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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Oil/Vinegar/Dressing

TIP OF THE DAY: Expeller Pressed Oil

Many people use olive oil and canola oil as healthy fats. But is your healthy oil expeller pressed (good) or chemically extracted (not as good)?

Expeller pressed oils (also known as cold pressed oils) are those that have been extracted from fruits (avocados, olives, etc.), nuts, seeds and grains by expeller pressing.

A completely natural process, the source material has been squeezed in an expeller machine—an old-fashioned mechanical press. Some types of oils may then be refined using a steam filtration process.

The best oils are produced this way, and only oils produced this way are 100% natural.

Expeller pressed oils are typically more expensive because the pressed olives, nuts, etc. yield only about two-thirds as much oil as they would with chemical extraction.

Producers choose a lower yield and a pure product, rather than soaking the fruits/seeds/grains in chemicals, which can leave residues in the oil.

 

Is your olive oil expeller pressed and free of
chemicals, or has it been extracted with a
petrochemical? Photo by Liv Friis -Larsen | IST.

 

Even an oil labeled “virgin” does not guarantee the absence of chemicals. The word “virgin” refers to the lower acidity level of an olive oil. You need to see the words “expeller pressed” or “cold pressed.” (More about virgin olive oil.)

Expeller pressed oil are 100% natural, free of chemical solvents, additives and preservatives. Because they are less volatile, they evaporate less when heated; so you can use less when cooking. This can offset the higher price.

Another benefit: oils with a high level of saturated fat, such as coconut oil, contain fewer triglycerides than common vegetable oil (and thus have less saturated fat) when they are expeller pressed. Canola oil becomes lower in saturated fat than chemically extracted olive oil, and higher in Vitamin E, Omega 3 and Omega 6.

What is chemically-extracted oil?

If you don’t purchase oils that are labeled expeller pressed or cold press, your oil has been processed with hexane, a petroleum derivative (also known as a petro-organic compound). It is then further processed with phosphoric acid and other additives.

Now that you know, the choice is yours!

  

Comments

TIP OF THE DAY: Healthy Fats For Cooking & Eating

One of the biggest misconceptions in making food choices is that all dietary fat is bad for you. There are two types of fat. Saturated fat is bad for you; but unsaturated fat is good for you. Knowing your fats—what are healthy fats—makes food choice easy.

UNSATURATED FATS: GOOD

Essential Fat
Essential fats such as Omega 3 are found in nuts and seeds. The body does not produce these fats but they are essential to health. They can be found in good quantity in dark-fleshed fish, nuts (walnuts have the most alpha linolenic acid, an important Omega3 )and seeds (flaxseed, hempseed).

Monounsaturated Fat
The healthiest type of fat, monounsaturated fat is actually beneficial fat. It promotes heart health and might help prevent cancer and a slew of other ailments. It’s best known for lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol levels without negatively affecting the “good,” artery-clearing HDL cholesterol. Avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil are rich in monounsaturated fat. Whatever fats you’re using now (other oils, butter, lard): switch over as much as you can to monounsaturated fat.

Polyunsaturated Fat

A moderately healthy fat, polyunsaturated fat lowers LDL cholesterol but also reduces levels of HDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fat is the predominant type of fat in corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil, among other vegetable oils. If you use these oils, trade up to a monounsaturated fat.

 

Switch to monounsaturated fats: avocado oil,
canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil. Photo by
Zimmy Tews | BSP.

 

SATURATED FATS: BAD

Saturated Fat
This is unhealthy fat and should be consumed in moderation. The body converts it into artery-clogging cholesterol, which greases the path to heart disease. Saturated fat is mostly found in animal products and is solid at room temperature. It is the white fat you see along the edge or marbled throughout a piece of meat and is the fat in the skin of poultry. So when you look at that beautiful marbled steak, recall that beauty is more than just skin deep—in this case, it can go deep enough to kill you. Saturated fat is also in “healthy” animal products like milk (except for 0% fat milk) and foods made from milk (cheese, ice cream), as well as in tropical oils such as coconut oil. One should limit one’s intake of saturated fat from animal sources. Unfortunately, the American diet is full of it. The saturated fat from plant sources, such as coconut, are more benign.

