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All About Olive Oil

Tips for using this healthy, flavorful oil

Storing and Using Olive Oil continued...

Still, it's probably a good idea to use it sooner than that. Research published in the May issue of Food Chemistry found that levels of antioxidants in olive oil fell sharply after 12 months in storage -- even under the best of storage conditions.

Here are four ways to keep the antioxidant levels in your olive oil high:

  • Buy olive oil in amounts you will use within 6 months.
  • Buy it from busy stores that are likely to sell a lot of olive oil (to ensure that it hasn't been sitting on the shelf for very long).
  • Store it in opaque, airtight bottles or metal tins, away from light and heat.
  • If you keep it in the refrigerator, it is less likely to go rancid). Refrigerated oil will become cloudy and thick -- but don't worry. It will still have the same quality and taste, and will become liquid and clear again when brought back to room temperature.

Olive Oil Recipes

Perhaps the best reason for using olive oil is its distinctive flavor. It adds zip to everything from pesto sauce to meats to roasted veggies (you can even use milder varieties for baking). Here are recipes for a couple of savory dishes to get you started.

Basil Bread

Journal as: 1 slice bread + 1 teaspoon oil
OR 1 slice bread + 1 tablespoon nuts

1 cup fresh basil leaves, slightly packed
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (toast by heating in nonstick skillet on medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Pinch salt (optional)
10 inch-thick slices of French or sourdough bread, preferably made with part whole-wheat flour

  • Put all of the ingredients except the bread in a small food processor. Pulse briefly to blend well.
  • Spread about 1/2 tablespoon spread on each bread slice and place on foil-lined cookie sheet. Broil about 6 inches from heat, watching carefully, until spread is bubbly and lightly brown (two-three minutes).

Yield: 10 pieces

Per slice of bread with spread (using part whole-wheat French bread): 132 calories, 4 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 4.9 g monounsaturated fat, 1.3 g polyunsaturated fat), 2 mg cholesterol, 1.3 g fiber, 150 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 54%.

Lemon Garlic Skillet Chicken

Journal as: 1 serving of "lean meat and moderate fat meat without added fat"

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh or bottled minced garlic
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (unfold the tenderloin area to make the breast as flat as possible)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (or substitute regular lemon juice)
4 tablespoon water, chicken broth, or white wine

  • Add olive oil to a large, nonstick skillet and begin to heat over medium-high heat.
  • When hot (a minute or two), add garlic and chicken breasts (placing them so they are nice and flat and covering the olive oil in the bottom of the skillet). Brown for two-three minutes, sprinkle the top with pepper, then flip to brown the other side for two to three minutes.
  • Turn heat down to LOW and drizzle the lemon juice and water, chicken broth, or wine over the top. Cover skillet immediately and cook until chicken is cooked throughout (about 15 more minutes).
  • Serve the chicken with or without the lemon broth in the bottom of the skillet.

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