Polyphenols and Antioxidants in Olive Oil

Since we found our True Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, we knew it was special. Its robust, peppery taste delights the palate, lingering even after its left your mouth, and it’s the only extra virgin olive oil we’ve found in ten years of searching that is actually made mostly from olives native to Tuscany. After reviewing hundreds of Italian EVOOs, all but True Tuscan contain only 10% native Frantoio olives. Healthy Harvest True Tuscan is a 50/50 blend of early harvest Frantoio and Moraiolo olives. Not only is the Frantoio olive rare, but Moraiolo olives are one of the varieties especially high in phenols.

What are phenols?

Polyphenols are an important type of antioxidant in olive oil, which absorb harmful free radicals and have been clinically proven to reduce inflammation, leading to a number of health benefits from improving cardiovascular health to reducing the risk of certain types of cancer.

Which olive oils have polyphenols?

All real, pure extra virgin olive oils have polyphenols, but there is a spectrum that correlates with taste. The more phenols the oil contains, the more bitter it tastes. Olive oils perceived as mild typically have less than 180 mg/kg total phenols, while robust oils generally have more than 300 mg/kg. Lab reports show that Healthy Harvest True Tuscan contains 442 mg/kg total phenols.

So while Healthy Harvest Greek is rich in antioxidants but mild enough to use as a daily cooking oil,  True Tuscan packs a powerhouse of phenols and a strong flavor that makes an amazing finishing oil or dipping oil. A generous drizzle adds pronounced flavor and character to any dish.

For more detailed information on polyphenols in olive oil, visit agbiolab_Polyphenols.

Organic vs Conventional Produce

There are a number of reasons why people choose to eat organic. Some eat organically in hopes of providing better nutrition to their families. Others aim to avoid chemicals and pesticides in their foods. And still others choose organic to protect the soil and the freedom of farmers.

But does buying organic really make a difference? The USDA and the chemical giants like Monsanto insist that pesticides and genetically modified crops are safe. Is it really worth spending the extra money?

I recognize that just trying to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and cut out processed foods can be a challenge in and of itself. It can seem hard to know where to start. But all lifestyle changes start with small positive habits that stick. We’re not here to condemn anyone. We just want to share just how good life can be with a little mindfulness.

Here are a few reasons why our family at Healthy Harvest choose to eat organic, preferably from the local farmer’s market.

Taste

Even if all the research in the world couldn’t compel you to eat organic, I would encourage you personally experience the overwhelming difference in taste between the produce you buy in grocery stores and the produce sold at your local farmers market.

In the year that I have worked for Healthy Harvest, I have had the best apples, plums, peaches, melons, greens, squash, eggs, mushrooms, and garlic I have ever tasted in my entire life. Eating these foods was an EXPERIENCE. My face literally lit up with joy when those incredibly vibrant flavors hit my taste buds. It made me seriously question what I had been eating for the 26 years before.

Put it to the test. Organic food tastes better. And local organic food is as good as it gets. Produce in the store is usually picked before it’s ripe so that it has time to travel across the country or the globe without going bad before it gets to you. When you buy from local farmers, your fruits and veggies are often only HOURS old, slow ripened by the sun, making it even more nutritious. Which brings me to my next point…

Nutrition

There is much debate as to whether organic foods are more nutritious. However, a 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition analyzed 343 studies of organic and conventional foods over the past several decades and found that “organic fruits and vegetables deliver between 20 and 40 percent higher antioxidant activity.” Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.

Honestly, considering most Americans’ diets, we’d be better off just eating more fruits and vegetables in general, regardless whether they are conventional or organic.

Safety

However, even if the nutrition is up for debate, it is clear that organic produce has less residue from harmful pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals.

According to Consumer Reports, “Almost a third of the produce the USDA tested had residues from two or more pesticides. ‘The effects of these mixtures is untested and unknown.'”