Trans Fat
Is there anyone who hasn’t heard that trans fat is the worst type of fat? A problem created by Big Manufacturing (and now being corrected by food manufacturers, in response to consumer demand and local government mandate), most trans fat is produced by forcing hydrogen into liquid polyunsaturated fat (the process is called hydrogenation). Margarine was traditionally made this way. The process gives the fats a longer shelf life and helps stabilize their flavors. When hydrogenated, the benign polyunsaturated fat is turned into trans fat, which is recognized by the body as a saturated fat. The body then converts the trans fat to cholesterol, which raises LDL levels and lowers HDL levels. What’s worse, researchers have discovered that unlike regular saturated fat, trans fat disrupts cell membranes, upsetting the flow of nutrients and waste products into and out of the cell, and may be linked to reduced immune function and possibly cancer. Trans fats do occur naturally in small amount in meat and dairy, but the primary source to worry about is in highly processed/artificial foods.

  • Anything called “partially hydrogenated” is a trans fat.
  • The USDA enables manufacturers who use trans fats to label their products “0 trans fat” or “contains no trans fat” if the amount is up to .5% trans fat per serving. Focusing on the nutrition label does not give you the whole story. You need to read the label closely to ensure there are no partially hydrogenated fats.
  •  
    YOUR CHOICE

    Your health goal should be to make dietary fat choices from the monounsaturated fat group (avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil and/or peanut oil).

    Just be aware that fat calories add up quicker. Fat is very energy dense when compared to carbohydrate and protein. It contains more than twice the calories per gram (fat has 9 calories/gram, carbs and protein 4 calories/gram). Thus, if you consume the same amount (in weight) of fat as protein or carbs, your calorie intake will be more than doubled.

    Here are guidelines from the Harvard School Of Public Health:

  • Your daily fat intake should be no more than 30% of your total calorie intake. Multiply the number of calories you consume by .3 to find the number of fat calories you consume.
  • For a 2,000 calorie/day diet, 2,000 x .3 = 600 calories from fat. At about 100 calories/tablespoon, this equals 6 tablespoons of fat. As a perspective, a stick of butter contains 8 tablespoons.
  • To calculate by grams, 600 divided by 9 = 66 grams of fat. Since fat contains 9 calories per gram, on a 2,000-calorie diet you should take in no more than 66 grams of fat per day.
  •  
    Of the 30% of your daily calories that come from fat, no more than 10% should come from saturated fats. Thus, on the 2,000-calorie diet, consume no more than :

  • 10% Saturated Fat: 200 calories/22g (bad news: one Big Mac has about 45g saturated fat)
  • 20% Unsaturated Fat: 400 calories/44g
  •  
    It’s pretty easy math; and it puts you on the road to enjoying healthy, good-for-you fats.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mustard In Your Vinaigrette

    Dijon mustard atop mustard seeds. Photo by Saidi Granados | THE NIBBLE.

     

    You may have seen mustard listed as an ingredient in vinagrette.

    It adds delicious flavor, but it also serves as an emulsifier, so the dressing doesn’t break back into separate oil and vinegar layers.

    You can use prepared Dijon mustard, or–if you like some heat–Coleman’s mustard.

    Prepare your vinaigrette in the usual ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. In addition to the mustard, you can include fresh garlic.

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (wine or balsamic)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed with the blade of a knife
  • A pinch of your favorite dried herbs: marjoram, parsley, thyme, etc.
  • Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
  •  

    Preparation
    1. Whisk together the vinegar, garlic and mustard.
    2. Add the olive oil in a slow stream, continuing to whisk.
    3. Add seasonings and adjust as necessary.

