Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The Mediterranean Elixir

Here’s why you should be using Olive Oil more than any other oil in your diet. 

IMG_1095.jpg

This past summer I spent 5 weeks in Spain intensely studying the major components of the Mediterranean Diet and why it is one of the most researched diets for its proven health benefits. In this blog post I will share why and what makes Olive oil so good for you as well as share ways to incorporate it into your diet.

Shopper’s tip: Spain is the leading producer of olive oil in the world and most of the Italian bottled olive oil actually came from Spain! The best olive oil, however, doesn’t come from Spain or Italy but is locally made. The closer your food is to you, the more fresh and nutritious it will be.

1. Olive oil has a very low saturated fat content and high in good, healthy monounsaturated fats. Please take a look at the chart at the bottom to see how the other oils and fats rank against the amount of healthy fats found in olive oil. 

olive oil rank.png
  • Because Olive oil is a non-animal fat there is no cholesterol at all which protects against blood clots and lowers blood pressure.

  • Olive oil lowers the levels of total blood cholesterol and does not affect the levels of the bad cholesterol.

2. The nutritional components of Olive oil is rich in vitamins E and K and has a strong antioxidant effect.

  • Olive oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

  • Also protects against formation of cancer with its antioxidant content

  • Enhances digestion and absorption of nutrients

3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the only oil to be obtained from a fruit, making it the most minimally processed oil and most natural oil.

  • After visiting an olive oil mill, I learned that a lot of the other vegetable oils we normally see and use (Canola, Palm, Grapeseed, Sunflower, etc.) have to undergo a lot of chemical processes and treatments in order to be safely consumed. Extra Virgin Olive Oil however can be enjoyed exactly right after being extracted from the olive without going under any chemical treatments.

How to incorporate Olive Oil into meals: Healthy fats like olive oil are so important to the diet in order to access fat-soluble vitamins in foods like Vitamin A or D!

  • These fat-soluble vitamins will not be lost when the foods that contain them are cooked. Proceed to sauté, drizzle on top of or roast your food in olive oil for the most benefits.

  • Servings per day should be 2-3 tablespoons.

 

 

Simply, Vodka Sauce Pasta

IMG_3323.jpg

This rich and spiced tomato sauce pasta is the kind of pasta that's comforting for the coming cold weather. This recipe is simple, quick and versatile! You can easily add more ingredients to the recipe such as vegetables (ex. zucchini, asparagus) or proteins (ex. ground turkey, lean ground beef)

Dairy-free ✔ Vegan Option ✔

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 medium onion

  • 5 garlic cloves

  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 (4.6-oz.) tube double-concentrated tomato paste

  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 cup vodka (any vodka you have on hand will be fine)

  • heavy cream substitute: Mix 2/3 cup unsweetened soy milk + 1/3 cup Olive Oil

  • 1 lb. whole-wheat pasta of your choice

  • fresh Basil leaves (for serving)

  • parmesan Cheese/alt. cheese/nutritional yeast (for serving)

  • kosher salt for pasta water

DirectionS

  1. Fill a large pot 3/4 full with water and heat over high. Heavily toss in salt (At least 1/2 cup) and bring to a boil while you do the other prep-work.

  2. Peel onion and finely chop.

  3. Peel each garlic and smash each one flat with your knife.

  4. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil (or eyeball it) in a wide stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, just until onion is starting to brown around the edges.

  5. Add entire 4.5-oz. tube tomato paste and 1 tsp. red pepper flakes. Continue to cook, stirring often, until paste is deep red and starting to brown and sticking to the bottom of the pot.

  6. Add 1/4 cup of vodka, stir to incorporate while scraping the bottom of pot. Reduce heat to low.

  7. With a heat-safe cup measurer, scoop 1/4 cup of pasta water and add it to a bowl with the (2/3 soy milk + 1/3 Olive Oil) mixture. Stir well and make sure all three liquids are combined.

  8. Slowly add the heavy cream replacement to the pot of sauce, stirring constantly, until a smooth sauce forms. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes

  9. Add 1 lb. of pasta to pot of boiling salted water and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Save 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining the rest of liquid from pasta.

  10. Before adding the pasta, mix in 1/2 cup of pasta water into the sauce, then incorporate pasta, stirring until fully coated. If sauce needs to be thinned out, add some more soy milk. Add salt to taste if necessary.

