IT’S SO HEALTHY…AND NUTRITIOUS
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the freshly-squeezed juice of the olive fruit. It must be totally unprocessed and kept below 75 degrees Fahrenheit at all times during the mechanical extraction process. For an oil to be labeled extra virgin, it must meet strict chemical criteria as defined by the International Olive Oil Council and adopted by the European Union and USDA, but must also have perfect flavor and aroma as determined by a certified tasting panel.
HOW TO BUY OLIVE OIL ONLINE
It is a proven fact that in just eight hours of close exposure to strong fluorescent lights, a bottle of olive oil packed in a clear glass bottle will be totally destroyed having lost its color, flavors and aromas. While oil packed in a dark glass bottle offers considerably better protection, it too becomes vulnerable when exposed to strong light and can be completely destroyed in less than a week, which makes purchasing olive oil in a supermarket a less than desirable prospect.
Beyond that, the vast majority of the oils sold in the USA have inadequate or even misleading labels. The consumer is given little to no information as to where the oil was actually produced or from what variety of olives it was made, but most importantly, WHEN the oil was harvested.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO STORE OLIVE OIL
The two biggest enemies of an olive oil are light and heat. In order to best preserve a quality extra virgin olive oil, it is crucial to keep your oil stored away in a cool, dark place, preferably in a cabinet away from a heat source, such as a warm stove.
BEST WAY TO COOK WITH OLIVE OIL
The health benefits of olive oil make it an extremely attractive ingredient to use for cooking. Packed with polyphenols, amino acids and healthy, monounsaturated fats, olive oil can be a key factor to not only establishing a balanced diet, but to add depth and flavor to food.
Most importantly, the main difference between using olive oil as opposed to refined vegetable oils is its aroma and taste. Olive oil is not just a cooking oil; it is an ingredient that can add depth and flavor, and enhance the more traditional tastes of the dishes you love. No other oil can match the organoleptic complexity of olive oil, and the thousands of varieties that carry their own unique flavor characteristics.
Whenever we refer to olive oil, we always mean extra virgin. Every producer we carry has worked for years – many for decades – to micromanage their crop and produce the highest quality olive oils on the planet. To them and us, it’s not worth it if it’s not extra virgin.
CAN I FRY WITH OLIVE OIL
Absolutely! There is a popular misconception in North America that extra virgin olive oil cannot be heated to the temperature needed to fry, yet the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is 410°F, far above the 350°F that is required for most frying.
To properly fry with extra virgin olive oil without destabilization, first heat the oil in a heavy pot or pan to the suggested temperature by using an oil thermometer (sometimes called deep fry thermometer). Starting at the burner’s medium setting will allow you to raise it little-by-little until you achieve the right temperature. Adding the food to the pot or pan after the oil is fully heated will prevent the food from absorbing too much oil and becoming soggy.
Deep Frying Tip: Though the added flavor will be best when frying the first time, reusing a large pot of olive oil 4-5 times is still safe and flavorful (and not to mention cost-effective) if doing so within a short timeframe and if properly strained after each use.
Frying with olive oil has been a standard practice in the Mediterranean diet for centuries. Try shallow frying eggs, sliced potatoes or fish in extra virgin olive oil and you will be amazed by the results.
BAKING WITH OLIVE OIL
When a recipe calls for butter or margarine for frying or sautéing, olive oil is an oft-practiced substitute and is widely recognized as a much healthier alternative.
Substituting extra virgin olive oil for butter in baking is also a healthy option and can be surprisingly delicious. Since ingredient measurements are critical when baking, the index below will help you adjust your recipe appropriately:
All extra virgin olive oils range in strengths of intensity and pungency, so while some varieties work wonderfully with almost anything, others may prove too overpowering. For cakes, cookies and other baked desserts, sweeter, more mild olive oil varieties, like Arbequinaand Picholine, are less likely to overpower the flavors of a dessert when compared with more bitter, pungent varieties like Picual, and Coratina.
GRILLING WITH OLIVE OIL
When summer hits and the grills come out, so do all the wonderful marinades and sauces that make grilled foods so exceptional. Extra virgin olive oil has endless potential to boost the flavor of grilled foods and can neutralize harmful carcinogenic substances thanks to its high antioxidant levels.
Robust oils, such as those produced in Tuscany, Lazio and Trentino Alto-Adige, pair wonderfully with grilled meats, while the milder olive oils from Greece and Southern Italy are ideal for lighter grilled foods like fish.
A flavorful EVOO can also replace butter for grilled favorites like corn on the cob, portabella mushrooms, potatoes, onions and shrimp. As previously noted, Picholine and Arbequina are the most similar olive oil varieties to butter with their sweeter, more delicate flavor profiles.
