There’s always a new trend in the health and wellness world, right? First we were all about low-fat, then it was all about no-carb, then sugar-free, and now we’re all on the gluten-free train. One other health trend that I’ve been seeing lately is the “no-oil” movement. And the problem I have with these trends, in general, is that vilifying any one given macronutrient usually ignores actual science. Our bodies need the three main macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – in order to function properly, so any diet eschewing one of these altogether is rather silly, in my opinion.
Now, I will not dispute the fact that certain types of macronutrients are better than others. For example, the carbohydrates you get from eating a slice of whole-grain bread are much better for you than the ones you’ll get from refined white bread. We know that the body needs mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, and that hydrogenated and saturated fats are unhealthy. We also now know that while protein is a crucial part of our daily nutrition, more isn’t always better.
Before I go any further, I want to make sure you all know that I am not a nutritionist, dietician, or doctor. When I do my research, I try to either go to respected sources of medical information, or follow the “.edu” rule (meaning the information comes from an accredited university). My favorite source of information is the Harvard Medical School website.
But back to the whole oil-free thing. Now, I get why people would want to avoid it. It is a food that has been processed, after all, and the processing can lead to the oil’s oxidation. However, not all oils are created equal, and many of them are actually very healthy in moderation, like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and flaxseed oil.
I feel like I might take this oil debate rather personally as I am part Italian (though you’d never tell by looking at me), and olive oil is something that is very dear to us. So I will be darned if I stand by and let people blasphemize our beloved olive oil! And to be honest (and I hope this doesn’t sound mean), some of the reasoning behind the oil-free movement that I’ve read online has been rather silly… I recall one blogger saying she avoided all oils because she “didn’t like the idea of all that oil in her GI tract”, comparing it to not wanting to have oil get stuck down a kitchen sink. Well, first of all, kitchen sinks don’t have intestinal villi that absorb nutrients (although it’s technically the pancreas and liver that break down fats – I just wanted to say intestinal villi ;) ) And secondly, if you want to avoid oils altogether, you better just stop eating. Ever had a Hass avocado? The flesh of a Hass avocado is 19% oil. Ever had lemon zest grated onto anything? That has oil in it, too.
The moral of the story here is that we shouldn’t be so quick to give a blanket condemnation of a given food. Our bodies need healthy fats, people! And especially for us vegans, oils like hemp or flaxseed oil are a great, plant-based way of getting Omega-3 fatty acids into our diet (as opposed to fish oil – yuck.)
So here is a recipe unabashedly showcasing my favorite oil of all, extra virgin olive oil. This Greek farro salad is full of healthy grains, seasonal veggies, and tangy olives. And just a note about farro – the term “farro” actually derives from a Latin word for “wheat”, and encompasses three types of farro – spelt, einkorn, and emmer. For this recipe, I used Bob’s Red Mill farro, which is made of the triticum spelta (spelt) species.
So tell me – what do YOU think about oils? Leave your opinion in the comments! :)
Greek Farro Salad w/ Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette
Greek Farro Salad
- 1 Cup Farro dried
- 1 Cup Parsley chopped
- 1/2 Cup Red Onions diced
- 1/2 Cup Grape Tomatoes quartered
- 1/2 Cup Cucumbers sliced and halved
Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette
- 4 Kalamata Olives jarred
- Splash Olive Brine
- 5 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Juice from 1/2 Lemon
- Pinch of Black Pepper
Prep by soaking the farro in water for at least an hour (or at least overnight).
When ready to cook, combine soaked farro with 3 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil, bring the temperature down and let the farro simmer until all the water is absorbed, between 30-45 minutes.
When finished cooking, drain and let cool.
Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette
While farro is cooling, combine 4 kalamata olives, a splash of the olive brine, 5 Tbs olive oil, and juice from 1/2 a lemon in a high-speed blender. Blend for about 15 seconds. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Putting It All Together
Combine vegetables, parsley, vinaigrette, and farro. Serve with more chopped parsley and chopped walnuts for garnish.
This one goes out to my girl Jessie at Faring Well – she just posted about this Volcano Choir album on her Saturday Links roundup, along with some other epic adventure stuff! We seem to be on the same wavelength because I’ve been listening to Repave on repeat lately.
Song of the Day:
Comrade – Volcano Choir