Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Olive Oil Desserts ~ A Cookbook Review

Olive Oil Desserts

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that my husband had a heart attack last February.  You probably also know my sons have Asperger Syndrome, and I have autoimmune diseases.  So, we've got a few issues to deal with.  One thing all four of us have in common is a need to make healthy food choices.

I love to bake, and I have always loved butter.  Butter is at the top of the NO list for patients being discharged from a cardiac intensive care unit.   I never would have thought to BAKE with Olive Oil until I found Micki Sannar's cookbook,  Olive Oil Desserts: Delicious and Healthy Heart Smart Baking.  I don't know WHY I hadn't thought of it.  I grew up with an Italian mother and a full blooded Italian grandmother.  Olive Oil is our nectar.  But.. for desserts?  Yes.. for desserts!

If you didn't know this already, Olive Oil is really good for the body.  It has antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamins A,B,C,D,E and K.  It also has phenols, which reduce the "bad" cholesterol in the body, and help with a variety of other ailments.

The book really is a treasure.  Before she even begins, she lists the signs and symptoms of heart attacks and stroke.  Something many people don't know.  In our case, my husband had been feeling symptoms for quite while before he went to the hospital.  She then tells her own story.  Both she and her husband were told they had high cholesterol after routine bloodwork done about 7 years ago.  She had the same problem I did.  It was easy to broil and steam the main courses, but what about dessert?   We can't be expected to go without dessert!  But.. all the recipes are full of butter or shortening, or oil.   She began experimenting, trying to find just the right substitutions using Olive Oil, and the results are in this really great cookbook.

Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some of the recipes do call for a little bit of butter extract, but it is not imperative.  If you choose to use some,  it can be found in specialty cooking shops, or over the internet.   There is even a GFCF version of the extract available for any of my readers who are going to buy this and make the flour conversions.

For readers who are not familiar with Olive Oil, there are a few pages which discuss the health benefits of Olive Oil, the four different types available, proper use and storage and other useful tips - as well as two true Olive Oil success stories to inspire you.

Then comes the  good stuff... Divided into four sections, the next 105 pages are the recipes, along with some short stories and some quips and quotes.  You'll find Cakes, Cookies and Bars, Muffins and Sweet Breads, Pies and Crisps, all with easy to understand instructions, and many with beautiful color photos.   I loved just reading through the book.  It's put together really well.  Entertaining, informative, and eye catching.

The back of the book has an Olive Oil Substitution chart so you can try your hand at converting your own recipes.  There are also pages for milk product substitutions and how to further reducing cholesterol by removing egg yolks from the recipes.  Finally a detailed glossary, and index.

Here's a great recipe right from her website :
Micki's Simple Brownies

This is an old fashioned brownie. Because of the air whipped into the first stage of this recipe, it comes out crunchy and chewy. To make these brownies even more decadent, add a half a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I can't eat a brownie without a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you shouldn't either.

4 oz unsweetened chocolate squares
1/3 cup pure or light olive oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

For added decadence only:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F coat an 8X8X2-in pan with olive oil cooking spray. In a small mixing bowl melt chocolate and olive oil for 1 minute 30 seconds; set aside. In a mixer; beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 5 minutes or more. Blend in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour and salt until just mixed. If adding chocolate chips, this would be the time. Mix in until just blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove, cool slightly. Serve and enjoy!!

*This recipe can be made with whole wheat pastry flour.
Copyright Micki's Kitchen 2008

Once you see how good Olive Oil Desserts can be, you can buy your own copy of the 154 page hardcover cookbook at Amazon.com, or QVC.       10% of every purchase is donated to charity.

You can find the Olive Oil Desserts website at  www.oliveoildesserts.com, or on facebook.

Micki has a blog, www.cookingwithmicki.wordpress.com and she uses Twitter.


**I was provided with a copy of this cookbook for review purposes.  I was not paid to do this review, and my opinions are my own.