Remembering Greece: How We Found Our Calling

People ask us every week, “How did you get into this business anyways?” or “How did you even meet a family in Greece?

How It All Started

Ten years ago, while at a farmer’s market in Missouri, a Greek family browsed Karl’s organic vegetable booth, Healthy Harvest. After delighting in the taste of his produce, the families developed a lasting relationship, and a few months later, Karl planned his first trip to Sparta during harvest season.

Arriving in January, Karl visited several fourth-generation estates nestled in the foothills near Mount Parnon. Grapevines and solar water tanks dotted the roofs of each home and rows and rows of 160-year-old olive trees lined the orchards, branches heavy with plump, ripe koutsourelia olives.

jake in greek olive orchard

Aging farmers carefully picked the fruit by hand, their fingers gnarled from decades of painstaking cultivation.  Picking by hand rather than using machines means the olives are always perfectly ripe and never bruised when pressed, which produces the best flavor. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, these families use traditional organic methods and not synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.

Karl, olives, greece
Karl with a handful of ripe olives

After picking, they immediately transported the olives to the local spigot to be washed and pressed. Since the farms are too small to export any oil on their own, they formed a cooperative. Combining thousands of years of wisdom with a state-of-the-art press, the co-op cold pressed the olives using no heat, chemicals, or foreign oils. This process guarantees an extra low acidity, full, rich olive flavor and the best nutritional value. The oil then gets bottled to be consumed mostly in the homes of Spartans. The rest? Karl agreed to buy the remaining crop to sell here in the U.S. where most of us have never had the pleasure of tasting a fresh, pure, unadulterated olive oil.

Jake touring the press

As a guest in the valley, co-op member families welcomed Karl into their home. Although money was scarce, pride remained plentiful – each person expressed deep satisfaction in continuing the tradition of sustainably tending the land to nourish their families for generations. Embodying true hospitality, every family graciously offered coffee and a bite to eat. Simple organic ingredients, exquisite flavor.

Just last year, Karl’s son Jake, visited so that he, too, might spend time on the farms strengthening relationships, attesting to the quality, and developing a deeper appreciation for the time-honored tradition of making superior olive oil.

Jake stands in front of barrels of olives

Having been to the source, tasted the purity, and reviewed independent lab reports verifying its authenticity, Healthy Harvest has built its reputation on trust and transparency, educating market-goers on the fraud in the olive oil industry and how to look for the absolute best.

What’s next?

The search for the best never stops, and next year Karl will be visiting the 203-year-old estate in Tuscany, Italy where our newest olive oil, True Tuscan, is produced. Made from rare olives rich in robust, peppery flavor, it is truly a treat to see our friends faces light up when they taste it for the first time. We look forward to sharing tales from Tuscany in Spring.

 

2017: A Mission to Serve

food philanthropy volunteering My whole life, my biggest goal has been to help people. From collecting donations and cooking meals for people who are homeless, to teaching cooking classes and shopping tips to low-income families, to raising money and distributing supplies after the earthquake in Nepal last year, my life is most meaningful when serving others.

My role at Healthy Harvest is no different. Of course selling olive oil is our livelihood, but why we really got into this business is to connect people to the life-giving power of real food, not to mention honoring the earth by supporting organic practices, and connecting with small, local producers.

Karl has spent the last 10 years attending conferences, meeting farmers, and studying research, all of which have taught him the many ways that nature can heal even the most debilitating illnesses. And since I joined the team a year ago, I’ve heard numerous stories of how changing diet or using natural remedies have dramatically changed people’s lives.

That’s why we will always personally know the source of our products, why we will never offer GMOs or chemicals harmful to our bodies or the environment; and why we are growing a skincare line safe enough to use on our own families.

So, as we move toward a new year, I want to know: how can we better serve you in 2017? What can we do to help you live life more in harmony with your body, your neighbors, and the environment?

Are there products you’re looking for that we can offer?

