It never fails. After the New Year hits everyone scrambles to eat better, work out more, and shed that Christmas-indulgence weight. For me, it typically continues on into the spring and I find myself eating lighter more healthful meals and moving a lot more.
One way to change up the fat-laden holiday habits is to put away the tub of margarine or the stick of butter and reach for olive oil instead. The light fruity flavor of olive oil can transform a dish into something extraordinary in no time flat and is far better for you than butter.
This month I am participating in the Kitchen PLAY Sidecar Series for the International Olive Council (IOC) where I have been learning all of the health benefits of olives and olive oil. According to a recent report from the IOC: Consumers are increasingly seeking to incorporate foods into their diets that can help boost or maintain health, as well as help prevent some diseases.
That includes me! Most of you know how passionate I am about cancer and cancer prevention. So I was pleased to learn that olives and olive oil can also help prevent cancer of the colon, breast and prostate:
“The oleic acid in olive oil has been found to be particularly effective against breast, colon and prostate cancer. Eating a Mediterranean Diet could prevent up to 25 percent of colon; 15 percent of breast; and 10 percent of prostate, pancreas and endometrial cancers.”
It makes sense to reach for the olive oil, doesn’t it? I know I sure will be.
If you’d like to stay up to date on what the International Olive Council is doing, here are some ways to do that.
Toss together a quick salad using butter lettuce, briny olives, crunchy peas & earthy beets. Add some kick with a spiced up olive oil vinaigrette.
- 2 small beets, quartered
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 head of butter lettuce, cut or torn into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 cup spring peas (or thawed frozen peas)
- 4 eggs, hard boiled
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 small carrot, scraped and finely grated
- 12 whole black olives, such as Kalamata
- 1/8 cup cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha or other hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 425. Place quartered beets on a small baking sheet and drizzle with the 2 teaspoons olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until a fork pierces the beets easily. Allow to cool until you can handle the beets and slip off the outer skin. Set aside.
- On 2 medium plates, arrange the lettuce. Divide the remaining ingredients (peas through cilantro) among the 2 plates. Add the cooled beets.
- In a small mason jar add all of the vinaigrette ingredients and shake vigorously to combine. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over the salad and serve immediately.