by Brianna Quaglia, blogger and Social Media Chair
Yes, I am making a Popeye reference, but it is certainly necessary. He loves olive oil (spelled Olive Oyl on the show), and you should also. It’s easy to cook with, tasty, and healthy too. Having some extra-virgin olive oil, or EVOO as Rachael Ray would say, on hand is always a good idea. It’s a kitchen staple.
Olive oil is made by crushing and then pressing olives. While olive oil doesn’t contain any nutrients, it is still very beneficial. Olive oil, especially EVOO, is high in monounsaturated fat, better known as the “good fat.” According to Mayo Clinic, monounsaturated fat lowers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (or LDL, the “bad kind” of cholesterol), thus decreasing your risk of heart disease.
TLC’s cooking page states eating a “Mediterranean diet” with plenty of olive oil has helped people live longer for ages. Olive oil has the highest amount of monounsaturated fat when compared to all other oils like canola oil, corn oil, and palm oil, and many more.
Extra-virgin olive oil is thought to be the healthiest kind of olive oil. It is called “extra-virgin” because it comes from the first pressing of the olive. It is the least processed and highest in antioxidants known as polyphenols, which also promote heart health.
Whfoods.com, an educational health food profiling site, and the Mayo Clinic suggest substituting olive oil in place of other, less healthy fats and oils. Whfoods claims that studies have proven replacing bad fats with olive oil can reduce heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma rates in populations.
Clearly, olive oil should be your oil of choice. Here are some easy tips on how to incorporate it in your diet:
The Popeye & Olive Oyl adapted from Simply Recipes
Ingredients: Spinach, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic (chopped), salt to taste
Cut the thick stems off the spinach. Rinse the spinach thoroughly, then drain and repeat. Dry the spinach in a salad spinner or by patting it with paper towels. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of the olive oil in a skillet or frying pan on medium/high heat. Add the garlic, saute until it is just beginning to brown. Add the spinach, using tongs or a couple spatulas to flip the spinach so heat, olive oil, and garlic are distributed evenly. Cover the spinach with a pot lid, uncovering occasionally to stir/flip the spinach. When all the spinach is wilted, remove from heat and drain any excess liquid. Then drizzle with a little more EVOO and sprinkle with salt. Then enjoy!
Dorm room cheat: Mix spinach, garlic, and olive oil in a microwaveable bowl, microwave until wilted.
My favorite left-over pasta quick fix:
Ingredients: Left-over whole wheat pasta, Italian seasoning, garlic powder or salt, extra-virgin olive oil
Put some of the left-over whole wheat pasta in a microwaveable bowl, drizzle with EVOO. Mix the pasta so all pieces are coated in a thin layer of EVOO. Sprinkle in a couple shakes of Italian seasoning and garlic power/salt. Stir pasta again. Then microwave for one to two minutes. Once pasta is done top with another drizzle of EVOO and stir again. Eat! If it is not flavorful enough, add the rest of the seasonings to taste.
Dorm room cheat: If you don’t have left-over pasta on hand (how could you if you are in a dorm room with no oven?), simply use some of that EasyMac your mom sent you. Cook the macaroni as instructed, taking it out of the microwave roughly 30 seconds earlier than instructed so it is not soggy. Then shoot a tiny bit of EVOO in, and a dash of the Italian seasoning and garlic. Stir, then nom nom! Dig in.