5 Savory Breakfasts to Switch up Your Morning Routine

quinoa muffins

Photograph from The Year in Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink

Do you often skip breakfast, pegging it as the least important meal of the day? Or, find yourself gravitation to the same old thing, day in and day out? Time to switch up your routine! Breakfast has many benefits from fueling your mind and body for the day, regulating your blood sugar so that you can concentrate, jump starting your metabolism to keep your weight in check and it’s a delicious way to start your day. We’ve rounded up five savory breakfast options for you that are healthy, filling and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Herbed Sweet Potato & Quinoa Muffins from The Year in Food – A hearty grab and go option for breakfast. Packed with protein filled quinoa and almonds, fresh herbs and nourishing sweet potatoes, these little muffins will keep you satisfied all morning.

Greens and Grains Egg Scramble from A Sweet Spoonful – This dish features vibrant greens (kale, swish chard or spinach), paired with rich whole grains (faro, barley, or wheat berries) and eggs, topped with chives and green onions.

Coconut Quinoa Bowl from 101 Cookbooks – An excellent use of leftover quinoa! Toasted almonds and coconut paired with crushed garlic, kale, and lemon juice bring a unique combination to this dish. Top off the bowl with avocado and spoonful of salted yogurt.

Shakshuka from Green Kitchen Stories – Some of you have may be familiar with Shakshuka, but if you aren’t, it entails eggs being slowly cooked in a cumin flavored tomato sauce. This version includes dark leafy greens and fresh basil.

Arugula and Cremini Quiche with Gluten Free Almond Meal Crust from Cookie and Kate – Perfect for hosting a weekend brunch or a make ahead breakfast you can grab and go all week. A rich goat cheese and mushroom quiche prepared in a unique almond and herb crust that is sure the delight.

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What Are Polyphenols? — Extra Virgin Olive Oil’s Powerful Antioxidant

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It’s New Year’s resolution time. As good a time as any to spread the word about polyphenols. They’re olive oil’s most raved about health component. And if you haven’t heard about them, they promote good health and have shown to help prevent disease.

So what exactly are polyphenols – other than a mouthful of a word? They’re a form of phytonutrient found in plants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. How do they do that? Polyphenols are a potent antioxidant – one that can decommission a nasty molecule in your body called a free radical. Free radicals can ricochet around inside your body and harm good cells. Antioxidants, such as the polyphenols found in olive oil, work to neutralize free radicals; protecting the body from their harmful antics.

In her book,The New American Olive OilFran Gage describes the work of polyphenols this way:

“These antioxidants circulate in the body, hooking up with free radicals, unstable compounds thought to play a role in more than 60 different health conditions including cancer and atherosclerosis, as well as aging.” Polyphenols, in other words, act as a pretty powerful cell protector inside your body. Extra virgin olive oil, in particular, is rich in polyphenols. 

Thanks in large part to the recent spotlight on the Mediterranean Diet, extensive research has been done on the phytonutrient composition of olive oil. What they’ve discovered is an extensive list of phytonutrients; one of the most praised is its polyphenols. The amount of polyphenols found in olive oil is truly amazing!

There are a multitude of polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil. Hydroxytyrosol (HT), being one form, helps protect our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules by triggering changes at a genetic level.

Several of the polyphenols found in olive oil—including hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein and luteolin—have shown to be especially helpful in avoiding unhealthy blood clotting by keeping our blood platelets in check.

New research is showing that polyphenols in olive oil may help balance the bacteria in our digestive tract; slowing the growth of unwanted bacteria. On this list of polyphenols are: oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol and ligstroside. Some of these polyphenols are specifically able to inhibit the growth of the Helicobacter pylori bacterium; the bacterium that leads to stomach ulcers and other unwanted digestive problems. Yet another category of polyphenols called secoiridoids, continues to be a focus in research on prevention of digestive tract cancers.

The list of benefits goes on and on. So how do you get these polyphenol benefits from extra virgin olive oil? According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, “These anti-inflammatory benefits of extra virgin olive oil do not depend on large levels of intake. As little as 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day have been shown to be associated with significant anti-inflammatory benefits.”

Other foods rich in polyphenols include: onions, apples, tea, red wine, swiss chard, cantaloupe, cabbage, flax seeds, strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries.

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=132

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=btnews&dbid=88

http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/tag/polyphenols

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Revive Dry Winter Hair – Olive Oil Hair Mask

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Winter cold and dryness can be tough on our hair and skin. Keeping our bodies hydrated becomes more important in winter months, which is a great time to deep condition our hair with extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil hair masks are easy to make at home. This mask will hydrate and act as a natural conditioner for the hair. Olive oil does wonders in nourishing brittle dry hair, rejuvenating it and giving it a healthy glow. Honey allows to the olive oil to bind and deeply penetrate damaged hair.

