Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

The Olive Oil Hunter News #142

Composed Roasted Beet Salad Recipe with Balsamic Vinegar, Spotlight on Whisks, Speaking More than One Language to Fight Alzheimer’s, and Protecting Against Falls at Every Age

Roasting brings out the flavors of autumn vegetables, making them exceptionally delicious—and the only thing better than drizzling them with extra virgin olive oil is also adding a few drops of rich balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy. That’s why I’m so excited to announce my third collection of artisanal vinegars from the T. J. Robinson Curated Culinary Selections and the following recipe so that so well highlights my balsamic vinegar, Condimento Exclusivi Barili.

Also in this issue…If you’re looking for new pastimes as the weather changes, consider learning another language—a study review found that the brain reserves you’ll create could delay the arrival of dementia symptoms. And to protect physical health at every age, get to know simple steps to help prevent falls.

Composed Roasted Beet Salad

  • Composed Roasted Beet Salad Recipe with Balsamic Vinegar Composed Roasted Beet Salad

    This is a great time of year to sample the savory sweetness of yellow beets. Roasting beets intensifies their surprising sweetness, a palate-pleasing contrast to the greens in this recipe. The bold flavors in this salad need just olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dress it, but you’ll need to bypass imposters and source true aceto balsamico from Italy—see the Healthy Ingredient Spotlight in my newsletter.


    • 4 large yellow beets
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use, plus more for drizzling
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar from Modena, plus more for drizzling
    • 4 cups assorted salad greens
    • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings
    • 1 ounce chopped hazelnuts


    Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Trim the beets but don’t peel them, and cut into quarters. Transfer to the sheet pan and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast until tender, up to one hour. Out of the oven, roll up the beets in the parchment paper and allow them to sit for 10 minutes; this makes it easy to now take off the peels. Toss them with the rest of the olive oil and the tablespoon of vinegar. Divide the greens among four plates and top with equal amounts of beets, cheese shavings, and hazelnuts. Drizzle with more olive oil and vinegar.

    Yields 4 servings

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Burrata

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Authentic Balsamic Vinegar

As those of you who have already been enjoying the vinegars of the T. J. Robinson Curated Culinary Selections know, after years of requests from members of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club, I made it my mission to source the best artisanal vinegars on the planet. That meant distinguishing true aceto balsamico or balsamic vinegar from its many pretenders.

With so many bottles on store shelves labeled “balsamic,” it’s important to know how to choose correctly. First and foremost, the vinegar must be completely crafted in Modena, a city within the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, according to exacting, centuries-old standards enforced by the local consortiums. Anything else is, quite simply, not balsamic vinegar. Beyond this, the ultimate quality of a Modena balsamic depends on the skill of the producer, including knowing what wood to pick for each period of aging.

When in Italy, I always look forward to walking through the pristine olive groves at Acetomodena, the producer of my collection’s balsamic vinegar.

A few different types of balsamic vinegars are available within the strict guidelines. There is Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta or Protected Origin Denomination), which can take generations to make and is wildly expensive. That’s because it’s crafted exclusively from cooked grape must—all parts of the grapes are used—and aged for a minimum of 12 years and sometimes 25 years or even longer. A few ounces cost well over a hundred dollars, so it’s not used for cooking or making vinaigrettes but for drizzling sparingly on foods as a finishing touch.

The next is Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta or protected geographical indication). It must be made from grape must and wine vinegar only and aged in wooden barrels for at least two months, but can be aged for as long as three years, which allows it to get sweeter and more harmonious as it achieves the perfect ratio of density to acidity. Many companies take the industrial route, rapidly boiling down the grape must, which often imparts the taste of burnt toast, and aging for the bare minimum.

Choosing the best vinegars for you can be as complex as choosing the best fresh-pressed olive oil. I love working with Gary Paton of Società Agricola Acetomodena in Modena and tasting just how nuanced “balsamic vinegar” can be, depending on the aging process.

