Your Guide to Cooking Oils

When it comes to cooking oil I generally reach for the olive oil. But I do have most other cooking oils in my pantry as well. Every cooking oil can be used for something a little different. The best oils for frying have high smoke points which include avocado oil, peanut oil, palm oil and sesame oil. Oils that work well for baking include coconut oil, palm oil, canola oil and safflower and sunflower oil. Most oils are great for sauteing and light oils like olive oil, grapeseed oil and sesame oil are good for dressings.

Your Guide to Cooking Oils

  • Olive oil – Made from pressed olives and a mainstay in the Mediterranean diet. It is high in monounsaturated fats which make it heart healthy. Regular olive oil has a high smoke point of 470 degrees F while extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has a low smoke point of 325 degrees F. Use olive oil for high heat cooking and vinaigrette’s and EVOO is great as a finishing oil.
  • Coconut oil – Made from pressed fruit of the coconut palm tree. It is high in saturated fats. Use it for light flavored dishes as it has a distinct taste.
  • Grapeseed oil – Made from the seeds of grapes this oil is high in polyunsaturated fats. This oil has a high smoke point at 420 degrees F. It is great on salad or with herbs for dipping.
  • Canola oil – Made from pressed rapeseed plants. It has omega-3 fatty acids and it is low in saturated fat. The smoke point is about 400 degrees F. Use it for sauces and desserts such as soft cakes or brownies.
  • Avocado oil – Made from pressed avocados this oil is high in monounsaturated fats. This oil has a high smoke point at 520 degrees F. It is great for sauteing, roasting and making a vinaigrette.
  • Sesame oil – Made from sesame seeds so this oil is high in antioxidants. The smoke point is 410 degrees F. Use it for sauteing, roasting and frying. Toasted sesame oil has a more distinct flavor.

Raquel

Olive and Almond Pasta

Let’s talk healthy fats. This pasta dish is loaded with ’em! Olives, olive oil and almonds make for a delicious dish that becomes sweet and salty with the addition of golden raisins. A few years ago I was at Jon’s family reunion. No Italian family reunion is complete without a pasta cook off. This dish is inspired by the winner! Whole wheat pasta is definitely not Italian approved, however it adds more fiber and I love the taste.

Olives and olive oil are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) one of which is omega-9 or oleic acid. Oleic acid may help control the ratio of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. New research suggests that the ratio between the too is more important than the actual levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol. Don’t be scared of healthy fats! They can help you feel full and are heart healthy. Eating a moderate amount of healthy fats should do the trick.


Olive and Almond Pasta

Ingredientsolive-pasta-1

  • 8 oz whole wheat linguini pasta
  • 1/2 cup mixed olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Pinch salt and pepper

Directions

In a small bowl, combine olives, raisins and almonds. Add enough olive oil to coat mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain when done. Stir together olive mixture and pasta. In another small bowl, combine bread crumbs with Italian seasoning and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread pasta out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and broil until the top is golden brown. Drizzle pasta with olive oil to finish.

Number of servings: 4 | Serving size: 1/4 pasta dish
Calories: 438, total fat: 21 g, total carbohydrates: 53 g, dietary fiber: 7 g, sugars: 10 g, protein: 11 g

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What is your favorite source of healthy fats? Tell me below!

Raquel

Roasted Potatoes with Basil Butter

Potatoes are usually one of the first things cut out when someone goes on a diet. But, when eaten in moderation with a general, healthful diet they can be a great addition. There are many varieties of potatoes and they are all high in potassium, fiber, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Eating potatoes on occasion as your starch with some other veggies on the side is the way to go. These mini potatoes covered in delicious basil butter go perfectly with some chicken or beef and some greens.


Roasted Potatoes with Basil Butter

Ingredientsroasted potatoes 3

  • 1 lb mini potatoes
  • 4 tbsp butter at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place rinsed and scrubbed potatoes in a large bowl. In a food processor combine butter, olive oil, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add basil butter to potatoes and toss to coat. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Place potatoes in one layer in dish. Roast until potatoes are tender and golden or about 1 hour. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese when warm.

Number of servings: 6 servings | Serving size: 1/2 cup
Calories: 167, total fat: 13 g, total carbohydrates: 11 g, dietary fiber: 1 g, sugars: 1 g, protein: 2 g

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What’s you favorite way to eat potatoes (besides french fries!)? Tell me below!

Raquel

Keys to the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is heart healthy and based on typical foods and recipes found in Mediterranean cooking. There is research to support that the Mediterranean diet helps to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) which decreases the risk for heart disease. More than 50% of the fat calories in this diet comes from unsaturated fats, specifically monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, fish and nuts. In addition, the Mediterranean diet is also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases.

Med Diet

The Mediterranean Diet

  • Plant based foods – this includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Making these foods the main stay of this diet introduces extra vitamins, minerals and fiber. Try to eat 8-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Eat nuts in small amounts. Legumes include beans and lentils which adds protein and fiber.
  • Healthy fats – olive oil, fish and nuts are all high in unsatruated fats. Use olive oil instead of butter to cook with. Fish is a lean protein to be eaten once or twice a week.
  • Herbs & spices – cooking with fresh herbs and spices in place of salt. This naturally creates a low sodium diet. Dried herbs are also used. Look for salt-free herb and spice mixes. Garlic, onions and citrus can also be used to give food flavor.
  • Lean proteins – this includes chicken, turkey and fish and limits red meat to once or twice a month. Avoid high fat red meats such as sausage, bacon and other high fat cuts. Choose low fat dairy such as 1% milk or skim milk and nonfat or low fat yogurt.
  • Red wine – this is clearly my favorite part of the diet. Drink red wine in moderation. It has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease if consumed in moderation meaning 5 ounces of wine daily.
  • Exercise – lifestyle factors such as exercise and social support also play a role. Savor the time you have with friends and family and making eating a social experience. Make sure to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise per week.