We recommend making a simple emulsion of olive oil with some honey to create a hair mask that will bring life back to stressed hair.

Step 1: Comb through wet hair, preferably recently shampooed.

Step 2: Mix ½ cup California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil with ¼ cup honey.

Step 3: Mix the two together with a fork until they are well mixed and make a smooth paste.

Step 4: Taking a handful of the mixture into your hand, start with the ends of your hair and gently massage the mixture into your hair. Apply a liberal amount and comb through to ensure that it is evenly distributed.

Step 5: Pull your hair into a loose bun, and cover your head with a shower cap. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Step 6: Shower, apply shampoo and conditioner as you normally would.

Step 7: Enjoy your new healthy hair!

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5 Ways to Eat Clean in 2015

Produce Spring_Summer

Do you vow to yourself every January 1st that this year is going to be the year to get healthy? If so, you’re in good company. Many of us make health related goals year after year and yet they don’t stick. This year, instead of trying the latest diet trend, overcommitting to exercise or falling trap to seemingly impossible end goals, we’re sticking to five simple guidelines to eating clean. So what exactly do we mean by “eating clean”?

According to Terry Walters, author of Eat Clean Live Well, “Eating clean is about filling your plate and your diet with super-nutritional foods that heal and nourish…and doing the best you can… one healthy choice at a time for sustainable good health. There are no rigid guidelines or harmful judgments, just abundant seasonal foods that are minimally processed for maximum nutrition … These are the foods we all need more of no matter what else is on our plates — whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruit, all in a rainbow of color and all five tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent).”

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In simple terms, eating clean is a good way to refresh your eating habits. It’s about embracing foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats – while cutting back on processed and fried foods, refined flours and sugar laden foods. The best part? It’s not about counting calories or giving up whole food groups, which makes it easier to follow. Instead of trying to change your whole routine and lifestyle overnight, take it slow and steady; start by making small adjustments each week. Pick one health goal to work on for 1-2 weeks until it becomes a habit before adding on a second.

  1. Get rid of diet food and start getting real. Chuck out all of those protein powders, power bars, diet pills, low-fat or fat-free foods. Instead reach for whole grains, fresh seasonal produce, unsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil, lean proteins, nuts and seeds.
  2. Mix up your favorites. Swap mashed potatoes for sweet potatoes. Try grated cauliflower in place of rice or use it as a base for pizza crust instead of wheat. Add some kale to your pesto. Puree some cooked carrots or squash to add to pancakes or your favorite pasta sauce. Cook with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter or canola oil.
  3. Learn to love fat! Pair carbohydrates with healthy fats to slow their digestion. This will help keep you fuller and more alert longer. Fat is a powerhouse for the body. Fat not only provides longer lasting energy for the body but it is a main source of fuel for the brain. You don’t have to cut out fats when you’re eating clean; instead just focus on healthy fats. Start by swapping out saturated fats (butter, cheese, meat) for healthy monounsaturated fats (extra virgin olive oil, nuts, fish). Studies have shown that monounsaturated fats are good for your heart and can help raise your HDL “good” cholesterol. Need an easy way to get in more healthy fats? Make your own dressings. An average bottled dressing is not only costly but is loaded with preservatives, sugar and sodium.  Making a simple extra virgin olive oil based dressing at home is free of preservatives and added chemicals plus it could save you a pretty penny.
  4. It matters how it’s made. Look for seals of quality and certifications. Don’t be fooled by “all-natural” or “healthy” claims. Know what to look for! There are many great resources to help you cut through the marketing claims. When it comes to organic, it’s not all or nothing. The simple guide to the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” will help with making decisions regarding produce.
  5. Get colorful! Try for three different colors at each meal. Especially try to sneak in dark leafy greens. Try different combinations. Buy seasonal produce – this will not only save you money, but will help improve your health by ensuring you get the most nutrient dense produce and the widest array of nutrients.

Learning to eat clean can be a big lifestyle change. Take things a day at a time, one meal at a time, one decision at a time. Each time you choose whole foods over processed foods you’re making progress. Keep it simple and make it fun!

Resources:

http://www.thedailymeal.com/entertain/top-clean-eating-trends-2015

http://www.self.com/flash/nutrition/2014/12/top-healthy-food-trends-joy-bauer/

http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/10_ways_to_eat_clean

http://www.babble.com/body-mind/11-ways-to-eat-clean-on-a-budget/

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/thumbnails/0,,20599288,00.html

http://www.cncahealth.com/explore/learn/nutrition-food/fooled-by-food-labels-9-deceptive-claims-to-watch-out-for#.VKNGKCvF96w

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/04/30/top-dirty-dozen-and-clean_n_5242343.html

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ALB00035/The-Dirty-Dozen-Foods-You-Should-Always-Buy-Organic.html

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A Guide to Dipping – Extra Virgin Olive Oil + Artisan Breads

Looking for an easy appetizer for upcoming holiday celebrations? Simple, we are big fans of dipping artisan breads in extra virgin olive oil. Amplify your usual extra virgin olive oil + balsamic vinegar dip with these suggested combinations.