The Acetomodena balsamic in my collection is a special IGP vinegar called Condimento Barili Exclusivi. The “condiment” designation allows producers more freedom to craft a vinegar that goes beyond strict IGP requirements with a taste akin to that of the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale—it has the perfect balance of acidity, sweetness from grape must, and woodiness from the barrel aging.

Why you should have this vinegar in your kitchen: A pure balsamic vinegar, sweet and thick, is a culinary essential. It adds the perfect finish to cheeses, salads, grilled foods from vegetables to meat, and even desserts, like strawberries and figs.

Quick Kitchen Nugget: Rinsing Lettuce

Quick Kitchen Nugget

Whisks Aplenty

Having a few well-made whisks makes important cooking prep steps nearly effortless. But with so many sizes—and shapes—available, how do you know which ones you really need?

Start with a French whisk, long and narrow with numerous loops of wire, or tines, great for beating eggs and making egg-based sauces, custards, and curds. Add a balloon whisk, an overall large whisk that balloons to more of a ball shape at the end, for combining large volumes of dry or wet ingredients and whipping cream and egg whites if you don’t have a stand or hand mixer. Balloon whisks typically have fewer loops than smaller whisks so that ingredients don’t get caught in them. A very small mini-whisk is ideal for beating small quantities of vinaigrette, a single egg, or cocoa and milk for a cup of hot chocolate. There are more exotic shapes you can buy, like a flat whisk for reaching all around a saucepan and a coiled whisk (with a small oval of coiled wire at the end), if you’re an equipment lover.

Most important is whisk construction. Cheaply made whisks fail early on—the wires pop out of the handle or they just don’t have enough loops to be effective. Look for whisks made of high-quality, dishwasher-safe stainless steel. To avoid scratching nonstick saucepans, you’ll also want whisks made of silicone—just keep in mind that they’re more fragile and tend to require more arm work on your part.

For Your Best Health: Imperfect calorie counting may be good enough

For Your Best Health

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Or Italian, French, or Spanish? Today may be a great day to start! A new review conducted at UCLA and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease examined the numerous and often conflicting studies on whether regularly speaking two or more languages can help fight Alzheimer’s.

According to the review’s results, being bi- or multi-lingual does increase the brain’s cognitive reserve, a protective effect thought to stem from the executive control involved in managing multiple languages. The review acknowledged that findings in the various studies reviewed were not consistent when it came to factors like the age at which people should start learning another language, how proficient they need to be in it, or how often they need to use it. There also isn’t hard evidence that it can prevent Alzheimer’s, but most did find that the increased cognitive capacity and resilience of the brain’s frontal lobe from learning languages can delay the emergence of dementia symptoms by about 4 to 5 years. And that delay has a potentially significant impact on the course of the disease for those who get it. Another positive is that learning a new language can be fun in the here and now, especially with easy-to-access programs like Duolingo and Babbel, which have apps for your smartphone and free trials.

Fitness Flash: Exercise: Exercising to Burn Fat

Fitness Flash

Protecting Against Falls At Every Age

We face not only mental but also physical perils as we age, and one of the most devastating can be a fall that breaks a bone, especially a hip. UNLV assistant professor, physical therapist, and board-certified neurological clinical specialist Jennifer Nash, DPT, CNS, explains it’s hard to recover from a hip fracture, and afterward, many people are unable to live on their own. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways. Women account for three-quarters of all hip fractures, often because of osteoporosis, which weakens bones and makes them more likely to break. Recovery from a broken hip can be grueling. It can land you in the hospital for a week and possibly a care facility afterward to continue healing.

During recovery, every activity of daily living, including any exercise, can be painful. That pain can create a vicious cycle when it comes to physical inactivity: The less you do, the less you will be able to do. Decreased activity leads to decreased strength and function, which leads to deconditioning, increased fear of activity, and decreased quality of life. This can all lead to even greater inactivity, Dr. Nash points out.

The answer is to do your best to prevent a fall in the first place with a plan based on guidelines from the National Council on Aging:

Participate in a good balance and exercise program. Try a community exercise program or get started on an individualized program with the help of a physical therapist.

