Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Olive Oil

Olive oil has been in the news lately, mainly for its role as a staple of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.  But not all olive oils are created equal.  Olive oil has a host of beneficial nutrients, including a high monounsaturated fat content and a high concentration of antioxidant polyphenols, but it loses some of its nutritional value as it ages, as well as if it is not stored properly.  In order to reap the most health benefits, use opened bottles of olive oil within 6-12 months and store the oil in a dark, room-temperature cupboard or in the refrigerator. 

When cooking or baking with olive oil, be aware that it, like any other oil, is high in fat (and therefore high in calories) – so don’t go overboard with it.  In the recipe below, olive oil is used in place of butter to make chocolate chip cookies lower in saturated fat.  Although these cookies are lower in heart-unhealthy fat and higher in fiber than the traditional version, they’re still cookies, so enjoy them in moderation, just like you would olive oil.

Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
½  cup granulated sugar
½  cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 or 2 tbsp rice milk
1 cup chocolate chips

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2.  Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
3.  Combine sugars, vanilla, and olive oil. Beat in the eggs one a time.
4.  Gradually beat in the flour mixture, then add in 1 tbsp of milk to make the dough a bit firmer, and another tablespoon if you feel the dough is too sticky/dry.
5.  Roll the dough into balls with your hands and place on a greased and/or lined baking sheet.
6.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden and set.   
7.  Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then move to another surface to finish cooling.  Makes 15-20 cookies.

Recipe adapted from California Olive Ranch




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