Do you need inspiring, yet practical recipes that your whole family will love?

Can we help connect you with locally-grown or nutrient-dense foods in your area?

Are you looking for a community get together with like-minded foodies?

What are your goals and how can we help?

To a happy and healthy 2017!

Healthy Harvest

P.S. If food-centric philanthropy calls to you, here are some of the amazing organizations we’ve previously worked with who can make magic with your gifts of time or money.

 

Slow Food Denver – provide opportunities for people to interact with local food producers, to learn about food production, and to support other organizations with missions and goals similar to ours. They host farmer’s markets, dine-arounds (farm-to-table dinners hosted in local homes), farm tours, and other fun ways to get people back in touch with where they get their food.

Denver Food Rescue uses the sustainable method of bicycle power to save good produce from farms and grocery stores that would otherwise end up in a landfill. We then redistribute it to organizations that work with food insecure and low-income communities.

Denver Urban Gardens -operates over 155 community gardens throughout Metro Denver, including more than 40 school-based community gardens

Family Promise – partners with congregations and civic organizations to provide shelter, meals and hospitality to families experiencing homelessness within the Denver-metro area

Cooking Matters – helps families to shop for and cook healthy meals on a budget, as part of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

 

 

Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts with Pecans

thanksgiving balsamic glazed brussel

I just love Brussel sprouts. I feel like they get a bad rap. Sure, when you boil them, they are kind of mushy and stinky. But if you pan fry or roast them? Oh man. So. good.

The secret is to roast them low and slow until they are nice and browned. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. For the balsamic glaze, you really need a good, syrupy aged balsamic vinegar. Much like olive oil, most balsamic vinegars in the U.S. are nothing like their traditional counterparts in Italy. Healthy Harvest has been searching for a quality balsamic for years; stay tuned for 2017!

Finally, the pecans add a nice crunch, and the whole presentation is simply beautiful.

Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pecans
 
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This elegant side dish will effortlessly impress holiday guests or dress up your weeknight dinner.
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Serves: 4-5 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 cups fresh Brussel sprouts
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • ½ cup Pecans
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pure, extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Wash the brussel sprouts thoroughly, trim the ends, and remove any brown or wilted leaves.
  2. Cut larger sprouts in half. Place on a baking sheet, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper, and cook in a 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until slightly browned. (Cooking low and slow is really the way to bring out the best flavor in brussel sprouts.)
  3. During last few minutes of cooking, heat a small pan to low and toast pecans until fragrant.
  4. Remove sprouts from oven, add pecans and drizzle with balsamic.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 38 Fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 8g Sugar: 3g Fiber: 2g Protein: 3g

 

Like Brussel Sprouts? Try this Bacon Brussel Sweet Potato Hash!

Vegan Cookie Dough Bites

vegan cookie dough bites
If you have 5 minutes, you can whip up these super easy vegan cookie dough bites the whole family will love – and they won’t event guess the secret ingredient…chickpeas!

No, seriously. They taste EXACTLY like raw cookie dough. That’s right, these tasty little bites satisfy any cookie dough lover’s sweet tooth without flour, dairy, or refined sugar. Meaning they’re the perfect treats to bring to a holiday party or cookie exchange, since almost everyone can enjoy them.

They are not only a great dessert, but perfect to bring along for a day of outdoor adventures for a boost of energy without all the processed ingredients.

So what are you waiting for?! Try them and let me know what you think in the comments!img_20161209_175625

Vegan Cookie Dough Bites
 
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A quick, easy, protein-filled snack or dessert.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 30 bites
Ingredients
  • 2 15oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 8 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Pulse all ingredients minus chocolate chips in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Refrigerate for at least an hour
Notes
Optional: Melt additional 1 cup of chocolate chips and dunk cookie dough bites to coat. Place on parchment paper and freeze. Or try adding in other cookie favorites like chopped nuts or dried cranberries.