Substituting Polyunsaturated Fat May Reduce Heart Health Risk More Than Cutting Bad Fat

Below is a link to a recent study done at Harvard University that found replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats may reduce your risk of heart disease by 20 percent more than just reducing fat intake. This is significant because it implies the low-fat craze is not the healthiest approach. Our body needs fats so why not consume healthy fats. Extra virgin olive oil has both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and is one of the healthiest fats around. One fun way of replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats is to replace butter with real extra virgin olive oil in desserts. We have a wonderful carrot cake recipe on our site that does exactly this and it is yummy. You can find the recipe here.

Read the article.

 

Mediterranean diet helps you live longer

Below is a link to a recent study that is the first of its kind to investigate the effect of different components of the Mediterranean diet. They looked at large samples of people who loosely followed the Mediterranean diet but at the same time left out certain components of it. What they found is not surprising. The major benefit of the diet occurs when all elements are included. In other words it is very synergistic. Our modern tendency is to seek single ‘active ingredients’ and turn them into drugs. However this study suggests that a whole range of beneficial eating habits is what does the trick. The most important components were moderate intake of alcohol and a low consumption of meat, with a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil and legumes. Read the article.

Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

I cooked the roasted cauliflower recipe mentioned below and it was very good. The rich nuttiness of the roasted cauliflower compliments very nicely the tangy caper dressing. I cooked it for an hour and the cauliflower was nicely browned so I took it out. It was very crisp, almost too much, so I think next time I will add a little water to the dish while it is baking to cook the cauliflower through a little bit more. After you take it out you kind of wonder how do you serve a whole head of cauliflower. Next time I will cut the cooked cauliflower in quarters then pour the dressing on to make sure each serving gets a lot of the tangy dressing. I will definitely do this again. It was very simple to cook but the flavor was very elegant. It turns a boring cauliflower into something special.

One of My Favorite Recipe Sites

One of my favorite recipe sites is www.recipezaar.com. It has over 400,000 recipes that are searchable. The recipes range from the novice cook to the very experienced. In style they range from the typical American recipes to the exotic. There is something here for everybody.

Often at night I will go to the site and search for a few ingredients I have in my fridge or pantry. I invariably get many choices that are rated by other users along with reviews. I typically read at least ten of them along with the reviews of people who have actually cooked the recipe. I then generally print out the recipe that comes the closest to what I want to cook then add ideas from all the others I have read. I have rarely been disappointed. It also gives me a lot of ideas I would not have thought of myself.

The other night I was tired of my typical chicken thigh recipe so I found a new recipe from http://www.recipezaar.com that removes the skin, coats with spicy mustard and worchestershire sauce, then coats in seasoned breadcrumbs and bakes at 375 for 40 minutes. It was very simple and tasty. This is just one example of simple but tasty recipes on the site.

Happy recipe hunting!

February is Olive Oil Month

Below is a press release announcing that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proclaimed February California Olive Oil Month. This underscores the growing realization of how important olive oil is for our health and how important these local businesses are for supporting their communities statewide. We hope this recognition will help more Americans experience the beauty of this California made artisan product. The vast majority of California olive oil producers are small locally owned businesses that focus on very high quality. Through buying certified extra virgin olive you help support this emerging vibrant industry that focuses on high quality and small production rather than mass produced homogeneity.

February 12, 2010, Berkeley, CA Oil Month this February, Governor Schwarzenegger urges everyone to make
California olive oil a staple in their kitchens and cuisines. He emphasizes
the rich history and important role of olive oil in California agriculture,
noting California produces 99 percent of U.S. olive oil, and has set
standards to align its grades and quality with producers around the world.

As the state¹s olive oil production continues its rapid growth, California
competes with the finest oils from around the world in both taste and cost.
With hundreds of olive oils from around the world from which to choose,
California Olive Oil Council Executive Director Patty Darragh urges shoppers
and chefs to look for the COOC seal, as the guarantee for extra virgin olive
oil produced in California. Darragh adds, ³The COOC Taste Panel, founded in
1998, has certified nearly 200 extra virgin olive oils from our recent 2009
harvest, and these oils are already available on store shelves, farmers
markets, online merchants, and foodservice channels.²

About the California Olive Oil Council and its Seal Certification

Founded in 1992, the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) is a non-profit
trade and marketing association whose purpose is to promote the growing of
olives and the production of fresh, high-quality extra virgin olive oil in
California. The COOC represents 90% of olive oil production in the state
with a membership of 350 growers, producers, and supporting members from the
retail and service industries. The organization supports certified olive oil
standards and provides grower, producer and consumer education. Through its
Seal Certification program, the COOC helps everyone from home chefs to
restaurants find guaranteed extra virgin olive oils for their kitchens. For
more information, visit http://www.cooc.com.

The proclamation in its entirety follows.

###

February 2010, as ³California Olive Oil Month²

PROCLAMATION by the
Governor of the State of California

Our Golden State¹s agricultural diversity is unrivaled in the world, and
olive
oil is one of our fastest growing industries. Olive trees were first brought
over by Spanish missionaries, and their acreage in our state is expected to
grow annually by 10,000 acres in the next ten years. Moreover, our state
produces 99% of all olive oil from the United States.

California olive oil is made from a great variety of olives and production
methods and offers a range of flavors to choose from. In 2007, I signed SB
634, which aligns our state¹s olive oil grades to international standards.
This law requires bottles of olive oil to meet certain guidelines and
ensures that there is consistency in quality.