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Classic Italian

1/2 cup  extra virgin olive oil (we suggest Miller’s Blend)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced or pressed
3 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
Coarse sea salt + black pepper to taste
1 baguette

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Spicy Tomato Basil

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (we suggest Miller’s Blend)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, minced
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse sea salt + black pepper to taste
1 loaf ciabatta

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Honey Walnut & Rosemary

1/2 cup Arbequina extra virgin olive oil (we suggest Arbequina)
1/4 cup raw walnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 tablespoons honey
Coarse sea salt + black pepper to taste
1 loaf rosemary focaccia

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Greek Lemon

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (we suggest Arbequina)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Zest of one lemon + 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons za’atar
Coarse sea salt + pepper to taste
1 loaf olive bread

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Holiday Gift Guide – our favorite gift ideas for the cook in your life!

Gift Guide 2Are you still on the hunt for the perfect gift for the friend that LOVES to cook? We have some ideas… But don’t forget the extra virgin olive oil!

 

Williams-Sonoma Smart Tools iPad Mini Screen Protector – $15 - WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

Olivewood Salt Keeper, Double – $60 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

Fermintation Pot – $90 - WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

Littledeer Turn Oar – $30 – Surlatable.com

Double Mezzaluna – $40 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

Hammered Flat Bottom Wok, 14″ – $30 – surlatable.com

R. Murphy Reclaimed Wood Carbon Steel Knives – FOOD52.COM

Jacobsen Salt Co. Ghost Chili Pepper Salt – $10.59 - JACOBSENSALTCO.COM

Flour + Water: Pasta Cookbook by Thomas McNaughton – $18.99 – itunes.com

Whirpool Long Bib Apron, in Cream Navy Stripe – EBAY.COM

 

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Holiday Primer: Baking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil … Not Butter

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We go out of our way during the holidays – actually, all the time – to bake with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter for desserts like cakes, tortes, brownies, etc. That may mean preparing a baking recipe that specifically calls for olive oil – or substituting olive oil in a recipe that calls for butter. Good olive oil adds a great, nuanced flavor and keeps baked goods moist. Olive oil also contributes to a special, textured “crumb.” Moreover, swapping olive oil for butter cuts saturated fat. To help you with your holiday baking, we’ve assembled a Q&A.

How do I substitute olive oil for butter if a baking recipe calls for butter?

As a general rule of thumb, substitute three-quarters of the butter in a recipe with olive oil. For example: If a baking recipe calls for a stick of butter (8 tablespoons), use 6 tablespoons of olive oil. (Click here to see a conversion table.) If the recipe uses melted butter, follow the instruction and substitute the oil for the butter at three-quarters of the amount.

“Olive oil can replace butter and margarine in almost all baked goods,” said Chef Sarah House of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, the Oregon provider of high-quality flours and other natural foods.

What if the recipe calls for the butter to be creamed with the sugar?

“If the butter is creamed with the sugar, and there is additional liquid (such as milk) in the recipe, follow the recipe instructions substituting the oil for the butter at three-quarters of the amount,” cookbook author and olive oil expert Fran Gage advised.

If a recipe, like carrot cake, calls for vegetable or canola oil, can I use olive oil instead?

You bet! We do so all the time. Just use the olive oil on a one-for-one basis. If a recipe, say, calls for half a cup of vegetable oil, use the same amount of olive oil. Your cake and other baked goods will benefit from the fuller, delicious flavor of a good olive oil versus a neutral oil like vegetable or canola oils.

“Any dessert that’s already made with some kind of vegetable oil is a candidate for trying,” award-winning cookbook author and dessert chef Alice Medrich said.

What style of olive oil should I use in my baking?

Generally speaking, a delicate oil – like our Arbequina and Everyday Fresh oils – works well. “A delicate extra virgin olive oil, with low bitterness and pungency, is always a good choice, especially if it has buttery notes because it will then mimic the flavor of the butter that it is replacing,” Gage said. But she also notes that you can use a more robust oil in recipes using chocolate. “High-quality chocolate can stand up to the bitterness and pungency of a medium or even a robust extra virgin olive oil,” Gage said. Our medium-robust Arbosana is a particularly good choice for chocolate desserts.

Can I use any type of olive oil off the grocery shelf in baking?

