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Archive for Oil/Vinegar/Dressing

TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Rice Vinegar

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Rice vinegar: It’s not just for Asian dishes.
Photo courtesy Marukan.

 

Sometimes you buy an ingredient for a particular recipe and then it sits on the shelf, forlorn, waiting for you to make that one dish again.

Such was the case with the rice vinegar we purchased. It took us a while to integrate it into our daily cooking, but the results have been splendid. It’s less acidic than other vinegars.

  • Its well-balanced acidity makes it compatible not only with Asian dishes, but also with classic American, European and Hispanic foods.
  • Rice vinegar is milder than other vinegars, with a hint of sweetness that comes from the rice. It can thus dress even fruit dishes without overpowering the taste buds.
  • The higher vinegar content of white rice vinegar makes it the best choice for sweet and/or tangy dishes.
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    WAYS TO USE RICE VINEGAR

    With zero fat and no calories, rice vinegar is a healthy way to add flavor to your dishes.

  • Substitute rice vinegar for other vinegar in salad dressings and for pickling vegetables. For a simple yet zingy salad dressing, combine two tablespoons of rice vinegar and one tablespoon of salad oil.
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  • Add a spoonful to liven up soups, stews, and stir-fries.
  • Sprinkle rice vinegar over cooked vegetables.
  • Zest up marinades, barbecue and dipping sauces.
  • Add a touch to stir frys, in addition to any other sauce.
  • Sautés: Cook beef, chicken, beef and vegetables in equal amounts of soy sauce and rice vinegar.
  • Fruit Salad: Use rice vinegar to make fruit salad dressing—it’s not only lighter, but lacks the saltiness of other vinegars.
  • Use it in place of lemon juice.
  • Perk up or heighten flavors in anything that needs a lift.
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    Do you have a favorite use for rice vinegar? Let us know!

     

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    Use rice vinegar in your marinades. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Kikkoman.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Use Olive Oil When Grilling

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    When grilling, trade the olive oil for a high
    smoke point oil. Photo courtesy
    DeMedici.com.

     

    Do you use olive oil when grilling? Perhaps you shouldn’t. Olive oil has a lower smoke point than other oils, so it will burn faster.

    Each fat (including butter, lard, oil and shortening) has a particular smoke point, which is the temperature at which the fat begins to break down. At this point, both the flavor and the nutritional value of the fat begin to degrade; and the fat will eventually smoke and burn if kept on the heat.

    The higher the cooking heat, the higher smoke point your fat must be. That’s why grapeseed oil (485°F), soybean oil (490°F) and safflower oil (510°F) are so popular for deep fat frying, the highest heat of stovetop cooking.

    While extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 440°F, few people would use this pricey oil for grilling. Much of the regular olive oil has a smoke point of just 320°F.

    Here are some comparative smoke points:

    440°F:
    Peanut Oil
    Sunflower Oil

     

    450°F:
    Corn Oil (Refined)
    High-Oleic Sunflower Oil (Refined)
    Palm Oil
    Peanut Oil (Refined)
    Safflower Oil (Refined)
    Sesame Oil (Semi-Refined)
    Soybean Oil (Refined)
    Sunflower Oil (Semi-refined, Refined, High Oleic, Refined)
    Vegetable Shortening

    468°F:
    Olive Oil, Extra Light

    485+:
    485°F: Grapeseed Oil
    485°F: Tea Seed Oil
    490°F: Rice Bran Oil
    495°F: Soybean Oil
    510°F: Safflower Oil
    520°F: Avocado Oil (Refined)

     

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    Use a high smoke point oil for grilling, regardless of what you’re grilling. Photo by Slavomir Ulicny | SXC.

     

    MORE ABOUT THE SMOKE POINT

    Why your fats smoke and burn, or not: What’s the smoke point?

     
    CHART OF SMOKE POINTS OF OILS

    Different oils have different uses in smoke points. Here are the comparative smoke points of most oils.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Ways To Eat “Mediterranean Diet” Healthy

    While our “day job” is to try lots of specialty foods and cook and bake alluring recipes, we aim to make the right choices when we’re not working.

    If we’ve been heavy on the healthful eating tips lately, it’s because we’re struggling even harder after the onslaught of Valentine chocolate.

    So today we’re passing along five Mediterranean Diet tips, adapted from an original article by Ashley Lauren Samsa on Care2.com.

    For about 30 years, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals have encouraged Americans to follow the “Mediterranean Diet,” a heart-healthy eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats.

    Substituting olive oil for butter, fish for meat, vegetables for starch, fat-free dairy products and a limit on carbohydrates is said to explain why Mediterranean dwellers have a lower incidence of heart disease. Here’s more from the Mayo Clinic.

    What if you’re young, healthy and have no family history of heart disease? Hedge your bets. You don’t know how your system will change as you age…and even if your kin live to 100, you may have a partner and kids to plan for.

     

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    Olive oil can do whatever butter can do, and it’s better for you. Photo
    courtesy FlavorYourLife.com.