Consumer Reports also notes “In a 2010 report on environmental cancer risks, the President’s Cancer Panel (an expert committee that monitors the country’s cancer program) wrote: “The entire U.S. population is exposed on a daily basis to numerous agricultural chemicals. … Many of these chemicals have known or suspected carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting properties.” Endocrine disruptors can block or mimic the action of hormones, even at low doses. “Endocrine effects aren’t sufficiently factored into the EPA pesticide-tolerance levels,” Crupain says. “And there’s concern they could cause reproductive disorders; birth defects; and breast, prostate, and other hormone-related cancers.”

While the residue on conventional produce is usually lower than EPA standards, there are still much bigger risks for farmers. Studies have linked long-term pesticide exposure to increased risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease; prostate, ovarian, and other cancers; depression; and respiratory problems. And why should we want our farmers suffering?

Soil

Although the debates around nutrition and safety still lack compelling evidence, it is widely agreed that organic farming is better for the environment. Studies prove that organic farming is better for the soil, leaving it full of nutrients and greater diversity of microbes that keep the soil fertile. Organic soil also helps to sequester carbon into the soil, helping to regulate carbon in the atmosphere.

According to the Washington Post, “The organic systems in the USDA test:

●Have more-fertile soil.

●Use less fertilizer and much less herbicide.

●Use less energy.

●Lock away more carbon in the soil.

●Are more profitable for farmers.

The conventional systems:

●Have higher yields.

●Are best at reducing erosion (when a no-till system is used).

As you can see, there is still much room for debate. Scientific evidence is rarely conclusive, and when it comes to GMOs, the large majority of research is funded by chemical companies who create GMOs.

So rather than using this article to sway you either way, I really hope to encourage you to do your own research. And as you research, follow the money!

And regardless of conventional or organic, I invite you to support your local farmers and hometown economy by purchasing at least some of your groceries from farmers markets.

 

Sources:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/07/11/330760923/are-organic-vegetables-more-nutritious-after-all

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health/natural-health/pesticides/index.htm

http://www.ask-force.org/web/Organic/Maeder-Organicfarming-2002.pdf

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/is-organic-agriculture-really-better-for-the-environment/2016/05/14/e9996dce-17be-11e6-924d-838753295f9a_story.html

Jaime’s Classic Jambalaya


Ah, Mardi Gras. I’ve always had a special affinity for Fat Tuesday. Maybe it’s because I was born in Louisiana (although Shreveport is hardly cajun country), maybe it’s because in the belly of winter I’m just looking for reason to celebrate, or maybe, most likely, I love a holiday so closely connected to food that it has Fat right in the name.

In preparation, I start listing off more cajun dishes I want to make thanBubba in Forrest Gump…shrimp gumbo, cajun shrimp pasta, shrimp etouffee, shrimp po’boy…

But somehow, my year round cajun go-to always ends up being jambalaya. This year, I persuaded my friend Jaime, owner of Mamalo’s Cajun Kitchen in Frederick, CO, into sharing her recipe.

“This is why cajun food is love. It all takes time. You can’t rush it.”

Born in Lafayette, Louisiana, Jaime has a food science degree, a catering background, and a whole lotta hospitality. One of my fondest memories is
the time she flew in 200 pounds of live crawfish from Louisiana to Colorado just to throw an authentic crawfish boil, an all day affair in the backyard with food and friends. And beignets. Yum.

Striking a creepy pose with my crawly friends.

Among her friends, Jaime is known as the Jambalaya Queen. So I spent a Saturday in the kitchen cooking up a classic version of jambalaya whilst drinking Cajun Bloody Mary’s with garlic olives.

I missed the shrimp boil rim in this photo!

She started off by seasoning chicken thighs (dark meat, my kinda girl!)with homemade cajun rub and tossing them in a heavy-bottomed pot heated with Healthy Harvest Greek Olive Oil just until browned, not cooked through, then removes them to a plate.

Read why Healthy Harvest Greek adds so much flavor to your meals

Then, she added onions, part of the cajun Holy Trinity – celery, onion, and bell peppers – to the pot. One of the first secrets she let me in on is to saute the onions nice and slow until they’re browned. It’s key to the traditional brown color and rich, deep flavor. “This is why cajun food is love. It all takes time. You can’t rush it,” she explains. You can add in a little stock to keep the onions from burning or sticking. While the onions are browning, she slices the chicken into fork-sized pieces.

