I use olive oil every day in my cooking – it’s a heart healthy choice, and can help reduce cancer risk. Olive oil contains nutrients called polyphenols which decrease heart disease risk factors by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing blood clotting and improving the health of artery linings. Polyphenols also reduce cancer risk by lowering inflammation and cellular proliferation.
But, not all olive oils are created equal. Extra virgin olive oil, which is cold-pressed only once, has the highest polyphenol levels. Regular and light olive oils, have lower polyphenol levels. Also, it’s important not to store olive oil too long and to store it in a dark place as exposure of the oil to heat (do not use extreme heat in cooking when using olive oil), light or air will reduce polyphenol content.
Although olive oil is a healthy fat (monounsaturated fatty acids), it is still high in calories, so use it wisely and sparingly, in place of saturated fats like butter, not in addition to it.
Now, onto today’s recipe…a few weeks ago, I bought a Greek feta yogurt dip from Trader Joe’s that the kids loved, so I was curious to see if I could recreate this dip at home. I inquired at the local Greek market to see if there was an authentic Greek feta dip – there isn’t as far as I can tell. However, the store manager suggested that I try mixing feta cheese with garlic, some good olive oil and oregano. Under no circumstances would he add Greek yogurt. He claimed the only reason to add Greek yogurt would be to stretch out the ingredients since feta is expensive.
Well, I got home and decided to give this feta dip a try. To keep some texture in this dip, I first pulsed the feta cheese in the food processor briefly, just to get it crumbly. I reserved half of this crumbled feta cheese, then blended the rest with a little Colavita Mediterranean Olive Oil, lemon juice, za’atar seasoning and black pepper. Against the advice of the store manager, I did add non-fat Greek yogurt to make a creamier dip and “dilute” the calories a bit (feta, like other cheese, is relatively high in fat and calories). Thumbs up and kid approved!
And now, I’d like to introduce a product that I truly do love and have been playing around with for several weeks – olive oils by Colavita. I started using Colavita years ago, so when I was contacted by the company to sample products from their expanded line of olive oils, I didn’t hesitate.
Their extra virgin olive oils are great for making this Greek Feta Yogurt Dip and Green Harissa Sauce, as well as drizzling on top of steamed broccoli and making Roasted Cauliflower and Potatoes, Warm Kale and Farro Salad, and Mashed Cauliflower and Potatoes (I love their Roasted Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil). I also have been having fun with Colavita’s Roasted Garlic Cooking Oil Blend, which is a mixture of virgin olive oil and canola oil. It’s perfect for stir-fries, sautes, and omelets, and just about anything else when you want a quick hit of flavor.
I am super excited to present a beautiful gift basket ($85 value) giveaway from Colavita this week (1/21/13-1/25/13 midnight)! In addition to a selection of Colavita’s fine olive oils, this basket has a sampling of some of their other food products. Colavita is also generously offering my readers 25% off list price on their website through January 30, 2013. Just enter the code JHL25.
As you can see, this gift basket offers a whole host of products from Colavita, not just their olive oil.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Feta Yogurt Dip with Za'atar
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 pound feta cheese about 1 1/3 cup
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
- dash of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon za'atar seasoning plus more for garnish
- Place garlic, feta cheese and olive oil in food processor and process until cheese is roughly crumbled. Remove half of cheese to a bowl. Add yogurt, lemon juice, black pepper and za'atar seasoning to food processor bowl. Process until just about smooth. Add to bowl of feta crumbles and mix well. Spoon into serving bowl and sprinkle with more za'atar seasoning.
Mayo Clinic: If Olive Oil Is High In Calories, Why Is It Considered Healthy?
Washington Post: Olive Oil’s Healthy Benefits? It’s a Slippery Question
This post has been linked up to Beyond the Peel’s Keep It Real Thursdays.