     

    1. SUBSTITUTE OLIVE OIL FOR BUTTER

    A few decades ago, journalists seized on the fat in the American diet as a no-no. A cascade of media proliferated and a generation of people grew up thinking fat is bad.

    That’s not the whole truth. Saturated fat (cholesterol and other sources) is bad. Monounsaturated fats (avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil and others) is good for you. The government recommends two tablespoons a day as part of a heart-healthy diet.

    Here’s more on the good fats. Here are tricks to cut down on cholesterol:

  • Sauté in heart-healthy olive oil, not valve-clogging cholesterol (butter or lard).
  • Replace the butter in sauces, glazes and marinades with oil. Look at adding a bit of highly flavored oils, like sesame oil and nut oil.
  • Cook your eggs in oil. We grew up on butter-fried or scrambled eggs in butter every morning—it was what our mother preferred. We love the taste of butter, but it was easy to make the switch.
  • Use olive oil instead of other salad dressings. Make your own vinaigrette with a 3:1 ratio of olive oil to vinegar. Use a quality vinegar—we prefer flavored vinegar or balsamic. We often add a pinch of dried mustard, which helps to keep the emulsion. You can add a small amount of Dijon or honey mustard, or a small amount of honey or the better-for-you agave nectar.
  • Mash potatoes in plain or flavored olive oil. Basil olive oil is our favorite for this!
  • Use olive oil as a condiment instead of a pat of butter.
  • Instead of butter with bread, serve olive oil, like Mediterranean restaurants do. A delicious, full-flavored oil is just fine served plain. If your olive oil is on the bland side, add spices add/or herbs.
  • Check out Italian olive oil cake recipes—they’re delicious (especially with fresh basil and rosemary—seriously!).
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    Get past “generic” olive oil. It’s fine for sautéing, but doesn’t add good flavor for vinaigrette and condiment use. If you can afford better oils, go for them. The ones we use are so delicious, we relish the two tablespoons we drink at breakfast each day.

    Seek out an olive oil bar and taste the different varieties; also try flavored olive oils. If someone asks what you want for a birthday gift, ask for a bottle of basil olive oil (or the flavor of your choice).

     

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    Grilled chicken atop a tasty salad. Photo
    courtesy Just Bare.

     

    2. EAT YOUR PROTEINS ON A BED OF GREENS.

    Get into the habit. Instead of a side salad, often an afterthought topped with too much dressing, plan for a salad-based meal.

  • Slice the beef, chicken, lamb, pork or other protein and serve it atop a salad of mixed dark, leafy greens and bright colored veggies, lightly dressed with olive oil, vinegar and/or lemon juice. Slicing the meat can also help to cut down on portion size. The recommended size is three ounces—the “deck of cards”—which seems very meager. It can look like more when it’s sliced, diced and added to vegetables or grains.
  • “Greens” should always include two colors in addition to green. It’s easy to add red cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, or radiccho; or yellow/orange cherry tomatoes, bell peppers or summer squash.
  • Alternatively, dice the meat into a chopped salad tossed with homemade vinaigrette. The flavors blend so much better, it’s no surprise that chopped salad is a menu favorite.
  • Place an entire fish filet on top of the salad.
  • Instead a sandwich of grilled chicken or steak, use a lettuce wrap.
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    With this switch, you both reduce your carb intake and increase your vegetable intake. As an added bonus, you are intake more olive oil, too.

    3. REPLACE MEAT WITH FISH & VEGETARIAN MEALS

    Not only is the cholesterol in meat bad for you; breeding animals is the single largest cause of greenhouse gas. It also is responsible for pollution of the water tables and destruction of the rainforest to ranch cattle and grow feed for them. Not only are we a society of carnivores; as third world countries grow more affluent, they want more meat. The environmental impact is growing bigger each year, despite educational efforts and interest in sustainability.

    What can a meat lover do? Start by replacing two meals a week with fish, seafood or vegetarian dishes. There are many vegetarian and vegan favorites, from pasta primavera to bean-based chili and stir-frys. Pick up a cookbook of tempting vegetarian and vegan recipes, or look at the many online. Don’t be swayed by a preconception of vegan as “weird.” In the hands of good cooks, the food is so good you don’t notice there are no animal-derived ingredients.

    Fish are generally high in omega-3 fatty acids, another very powerful ingredient. This easy switch will keep you healthier as it helps the planet.

    4. TRY VEGGIE SMOOTHIES THAT TASTE LIKE FRUIT

    If you simply don’t like the taste of vegetables, blend them into sweet smoothies. Toss vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale or celery into a blender. Add a liquid like milk or fruit juice, along with yogurt or a banana and some nut butter (almond butter and sunflower seed butter are nice alternatives to PB). Flavor with cinnamon and honey.

    All you’ll taste are the banana, cinnamon and honey, but you’ll be getting all the benefits of the veggies.

    Smoothies can be made in advance and frozen. Toss one in your lunch bag in the morning to keep your food cold while it thaws, and it’ll be ready to drink by noon. (By the way, this is a great way to trick kids into eating more vegetables.)

