An olive oil caddy found in the House of Olives

An olive oil caddy found in the House of Olives - via Shishberg on Flickr

During my early years, my parents never really prompted me to try my hand at preparing my own meals.  In hindsight, that probably was not a good thing, but it did give me an opportunity to develop my own cooking style and preferences from scratch.

One of the first things I learned was that “butter = bad,” “oil = good.” (The truth of that is neither here nor there, let’s just say I no longer feel that way.)  And thanks to the prompting of Food Network staples like Rachel Ray, I began my infatuation with extra virgin olive oil.  And for a while, I never questioned it.  Every time I needed a refill, I would cringe at the high costs of quality oils, but bite the bullet and do the best I could.

But something was not right.  Every time I made scrambled eggs, they were greasy and overpowered by the oil, and hamburgers always had this faint hint of earthiness brought on by the extra virgin.  It quickly became obvious what someone should want out of a cooking oil.  When cooking, the oil should stay out of the way!

House surrounded by canola plants.

A canola field surrounding a farmhouse - via Paraflyer on Flickr

So how do you pull this off?  You have two, very healthy, choices.  First, take a look at canola oil.  Not only is is very good for you, it has a neutral natural flavor that does not threaten to over power your food.  Pair this with the optimal balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids provided by the oil and you have something you do not have to regret using.

Second, there is plain olive oil.  Yes, there is a difference!  Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first press of olives, and it is not mixed with other oils that will dilute the flavor.  So, extra virgin has a robust flavor (and price premium).  Regular olive oil (also known as “pure,” confusing, I know) is mixed with virgin olive oil and pomace oil (the leftover oil from processing virgin olive oil).  This oil has a less defined flavor, and as a result, it is cheaper.  So if being pulled away from olive oil as your go-to lubricant is too radical, give pure olive oil a try, your wallet might appreciate it!