You know that mentality you had as a kid that went something like “if a little bit is good, then a lot must be amaaazing”, but after a few too many 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 that I still have the former mindset with: shoes, wine, and olive oil. But mostly olive oil.
Being a vegetarian, I find myself making vegetables almost every day (sometimes just for my HelloFresh meals). And it’s a win-win, right? Filling, low calorie, healthy… only, 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 tossed in olive oil.
Did I know olive oil was high cal/high fat? Sure. I’d definitely heard it before. But what I didn’t realize (until yesterday) was just HOW high cal/high fat. And the thing is, I’ve felt as though my fitness progress is stalling, despite 6-day-a-week workouts and a consciousness about what I’m putting into my body (or 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 what the underlier was. I’m mixing a good amount of cardio vs. strength training, I’m cycling my leg days/arm and ab days/etc. to be sure I don’t overly exhaust one group of muscles, I’m drinking plenty of water, I’m tracking calories in/calories out, tracking my macros and paying attention to what I eat and… then it hit 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 alarms off in your head. But if you’re a free-handed-pourer who loves to drench your pans and veggies in 4+ tablespoons of olive oil per meal, then your jaw is probably on the floor right now. Yeah, so was mine.
So there we have it. No more EVOO for me, except in very conscious portions when called for. Last night I cooked my first veggie meal without, 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 the 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.)