Food writer Jim Dixon, writing on the health benefits of olive oil, commented “we put it on almost everything on our table, beside the breakfast cereal. And I don’t eat breakfast cereal.”
A recent media photo grabbed people’s attention. It showed actor and director Felipe Mattei, pouring olive oil on his breakfast cereal. He made the point that olive oil is a much tastier and healthier substitute for unhealthy animal fats such as cream or milk.
Olive oil has an important place in the thinking-person’s diet especially added to vegetables and salads, but over cereal? (We happened to find a 2004 print advertisement which used olive oil on cereal as an analogy for the effectiveness of its insect repellent.)
Yet research shows that Mattei is not alone in his practice of adding olive oil to his cereal. Well-known chef and restaurateur Bruno Loubet at the Zetter hotel in London regularly breakfasts on porridge to which he adds olive oil, honey and a layer of chopped garlic.
He says: “When I was in Australia I came up with it, because all the ingredients are good for you. It keeps me young and healthy. My chefs are used to it now, but in the beginning it shocked them all.”
New York Times columnist Mark Bittman has been recommending savory oatmeal preparations for years. One of his suggestions is steel cut oatmeal, drizzled with a fruity EVOO and 1-2 tablespoons of black or green olive tapenade on the side of the bowl.
At Oat Meals, a novel restaurant in Greenwich Village New York City, one of their popular dishes is oats topped with EVOO, sea salt and cracked black pepper and then finished with a layer of fluffy parmesan cheese. It goes well with bacon and has the consistency of a cheesy risotto.
Another oats and oil combo is the “hippy breakfast” named such as it was common in the 70s but is worthy of a come back. This is a delicious combination of raw oats moistened with oil, and these days that could be EVOO, and sweetened with honey.
The demise of such a healthy and simple breakfast probably had much to do with the low-fat revolution that scared everyone off fats and oils for the last few decades.
Although increasingly this is being brought into question especially in the case of olive oil that has so many life-enhancing properties.
Granola, for example received a bad rap because of its high sugar and fat content but made at home it can be an incredibly healthy start to one’ s day.
The basic recipe is three cups of rolled oats, mixed with a ¼ cup of good quality EVOO. This adds a fruity and rich flavour to the oats as well as optimizing the health benefits.
Then according to one’s taste buds one could add ingredients such as: shredded coconut, raw cacao, a sprinkling of cinnamon or cardamom, a drop of vanilla essence, flax seeds (for further omega 3’s) dried and chopped raisins, cherries or apricots, pumpkin seeds, nuts such as pistachios and sea salt.
There is no need to load it with sugar as more natural sweeteners can be used such as honey or pure maple syrup.
It is then a simple matter of mixing the dry ingredients and then adding liquids including the EVOO. When thoroughly coated spread onto a large baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes at 300 °F – shuffle – and then bake for another 10 minutes until the granola has turned a golden color.
Great as a breakfast or as an energizing snack during the day.
With such great healthy options available you might want to reconsider your breakfast regime to include the day’s dose of healthy olive oil.
Especially given that many studies show that successful and healthy people tend to prioritize the things that are good for them and their career and do these things first in the morning. This might include exercise, planning ahead, meditating or making headway on their hardest tasks for the day.
A mere 3.5 tablespoons of EVOO is the best dose for anyone at risk of cardiovascular disease.
It also helps reduce inflammation and is therefore helpful for those with arthritis as well as having a host of other health benefits.
So perhaps the habit of adding that healthy dose of olive oil to one’s cereal bowl might not seem so strange after all.