Monday, May 21, 2012

Easy on the oil!

Last week I was out in California for my oldest brother's PhD graduation from UC Berkeley. On Sunday we decided to head into Napa Valley and do something different instead of the usual wine tasting (which I am not a fan of... I don't like wine). So, my family and I went to Round Pond Estate in St. Helena, CA (in Napa Valley) for their Olive Mill Tour. We learned how they grow the Italian (peppery) and Spanish (mellow, buttery) olives, how they are processed and made into oil. After the mill tour, we were able to experience the flavor of the oils by sipping the oils out of little glasses. They also offered a sampling of their homemade vinegars and fruit syrups (orange & lemon). The oils, vinegars, and syrups were served with a delightful fruit & cheese spread, vegetables, and bread. Some members of our party also opted for the wine tasting accompaniment, since the Round Pond Winery is right across the street.

While olive oil is healthy, I don't recommend drinking olive oil on its own as we did for this tasting. All oils pack in about 100 calories per tablespoon since they are nothing but energy dense fat. The average person only needs 5 teaspoons (note: 1 tablespoon= 3 teaspoons) of oil each day. This includes oils found naturally in foods like nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, peanut butter, and fish. So, if you are eating a diet rich in these foods, you most likely do not need to add any olive oil or butter to your meals. Adding extra oil will just be adding extra calories that you do not need.

Foods and amount of oil per serving (compared to average 5 tsp needed per day)

Serving Size
Amount of oil per serving
Approximate calories
Vegetable oil (olive, peanut, etc)
1 tbsp
3 tsp
1 tbsp
2.5 tsp
Italian Dressing
2 tbsp
2 tsp
½ med
3 tsp
Peanut Butter
2 tbsp
4 tsp
Almonds (dry roasted)
1 oz
3 tsp

Studies show that the cholesterol-lowering benefits of oils high in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats applies when a person replaces refined carbohydrate and saturated fat in their diet with these oils. I know many people tell me that they eat healthy foods, and specify the fact that they "use olive oil." Using olive oil doesn't make your diet healthy, it's the quantity and types of foods that you eat the olive oil with that matter.

There is a reason why many people have Italian grandmothers that aren't the skinniest of people... many cook a lot of foods high in refined carbohydrate (e.g: pasta) and add tons of olive oil to everything. If you try to be healthy by adding loads of olive oil to your white pasta, ground beef, and cheese dish (e.g: lasagna, ravioli, ziti, cannelloni, spaghetti w/ meat sauce, etc), you most likely will just be fattening up instead of reaping the health benefits of the oil. If you finish off the meal with tiramisu or cannoli, you are just adding more refined carb and saturated fat to your daily intake, and almost negating the health benefits of previously consuming olive oil.

My Recommendations: Go light on the oil when cooking and try to use alternative methods, such as using low-sodium chicken broth to add flavor and moisture when sautéing or stir frying. Try finding high quality vinegars to help flavor your salads, or use interesting salsas (e.g: pineapple & mango) and cottage cheese instead of dressings. Get most of your oils from natural sources like avocados, nuts, and seeds, rather than adding oils to foods. Olive oil isn't the only healthy oil out there, try canola for cooking, and avocado or walnut oils for salads. Refer to my blog from January 11th: How to Choose Your Oil for more information on different oils.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Being "Green" Helps You Naturally Stay Lean on PHILLY HEALTH WATCH!

Read my latest post on Philly Health Watch: Being "Green" Helps You Naturally Stay Lean!

CLICK HERE: PHW Green & Lean

Learn how eating food straight from mother nature helps you keep a slim figure and can help keep you in optimal health!