Healthy Oils

Olive, avocado and oil blends help operators provide healthier flavor profiles.

Published in Wellness Watch

Fat makes you fat? Not anymore, say most experts. In fact, oils like olive and canola are now thought to boost heart health because they are high in unsaturated fats. No wonder they’re becoming the lipids of choice in homes and restaurants. Here’s how non-commercial operators are successfully incorporating more healthy oils into their recipes.

Thanks to studies touting the health benefits of Mediterranean diets, olive oil has become a true culinary darling. But since it tends to be pricey, blending olive oil with other healthy oils helps non-commercial operators achieve the right balance of flavor without going over budget. Noodle Works, the Italian pasta station at Appalachian State University, in Boone, N.C., combines olive oil with canola for dishes like pasta with vegetables, garlic and marinara sauce. “We chose a blend because of the nutritional value and authentic Italian taste that the olive oil would add to the completed product,” says Food Service Director Art Kessler. 

Oil blends can also be an ideal choice for healthier frying. At The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J., Executive Chef Manager John Graziano uses a combo of olive and soybean oils to fry french fries, falafel, shrimp, chicken, dumplings, oysters and more. “We know that it isn’t necessarily the most healthy method of cooking, so we try to limit the amount of frying that we do. But the olive-soy blend is a healthier choice that still keeps the flavor as neutral as possible,” he says. 

Olive oil isn’t just a prime choice for heart health, though. Many non-commercial operators also value the oil for its unique flavor. “I’ve swapped out vegetable oil for extra-virgin olive oil in our pizza sauce and in the whole-grain pizza dough,” says Tracie Wilson, executive chef at Bend-LaPine School District, in Bend, Ore. The results have been positive: “I’ve found the olive oil works better with the high-gluten dough, and the students love the full flavor in the pizza sauce,” she says.

It’s a similar story at Valley Hospital. “When we sauté, we tend to use oils that will impart flavor into a dish,” says Graziano, who uses olive oil to sauté chicken, beef and even thicker cuts of fish such as barramundi. 

Vegetables, too, get a boost from olive and canola oils. “Both are noted by the Harvard School of Public Health as being healthy,” says David Davidson, Harvard University’s managing director of dining services. Students participating in Harvard’s residential dining program are offered two cooked vegetables at every meal, one of which is usually sautéed in olive oil. “I never imagined a day when students would clamor for spinach, but our sautéed spinach with garlic, as well as our sautéed kale and sautéed chard are all huge hits,” he says. 

Lesser known oils also occasionally make an appearance when their flavor complements a dish. Graziano likes avocado oil for its high smoke point, as well as its buttery flavor and rich mouthfeel. In addition to using avocado oil on the stovetop, he sometimes employs it as a finishing oil, like in his salad with Manchego, heirloom tomato, roasted asparagus and avocado over microgreens. “It blends well with the avocado, and the bright green color really makes it pop out,” he says.  

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...

FSD Resources