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While I don’t consider myself much of a cook, I like to take advantage of cooking when time permits. We are a busy family, so easy, healthy meals are a must. Being so busy and not having a lot of patience for cooking, I rely on having essentials in my pantry. This is the time of year that we get outdoors more and there are fresher fruits and veggies. I don’t have a lot of time, so my recipes are generally simple and quick, but flavorful and healthy. I like things like sauteed veggies in a little bit of oil, seasoned with some salt or spices.

We choose high quality ingredients, like a good extra virgin olive oil. This is one of my pantry staples! Extra virgin olive oil has a high smoking point of 400°F, so you can use it for cooking, dressings, etc. It is truly one of those versatile ingredients that I use daily. Flavor Your Life is a great resource on EVOO.

  • Made by pressing without heat or chemicals, known as first cold pressed, it’s the freshly pressed juice of olives.

Another tip – choose a European olive oil, as olives have been grown there for thousands of years, and it is the best source of olive oil.

  • The greatest impact on taste is the type of olive tree (cultivar), region (which affects climate and soil) and time of harvest. Europe offers a vast array of flavor profiles, so keep a variety of oils in your pantry for different occasions.

One of my favorite homemade recipes is for homemade balsamic dressing. This recipe is so easy! No need to buy balsamic dressing, and this is three simple ingredients – no additives, preservatives, and all the other junk you see on pre-packaged dressings. Be sure to choose a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil that has a robust flavor!

  • 1 part balsamic to 3 parts olive oil
  • Sprinkle with some fine salt (and pepper, if desired)
  • Whisk thoroughly and serve

Here are a few of my other favorite quick and easy healthy dishes that use extra virgin olive oil.

Avocado Salad

Pint of grape tomatoes (I prefer grape tomatoes)
2 Avocados
1 cup corn
Lemon juice
~ Extra virgin olive oil

Combine the avocado and vegetables, tossing with a drizzle of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.

Spinach & Garlic

For this recipe, I simply use fresh spinach, fresh minced garlic, olive oil, and salt.

Saute some garlic and extra virgin olive oil in a pan, quickly adding in fresh spinach. Once the spinach wilts, you can add a little salt or seasonings, and serve!

Quinoa salad

Another one of my favorite fresh salads is quinoa salad with cucumbers and tomatoes.

~ Quinoa (approx 1 cup dry quinoa)
~ English cucumber (about 1/2)
~ Grape tomatoes (1 pint)
~ Capers (about 1oz)
~ Feta cheese (to top with)
~ Extra virgin olive oil

~ Salt, to taste
~ Optional: cilantro

Prepare the quinoa according to the directions. Allow to cool, then toss with the cucumber, tomatoes, and capers.

Toss with a generous drizzle of olive oil and add salt to taste. Top with Feta cheese as desired.

These are just a few of my favorite recipes that are fresh, and call for extra virgin olive oil. I always keep a jar of it on hand, but stored in a cool pantry. Don’t keep it next to the stove! A cool place is best, and keep it tightly capped – and be sure to consume within 6 months of purchase.

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