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How much olive oil you should really be using when you cook

by , 16 July 2015

While olive oil is a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (and a lower-calorie alternative to butter), it's still possible to overdo it. Using more than you need adds extra calories, makes food oily and costs you money (olive oil doesn't come cheap!).

Are you too heavy-handed when you cook with olive oil?

“Some people assume that extra oil in the pan won't get absorbed into the food, but this isn't true for all foods - like eggplant, for example, which absorbs oil like a sponge,” says New York City-based nutritionist Franci Cohen.

“There are several variables that determine the amount of oil needed: Type of food, how well done you want it, size of the pan, and how much food you're squeezing in the pan at once.”

Want to be sure you're cooking with the correct amount of olive oil? Then follow these tips…

For lean meat, fish and poultry

Pour enough oil in the pan to cover it – usually a tablespoon or two. Note: Olive oil is typically not recommended for deep frying due to its low smoke point.
 

For fattier meats

“Because fatty meats have very little connective tissue and a high level of marbling, they get tender very easily, and don’t need much oil during the cooking process,” says Cohen. Lightly sear fatty meats in a hot pan with just a tiny bit of olive to give it a crispy crust while leaving the inside soft and tender.

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For vegetables

Sautéing veggies in olive oil is just scrumptious. Coat them lightly in oil before cooking, then add another thin layer to the pan. Replenish as needed.
 
You can also use olive oil to roast veggies in the oven. To do this, use the same rule of thumb as when you sauté them.
 

For tofu

Olive oil is great for sautéing tofu too. Press the tofu overnight to eliminate water. The next day, toss it lightly in oil and spread another layer of oil onto the pan before cooking. This will let you maximise flavour. Yum!

Editor’s note: Interested in learning more about how to keep your heart healthy? Our researchers at the Natural Health Dossier have got you covered! Go here and join today - it'll only take two minutes.

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