Many of us either love or hate olives. But if we take a look at their nutritional value, those of us who are indifferent may reconsider adding this fruit into our regular diets.
Olives are full of heart-healthy fats, similar to the fat found in avocados, and they are a great source of vitamin E. Not to mention, they’re a salty addition that complements a variety of different recipes and are pretty easy to find in the local grocery store.
Olives can also be a great source of probiotics that help improve gut health. “Olives are a fermented food that contain Lactobacillus, a gut-friendly bacteria,” Mia Syn, RDN of Nutrition By Mia, says. “Consuming probiotics can support a healthy gut and, in turn, may aid digestion, immune health and more.”
But note that if you plan to cook olives in a recipe, you’ll lose out on those probiotic benefits. “Most probiotics are sensitive to heat, so they are likely killed off during high-heat cooking,” Syn says. So when you can, eat them raw or try adding them after the cooking process.
We asked a registered dietitian to give us the scoop on gut-healthy recipes that use olives to amp up the nutritional benefits, and we promise you won’t be disappointed. Keep scrolling to find six ways to turn your jar of olives into a gut-healthy and delicious meal.
If you think salads are boring, try this recipe. “It’s packed with nutrient-rich produce including romaine, red onion, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumber,” Syn says. “All of these vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, which is important for digestive health. The addition of olive oil and olives helps provide heart-healthy fats that are sure to keep you fuller longer.
2. Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore
This dish proves that loaded flavor doesn’t have to mean additional calories. “Using heart-healthy olives, olive oil and fresh spices add a lot of flavor,” Syn says. And as the main components of the dish are protein-rich chicken and fresh produce filled with vitamins, minerals and fiber, this dish is sure to keep you satiated until your next meal.
3. Cuban-Inspired Black Bean and Mango Bowl
Vegetarian meals don’t have to be boring. This bowl starts with a base of quinoa and black beans, which helps meet the recommended whole grain and fiber intake for the day, Syn says. “Incorporating green olives adds good fats to this recipe that help absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K and E found in the green bell pepper and Spanish onion,” she says.
4. Sun-Dried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Hummus
The possibilities are endless when it comes to hummus. “Chickpeas provide filling fiber and plant protein,” Syn says. “And using tahini along with the olive oil and Kalamata olives adds plant-based fat.” To make this dish complete, consider pairing it with a side of veggies for dipping or using it as a spread on a low-calorie sandwich.
5. Moroccan-Inspired Chicken Tagine
Don’t let the name intimidate you — this dish isn’t as complicated as it may seem at first glance. It’s full of spices and herbs, which is a great way to add significant flavor for very few calories. And it’s composed of a lean protein source with good fats like olives and olive oil that will keep your tummy satisfied. To make this a complete meal, consider pairing it with a side of roasted vegetables or a whole grain like quinoa, brown rice or whole-grain pasta.
6. Middle-Eastern-Inspired Spiced Brisket
This braised brisket recipe is one of those low-and-slow, dump-and-go recipes that makes life a whole lot easier on a busy weeknight. Thanks to all the spices used to season the meat, you’ll have a flavor-packed dish sans the extra calories. Not to mention, you’ll get 41 grams of protein per serving. To make this dish lighter, consider swapping the brisket for chicken, seafood or even tofu.
7. Smashed Garlic Pizza With Olives, Onions and Oregano Parm
Pizza can get a bad rap for being unhealthy, but there are a variety of ways to whip up a pie that fits into your healthy-eating goals. This cheeseless pie is full of flavor from veggies like salty olives, zesty onions and roasted creamy garlic. And if you really feel like you’ll miss the cheesy flavor, a sprinkle of nutritional yeast will do the trick while adding in protein and B vitamins.
8. The Greco-Brecko Mediterranean Toast With Hummus and Olives
Serving up this toast recipe is super easy, even though it feels more elegant than traditional bread and butter. “With whole-grain bread as the base, you get fiber as well as B vitamins, which are important for energy production,” Syn says. And pairing it with hummus, olives and arugula provides good fats and vitamins and minerals.