over a dish, but you don’t need to.

If you’re worried about CBD oil overpowering an entire dish with its robust flavor, create balance by spreading it out over multiple parts of a dish, Lu suggests. Not only does he incorporate it into, say, aioli, but he also dresses salads with it and uses it as a finishing oil. There’s a wide array of CBD-infused olive oils on the market, which may have lower concentrations of CBD than CBD oil, but are easier to use in cooking. Plant People and Vireo both sell CBD-infused extra virgin olive oils that can be more user-friendly than straight CBD oil when you’re using it in food or drinks.

Cooking with CBD oil may seem intimidating, but, again, think of it as just another ingredient in your pantry. Check out this mouthwatering pesto recipe from Lu (which is amazing slathered on roasted cauliflower, fyi), plus a refreshing hemp smoothie recipe from Kennedy and Plant People, to get you started:

Cilantro Cashew Pesto

Whisk ingredients in a bowl.

Nourishing hemp smoothie

Blend all ingredients until smooth and top with garnishes.

We’ve officially reached peak CBD obsession. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a non-inebriating compound in cannabis believed to soothe anxiety and pain, as well as facilitate sleep, among other benefits. CBD oil has emerged in a myriad of food…

So, You Want to Cook With CBD? These Are the Golden Rules to Follow

Emily Laurence

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Maybe the idea of CBD-infused foods freak you out. But having anxiety about cooking with CBD is not only ironic, it’s unnecessary, because this primer has everything you need to know. From the best foods to start with to the rules to follow to ensure you’re not just washing your money down the drain, consider this the complete ABCs to cooking with CBD. Soon you’ll be able to switch up your CBD habit to be as delicious as it is functional. (Any scientists out there want to study the effectiveness of CBD brownies as a PMS remedy? Get at me.)

The golden rules of cooking with CBD

1. Don’t waste your pricey tinctures on cooking

While you may already be the proud owner of a CBD tincture, The Ultimate Guide to CBD author Jamie Evans, aka The Herb Somm, says there are more cost-effective ways to infuse your food rather than using up your precious vials. The easiest, she says, is to buy a CBD-infused olive oil that’s ready to cook with.

“These are becoming easier to find, but since CBD is still widely unregulated, you want to look for one that’s organically grown so that there’s less of a chance of it including pesticides,” Evans says. The dosage per serving should always be on the bottle; she recommends a dosage of between 15 to 30 milligrams per serving for newbies. Her favorite brand is Pot d’Huile Hemp Infused Olive Oil ($36).

Basically, unless all you plan on infusing is a smoothie or a vinaigrette, Evans recommends saving your CBD tinctures in favor for a pre-infused oil.

2. Be Wary of heat

Evans says that cooking heat can potentially make CBD less effective. “If exposed to overheating, the effects will burn off,” she says, adding that she recommends staying below 320˚F.

However, because CBD in baked goods is still a relatively new territory, other experts aren’t sure about the impact of heat. “It’s hard to say and is still unknown what happens to the potency of CBD oil when it’s heated at a certain temperatures while cooking or baking,” says Liz Sprinkle, the founder of CBD brand Love Always, Liz.

To be safe, “I recommend adding CBD oil after the food you are preparing has been removed from a hot surface or oven to preserve the integrity of the plant compounds,” Sprinkle says. “For instance, instead of mixing CBD oil into cake batter before it’s baked, add it to the icing that will go on the cake.” This way, you’re more likely to get the most out of the oil.

3. Be sure to incorporate healthy fats

Evans says CBD is fat-soluble—meaning that your body absorbs it best when paired with fat-containing foods—which is another reason why she’s a fan of oil-infusions. “Cannabinoids [like CBD] are really drawn to fats,” she says. Whatever oil you’re into most—olive, coconut, MCT, avocado—having it as a carrier is what’s going to make the CBD most effective.

4. be patient With the effects

Evans says that consuming CBD in food will take your body longer to digest than a dropper full of tincture under your tongue—so be patient. “When you’re infusing it in food, there’s what’s called the ‘first pass effect,’ which means that anything digestible has to pass through your gut and liver first before reaching your bloodstream,” she says. “So [CBD in food] not going to be as potent or as quick-acting.”

5. be mindful with what you consume it with

While Evans says there aren’t any studies saying that CBD is harmful when consumed with alcohol—and even says it can be fun to experiment with CBD cocktails—it’s always a good idea to be mindful of your intake. “And of course if you’re consuming CBD with any alcohol, don’t drive,” she says. If you plan on serving food with CBD to friends, Evans says it’s important to tell them in advance (along with the dosage) as CBD can interact with some medications.

The best foods to start cooking with

Sprinkle and Evans both recommend starting with something you’re already familiar with, such as using your CBD-infused oil to top off a salad. If you want to use a tincture instead of an infused oil, Sprinkle recommends adding a few drops to a beverage. “I really love adding CBD oil to my favorite beverages such as Bulletproof coffee, smoothie recipes, and fun cocktails because it’s so easy and quick acting,” Sprinkle says.

Once you have beverages down, you can get as creative as you want. (Just keep in mind how heating affects the outcome.) Evans says she’s a fan of using CBD oil in sauces, like pesto, drizzled over pasta. Sprinkle says she likes using it to make a red wine mushroom reduction to serve over steak. And of course she’s a fan of using it in baked goods too; CBD brownies was the food she experimented with first.

Ready to try it? Here’s Well+Good co-founder Alexia Brue’s CBD smoothie recipe, straight from the Well+Good Cookbook.

Strawberry CBD smoothie

Ingredients
1 cup packed kale leaves or other dark leafy greens
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, tops included
1/4 medium avocado, pitted and peeled
1 dried fig
Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 Tbsp)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar (optional)
1 drop high-quality CBD oil
1/4 cup ice cubes

1. In a high-speed blender, combine the kale, basil, strawberries, avocado, fig, lime juice, salt, honey (if using), CBD oil, and half cup water. Blend until smooth.

2. Pour into a glass over ice and enjoy, or pout into a jar or bottle with a lid, store in the refrigerator, and drink within a couple of hours. Shake well before drinking.

See the golden rules for cooking with CBD oil, including what you need to know about dosage, heat, and the best foods to start with.