Olive Oil in your diet, a matter of health
Olive Oil vs other cooking fats: the Cretan alternative
Its velvety texture and fine taste are not the only reasons that make olive oil ideal for your cooking or dressing. Olive oil is far more suitable compared to all other vegetable or animal cooking fats for many other reasons: it is produced solely by mechanical means and at very low temperature (cold extraction) with no added chemical processes that other oils undergo.
Whereas various other vegetable oils are rich in harmful polyunsaturated fats and dairies abundant in saturated fats that undermine your health, olive oil is rich only in monounsaturated fats as high as 80% in content. Also, olive oil is high heat-resistant, an attribute that makes it ideal for frying as heat will not destroy its beneficial antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Olive Oil and good health
The medicinal qualities of olive oil have been recognized since the antiquity, as far back as Hippocrates’ codex.
These attributes are scientifically confirmed today by contemporary scientists. International studies on past and contemporary Cretan cuisine where olive oil is prominent, have shown that this natural liquid extract contributes to overall health by providing antioxidants and other beneficial elements that promote good cardiovascular health and also contribute to the prevention of some forms of cancer.
Due to its polyphenols, olive oil also helps our body to better absorb vitamins, etc.
Make olive oil part of your day routine
Raw (uncooked) olive oil maintains in its entirety the nutritional goodness it possesses. Use with your cooking and your dishes will be more wholesome, less fatty especially of you use it towards the end of your preparation.
Replace all your buttery fats and spreads with it for overall health. Use it for your frying as it will maintain its integrity even at very high temperatures.
Below are just a few ideas –most common in a typical Cretan household today- on how to include olive oil in your dietary habits… and more:
Eat it uncooked, raw
Trickle some olive oil on cheeses such as Feta or Halloumi or other creamier cheeses and then add some oregano. Even better, toast a slice of bread, trickle some olive oil, salt and oregano and you have a wholesome, delicious snack!
Use it as dressing on your salads
Olive oil dressing on any salad will enhance the flavor of your vegetables and the rest of the ingredients and also –most importantly- retain all its antioxidants and nutritious elements.
Make a Cretan “Dakos”
Lightly moist a piece of Cretan “Paksimadi”, the double-baked and dried bread of Crete, grate some tomato and Feta cheese and then add a pinch of salt and oregano. Finally trickle olive oil over this and… dive in! A delicious, complete in nutritional value and wholesome Cretan appetizer!
Use it with your marinades
Marinade your red meats, poultry or fish in a mixture of olive oil, wine or vinegar, lemon or spices and herbs: they will explode with aromas and subtle flavors while gaining all the goodness of the olive oil.
Prepare homemade Vinaigrettes
Mix thoroughly in a bowl a good portion of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and garlic to a smooth, velvety dressing that will simply bring life to any dull dish!
Béchamel sauce with extra virgin olive oil
Instead of butter use extra virgin olive oil and your béchamel will be lighter and frothier.
Definitely with legumes
All kinds of legumes are an indispensable ingredient of the Cretan diet, a perfect combo with extra virgin olive oil, whether you sprinkle it over boiled beans or cook them with it.
Wholesome and tastier fried food!
Your fried delicacies will be tastier and more wholesome if you use extra virgin olive oil: this is a cooking oil that will not be destroyed by extreme heat, adding that special olive oil aroma to all your dishes. You have to fry chips to believe!
A different kind of cake
Extra virgin olive oil will successfully replace butter in you baking. Your sweets and cakes will be equally tasty yet lighter and healthier. You could, for example, replace half portion of margarine you would use in a cake with extra virgin olive oil.