You know that recurring childhood thought that went something like “if a little bit is good, then a lot must be amaaazing”, but after a few overly-salted meals and 7th grade make-up nightmares (let’s leave the blue eyeshadow in 1985 where it belongs) you realized that minimalism isn’t so bad? Well, there are a few things in life that I’ve yet to set my limitations on: shoes, wine, and olive oil. But mostly olive oil.
Being a vegetarian, I find myself making vegetables almost daily (sometimes just for my HelloFresh meals.) It’s a win-win-win: healthy, filling, low calorie… or so I thought. I recently learned that my “low calorie” meals weren’t so low calorie at all. Like, at-all at-all. Because every bowl of sautéed mushrooms and asparagus came from a pan coated in olive oil. And those broiled squash and zucchini meals? Painted with olive oil before seasoned. And let’s not forget the roasted chickpeas (drool) that are–you guessed it–heavily doused in the stuff. Did I know olive oil was high cal/high fat? Sure. But it’s a “good fat”, right?
My friend, remember what we learned way-back-when: too much of a good thing can be very, very bad.
I’ve felt as though my fitness progress stalled, despite regular workouts and a consciousness about my diet (so I thought). What was I doing wrong? Is this just where my body plateaus, and I’ll have to go into near-body-building-like training to push past it? I actively began seeking an answer, but after lots of Googling, I still couldn’t determine the underlier. I’m mixing a good amount of cardio vs. strength training, drinking plenty of water, counting calories in/calories out, tracking my macros and paying attention to what I eat and… then it hits me. What if it’s not what I’m consciously eating, but what I’m subconsciously eating that’s setting me back? Cue the Google search “how many calories are in olive oil?”
And whoa. WHOA. I knew I’d found the culprit. If you don’t know, here’s the answer: one tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories (and nearly 14 grams of fat). Now, for someone who uses a reasonable amount of EVOO, this may not be setting off alarms. But free-handed-pourers like myself who use 4+ tablespoons per meal, your jaws are probably on the floor right now.
Yeah, so was mine.
I decided to put it to the test. My olive oil intake has been cut to very conscious portions, and only when called for. Last night I cooked my first veggie meal without any EVOO at all, and the most shocking part was it tasted and cooked the exact same. Are you telling me I’ve been consuming 500 calories a day in olive oil for food to not even be drastically better? Ay dios mio.
Here’s last night’s dinner (an original recipe of mine):
Preheat oven to 400. Drain and strain 2 cans of garbanzo beans. While still in strainer and slightly damp, season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and a dash of cumin (to taste). Spray tin foiled pan with Pam, lay out chickpeas and cook for 20 – 25 minutes (until brown and crispy).
While chickpeas cook, begin prepping veggies: 2 zucchini, 2 squash, 2 portobellos, 2 heads of garlic, 1 onion and a bag of mini bell peppers (I find that they’re easier to cut). Cut all into slices and wedges. Spray 2 tin foiled pans with Pam. Place mushrooms, peppers, and garlic on one pan, and squash, zucchini, and onions on the second pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder. After chickpeas are done, place both pans in the oven.
Cook for 15 minutes. Mushrooms will release lots of water, which keeps the peppers and garlic from drying out. I spooned some of the mushrooms drippings over onto the other pan, for flavor and to keep the other veggies moist as well.
Place back in oven for another 10 or so minutes, allowing to get slightly brown. Remove from oven and toss with chickpeas. Enjoy! (Makes about 4 servings. I saved my leftovers for lunches this week.)