This recipe comes from my new cookbook Cooking With Essential Oils, now available in paperback on Amazon or in digital download. I just love cooking with essential oils. This recipe uses lime, ginger, and basil essential oils in the sauce and lemongrass and bay laurel oils. You will be hooked once you try them. The oils just add so much flavor.

Buy the cookbook here!

My wife thinks she doesn’t like Thai food until I make it at home. After her weight-loss surgery, we ate a lot of ground meats because they were easier to digest. These lemongrass and ginger meatballs have unexpected flavor from a traditional Italian or Swedish meatball. The recipe as written calls for ground beef. Understand that when I buy ground beef, I usually buy organic, grass-fed and grass-finished. I believe that you should buy the best quality ingredients you can afford and simply eat less of them. You can also substitute ground turkey or chicken in this recipe for the beef, if you prefer. However, if you do that, I strongly recommend using dark meat so the meatballs are not too dry. – Chef John

Thai Red Curry Sauce

Curry Ingredients:

¼ cup coconut oil or olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1½ cups)

1 large red onion, cut in half and sliced into ¼ inch strips (about 1½ cups)

2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger (about a 2-inch nub of ginger about the size of your thumb), divided in half

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 each red and green bell peppers, sliced into thin 1/2 inch x 2-inch long strips

2 carrots, peeled cut in half and sliced about ¼ inch thick (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

2 cups vegetable broth

2 cans (14 ounces) regular full fat coconut milk

1 tablespoon tamari

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

5 drops lime essential oil

3 drops ginger essential oil

4 drops basil essential oil

¼ teaspoon salt (more to taste)

Garnishes/sides: handful of chopped fresh basil or cilantro

Thai Red Curry with Lemongrass and Ginger Meatballs cooking over the stove in a Le Creuset dutch oven pot.

Heat a large skillet with deep sides on medium high over medium heat. Once it is very hot, add the oil, carrots, onion and a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the ginger and garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds, while stirring continuously.

Immediately add the bell peppers and cook 3-5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Dissolve the curry pasted into the vegetable stock and add to skillet. Cook for about 2 minutes continually, stirring slowly. Bring to a simmer.

Add the coconut milk and stir to combine while the mixture simmers slightly over medium/low heat for about 20-30 minutes. Stir often so as not to burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.

Remove the pot from the heat and season with tamari and lime juice. Add salt to taste. If the curry needs a little more rounded flavor, add ½ teaspoon more tamari. For greater acidity, add ½ teaspoon of additional rice vinegar or lime juice.

Lemongrass and Ginger Meatballs

Meatball Ingredients:

4 pounds very lean ground beef

2 ounces fresh ginger, minced

2 ounces fresh lemongrass, finely chopped

2 ounces garlic, minced

15 drops lemongrass essential oil

15 drops bay laurel essential oil

3 tablespoons salt

4 tablespoons black pepper

1 tablespoon white pepper

1 quart vegetable oil

Heat vegetable oil in a deep pot heated to 400 degrees. I use a high temperature candy thermometer for temperature regulation.

Mix all ingredients in a very large mixing bowl. Squish all together—I used my hands—for at least 2-3 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors absorb and blend.

Spray two cookie sheets with nonstick spray. Using a small ice cream scoop, form meatballs and place on cookie sheet. Place 10-12 (no more than that) into the heated oil for frying. Adding too many will drop the oil temperature too much and they will absorb the oil versus creating a crispy outer crust. When brown, lift out of oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels or on a paper bag.

You can freeze the leftovers and they will keep for at least a month. If you use a vacuum sealer, the meatballs will keep for 4-6 months. I usually double the batch when good grass-fed beef is on sale and freeze in a vacuum sealer.

To serve: Divide meatballs evenly into 5 or 6 bowls and place about a ½ cup Cilantro Lime Rice (recipe herein) in each bowl and ladle curry sauce on top. Garnish with chopped cilantro or fresh torn basil leaves.

Cooking With Essential OIls

I’m so excited to share with you my first cookbook. It is live on Amazon and can be ordered today!

Order it here:

If you have an essential oils team or a book club, I am offering bulk pricing for orders of 10 or more. Also, I’ll do a live video conference with your team and answer questions about cooking with essential oils. Contact me to discuss options.

Chimichurri is a light, oil-based condiment with origins in Argentina. The name comes from a Spanish Basque word that means “a mixture of several things in noparticular order.” In South America, each family has their own version of a chimichurri recipe handed down over centuries. I like it because it is bright and fresh with a ridiculous amount of flavor. Plus, it is great to use throughout all of the dishes for an entire meal. One tip, though—rough chop the parsley and cilantro by hand. If you use a food processor the herbs will turn to puree and you will end up with baby food instead of a condiment or sauce.

Chimichurri Base

3 cups packed cilantro leaves, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon chili flakes

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 serrano chili, chopped

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon verbena, chopped

1 tablespoon thyme, chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Dump all ingredients in food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds. Divide into two half-portions. Use one half-portion of chimichurri base as marinade for flatiron steak. Use second half-portion of chimichurri base to make marinade for tomatoes, salad vinaigrette, and meat drizzle.