    Check out the different types of mustard in our Mustard Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Creamy Dressing

    Make creamy salad dressing by adding a
    bit of cream to basic vinaigrette. Photo
    courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    We’re always surprised that so many folks who cook their meals buy bottled dressing for the salad. Bottled dressing is expensive, and it’s so easy to make your own.

    When we ask people why they just don’t whisk together 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 4 tablespoons olive oil, one often-heard response is that the family prefers creamy dressing.

    Done! Just whisk together 1/2 part cream. It that’s not creamy enough, add more cream.

    And don’t forget to season your vinaigrette with a pinch of salt and pepper, for starters. For more flavors, add:

  • A pinch of dry mustard
  • A half teaspoon of Dijon mustard (or other favorite mustard)
  • Minced garlic
  • A pinch of anchovy paste, hot chile paste, olive paste, pesto or tomato paste (we use Amore brand)
  • Your favorite herbs (we like minced dill, parsley and/or oregano but experiment with anything at hand, including horseradish)
  • Your favorite spices
  •  
    Add anything else that sounds good to you. We’ve been enjoying Kalamata olive vinaigrette, adding a teaspoon of puréed Kalamata olives.

    Share your tips for a creamy dressing.

    Comments

    GOURMET GIVEAWAY #2: Wish-Bone Ranch Salad Dressing

    Wish-Bone Salad Dressing has just revamped its popular Ranch dressing and is giving it to three lucky winners. The prizes also include a travel salad container with an ice pack, to keep salad-on-the-go fresh and crisp.

    Loaded with the flavor of herbs, garlic and a hint of tangy buttermilk, Wish-Bone’s smooth and creamy Ranch dressing is great on salads, vegetables in dips and more. It’s also available in a fat-free version, is an excellent source of Omega-3s and is gluten free.

    Retail Value Of Prize: Approximately $14.00.

  • To learn more about the new and improved dressing, visit Wish-Bone.com.
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Oils, Vinegars & Salad Dressings Page and click to enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, January 10th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
  •  

    Spread this dressing on your favorite bed of
    greens. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

    Comments

    GIFT OF THE DAY: Nudo Infused Olive Oil

    Delicious olive oil from Nudo, crushed with
    your choice of six different fruits or herbs.
    All it needs is a bow. Photo courtesy
    Nudo-Italia.com.

     

    Nudo means “bare” in Italian, referring to the extra-virgin olive oil that fills each attractive can.

    But what we like best about Nudo is not the bare oil (which is lovely) but the crushed fruit and herbs that infuse the flavored oils with so much pizzazz.

    Within hours of being picked, late harvest olives are stone-milled together with fresh-picked fruits and herbs. (Late harvest olives have a subtler flavor than early harvest olives, allowing the infused flavor to burst through.) Crushing the fruits/herbs with the olives provides much finer flavor than infusing the olive oil with an extract. That’s why Nudo is the real deal.

    Choose from Basil, Chillie, Garlic, Lemon, Mandarin, Thyme or Original olive oil. We also like the pizzazz of the can decoration, which makes Nudo olive oil a charming small gift.

    An 8.4-ounce can is $11.99 at Nudo-Italia.com.

    AND THERE’S MORE: You can also adopt an olive tree for a year ($109) and get all the oil produced from that tree shipped to you. See details on the Nudo-Italia.com website.

  • Find more of our favorite savory stocking stuffers, one of our 13 gift lists for 2010.
  • Learn all about olive oil in our Olive Oil Section.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Vinegar Substitutes

    Lucini balsamic vinegar, a NIBBLE favorite,
    is available at Amazon.com. Photo by
    B.A. Van Sise.

     

    THE NIBBLE pantry has a dozen different types of vinegar, from the basics—balsamic, champagne, cider, sherry and wine vinegars—to rice vinegar and our favorite flavor-infused vinegars (we have almost everything from Boyajian).

