15 amazing things you never knew you could do with olive oil

Contributor Chloe Pantai  at www.theinsider.com

Growing up in a Greek-Cypriot family that makes a lot of food, olive oil has always been a focal point in the kitchen.

But olive oil isn’t just good for cooking with. My family uses it about as liberally as the family in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” uses Windex — and they sing its praises as a hair and beauty product, a massage oil, and even a leather polish.

I asked my relatives, friends, and coworkers for all the wonderful ways they use olive oil that most people have no idea about.

Here are 15 things you can do with a bottle of olive oil:

1. Hair mask: Apply a quarter-sized amount of olive oil to your hair with your fingers and cover your hair with a shower cap (Saran Wrap also works). Leave it in for up to an hour and rinse it out in the shower before you wash your hair. It’s my go-to moisturizing hair mask.

2. Shaving cream substitute: As a cheaper alternative to shaving cream, put olive oil on your legs before shaving. It’ll protect you from razor burn and your legs will feel super smooth after.

3. Body scrub: Save money on exfoliators by making your own scrub with olive oil and sugar. Mix the two, then apply the concoction in circular motions over areas like your knees and elbows to buff away dead skin in the shower, or to heal chapped lips.

4. Moisturizer: While I haven’t used olive oil as a moisturizer, many people say it’s a miracle worker on dry skin — especially on knees, elbows, and hands. Some people use it to repair cracked heels, and wrap their feet in socks after applying the oil to seal in moisture. One friend told me she even puts it on her eyebrows.

5. Makeup remover: Many of my friends rave about using olive oil as a natural makeup remover. It’s much cheaper than wipes, better for your skin, and I’m told it’s especially good for removing eye makeup.

6. Makeup brush cleaner: Some beauty experts say mixing extra virgin olive oil with antibacterial dish soap is the best way to wash makeup brushes. The brush gets a thorough clean, while the oil keeps it soft.

7. Cuticle softener: Before your next manicure, soften your cuticles with a few drops of olive oil. Rub it into the cuticles before pushing them down and trimming. Just be sure to wash off excess oil before you apply nail polish.

8. Baby care: My mom reminded me that my great-grandmother mixed olive oil with mastic gum to give baby massages to me and my cousins. The oil also works as a natural remedy for diaper rash and cradle cap.

9. Ear cleaner: Putting a couple of drops of olive oil in the ear can safely remove earwax. The American Hearing Research Foundation suggests leaving the oil in the ear for a few minutes before resting your ear on a towel to get wax out.

10. Wood/leather/stainless steel polish: Olive oil can be an essential cleaning product. Dab a small amount onto a cloth to polish leather, stainless steel, and wood. I use the oil to clean my favorite pair of leather ankle boots, and keep my wooden chopping boards glossy. Some bloggers say they use it to shine stainless steel pans and even the kitchen sink.

11. Pet care: Pet owners add a little bit of oil to their cat and dog food to help keep their pets’ fur healthy. In cats, it can also act as a natural lubricant for hairballs.

12. Sticker remover: Rub olive oil over stubborn price stickers and labels on glass jars, and they’ll slide right off. My husband showed me this trick, and it’s been a game-changer ever since.

13. Spoon cleaner: When cooking with gloopy ingredients like honey, it can be impossible to get everything off the spoon. Dip the spoon in olive oil first and ingredients will slip off, according to Food Renegade.

14. Lower cholesterol: Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that can lower low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol, making it a healthier substitute for cooking with and using as a salad dressing.

15. Butter replacement: As a healthy fat, olive oil can be used as an alternative to butter. It can replace butter in most baking recipes, and works well in chocolate brownies. Many people also use it on bread — as a dipping oil with balsamic vinegar, or even to make toast.

