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

Menu Development
pizza oven

Wood-fired ovens take the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to pizza-cooking preference for consumers. Just fewer than half (45%) of consumers say they prefer a pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven compared to other oven cooking methods. Here are the styles of ovens pizza consumers prefer most.

Wood-fired oven 45% Gas oven 13% Electric oven 11% Grilled 4% Coal oven 4% No preference 23%

Source: Technomic 2018 Pizza Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Industry News & Opinion
polystyrene takeout

New York City will immediately start phasing out foodservice operations’ use of polystyrene takeout containers after a judge ruled on Friday against an operator coalition that had sued to overturn such a regulation, Mayor Bill de Blasio said over the weekend.

Unless the measure is blocked again on appeal, the city will commence a public education campaign to smooth the way for the change to other sorts of containers. Operators will be given a six-month grace period to find alternatives before they’ll be subject to sanctions.

The measure was scheduled to take effect last...

Managing Your Business
uber driver

The freelance, independent-contractor labor market known as the gig economy is distinguished by working short-term contracts, or gigs, such as driving for Uber, Lyft or Instacart.

The majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2027, according to a study called “Freelancing in America: 2017,” conducted by Edelman Intelligence. The annual study, commissioned in partnership by the Freelancers Union and Upwork Global, estimates that 36% of the U.S. workforce consists of freelancers who contribute approximately $1.4 trillion annually—an increase of almost 30% over the...

Industry News & Opinion

Sturgeon Bay Schools in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., has partnered with a local farm to construct a school greenhouse , Green Bay Press Gazette reports.

Construction will begin soon, and the district says that the project is already 75% funded. Once the building is finished, students will be able to grow their own food at the greenhouse and then learn how to preserve it through canning and other methods.

“The greenhouse will provide students with the opportunity to grow food, sample food they have cultivated, design planting plans, tend seedlings, integrate real-life technology in...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code