With its luxurious taste and stellar nutritional profile, olive oil is one of those foods at the very nexus of healthful and delicious. Its taste can be delightfully fruity, peppery or more neutral, depending on the variety, but all of it is rich in monounsaturated fat, which has a protective effect on our health. On top of that, extra-virgin olive oil has high levels of antioxidant-like compounds called polyphenols, as well as vitamin E.
With all it has going for it, why not look beyond the usual — dipping, sauteing and dressing salads — and try using olive oil instead of butter in your baked goods? It works remarkably well, especially in cakes, muffins and quick breads that have a Mediterranean flair or lend themselves to deeper, more savory notes. To make the substitution, just use three tablespoons of olive oil for each 1/4 cup of butter, and opt for a subtly flavored variety with buttery or fruity undertones as opposed to a spicier one.
This pumpkin bread is a delicious example of how well it works. The oil lends a rich depth of flavor to the bread while allowing the warm spices to shine through. With that, and the addition of whole-grain flour and honey instead of refined sugar, you get a sumptuous, moist pumpkin bread that you can feel extra-good about eating.
Krieger’s most recent cookbook is “Weeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.