Chimichurri Marinated Flatiron Steak

1 1/3 pounds flatiron steak

6 shallots cut in half

1 cup chimichurri base

1 yellow zucchini, cut in half

1 green zucchini, cut in half

Pour chimichurri base on steak in pan and lay shallots on top. Let sit for at least 3 hours up to 5 hours. Remove steak from marinade and grill for 3-4 minutes. Grill zucchini for 3 minutes. Then, put back in pan and finish in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Marinated Tomatoes

¼ cup chimichurri base

2 drops oregano essential oil

3 drops black pepper essential oil

1 drop lemon essential oil

2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped (or 4 cups chopped)

2 ounces shaved manchego cheese

Place all ingredients except cheese in bowl and let sit for couple of hours. Right before serving, mix cheese into tomatoes.

Chimichurri Vinaigrette

½ cup chimichurri base, pureed

1 teaspoon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 medium shallot, sliced

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 drops oregano essential oil

2 drops lemon essential oil

2 drops thyme essential oil

Place all ingredients in a shaker cup and shake well to combine.

Chimichurri Meat Drizzle

¼ cup chimichurri base

2 drops oregano essential oil

2 drops black pepper essential oil

1 drop lemon essential oil

2 drops rosemary essential oil

Combine all ingredients in shaker cup and shake well to combine. Drizzle over grilled flatiron steak as finish.

Grilled Salad

2 cups baby arugula

2 heads Romaine lettuce, cut in half

Brush of chimichurri base

2 ounces shaved manchego cheese

Chimichurri Vinaigrette

4 slices Italian Rustic bread

Brush cut-side of lettuce with chimichurri base. Place cut side down on oven burner or grill. Chop grilled lettuce and arugula together. Mix half of cheese into chopped salad mix. Toss with Chimichurri Vinaigrette. Grill bread on oven burner then put in oven to finish for 5 minutes to make crisp like a crouton.

Putting it All Together

Lay grilled bread on plate. Top with grilled salad mix. Slice zucchini and lay on top of grilled salad mix. Spoon marinated tomatoes and cheese over salad mix. Slice flatiron steak and lay on top of tomatoes. Last, drizzle with chimichurri drizzle and salt and pepper to taste.

What are essential oils? 

When you smell the unique scent of a rose or smell the scent of cedar in the Central Texas countryside, you are smelling the powerful effect of essential oils. Essential oils are much more than just pleasant scents. They are powerful plant extracts that promote greater wellness.  

Essential oils come from steam distillation or the cold pressing of plant material, separating the essential oils from the water and plant materials. Essential oils can be used in the home as a non-toxic alternative to chemical cleaning products. They can also be used promote the body’s natural health and wellness in several different ways—physical health, beauty regimen, and emotional support. 

How do you use essential oils? 

There are three ways to use essential oils—aromatically, topically, and internally. When essential oils are used aromatically, this involves either direct inhalation by, for example, putting an oil on your hands and smelling it, or by using a diffuser to cold steam the oils into the air. The study of using essential oils aromatically is called aromatherapy and is the most common method of using essential oils. During inhalation, essential oils absorb into the body through the respiratory system. 

Essential oils can also be used topically by rubbing the oil, usually diluted in a carrier oil, on the skin. This way, the oil is absorbed into the skin which transfers the oil into the bloodstream. When oils are used topically on the bottoms of the feet, the feet’s large pores allow for rapid absorption into the body. 

Internal consumption of essential oils is less common, at least as far as most people know. Many processed foods use essential oils in their flavorings—think chewing gum, chocolates, candies, and many more.  The Federal Drug Administration has approved many essential oils for internal consumption, giving these oils the status of “generally regarded as safe.” 

Are there differences in the quality of oils? 

There are many differences in the quality of essential oils available on the market. Essential oils are expensive to produce because of the amount of plant material that is required to get a small quantity of pure oil. To make the end product cheaper, some companies dilute the pure and natural essential oil with lab-created synthetics or alcohol-type adulterants. For this reason, it is important to research the company from which you buy oils.  

Based on our research, we chose Young Living, the oldest essential oil company in America, as the company we trust to provide pure, unadulterated essential oils. Young Living’s founder Gary D. Young started the essential oil movement in America. The company guarantees the purity and quality of their oils both through in-house and third-party testing. 

What are the basics of cooking with essential oils? 

Essential oils can be up to 70% stronger than their fresh and dried herb counterparts since fresh and dried herbs only retain about 5-10% of the essential oils from the original plant. Essential oils are superior in flavor and potency over dried herbs and have a longer shelf life. Never fear, fresh and dried herbs still have a place in cooking because of the nutrients they offer and the differences in taste and texture from essential oils.  

Essential oils are a very concentrated portion of the original plant material, so they should be used in smaller quantities than the whole plant substance.  