    But what if a recipe calls for a type of vinegar that you don’t have on hand—and you can’t run out to buy it?

    How To Repair Food, a book we love, advises that you can substitute another vinegar (although the dish will taste a bit different). Here are the substitutions:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar Substitute: distilled white vinegar for pickling, any wine vinegar otherwise
  • Balsamic Vinegar Substitute: red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar plus a pinch of sugar
  • Red Wine Vinegar Substitute: white wine vinegar
  • White Wine Vinegar Substitute: red wine vinegar
  • If you’re totally out of vinegar, use twice as much lemon juice as the required amount of vinegar.

  • See the differences among the types of vinegar.
  • Finally understand balsamic vinegar.
  • Reviews of our favorite vinegars.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Balsamic & Vanilla Ice Cream

    We’ve previously written about how you can make a sophisticated dessert, simply by topping ice cream with a jigger of Scotch.

    Today, we’ve got a similar tip for a Balsamic Sundae.

    Strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar are a classic Italian dessert. Americanize it with some ice cream!

    Ingredients
    For a truly memorable dessert, all you need are:
    * Top-quality vanilla ice cream
    * Fresh strawberries
    * Aged balsamic vinegar (the better the vinegar, the better the dessert)

     

    Drizzle balsamic vinegar on vanilla ice
    cream for a taste sensation. Photo and
    tip courtesy HouseOfBalsamic.com.

    Preparation
    1. Scoop ice cream into a dish, rocks glass or goblet.
    2. Drizzle with a few drops of quality balsamic vinegar.
    3. Top with sliced strawberries.

    Alternative Presentation
    1. Use a flat plate instead of a bowl or glass.
    2. Arrange a handful of fresh strawberries on the plate.
    3. Scoop ice cream next to the strawberries.
    4. Drizzle with balsamic and serve.

    Find more ice cream recipes in our Gourmet Ice Cream Section.

    Find more balsamic recipes at HouseOfBalsamic.com.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Oil & Vinegar Triage

    You can save money by keeping different grades of oil and vinegar for different purposes.

    For example, basic balsamic vinegar is slightly acidic and best used for salad dressings.

    The next grade up is significantly smoother, and should be used for finishing and for marinades.

    Trade up one more step and the balsamic has a well rounded, full-bodied flavor, ideal to make warm sauces over meats and fish.

    The top grade, made from the the best reserves, should itself be reserved to glorify a simple dessert like fresh fruit and ice cream, or a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

    Follow the same steps with olive oil: regular for cooking, extra-virgin for dressing salads and garnishing other foods.

     

    Know when to save and when to
    splurge. Photo by Andi Pantz | IST.

  • Learn more in our Oil & Vinegar Section.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The Right Cooking Oil

    When you’re making a choice of cooking oil at the supermarket, do you know why you choose that particular type? Is it habit, what your mother used, whatever is on sale?

    There are three reasons to pick a cooking oil:

    1. The first is for your health: Unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are heart healthy.

    These include avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil and nut- and seed oils.

    Saturated fats and trans fats are unhealthy oils. It’s best to avoid tropical oils: coconut oil, palm oil and others.

    Trans fats, saturated fats that occur in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, have gotten so much press over the last couple of years that most of us know to avoid them. While many products have been reformulated, look closely at the labels of margarine and shortening.

     

    Avocado oil is heart-healthy and has a very
    high smoke point. Check out Olivado avocado
    oil
    , a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. Photo
    by Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE.

    While they’re delicious, limit your intake of animal fats (butter, bacon grease, chicken fat, lard, etc.).

    2. The second reason to choose an oil is the smoke point. Sautéing occurs at a much lower heat than deep fat frying, for example.

    Take a look at our smoke point chart to see the different temperature tolerances of the major oils and fats.

    3. The flavor you prefer (or lack thereof) is another reason to choose an oil. But first, be sure it’s healthy and the right smoke point.

    Comments

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