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Barbecued Little Gems With Cucumber, White Beans, and Tahini

Recipe excerpted from ‘Gather: Everyday Seasonal Food from a Year in Our Landscapes’ by Gill Meller         thedailymeal.com

Ingredients

For the Barbecued Little Gems With Cucumber, White Beans, and Tahini

  • 3  Tablespoons   extra-virgin olive oil (LYKOVOUNO)
  • 2  Garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 1 (14-ounce) Can  white beans, such as cannellini or butter beans
  • 1 Lemon  juiced, and zested
  • 2  Tablespoons   tahini
  • 4  Tablespoons   plain yogurt
  • 2  Tablespoons   flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4  Little gem lettuces, halved, washed, and patted dry
  • 1 Medium  cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into half-inch slices
  • 1 Small  bunch of chives, finely chopped and a few left whole
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

For the Barbecued Little Gems With Cucumber, White Beans, and Tahini

Heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, then add the garlic. Fry for 25 to 30 seconds, until the garlic begins to soften, then add the white beans and lemon zest. Stir to combine, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, until the white beans are warmed through. Now, stir in the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, and parsley, along with 2 to 3 Tbsp of water. Cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until spoonable. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. Remove the pan from the heat.

Light your barbecue. Season the little gem halves with salt and pepper, and drizzle them with 1 Tbsp of the oil. When your barbecue coals are glowing nice and hot, lay your little gem lettuce, cut-side down, onto the grill. Grill the lettuce for 5 to 10 minutes on each side—how long will depend upon the heat of your coals, but aim for the lettuce halves to soften, take on some color, and caramelize; a little charring improves the dish. (Alternatively, cook on a preheated grill pan.) When the lettuce halves are ready, place them on a large serving platter cut-side up.

Put the bean and tahini dressing back on the heat to warm through, and give it a final stir. Spoon it over the lettuce, making sure it trickles through and around the layers of leaves. Scatter over the prepared cucumber, sprinkle with the chopped chives, strew over the whole chives, then drizzle over the remaining Lykovouno olive oil and season everything with salt and pepper. Serve the salad immediately.

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The Mediterranean Diet: The Answer To Rising Health Care Costs?

As I began writing this blog post, I found myself wondering how many people reading it will have actually bought a fresh turkey from the butcher, cleaned it and cooked it themselves —from scratch? Not many, I’ll wager, given the preponderance of pre-packaged butterballs and even of pre-cooked meals to take home — timesaving benefits of today’s industrialized society. Fast-food meats home-cooked meal. But is it actually as good for you as the meal grandma used to make?

This is about more than cooking and spending time in the kitchen; or about going back to the good old days when strawberries weren’t imported from halfway around the world, served in places and at times of the year when the best your parents could hope to have were photos of strawberries. It’s about the relation between how you eat and what you become. It’s about health.

Governments around the world today are trying to figure out how to manage escalating health care costs — particularly those centering on systemic diseases that currently plague the modern world, such as heart disease, the world’s number 1 killer, according to the World Health Organization. Then there’s cancer and diabetes.

One good way would be to start encouraging people to eat well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle before they start falling ill, by focusing on diet. That was the main takeaway of an international conference on food values I attended February 14 in Vatican City’s Casa Pio IV (Pope Pius IV), under the patronage of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Organized by olive oil proponent Paolo Pasquali of Villa Campestri in the Mugello Valley near Florence, the conference focused on Food & health, Food Traditions & Cultural heritage, and Food Values, and drew experts from the field of medicine, diet, nutrition, and cuisine to discuss “The Renaissance of the Mediterranean Diet and its Significance for a 21st century World. Pasquali points out, “There is no mystery about the relationship between diet and heath, both physical and mental. “Mens sana in corpore sano” – a healthy mind in a healthy body. And this can be achieved by returning to the food values of old, based on fresh produce, lean meats and fish and of course olive oil.”

What Is The Med Diet?

Basically, the Mediterranean diet includes fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, pasta and rice…and limits unhealthy fats. More specifically, according to the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes:

• Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts

• Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil

• Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods

• Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month

• Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week

• Enjoying meals with family and friends

• Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)

Getting plenty of exercise

Bloomberg’s just-released (March, 2017) Global Health Index of 163 countries shows that Italy — cradle of the Mediterranean Diet – boasts the world’s healthiest people, despite a struggling economy and unemployment among young people approaching 40%. “A baby born in Italy,” says the report, “can expect to live to be an octogenarian,” with far less incidence of high blood pressure than the US, UK, or Canada. Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore and Australia made up the rest of the top 5 healthiest nations. The US ranked 34, and tipped the scales as one of the world’s heaviest nations.