COCKTAILS AND OLIVE OIL
“Olive oil and alcohol? Are you crazy?!” is the average shock response we get to the idea of combining the two. Mixologists around the country have included olive oil in special martinis and Bloody Marys, and some have even created completely new concoctions. Check out this Cucumber Vodka Olive Oil Cocktail… it’s delicious!
CALORIES IN OLIVE OIL
Olive oil is 100% fat and contains 120 calories in 1 Tbsp (0.5oz). Olive oil calories are exactly the same number as found in vegetable and animal fats, such as canola or butter; however, olive oil is by far the most nutrient-rich.
Research Shows Not All Calories are Created Equal. While many people want to know how many calories are in olive oil, research finds that not all calories are necessarily equal.
A famous study by two British researchers, Professor Alan Kekwick and Dr. Gaston L.S. Pawan at Middlesex hospital in London tested four different 1,000 calorie diets. One diet consisted of 90% fat, the second diet consisted of 90% protein, the third diet consisted of 90% carbohydrates, and the fourth diet was a normal mixed diet of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The resulting data shows that several subjects on the high-carb diet actually gained weight, even at only 1,000 calories a day, while subjects on the high-protein diet lost weight; however, subjects on the high-fat diet lost considerably more weight than any of the other diets.
A more recent study, led by Cara Ebbeling, PhD, associate director and David Ludwig, MD, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, also challenges the notion that a “calorie is just a calorie”. The study finds diets that reduce the surge in blood sugar after a meal – either low- glycemic index or very-low carbohydrate – may be preferable to a low-fat diet for those trying to achieve lasting weight loss. – Read more about the study here.
OLIVE OIL IS HEALTHIER THAN VEGETABLE OIL
Most vegetable oils, including corn, soy and canola, are extracted from the seeds using solvents, such as Hexane, and heat. The resulting extracted oils are rancid and must be bleached and deodorized in order to make them edible for human consumption. These processes destroy any natural nutrients and produce free radicals that can contribute to a host of diseases. In comparison, extra virgin olive oil is a natural fruit juice containing polyphenols, the valuable antioxidants found in no other edible oil, which is thought to be responsible for the low incidence of heart disease associated with the Mediterranean diet.
BALSAMIC VINEGAR HAS GREAT BENEFITS TOO
- Antioxidant: When oxidation takes place in your body, energy is produced. This energy hampers the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are known to destroy cell membranes. They also manifest as premature aging, which hardens your arterial walls. The antioxidants found in balsamic vinegar destroy the free radicals and as a result, protecting your cells from destruction. The balsamic vinegar has also been seen to slow the process of aging.
- Fighting Cancer: The grapes that are used in the formation of balsamic vinegar contain quercetin, which is a bioflavonoid with antioxidant properties. Along with having Vitamin C, the antioxidant also strengthens your immune system thereby making it easy for you to fight infections inflammations and even cancer.
- Reducing Heart Attack Risk: Since balsamic vinegar contains low cholesterol and saturated fat, it is not harmful to your health more so to the heart. Substituting dressings that have high cholesterol levels with balsamic vinegar will improve your heart health because unwanted fats won’t deposited in your blood vessels. What’s more, balsamic vinegar contains low sodium and this means reduced blood pressure and enhanced heart health.
- Pain Reliever: Balsamic vinegar was used in ancient times to relieve people of pain. People suffering from headaches and migraines can also find relief from their agony by taking some balsamic vinegar. This vinegar can also be used to treat infections and wounds as it has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
- Digestion Promotion: Balsamic vinegar also contains polyphenols which stimulate the pepsin enzyme activity in your body. Pepsin is a digestive enzyme that helps break down proteins into amino acids. Moreover, they assist your intestines to expeditiously absorb amino acids. Efficient absorption of amino acids makes it easy for your body to utilize repair and build cells. It also helps in the maintenance of the body’s work.
- Weight Loss: Balsamic vinegar can also be used as dressing for salads hence a wonderful substitute for fatty acids like mayonnaise. Since this vinegar also contains calories that only come from the grapes’ sugar content, it makes for a good weight control substitute. Balsamic vinegar is also known to keep you feeling full and for longer. Therefore, you will eat less food hence controlling your weight.
- Diabetes Control: Research conducted revealed that consuming about three to four balsamic vinegar tablespoons will enhance your insulin sensitivity. The higher your insulin sensitivity is, the better your chances of controlling diabetes.
- Bone Health: Acetic and pepsin help improve the absorption of important minerals into your body like magnesium and calcium. These two minerals are important in the formation of strong and healthy bones. Balsamic vinegar is a great source of both minerals.