    And…stay tuned for our Top Pick Of The Week, Veggie Blend-Ins from Green Giant. We couldn’t believe that a chocolate cupcake made with added spinach purée resulted in…a really delicious chocolate cupcake!

    5. SNACK SMART

    If you’re not the type to grab a banana or other piece of fruit, you’ve got choices that give you “snack satisfaction”:

    Popcorn, baby carrots or mixed crudités with lowfat or nonfat dip, Bare Fruit apple chips (our favorite—so sweet yet there’s no added sweetener) and dried fruit and nut mixes are easy and very tasty. There are books and websites of “healthy snacks.”

    As a fun challenge, print out a calendar page and research a different healthy snack for every day. It’s not as daunting as you think: garlic popcorn and jalapeño popcorn are three separate snack ideas.

    Here are some of our favorite healthy snacks for the office. Send us your favorite better-for-you snacks.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Garlic Oil

    Boyajian was a pioneer in infused oils and vinegars, introducing its delicious condiments to the marketplace some 25 years ago. From the beginning, their basil oil, chile oil, garlic oil, oregano oil and rosemary oil added zing to our everyday cooking—pure olive oil infused with fresh herbs.

    Moving with the times, Boyajian has added chipotle, habanero, jalapeño, roasted chili and scallion oils. (Alas, our beloved wasabi oil, the easiest way to make wasabi mashed potatoes, has been discontinued.)

    Not everyone has an ongoing need for oregano oil or chipotle oil, but one that you can count on using every day is garlic oil. For some people, it’s a pantry essential.
     
    Appetizers & Snacks

  • Bread: Add herbs to create a dipping oil for baguette or pita slices or crudités
  • Dips: Add a dash to guacamole, hummus, or yogurt dip
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    You can use garlic oil in just about every savory dish. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     
    Mains

  • Fish & Seafood: As a seasoning, cooking oil or garnishing oil, garlic oil goes great with grilled salmon, swordfish, shrimp and other favorites.
  • Meats: Rub on beef, lamb, pork or poultry before roasting or grilling.
  • Main Salads: Top a salad of raw and roasted veggies and lean protein with an egg fried in garlic oil.
  • Pizza: Drizzle on pizza, hot from the oven.
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    For simply smashing mashed potatoes, mash
    with garlic oil, then add minced chives or
    rosemary. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Sides

  • Flatbread & Garlic Bread: Drizzle or brush on
  • Grains: Use garlic oil as a dressing for whole grains, like farro or quinoa
  • Starches: Use garlic oil in place of butter in mashed potatoes or drizzle over rice instead of a pat of butter
  • Vegetables: Drizzle over roasted cauliflower, sauteed kale or other veggies
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    Find many more recipes at Boyajian.com.

     

      

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    TIP: Uses For An Olive Oil Mister

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    The Misto is one of the most popular misters. Photo courtesy Lifetime Brands.

     

    Olive oil misters have been around for several years. They control the portions of olive oil you use, delivering a much lighter—but equally effective—coating than brushing with oil. You save calories as well as the cost of the oil.

    Some enthusiasts have more than one mister, to hold different types of oil.

    Yes, there are aerosol sprays, which do provide a finer, more even coating. But they come with a cost: chemical propellants and a can that goes into the landfill, both of which are needed to create that fine spray. Not to mention, the slightly chemical flavor and aroma, and the ongoing cost per can as opposed to the small investment in a mister.

    Originally, we used one as a diet tool, to cut down on the oil calories on salads. We abandoned that approach in favor of tossing lightly with homemade vinaigrette. So we looked at other ways to use the mister.

     

    WAYS TO USE AN OLIVE OIL MISTER

  • Balsamic vinegar: cuts down on waste on balsamic and other expensive vinegars
  • Bread: on bruschetta and focaccia, to keep dough moist when rising
  • Frying
  • Garnish: as an annointing oil on fish, meat, and poultry
  • Greasing pans and muffin tins
  • Low fat cooking: basting, grilling, roasting, sautéing
  • Pasta
  • Vegetables, grilled or roasted
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    And of course, there’s always salad!

     

    TIPS

    Read the directions! The biggest complaint about the misters is that the spray clogs.

  • Don’t overpump. You’ll end up with oil “in the air.”
  • Don’t fill to the top unless you’re a heavy user. Over months, the oil can become rancid.
  • Clean the mister frequently per the manufacturer’s directions.
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    CLOGGING

    Oils vary in viscosity. Vegetable oil, for example, can be thicker than olive oil, and contribute to clogging. Frequent cleaning with hot water and soap is recommended. But clogging is common. Here’s how to avoid it:

  • Fill the mister just half way with oil.
  • Twist the top after each use to release the pressure.
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    A great pan spray. Photo courtesy Aliexpress.

     

    Even if your mister clogs and you can’t unclog it, it costs the equivalent of about three cans of aerosol spray. You’ll be ahead of the game.

      

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