Medical research makes a good case for the Mediterranean Diet as a powerful force in staying healthy — one good way to contain healthcare costs. For example, the Mayo Clinic website states: A meta-analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality as well as overall mortality…(other) research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. The diet has been associated with a lower level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol that’s more likely to build up deposits in your arteries.

The Mediterranean diet is also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts may have a reduced risk of breast cancer.

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Lemony Spaghetti Squash and Shrimp Scampi with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

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Recipe by Jen Valencia of Avon, Ohio at  Today.com

190 calories, 19 g protein, 3.5 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 3 g fiber, 6 g sugar (0 g added sugar), 670 mg sodium

Nutrition analysis courtesy of Genesis software

Ingredients

  • SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH SHRIMP SCAMPI

    • 1 large spaghetti squash, cut in half, seeds removed
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1 leek stalk (white and light green parts), halved and sliced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • Fresh parsley, chopped
    • 4 tablespoons Parmesan
  • SAUCE

    • 1 lemon, juiced
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

 

Preparation

Heat oven to 350˚F.

Season spaghetti squash with salt and pepper. Roast squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet coated with olive oil, for 45 minutes, or until tender.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and sauté shrimp and sliced leeks until shrimp is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for additional minute, set aside.

Add lemon juice, zest, wine, Dijon mustard and red pepper flakes to pan. Bring to a boil and then let simmer on low. Remove from heat and whisk in yogurt.

Once squash is tender, remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Scrape out all strands of spaghetti using a fork and place in colander in the sink. Blot with a paper towel to remove excess liquid.

Toss sauce with spaghetti squash strands in serving dish. Add shrimp and leek mixture. Garnish with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.

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Mediterranean Diet Lowers Death Risk for Heart Patients

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New research indicates that the Mediterranean Diet reduces the mortality risk for heart disease patients

more than taking statin medications.

By JEDHA DENING at oliveoiltimes.com

Being that heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, the fact that dietary habits can make such a huge impact is remarkable, though in some ways not surprising.

The Mediterranean diet, characterized by high consumption of vegetables, fruit, olive oil, nuts, seeds, fish and poultry, is well known for its many protective benefits from various diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s and cardiovascular disease.

The major contributors to mortality risk reduction were a higher consumption of vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts and monounsaturated fatty acids — that means olive oil.– Marialaura Bonaccio, Researcher

A new study, however, looked at participants who already suffer cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes, blocked arteries), which is different than many studies that evaluate general populations.

The study, titled ‘Higher adherence to Mediterranean diet is associated with lower risk of overall mortality in subjects with cardiovascular disease: prospective results from the MOLI-SANI study,’ is not yet available for full review.

Giovanni de Gaetano, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Pozzilli, Italy, presented the abstract of the paper at the ESC Congress in Rome on August 28, according to a press release from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

In brief, the study was an observational study looking at approximately 1,200 participants out of 25,000 in the EPIC study. Food intake was evaluated via a food frequency questionnaire and the Mediterranean diet score (MDS) was used to evaluate the relationship between MedDiet consumption and total mortality.

Only 208 deaths occurred during the 7.3-year follow-up and the authors conclude that “a 2-point increase in the MDS was associated with a 21 percent reduced risk of death.” This was even greater, 37 percent, when participants had top-category adherence to the MedDiet.

“The major contributors to mortality risk reduction were a higher consumption of vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts and monounsaturated fatty acids — that means olive oil,” said Marialaura Bonaccio, the lead author of the research.

Professor de Gaetano also suggests that the mechanisms are likely related to other factors that have been seen as protective in other diseases: for example, the influence of a MedDiet with olive oil on inflammatory and oxidative stress factors that initiate and promote disease states.

In recent years, statins have been criticized by researchers as being ineffective and many of the studies on statins have not been independent, but funded by pharmaceutical companies. And, like most medications, statins come with adverse side effects.

Although more research will now be needed, Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said for The Telegraph that: “This study suggests that even if you are already receiving medical care, if you add a Mediterranean diet, it will have further benefit.

“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even if you have had a heart attack or stroke is really important and continues to benefit you.”

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