  11. Top pasta with your choice of cheese: parmesan, vegan, nutritional yeast.

  12. Plate and serve with fresh basil leaves.


By using tomato paste and cooking it compared to using fresh tomato, we increase our bodies ability to absorb the tomatoes antioxidants and other benefits. The abundant amount of onions and garlic in this dish is also great for maintaining our immune systems. When Vodka is added to the mix, new flavors are brought into the tomatoes further binding the sauce and its flavors together. Vodka also provides some added health benefits as well such as being antibacterial and stimulating digestion. 


IMG_3324.jpg
IMG_3326.jpg
IMG_3328.jpg
IMG_3331.jpg
IMG_3333.jpg
IMG_3356.jpg

Sea Salt & Chocolate Chickpea Blondies

IMG_7449.jpeg

Enjoy this quick and delicious dessert! It is one of my favorites and is a healthier choice for satisfying any sweet tooth.

Egg-free ✔ Gluten-free ✔ Dairy-free ✔

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15oz) chickpeas or garbanzo beans

  • 1 cup almond flour

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 cup nut butter (peanut or almond)

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup almond milk or other alt. milk

Toppings:

  • Light sprinkle of Sea Salt

  • Dark chocolate chips or chopped up dark chocolate bar of your choice

Directions: 

1. In a large bowl mix your dry ingredients together: Almond flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda.

2. With your food processor or NutriBullet, put in all your wet ingredients: Coconut oil, Nut butter, Maple Syrup, milk, and vanilla extract. Blend to a smooth mixture.

3. With a spatula, combine wet ingredients into the bowl with your dry ingredients. Mix until well combined. 

Tip #1: If the mixture looks too thick and is difficult to mix, you may add a little more milk.

4. Pour the mixture into an 8x8 greased pan. Top off with your choice: Chocolate chips/chunks, nuts, etc.

5. Bake for 30 mins at 350 degrees. Once done, sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy!

Lazy Dessert Hack: Skip all these steps and throw all your ingredients into the food processor or NutriBullet and blend until a smooth consistency. Pour into pan and top with chocolate. Bake and enjoy! 

blondie1.png
Blondie2.png
Blondie4.png
Blondie5.png
Blondie6.png

Eating Fit and Staying Full with Fiber

What might be preventing you from staying full?

IMG_2221.jpg

Low servings of fiber!

According to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Americans fall short of the daily recommended fiber amount per day. 25 grams of fiber per day for Women,  38 grams per day for Men. 

Why Fiber?

Dietary fiber is only found in plant foods and is something that your body cannot digest. High Fiber foods are generally low in calories but high in volume which allows you to keep full without the extra calories.

Rule of Thumb for Fiber: The “whiter” the grain-based food is (bread, crackers, cereals, pasta…) the lower the amount of fiber.

Soluble Fiber especially is important to incorporate into your diet for staying full!

Soluble fiber likes to absorb water as it passes through your digestive system, expanding like a sponge. This effect is what keeps your hunger at bay.

Added Benefits: Fiber Feeds The Friendly Bacteria in The Gut.

Happy Gut Bacteria = Happy Body, Happy Life! Having happy Gut Bacteria helps fight inflammation in the body and keeps your body running in tip top shape.

How to Incorporate Fiber into your diet:

Be careful of increasing your fiber intake too quickly! It should be gradually introduced into your diet. Remember to continue to drink lots of water and try to get your body active and moving!

Incorporating fiber into your diet shouldn't feel like an added task to your day. Adopting a healthier lifestyle naturally means eating more whole foods, fruits and veggies.

  1. Switch out any processed or refined foods for nutritious whole grains in every single possible way (whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, crackers, farro, etc.).

  2. Switch out some snacks with some whole fruits, veggies, and nuts.

    • Soluble Fiber: oats, brussels sprouts, beans, peas, apples, oranges, nuts, flax and other seeds

    • Insoluble Fiber: green beans and dark leafy greens, root vegetables like carrots, beets, and radish, fruit skins, whole grains

  3. Try to leave the skin on your fruits and veggies for double the fiber.

  4. Add Beans or legumes to meals. These will be packed with fiber!

 

Here’s a list of Foods high in Fiber you may add to your diet:

  • 1 large pear with skin (7 grams)

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (8 grams)

  • ½ medium avocado (5 grams)

  • 1 ounce almonds (3.5 grams)

  • ½ cup cooked black beans (7.5 grams)

  • 1/2 cup cooked farro  (7.5 grams)