It is also a good idea to dilute the essential oils into a carrier oil (like olive oil) or a syrup before adding it to a recipe. This ensures that the essential oil gets mixed into the whole dish.  

Lastly, essential oils are “volatile,” which means that they are fragile and dissipate in high heat. In order to maintain the maximum healthful properties of the essential oils, use them in cold-applications. When using essential oils in hot preparations, add them at the end of the preparation, if possible. Otherwise, you can expect to lose a bit of the properties in the cooking process. Even so, the essential oils will still provide enhanced flavors in the cooking and maintain some of the healthful properties. 

What’s the difference between essential oils and vegetable oils?  

Vegetable oils are fats, pressed from seeds and nuts or the bran of grains. They contain glycerol, which is the greasy residue and slippery surface characteristic of such fatty oils. Essential oils contain no fat and are mostly steam distilled from plant material.  

What’s the difference between essential oils and extracts? 

To make an extract, plant material is soaked in a liquid (such as alcohol) in order to isolate or extract a certain amount of flavor from the plant. Liquid extracts are used as flavoring in cooking, as perfumes, or in medicines. Examples include vanilla extract, where vanilla beans are soaked in alcohol, which is used in baking. 

The process of obtaining essential oils is much more complex, through steam distillation. The liquid that is distilled off is called a plant essence and the very small amount of volatile liquid left behind is the essential oil. It requires a large amount of plant material to obtain a small amount of essential oil, but the essential oil is much more potent than a liquid extract. 

What is the ratio for substituting essential oils for fresh or dried herbs? 

While there is no bright line rule for substituting essential oils for fresh or dried herbs, a good rule of thumb is one drop of essential oil is approximately one teaspoon of fresh or dried herbs. 

What essential oils are approved for internal consumption by the FDA? 

The Federal Drug Administration approves of certain essential oils as generally recognized as safe for internal consumption. The Code of Federal Regulations provides the list of food substances generally recognized as safe for human consumption. [Citation: 21 CFR 182.20.] Young Living has worked with the FDA to develop and package certain essential oils for internal consumption – called their Vitality Line.  

These include: Basil Vitality, Lemongrass Vitality, Oregano Vitality, Rosemary Vitality, Thyme Vitality, Lavender Vitality, Peppermint Vitality, Spearmint Vitality, Laurus Nobilis Vitality, Mountain Savory Vitality, Marjoram Vitality, Sage Vitality, German Chamomile Vitality, Tarragon Vitality, Black Pepper Vitality, Cinnamon Bark Vitality, Clove Vitality, Ginger Vitality, Carrot Seed Vitality, Celery Seed Vitality, Dill Vitality, Cardamom Vitality, Coriander Vitality, Nutmeg Vitality, Fennel Vitality, Bergamot Vitality, Grapefruit Vitality, Jade Lemon Vitality, Lemon Vitality, Lime Vitality, Orange Vitality, and Tangerine Vitality. 

I got inspired to create this drink when we owned a coffee shop in Boulder Colorado. That year a certain large coffeehouse ran out of pumpkin spice syrup. My manager David, who was one of my former culinary students, said to me, “Dude we so got this!” We set out for the local grocery store and picked up a case of canned pumpkin and several jars of pumpkin pie spice. Little by little we kept adding and writing down everything and finally ended up with a 5-gallon bucket of a pumpkin pie latte base. Even when that coffee company got their pumpkin pie spice syrup back we still sold 5-7 gallons worth of pumpkin pie lattes and pumpkin chais almost every day during pumpkin season. I’ve continued to improve the recipe since then, including adding the essential oils.

Pumpkin Latte Base

1 cup milk or milk substitute

¼ cup canned pumpkin pie mix

3 packets Splenda or any non-sugar sweetener of your choice

½ teaspoon vanilla

10 drops Pumpkin Spice Essential Oil Blend (see below)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher using an immersion blender. Put in a jar with tight lid and refrigerate for about an hour before using. Shake well before each use. This will last about 10 days in the refrigerator if using a milk substitute.

To serve: Mix ¼ cup pumpkin latte base and ¼ cup milk or milk substitute and heat slightly in microwave. Add 2 shots of espresso.

For coffee, mix one cup coffee (I would make it strong) with one cup of pumpkin latte base. You can also make this with cold brew for a cold pumpkin spice latte.

Pumpkin Spice Essential Oil Blend

Note: When using essential oils for internal consumption, use only essential oils approved for such use. Many essential oils that you buy, especially ones on the lesser expensive side, will specifically tell you “not for internal consumption”. Don’t use these for internal consumption! Believe the label! There may be additives or adulterants (yes, even if the label says 100% essential oil) that wouldn’t be good to use internally. There are only a few brands out there that are FDA approved for using in cooking and they will say as much.

4 drops Cinnamon essential oil

2 drops Ginger essential oil

1 drop Clove essential oil

4 drops Cardamom essential oil

4 drops Nutmeg essential oil

3 ml MCT liquid unflavored oil.

Combine all ingredients and put in clean essential oil bottle with dropper cap on.