Additionally, extra virgin olive oil has many health benefits. It is high in
monounsaturated fats, a healthy type of fat, which reduces both overall and
bad cholesterol levels. Extra virgin olive oil also contains a great amount
of polyphenols, important antioxidants that promote heart health and
longevity.

Olive oil is an important part of our economy and heritage, and this month,
I encourage the people of our Golden State to make California olive oil a
staple in their kitchen and cuisine.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of
California, do hereby proclaim February 2010, as ³California Olive Oil
Month.² IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great
Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 21st day of January 2010.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
Governor of California

Take a Tour of Apollo Olive Oil

Below is a link to a 4 minute brief glimpse into how Apollo Olive Oil is made. You will see some of our orchards, how the olives enter the mill, the unique under vacuum milling process and the fresh oil emerging from the decanter which we taste immediately to ensure high quality. We are very proud of our little mill and the award winning olive oil it produces, it is a labor of love.

Watch the video (11 mb)

Which oil should I buy?

This is a question we are frequently asked and the answer can help you with not just our oils but other high quality olive oils. If you are buying a California olive oil the first consideration should be to buy an oil that is certified by the COOC. All oils certified by the COOC under go a human taste test by trained experts. Many olive oil defects cannot be detected by a chemical analysis so a human taste test is essential to ensure high quality. It is very inexpensive to become certified so all high quality producers do so. You also want to look for a harvest date. All high quality producers print a harvest date on their bottles. You also want to choose producers whose bottles are dark glass. This helps prevent the degradation of oil due to exposure to light.

We describe our oils in the following way:

Mistral is light intensity and used on white wine dishes.
Sierra is medium intensity and used on red wine dishes.
Barouni is strong intensity and used on red wine dishes and other hearty fare.

The word intensity above refers to the pungency in the back of the throat that real extra virgin olive oil has. This is evidence of anti-oxidants.

However, as with wine, all the rules above can be broken if you are looking for contrasts. So which oil you choose depends on how you like the olive pungency. Typically the more you intake real extra virgin olive oil the stronger you prefer your oil.

Because of the high anti-oxidant level in our oils they can easily last two years from harvest date. Anti-oxidants protect our body and they protect the oil from degrading.

Is the oil ok if it freezes in transport?

During the cold months we are frequently asked the question, ‘Is the oil ok if it freezes in transport?’ The answer is yes it will be fine. Simply let it thaw at room temperature and it will be good as new.

At the same time it is not recommended to keep the oil in the refrigerator. The oil should be stored in a cool dark place like a pantry, preferably not above the stove. Stored  like this the oil should keep at least 3 months after it is opened. Remember real extra virgin olive oil is a fresh product and you receive the most health benefits if you consume the oil within three months after opening. This is why we sell our bottle in the smaller 375ml size. This allows you to finish the oil within, at most, 3 months after opening.

End of Harvest Paella!

We finished the hard but rewarding work of harvest in mid-December. The harvest went very smoothly and the resulting oils were excellent. After blending and bottling we should have the new oils available in mid to late March. To celebrate the occasion our assistant miller and olive farmer Juan Jose made his family’s traditional paella. What a treat! Gianni, Diana and their son Umberto joined Steve and his wife along with Juan and Eve at Steve’s home on a beautiful December Saturday. There was plenty of beer and wine flowing as we all gathered around the table and watched Juan Jo prepare his masterpiece.

It starts with a special large flat pan hooked directly to the propane. You first brown the meat (duck, chicken, turkey, and pork) in an excellent extra virgin olive oil, of course. Then move it to the side and add fresh green beans and assorted white beans. Then move that to the side and add organic tomatoes. Quite a colorful dish. Then add water and rice. This is the tricky part, you need to add the correct ratio of rice vs. water. You then let this simmer for around 18 minutes. During the simmering you can add fresh artichoke, just remove the prickly leaves.

And now the kicker, top with fresh rosemary from the garden as it simmers.

After the rice is done and the water evaporated bring the whole pan to the table. Each person then dips his fork into the delicious mixture and proceeds directly to his own mouth with no plates intervening. This is true family style dining at its best. At this point you might be wondering, “Hey where are all the measurements and ingredient lists.” Well this is how family recipes are cooked – by feel. And we all felt very good with a perfect end to a perfect harvest.

Is what you are buying actually extra virgin olive oil?

The biggest challenge for the small artisan producer is the large scale fraud in the olive oil business in the US. Up until recently the US did not have any labeling laws in regard to extra virgin olive oil. Even now there are only two states with laws pending that are barely enforceable. Most of the olive oil sold in the US is similar to white bread in which all the nutrients are removed and the product is chemically treated to allow longevity during mass production and large scale transportation. This is not extra virgin olive oil.  Real extra virgin olive oil is necessarily a fresh product loaded with anti-oxidants. It is a product that does not lend itself to mass production. Therefore real extra virgin olive oil is expensive when compared to ‘white bread’ olive oil.

Italy exports 4 times more oil then it actually produces and yet this oil makes it into the US with the ‘From Italy’ moniker. Italy imports massive quantities of olive oil from all over the Middle East and the Mediterranean and bottles it and then ships it to the US. This is nothing new and has been going on for over 50 years. It only became an issue in the US when in the early 1990′s California started making real extra virgin olive oil and noticed it could not compete with the $10/gallon ‘extra virgin olive oil’ from Italy. Gradually the truth began to emerge. One of the best articles on this topic is the New Yorker article ‘Slippery Business.’ I recommend it highly.