Okay guys. This is crazy, I know I just said a few days ago I am overwhelmed with things I want to write about, but here I am having some sort of nutrition-related writer's block. So, why don't you write to me, and tell me what you want to hear? I feel I've covered just about everything... Oh wait, I just thought of something. But just for today. Tomorrow I expect dozens of comments with questions and good potential subject matter. K?
So for today: olive oil. We hear it's the oil to use. We hear it's good for us, "heart healthy" and stuff. But here's the deal:
Yes, olive oil has much monounsaturated fat (good, healthy fat) and lots of Omega-3 fatty acids to boot. In fact, this oil has the most monounsat. fat than any other cooking oil. (Canola oil is a close second, which is preferred for cooking high heat dishes such as stir-fry). Olive oil also has wonderful compounds like phytochemicals, many containing antioxidant properties.
But the thing is, it's gotta be extra virgin olive oil to get these wonderful benefits. And, contrary to what you see, true extra virgin olive oil is hard to find. "What??" you ask. "I see extra virgin olive oil sold everywhere, straight from Italy". Au contraire (sp?), would you believe that in the U.S. of A. there is no legal definition for "extra virgin", therefore it can be used just about anywhere? Yep, it's true. And in fact, most of the oil we see labeled extra virgin is so not virgin (first press, cold pressed, pure oil), that it's exported from Italy because it won't sell in Europe.
That's the kind of stuff that happens when there are no rules.
But some olive oil companies are beginning to make some rules, in California at least. There is now a "California Olive Oil Council" that certifies oils as extra virgin. They're following the lead in Europe not only with certification, but even olive oil tasting rooms... yum. I buy only COOC -certified olive oils, and here's the difference: everything. Price, yes, but taste and color, oohlala. Because they're California-grown olives, the oil is fresher. Because they really are pure, first press oils, they taste light-years better, and even the color is strangely green, vs. gold. If you recall that color comes from nutrients, that green olive oil may be more appealing to you, since it has many of the phytochemicals more processed oils don't. Taste also comes from nutrients, and you'll experience that immediately, if not sooner.
So buy the real deal. Health food stores and co-ops usually carry it.
And here's a recipe to try it on:
Pasta with Beans and Greens
another recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
1 pound pasta
3 TBSP minced garlic (5 or 6 large cloves)
3 onions, diced
3 TBSP olive oil
1 bunch greens
dash of salt
3 cups undrained tomatoes (28oz can)
3-4 cups drained cooked white beans, such as cannellini (two 16 oz cans)
juice of 1 lemon
Bring a large covered pot of water to a rapid boil. While the water heats, in a large saucepan saute the garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent. Wash and coursely shred the greens. Stir greens and salt into the onions and cook for several minutes, covered, until the greens are bright green and reduced by at least half.
When pasta water boils, stir in the pasta, cover, and return to a boil. Then uncover the pot and cook the pasta until al dente. Wheile pasta cooks, add the tomatoes and juice to the greens. Stir the tomatoes and the beans into the greens, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the lemon juice to the sauce just before you drain the pasta. Serve the sauce immediately, ladled onto bowls of hot pasta.