Healthy Cooking with Olive Oil
Olive oil is very special. For most of the human record, being grown and cultivated even before the invention of written language, olive oil has been a nutritional staple-the quintessential ingredient of the Mediterranean. In this post, we’ll press the important topics of extra virgin olive oil and explore it’s many health benefits and cooking applications. Continuing the ancient tradition laid before us by our hungry ancestors.
The term ‘extra virgin’ is a classification given to olive oils that have been extracted using only mechanical or hand pressing methods. Meaning, no chemicals or chemical solvents were used in the extraction process.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Olive oil is made by crushing and pressing the olive, then extracting and filtering out the oil. You may have heard the term ‘cold pressed’ when referencing olive oil. This extraction process is of the utmost importance for preserving the intricate flavor as well as upholding the nutritional composition. It’s this nutritional composition that gives olive oil it’s bountiful health benefits.
Hearts ❤️ EVOO
The main component of olive oil's macro nutrient makeup is that it contains a high number of monounsaturated fat molecules. These are the good fats. Necessary fuel to the functions of the body. These monounsaturated fats actually protect us from those harmful artery clogging fats-those nasty fats responsible for all manner of cardiovascular diseases. By substituting olive oil in place of other saturated fats (butter, margarine, shortening, etc…) will drastically reduce your risk of heart disease.
Oxidants are “free-radicals” that cruise around your body damaging cell tissue. Olive oil is high in antioxidants. You can think of these as the oxidant police, which reduce the number of harmful free radicals in our system. These antioxidants are known as polyphenols, a natural chemical compound that partner with vitamins and minerals in our body’s fight against the cancer causing, coronary blocking, heart disease promoting and inflammation boosting bad guys.
Health the Mediterranean Way
The Mediterranean diet is known to be one of the healthiest forms of eating on the planet, inspired by the eating habits of Greece, Italy and Spain. A diet rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, hearty whole grains and lean meats while also promoting a healthy intake of olive oil. It is this combination that gives credence to the Mediterranean diet’s health plugs of reduced instances of diabetes and improved weight management.
Cooking with Olive Oil
Olive oil is a juggernaut in the kitchen, with a resume of kitchen applications unlike any other ingredient. EVOO has two standout culinary qualities; flavor and function. Let’s explore these finer points in a little more detail before diving into some specific application tips.
Flavor of Olive Oil
Olive oil can be as complex in flavor as that of wine, a palate portfolio of taste. These flavors can range from rich and sweet to earthy and spicy. It all depends on the olive or blend of olives used in making the oil.
Gil's Gourmet sources only the finest EVOO, made from a blend of top quality olives harvested from the Mediterranean and California. Giving our oils the ‘best of both worlds’ approach to flavor. Balancing the rich and sweet with the earthy and spicy.
Function of Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil has, what is called, a medium high smoke point. Smoke point being the moment when an oil reaches it’s temperature threshold, burns and becomes acrid. Extra virgin olive oil, hovers at a smoke point of around 325°F making it ideal for lower heat cooking applications, like sautéing. Or providing additional flavor to sauces, dips, pastas, marinades and vinaigrettes. Going above an oil’s smoke point can make the oil break down and degrade, causing it to lose the health benefits it possesses. So, make sure to pick the right oil for the right occasion.
Using Olive Oil
Here are some of our favorite uses for evoo…
Olive oil acts in the same way as other oils when it comes to baking, providing moisture, tenderness and richness. Feel free to substitute olive oil in your brownie, cake or cookie recipes-instead of those other mega-saturated, harmful oils. The Italians love making delicious cakes using olive oil-imparts incredible flavor.
Get inspired here.
Sautéing is the recommended stove top cooking method for using extra virgin olive oil as your oil of choice. This method is generally a moderate heat application that wont cause your oil to degrade (as opposed to high heat stove top methods like frying or pan searing). Vegetables adapt perfectly to being sautéed in extra virgin olive oil olive oil. Think sautéed leafy greens, mushrooms, beans and peppers.
Our favorite use of extra virgin olive oil, drizzling. We’ll also include dunking and dipping into this category as well. Extra virgin olive oil can add so much depth of flavor and round out your dishes with just a simple, light touch. Think of this as drizzling over a pasta dishes, or giving roasted meats and seafood a finishing touch, adding silky earthiness to soups…you name it, it can be drizzled with olive oil…Try it even drizzled over ice cream!
Get inspired here.
Extra virgin olive oil’s versatility makes it an easy companion to homemade condiments; tapenade, pesto, salad dressings, mayonnaise and marinades. Many, if not most, condiment recipes call for olive oil but feel free to substitute this beneficial oil when creating in the kitchen.
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