More good news for olive oil — cook away with it!

Olive oil is on the ‘good food’ list these days and thanks for that. I love it on salads of all kinds, fish and veggies I grill on my barbecue. But even with all the praise it’s gotten nutritionally, there’s been a long-held caution about cooking with it.

“Many healthy chefs exclusively use it as a finishing oil because of the oil’s low “smoke point.” The concern was that if olive oil gets too hot, it starts to burn and smoke—which can mess with the flavor of the finished dish as well as degrade some of the oil’s health benefits,” recounts in a recent article.

A sampling of the amazing olive oil we brought back from Italy.


I never believed that, by the way. Now thankfully, it’s being called a false bit of information.

A recent study, “debunks a lot of people’s concerns about olive oil’s smoke points. For one thing, researchers found that both regular olive oil and extra-virgin olive oil can withstand temperatures over 475℉, whether on the stove or in the oven. (When sautéing, the temperature is typically 248℉.),” the article notes.

So cook away with olive oil at your side!

Here’s one reason olive oil gets all the glory

Olive oil is like the Mount Olympus of ‘good’ fat, most nutritionists agree. But exactly why is that the case? So much of nutrition science is still in its infancy that I often am skeptical when anything is touted as a ‘healthy’ food.

Always carry your own oil and vinegar packets to use on any salad. I buy these in bulk on Amazon.
Always carry your own oil and vinegar packets to use on any salad. I buy these in bulk on Amazon.

But a new study may give some insight into why olive oil can help us. Apparently it helps your good cholesterol, the HDL kind, work more effectively, according to an article in Cooking Light magazine.

Continue reading “Here’s one reason olive oil gets all the glory”

Turning leftovers into a treat — a wonderful salmon salad

Leading up to and including Thanksgiving, we had house guests for 10 days straight, which meant a lot of cooking, and a lot of leftovers.

Oddly enough, they left Sunday and then my wife left on a business trip Monday, so I’ve had the house, and the leftovers, to myself all week. I’ve eaten a lot of turkey, as you might guess. But we also had made salmon for some pre-Thanksgiving dinners, and there was a large amount of salad already made as well.

My wonderful salmon salad.
My wonderful salmon salad.

So Monday night, I combined the salad with the left-over salmon for a great salmon salad dinner. I heated the salmon with some added Mrs. Dash salt-free teriyaki sauce for added flavor. Then I topped the salad with it and added olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a great dinner treat.

Don’t give up on your leftovers, find creative combos to get the most out of your cooking efforts.

Simple summer side dishes: tomatoes and beans from your garden

I wrote recently about a Sunday dinner I created using chicken skewered on rosemary sprigs as a main dish.

To accompany that and a salmon I made for the same meal, I went with simple side dishes that included grilled zucchini, tomato slices with basil and olive oil, and green beans freshly picked from my garden and cooked in olive oil and spices.

A simple approach, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and wonderful olive oil.
A simple approach, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and wonderful olive oil.

The fresh beans were so flavorful, tasting them reminded me why I plant  a vegetable garden each summer. I went with olive oil on them this time but have also made beans with a a balsamic vinegar glaze that works quite well to add some sweetness to the dish. Continue reading “Simple summer side dishes: tomatoes and beans from your garden”

Rosemary chicken: a nice way to add flavor to chicken breast

Eating chicken breast can get boring fast given that white meat, while the lowest-fat part of the chicken, also is the driest. I tend to cook it covered with tomato sauce or some other ingredient to add some flavor to it.

Chicken rosemary skewers were wonderfully flavorful and easy to make.
Chicken rosemary skewers are wonderfully flavorful and easy to make.

So, searching for new recipes, I was interested in trying a recipe I saw in People magazine from TV personalities Bill and Guiliana for chicken skewered on sprigs of rosemary. It all tuned out well and seemed to be a hit with Sunday dinner guests recently. The only tricky part of the recipe is finding long rosemary branches. I bought a rosemary plant to get them since packaged rosemary in stores tends to be rather short sprigs. Continue reading “Rosemary chicken: a nice way to add flavor to chicken breast”

Nutrient-Dense Foods: prepare for this new food jargon

Food fads come and go in America as we all search for magic foods that will allow us to eat what we want while keeping us thin and healthy. Remember high-carb diets, low-carb diets, the protein craze (this one is still going on), and most recently functional foods — foods that supposedly serve a specific function like keeping us sharp for a busy day at school or the office?

The next fad seems to be what are being called nutrient dense foods. What that means exactly is, “naturally or inherently nutritious foods and beverages — ‘traditional foods rooted in folklore as beneficial and delicious,’ ” Melissa Abbott, senior director of culinary insights for The Hartman Group consumer research firm, says in article on MediaPost.

For me, pasta is a functional food, it makes me feel good. Thee days, I'm eating only multigrain pasta,
For me, pasta is a functional food, it makes me feel good. Thee days, I’m eating only multigrain pasta,
Continue reading “Nutrient-Dense Foods: prepare for this new food jargon”

Olive oil and restricted diets: which type is best for you?

You’ve been told olive oil has good fats not the bad fats in everything else you once loved to eat but no longer can. So are all olive oils created equal?

I recently visited an olive oil processing plant in southern Italy while on a 10-day vacation with family there. The owner, the fourth generation of her family to run the place, explained to us that extra virgin olive oil is best when watching your cholesterol and diet overall.

some of the amazing olive oil we brought back from Italy.
some of the amazing olive oil we brought back from Italy.

We sampled a wonderful array of oils there. I have always loved olive oil. Tasting it in my ancestral homeland was even more special.

While I can’t eat plain Italian bread any longer, I can always buy some type of whole wheat bread to dip in my wonderful olive oil. And putting it on vegetables and fish adds a wonderful flavor.

I also use it exclusively on salads now, having walked away from any type of prepared – read high-fat, high-salt – dressings. Interestingly, in Italy no restaurant offered any type of prepared dressing. Oil and vinegar were routinely placed on our tables instead. I wish American restaurants would copy that practice as well.

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