After the onions are nice and browned, she adds in the bell peppers, celery and garlic, along with the chicken and sausage to cook. Once the meat is cooked through, she adds long grain white rice and tops with homemade stock.

She adds more seasoning to taste, covers the pot, and gives me this advice. “Once the lid is on, bring the pot to a boil, turn the heat to low, then DON’T TOUCH IT.  If you have the heat too high, the rice will burn to the bottom, so turn it to low, and let it take all the time it needs, which is about 30-40 minutes. You don’t want to check on it, stir it, nothing, because the magic is in the steam. All the cooking power is gone if you open the lid.”

Once cooked, serve in heaping bowls, and toss with green onions. This recipe serves a crowd, so call up your friends and let the good times roll!

Jaime's Classic Jambalaya
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A Cajun classic! Chicken and sausage, veggies, rice and stock make a hearty one pot meal.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Cajun
Serves: Serves 8-10
Ingredients
  • 3 medium white onions, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Healthy Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 lb andouille sausage or Louisiana links
  • 1.5 cup long grain white rice
  • 3 cups chicken or veggie broth
  • salt and pepper
  • Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp salt
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Season chicken and add to pot. Cook until browned. Remove to a plate.
  3. Add onions to pot and cook over medium-low until browned. Don't rush!
  4. Once onions are browned, add garlic, peppers, and celery. Stir. Add in chicken and sausage and heat until cooked through.
  5. Add rice, stock, and season to taste.
  6. Add lid and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat to low and cook for 30-40 minutes. Do not touch until you are ready to serve.
  7. Garnish with green onions.

 

 

 

 

Raw Vegan Brownies with Sea Salt and Almonds

One of my biggest passions in life is cooking healthy nutritious meals, but no matter how much I try to tame it, I still have a ferocious sweet tooth. So I am always trying to find ways to make desserts with a bit more substance. Like my Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (with sneaky chickpeas), Chocolate Chia Pudding (made from avocado, say what?!), and
today I am super excited to share with you some super easy, super fudgey Raw Vegan Brownies.
I promise these are not just “good for weird vegan health food desserts.” They are actually “take them to a party and people won’t know they’re healthy” good.

Like most of my recipes, these brownies are made from simple ingredients you probably already have on hand and it takes no time at all to whip them up. They are vegan, gluten free, and have no refined sugar.

The main ingredient? Black beans. Yep. Blend those babies together with dates, cacao and coconut oil and you’ve got a supremely rich decadent dessert. Cacao is believed to be higher than antioxidants that any other food and coconut oil is fuel for your brain!  So this recipe is not only great for people with food sensitivities, but it also is an easy snack to take hiking/climbing/camping since they’ve got protein, healthy fats, and quick energy from the dates. Serve with a glass of coconut milk and you will be swooning in chocolatey happiness.

Raw Vegan Brownies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Rich, fudgey raw brownies made with a secret ingredient. Gluten free. Vegan. No refined sugar.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dried, pitted dates
  • 1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 tbsp melted organic, unrefined coconut oil
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cacao (cocoa powder is fine, but more processed)
  • 1 tsp coffee or espresso
  • 2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup roughly chopped almonds (pistachios or walnuts would be great, too!)
  • Ganache
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp cacao
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Melt 6 tbsp of coconut oil on low.
  2. Line a 9x9 or 8x11 baking dish with parchment paper overhanging on all four sides so you can remove brownies when finished. Lightly brush with coconut oil.
  3. Cover dates with boiling water and let soften for 5 minutes.
  4. Blend the black beans and 4 tbsp coconut oil in a food processor until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.
  5. Drain the dates and add to the food processor with vanilla and salt. Mix until well incorporated. Add the cacao and coffee and blend until it resembles a thick chocolate batter. Pulse in the nuts.
  6. Scoop into prepared dish, using a spatula to press evenly. (Dip you spatula in coconut oil to prevent sticking!)
  7. Mix the ganache ingredients until smooth and pour over brownies. Use a spatula to spread evenly.
  8. Scatter the top with your choice of desired toppings such as sea salt, chopped nuts, raspberries or coconut. Let them firm up in fridge for 2-4 hours.

