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Hy-Vee at Midday: Olive Oil 101

Silky, smooth & wonderfully fragrant olive oil is the liquid gold of healthful cooking. Today, your Oakland Road Hy-Vee dietitian, Linda Ashley, RD, LD, highlights the health benefits of olive oil and describes the different grades so you can select the right oil for your use.

Mediterranean mystique: Most of the world's olive oil is produced and consumed in the Mediterranean region, including Greece, Italy and Spain. The Mediterranean diet and lifestyle has been studied extensively as one of the healthiest in the world. Plenty of fresh vegetables, whole grains and fish are enhanced with olive oil. Incorporate Mediterranean-style dishes into your repertoire this summer and enjoy fresh flavors.

A heart-healthy choice: Olive oil contains predominantly monounsaturated oils, the type that plays a role in reducing bad blood cholesterol (LDL) without affecting good blood cholesterol (HDL). Try replacing solid fat, such as butter, with olive oil to reduce your intake of saturated fats.

Select the right grade for your use:

Extra virgin: This full olive-flavored oil comes from the first cold press of the olives. It is considered the most flavorful and aromatic and usually has a deeper color, as well. Use it in cold applications, such as salad dressings, as a dipping oil for whole-grain bread or drizzle over cooked dishes for a full-flavored finish.

Virgin: This oil comes from the second and third pressings of the olives.

Pure: An excellent all-purpose cooking oil. Lighter in color than extra-virgin or virgin oils with less olive flavor, this grade is a mix of virgin oil and refined olive oils. Pure olive oil has a higher smoke point so you can cook with it in high-heat methods, such as stir-frying or roasting.

Light: Lighter in flavor, not in fat or calories, light olive oil is good choice when you prefer no olive flavor to come through in your dish. Suitable for high heat cooking methods, even pan-frying.
Herbed Butter Spread

While still 100% of calories from fat, the amount of saturated fat is reduced in ½ by mixing a liquid oil into the butter. Use sparingly and enjoy the rich flavor.
All you need:
4 tbsp. softened butter
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. chopped fresh herb of your choice, such as parsley, rosemary or thyme

All you do:
Mix softened butter and olive oil in a small dish to combine. Add fresh herbs and mix in well. Refrigerate.

Source: Linda Ashley, RD, LD, Oakland Rd. Hy-Vee dietitian

Cracked Black Pepper Dipping Oil
Serve with Hy-Vee Baking Stone Breads sliced into cubes, vegetables and fresh mozzarella cheese for a gourmet appetizer.
All you need:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Your choice Hy-Vee Baking Stone Bread
Assorted vegetables, raw or grilled, such as grape tomatoes, zucchini or mushrooms
Fresh mozzarella cheese cubes (optional)

All you do:
Simply fill a small bowl with the olive oil. Add Parmesan cheese and pepper. Mix to combine and serve with assorted dippers.

Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Spring 2012

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