Do so at your own peril! A good tasting olive oil, as we said, adds flavor. “Only use an olive oil that you enjoy eating on salads, as a bread dip, etc.,” Matthew Kadey, a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food writer whose work has appeared in EatingWell and Men’s Health, said. “If you don’t particularly like the taste of a highly processed olive oil, why sully your baking with it. As the old saw goes: ‘Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t want to drink.’”

(Click here to see olive oil baking recipes.)

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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Olive Oil Granola – An Easy Homemade Gift for the Holidays!

Olive Oil Granola (2 of 3)

We love to give food-centric homemade gifts. They keep hearts and bellies full and happy. With the holidays, often we’re crunched for time so simple homemade gifts are key. That’s where olive oil granola comes in! Make granola in large batches and then package in jars or sealed clear bags for quick and easy packaging. Top it off with some ribbon and a gift tag and you’re good to gift.

Olive Oil Granola (3 of 3)To make things even simpler, below is a list of some of our favorite granola recipes featuring extra virgin olive oil. You can use any of our extra virgin olive oils to make the recipes but we’ve provided some of our favorite pairings.

Olive Oil Granola by A Cozy KitchenMiller’s Blend

Gingerbread Granola by Cookie & KateArbosana

Pumpkin Granola by Delightful CrumbArbequina

Maple Granola with Cacao Nibs & Hazelnuts by Turntable KitchenMild & Buttery

Cherry Nut Granola by Sprouted KitchenEveryday

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Holiday Gift Guide – our favorite gift ideas for your holiday host!

Host Gift Guide

 

We’ve all shown up to a friends or family members with a bottle of wine in hand during the holidays. Try something new this year – show up with a bottle of Limited Reserve EVOO ($19.99) paired with a new trendy or innovative gift for your favorite host! Here are some of our top picks:

Michael Aram Rock Cake Server, $79 SAKSFIFTHAVENUE.COM

Monogrammed Glass Domed Cake Plate/Punch Bowl, $24 WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

Two Birds Dish Towel, $12 ETSY.COM

Rewined Candles, $28 MARTHASTEWART.COM

Soma Water Filtration Unit with Filter, $50 WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

Three Piece Copper-Plated Cocktail Tools, $74 COCKTAILKINGDOM.COM

Square Cordova Cheese Board, $60 STERLINGPLACE.COM

Montecito Barware – Set of 4, $40 ZGALLERIE.COM

Copper Olive Oil Cruet, $100 WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

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Chefs Celebrating Harvest

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Recently, we were fortunate enough to be joined, for a two day harvest celebration, by some of the best chefs from New York and San Francisco. Included in the group were: Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern; John Adler, Franny’s; Karen Shu, ABC Kitchen, Dan Kluger, formerly of ABC Kitchen; Matt Armendariz, Parke Ulrich, Waterbar; Jonathan Sutton and Tony Ferrari, Hillside Supper Club; Laurence Jossel, Nopa, and Shannon Waters, Flour and Water and soon to be Aatxe.

Thursday evening, Chefs Ryan Pollnow and Thomas McNaughton hosted the group for an olive oil-centric meal at Central Kitchen, where they used specialized California Olive Ranch oils for each course. They served everything from olive oil poached quail to hibiscus leaf ice cream with Arbequina olive oil jam. Over dinner, the chefs shared ideas on the diverse ways to use olive oil in dish, either as a subtle component or as a primary component.

The next morning, the chefs all piled into a 15 passenger van to begin the journey north to our mill, to watch olives turn into the olive oil they know and trust. The chefs had the opportunity to ask questions about the olive varietals as they curiously plucked the olives off of the tree and watched as the olives were harvested. Chef Michael Anthony loved visiting the source of the olive oil he uses in his restaurant, and felt that “California Olive Ranch is clearly forward thinking and it’s great to see a producer work so hard to make such a good product.”

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After touring the rest of our facility, Chef John Adler was impressed by all of the systems we have in place to track every bottle, “The traceability is the most impressive part. How you can trace a bottle back to the grower and go back and see how you can make it better. If we could apply that to our cooking we would be in a great place!”

As the tour came to a close, the group completed their visit with a tasting with Master Miller, Bob Singletary. Bob demonstrated the traditional method for tasting olive oil and had the chefs follow suit, to really pick up on the different flavor characteristics of each oil. Wowed, Matt Armendariz said, “I never knew olive oil could taste like that.” The group tossed ideas back and forth on how they would pair the different oils in their restaurants.

After a fun filled two days, the chefs returned to their kitchens, hopefully a bit more inspired by the oil they use every day. It was an honor for us to welcome such talents, and always a great reminder for us here at California Olive Ranch that our extra virgin olive oils are so well loved all around the country.

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