For over 8,000 years, humans have been growing olive trees, and harvesting the fruit for curing, eating and extracting the oils. In addition to being delicious, olives are also beneficial therapeutically, as they can help reduce blood pressure, protect against cancer, act as an anti-inflammatory, and can even improve serum lipid profiles. And, if that wasn't enough, as a supplement, olive leaf is also a powerful anti-microbial with antioxidant power, protecting against intestinal or respiratory infections.
When buying olive oil, look for the highest quality, extra virgin grade. Avoid olive oils that are "pure" as that can mean the oils were extracted with heat and solvents, getting the last little bit of oil out of the olives and the pits. Instead, virgin means the production was physical, with no chemicals involved and extra virgin means from a virgin oil production with no more than .8% acidity and of "superior" taste. Pay attention to the labels - as many supermarket brands have been "cut" with canola or "pure" olive oil.
And as we head into the holiday season, remember that olive oil's anti-inflammatory properties may help you keep those stress levels down. Here's an easy seasonal way to roast vegetables with olive oil:
your choice (in combination or solo):
Peppers (red, orange, yellow or green)
Rough cut or slice vegetables and place into casserole dish. Brush with olive oil and then sprinkle seasonings you'd like (I'm partial to simply sea salt, but you could add rosemary, thyme, cayenne, pepper, garlic or other seasoning). Bake at 350 degrees until tender. Roasted vegetables are delicious on their own or served with protein (like chicken, turkey or beef) or over a vegetarian protein like quinoa.
I've always enjoyed ordering "assembly required" delivered to my doorstep. It's fun, something "different," and a great way to learn new techniques or add to your repetoire of recipes. Several weeks ago, I ordered 3 organic, gluten-free meals from Green Chef. We loved them all!
Here's a link to the Tuscan White Bean Soup recipe and photos from Green Chef's website and here's a picture of the soup I actually made in my own kitchen. The only switches I made was adding 4 cups of organic chicken stock instead of 2-1/2 cups of water and I did not use the parmesan or gluten free dinner roll (and hence, my version was not vegan, but it was #paleo and #dairyfree). It was delicious and perfect for a chilly weekend afternoon.
Lorie Gehrke, NC
It's all about our journeys... Here's where you'll hear from me on any number of topics, from nutrition and recipes, to grief and infant/child loss, to parenting and empty nesting, to poetry, dogs, and photos, and all things in between!