When it comes to phytonutrients (plant nutrients), olives offer powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, some of which are unique to olives themselves. For example, olives contain hydroxytyrosol, a phytonutrient that may help stave off cancer and bone loss. Also in olives’ favor: Almost three-quarters of olives’ fat is oleic acid, a heart-healthy, monounsaturated fatty acid. Olives contain linoleic acid (another essential fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (an Omega-3 fatty acid). This high concentration of “good” fat means olives may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and help decrease blood pressure. Studies show that olives may also provide health benefits to much of the rest of the body, including the respiratory, nervous, immune, inflammatory and digestive systems. Ready incorporate olives into your menus? Here are 10 great ways.
1. Make an olive tapenade by combining pitted olives (preferably Spanish or Greek), capers, fresh parsley, lemon juice, fresh garlic and oregano; process in a food processor until blended and thick, adding a little olive oil if necessary to create a puree. (Or try Food Network Kitchens’ Kalamata Olive Tapenade.)
2. Toss into pasta, rice and quinoa dishes.
3. Add to stuffings and dressings before baking.
4. Stir into to tuna, chicken and crab salads. (Try them in this tuna salad wrap.)
5. Arrange on top of pizzas and flatbreads before baking, or add to bruschetta.
6. Fold into hummus and serve with fresh vegetables.
7. Stir into cottage cheese and spoon over baked potatoes. (Or cut olives into slivers, and sprinkle over boiled potatoes.)
8. Add to tomato sauce with capers to create instant puttanesca sauce. (Or try Ellie Krieger’s Pasta Puttanesca.)
9. Puree with light cream cheese for a fast cracker topping.
10. Sprinkle into scrambled eggs, omelets and frittatas.
Robin Miller is host of Quick Fix Meals, a nutritionist and author of 10 cookbooks, including “Robin Takes 5” and “Robin Takes 5 for Busy Families.” She is the busy mom of two active boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinmillercooks.com.