Raquel

Tomato Basil Salad

Tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes. There are cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, plum tomatoes, roma tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes – the list goes on and on! A few weeks ago I used these mini heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe’s for another recipe and I can’t get enough of them! Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, and the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is part of the carotenoid family which give tomatoes their red color. There is some evidence to suggest lycopene can protect against certain types of cancer and reduce your risk for heart disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.

This recipe is super simple! But, that doesn’t make this any less tasty. I love putting this on top of store bought or homemade pizza. Especially Trader Joe’s Organic Spinach & Ricotta Pizza. You can double or triple this recipe to serve as a side dish or simple salad.


Tomato Basil Salad

IngredientsDSC_0910

  • 1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Cut the tomatoes in quarters and add to a small bowl. Chiffonade the fresh basil leaves and combine with the tomatoes. Throw in the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine. Let marinate for about 15 minutes.

Number of servings: 2 | Serving size: 1/2 cup
Calories: 85, total fat: 7 g, total carbohydrates: 5 g, dietary fiber: 2 g, sugars: 3 g, protein: 1 g

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Tomatoes and basil is one of my favorite combinations. What is your favorite veggie (or fruit) and herb combo? Tell me below!

Raquel

Cannellini Caprese Salad

This salad is a delicious, nutrient filled treat. Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, and the antioxidant lycopene. I found these adorable mini heirloom tomatoes at Trader Joe’s. The more colorful, the better! Mozzarella, while slightly higher in fat and sodium, is a good source of calcium and vitamin D. One ounce of mozzarella cheese has about 22% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance. Basil has been taking over my recipes lately. It is a great way to add flavor without adding sodium and it’s a good source of vitamin K. Finally, (no need to remind you, but…) cannellini beans, like other types of beans and legumes, have plenty of dietary fiber and bring plenty of plant protein to the table.

I love this combination as a salad and the balsamic glaze at Trader Joe’s makes it ten times easier to make. Shout out to TJ’s on this one!


 

Cannellini Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • 8 oz mini buffalo mozzarella, cut in halfDSC_0875
  • 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
  • 10 basil leaves, torn
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic glaze
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Combine mozzarella, beans, tomatoes and basil in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle salad with olive oil and balsamic glaze.

Serves: 6 | Serving size: 1/2 cup
Calories: 200, total fat: 12 g, total carbohydrates: 15 g, dietary fiber: 3 g, sugars: 1 g, protein: 9 g

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This is one of my favorite ways to use basil. What’s yours? Tell me below!

Raquel

Three Things

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1. Many weight loss tips can be extreme or unacheiveable. These five tips are top notch! Have positive thoughts towards yourself and your body. Take each small goal met as as achievement. Don’t focus on what you think you can’t eat and instead focus on all the delicious things you can eat. Menu planning, grocery lists, and meal prep really do make all the difference. You will be more likely to stick to your plan if you are organized. Make specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals that will help you reach your overall goal. Lastly, eat fresh, whole foods. This will never change! Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains will always be in style. Don’t fall for packaged diet food that can lead you to overeat.

2. Healthy fats were highlighted in my Mediterranean Pesto Bowl this week. Here are five more recipes showcasing healthy fats. Total fat intake should be between 20-35% of your daily calories. Great sources of unsaturated fats include olive oil, avocados, nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts), seeds (pumpkin, sesame, flax seed), and fish. Specifically, flax seeds, walnuts, and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids. This type of fat has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and cancer prevention.

3. What do you eat when you’re stressed? I tend to go for a cupcake. But, I also go for them as a celebration or needed pick me up. A new poll shows the top five most comforting foods are pizza, chocolate, ice cream, mac and cheese, and chips… Duh. Cravings aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Learning how to work around them and indulge on occasion is key. An ounce of chocolate never hurt anyone – right?!

Raquel

Mediterranean Pesto Bowl

DSC_0691The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating a primarily plant based diet and including healthy fats, especially from olive oil. Olive oil contains primarily monounsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats can help decrease total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Per 1 tablespoon, olive oil contains 10 grams of monounsaturated fat. Olive oil also contains a polyphenol called hydroxytyrosol which may help reduce your risk of heart disease. Bonus: 1 tablespoon of olive oil contains 13% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin E.

Olive oil is made by pressing whole olives. Olives themselves are also packed with the same nutrients as olive oil. There are tons of varieties of olives. Darker colored olives have been shown to contain more polyphenols and antioxidants than lighter colored varieties. Black olives are high in copper, iron, fiber, and vitamin E. I’m a sucker for kalamata olives, but I always watch the portion size due to high sodium levels from curing. Olives can be great as part of a well balanced snack too!


Mediterranean Pesto Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoaDSC_0670
  • 1/4 cup tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1 tbsp pesto
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 cup feta cheese

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together pesto, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside. In a larger bowl, combine quinoa, tomato, cucumber, artichoke hearts, and kalamata olives. Dress with pesto dressing and top with chives.

Number of servings: 2 | Serving size: 1 cup
Calories: 225, total fat: 18 g, total carbohydrates: 14 g, dietary fiber: 2 g, sugars: 2 g, protein: 3 g

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What is your favorite way to eat quinoa? Tell me below!

Raquel