Healthy Holiday Vinaigrette

To all my foodie friends, I have to apologize for not posting for so long.  I got to spend an extra week sleeping on a cot in the hospital room of my mother.  What started out as a simple operation turned into an extended hospital stay including time in the ICU.  While there I got the luxury of trying to eat from the cafeteria or other chain restaurants and let me tell you, it ain’t pretty.  Something as simple as a salad was continually ruined by soaking the limp iceberg lettuce and out of season cherry tomatoes in a high-fructose corn syrup gunk they called salad dressing.  Well here ya go, try this one on for size.  It is tasty, healthy and if you eat this way I’m willing to bet you won’t end up in the hospital in the first place.

Healthy Holidays Made Simple:

Monounsaturated fats are known to help reduce the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol without lowering the good HDL cholesterol. The most widely used oils that are high in monounsaturates are olive oil, avocado oil and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated fats, made up of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids are also considered relatively healthy and include grapeseed, safflower and sunflower oil.  Oils high in omega-3 rich polyunsaturate fat such as walnut oil are a good addition to the diet since our body require omega-3s for good health but cannot manufacturer them. New studies show incorporating omega-3s into your diet reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

We like to make this dressing for salads and to put into our rice or potatoes or over steamed green beans with Champagne Walnut Vinegar and Walnut Oil.  Very heart healthy.  You may substitute Hazelnut Oil for a different taste.

Walnut Vinaigrette

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard (I like Edmund Fallot)

3 Tablepoons Walnut Champagne Vinegar

¼ cup Walnut Oil

pinch sea salt and cracked black pepper

Place the mustard in a non-reactive bowl, add the salt and pepper.  Add the Champagne Walnut Vinegar whisk in the walnut oil s-l-o-w-l-y until the dressing is emulsified.  Add chopped walnuts to your salad or into green beans for extra crunch.

The way the oil is extracted also plays a role in how healthy it is. Oil is extracted using one of two methods — mechanical or chemical. Chemical extraction, often called solvent extraction, is the most common and cost efficient method. It employs high heat and a series of chemical processes, primarily exposure to hexane gas, to remove and refine the oil.

In mechanical extraction, called cold pressed or expeller pressed, oil is squeezed from the source, usually with hydraulic presses. This minimal exposure to heat preserves the natural flavor of the oil but limits the yield, making mechanically extracted oils more expensive than chemically extracted oils.

Just as each oil has a unique nutritional makeup, they also have distinct flavor components and smoke points, making some oils more appropriate for certain uses than others.  If you are unfamiliar with the smoke point of an oil, look on the side of the label or ask someone in the store where you purchase the oil.

Heating oil past its smoke point can cause it to have an off flavor, lose its nutritional value and turn the once healthy oil into a trans fat laden heart disease machine. Oils that can take high temperatures make good all-purpose cooking oils. Choose from sunflower and peanut for high-heat uses such as searing and frying. Medium-high heat oils are good for baking, sautéing and stir-frying; try grapeseed, avocado or sunflower oil. For sauces, lower-heat baking and pressure cooking, medium-high heat oils are best. Good choices are olive oil, hazelnut oil, pumpkinseed oil and walnut oil.

Anyone else out there have some favorite salad recipes to share??

Constance

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1 Comment

  1. November 20, 2010 at 3:09 am

    Here is one of my salad recipes. It is quite filling too. I just started this blogging stuff.. so I guess more will come later.

    http://jessicahurtada.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/grilled-chicken-and-black-bean-salad/

    Hope your mother is better.


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