 

Roxanne’s Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

easy vegan cookies for valentines day or office partiesI was trying to think of the perfect recipe for Valentine’s Day – easy, unique, preferably chocolate…and I knew I HAD to make my friend Roxanne’s famous Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles (not to mention, my honey is crazy for cookies).

Whenever we have get-togethers, our friends beg Roxanne to make these – that’s how good they are. Lucky for us, she was kind enough to share her recipe.

vegan cookies for valentines days or office partiesThese beautifully crinkled cookies are crunchy on the outside, chewy and chocolatey on the the inside, with just a hint of cayenne for a kick – hence, the Mexican hot chocolate concept. And like any good snickerdoodle, they are dusted with a little cinnamon and sugar on top.

Her secret? Take these chocolately bites of heaven out of the oven just before they’re done for a soft, chewy texture.

“They’re perfect for work or parties because their a quick, one bowl recipe and unexpected, ” Roxanne explains. Not to mention, they’re vegan friendly. Since you don’t have to cream butter or anything, you simply combine the wet ingredients, then dump all the dry ingredients on top before mixing.

easy vegan cookies for valentines day or office parties

You probably already have all of the ingredients on hand, so whip up Roxanne’s Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles for your sweetheart this weekend for a sweet and spicy Valentine’s treat. <3

Let me know how they turned out in the comments!

Roxanne's Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A sweet and spicy chocolatey chewy cookie ready in 15 minutes.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2-3 dozen
Ingredients
  • ½ cup Healthy Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 3 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 1⅔ cup organic all purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • Topping
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix wet ingredients. Add in dry ingredients and stir to combine. Roll 1 inch balls in cinnamon sugar topping and bake for 9 minutes. Let cool before moving. Sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne for a pretty touch. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

“Love is in the Air” Lavender-Vetiver Massage Oil

This month, we’re turning to our friend Stephanie Tourles, an herbalist aromatherapist, and skin care expert for inspiration for Valentine’s Day treats to share with your honey.

Her new book, Making Love Potions (available here), features something for everyone, whether you want to seduce with your scent, tantalize with tasty treats, or melt away stress with a sensual massage. Both the book itself and the recipes inside make a fantastic gift for your sweetheart.

As with most skin and body care products, many brands use a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce, including chemicals that are harmful to our bodies or the earth. So we’re sharing Stephanie’s safe, all natural “Love is in the Air” massage oil.

Using Healthy Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the base, it is rich in Vitamin E and antioxidants to leave your skin silky soft and irresistibly touchable. The essential oils help to calm and de-stress while stirring flames of passion. Vetiver oil can be found at most natural or health-food stores. It is known to boost libido and stimulate desire, along with calming stressed mind and muscles. Lavender, an aphrodisiac to both sexes, also helps to ground and center while relieving pain.

Love essential oils? Try our Essential Facial Oils formulated by Stephanie, too!

"Love is in the Air" Lavender-Vertiver Massage Oil
 
Provacative vetiver brings the warmth, and lovely lavender brings the sweet, producing an earthy, smoky, exotic aroma with unisex appeal. Couples with a high-stress lifestyle will find this aphrodisiacal blend much to their liking, as it delivers calming, grounding, and centering properties, while stirring flames of passion.
Author:
Recipe type: Massage Oil
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 36 drops lavender essential oil
  • 28 drops vetiver essential oil
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1,000 IU vitamin E oil
Instructions
  1. Combine the lavender and vetiver essential oils in an 8-ounce glass storage jar. Add the extra virgin olive oil and vitamin E.
  2. Screw the Top on and shake vigorously to blend the ingredients.
  3. Label the bottle and place in a dark location at room temperature for 24 hours so the oils can synergize.
  4. Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 2 years.
Notes
Shake well before each use. Apply whenever you wish, whether for massage or as a deeply penetrating body oil. For use as a bath oil, add 1 tablespoon to running water, step in, and luxuriate in earthly blissfulness!

 

Excerpted from Making Love Potions, copyright Stephanie Tourles, used with permission from Storey Publishing.