Check in with your healthcare provider. Review any medications you’re taking for side effects that include dizziness. In fact, if different specialists have prescribed different medications for you, ask your primary care doctor or pharmacist to review them all for negative interactions. Have your blood pressure checked—some people experience dizziness from a blood pressure drop when they stand up from seated exercises or just from being in a chair.

Have your vision and hearing checked annually. Three components make up the body’s balance system: vision, proprioception (the ability to sense where you are with your feet), and the vestibular system (the inner ear). Dr. Nash says hearing is important for your balance. If you can’t hear someone coming up behind you, you might get startled and trip. Or maybe you can’t hear someone warning you about an uneven surface, which could lead to a fall. At a certain age, she says that, compared to single-focus lenses, bi-focal or tri-focal lenses can be problematic because they can lead you to look through the reading lens to climb stairs or uneven surfaces, and that can create depth-perception issues.

Create a safe home environment. Remove any and all tripping hazards like loose cords and clutter along the floor, even throw rugs. Improve your lighting, especially on stairs, which should have at least one railing. Add grab bars in key areas like the shower and near the toilet. Make sure there’s a night light on the path to the bathroom to lessen the chance of falling if you wake up in the middle of the night to go.

And if you ever do experience a fall and hit your head, call your doctor right away and ask about getting evaluated for a traumatic brain injury or TBI. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear.

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!

Fresh-pressed extra virgin olive oil provides multiple health benefits

Polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil, on its own and as part of the well-studied Mediterranean Diet, has demonstrated significant positive effects on the body and mind.

Heart: Consuming more than 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil a day translates to a “14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 18% lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Replacing 5 grams a day of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, or dairy fat with the equivalent amount of olive oil was associated with 5% to 7% lower risk of total CVD and CHD.”1

Brain: The Mediterranean Diet has positive effects for “both cognitively impaired and unimpaired older populations, especially on their memory, both in the short and long run.” Plus, boosting the diet with additional intake of foods “such as extra-virgin olive oil…might have a more significant impact on the improvement of cognitive performance among seniors.”2

Gut: EVOO lowers levels of bad bacteria and stimulates good bacteria: “The gut microbiota and health of the intestinal environment are now considered important factors in the development of obesity, metabolic disease, and even certain neurodegenerative conditions via the gut-brain axis. Recently, data are emerging which demonstrate that the health-promoting benefits of EVOO may also extend to the gut microbiota.”3

Biological Aging & Bone: People who stick more closely to the Mediterranean Diet “are on average almost 1 year biologically younger than their chronological age, as compared to those with low adherence,” thanks to its polyphenol-rich foods like extra virgin olive oil. Polyphenols are also linked with higher bone mineral density. “In particular, high consumption of extra-virgin olive oil leads to lower risk of osteoporosis-related fractures.”4

Skin: Olive oil works well in beauty formulas and may enhance your skin because it “provides a safe and stable emulsion delivery system. The antioxidant activity of olives makes them a candidate for moderating the effects of the aging process on the skin by limiting biochemical consequences of oxidation.” Simple translation: It seems to help guard against the ravages of the environment.5


  1. Guasch-Ferré, M., et al. “Olive Oil Consumption and Cardiovascular Risk in U.S. Adults.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, April 2020;
  2. Klimova, B. et al. “The Effect of Mediterranean Diet on Cognitive Functions in the Elderly Population.” Nutrients, June 2021; doi: 10.3390/nu13062067.
  3. Millman, JF, et al. “Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and the Gut-Brain Axis: Influence on Gut Microbiota, Mucosal Immunity, and Cardiometabolic and Cognitive Health.” Nutrition Reviews, December 2021; doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuaa148.
  4. Esposito, S., et al. “Dietary Polyphenol Intake Is Associated with Biological Aging, a Novel Predictor of Cardiovascular Disease: Cross-Sectional Findings from the Moli-Sani Study.” Nutrients, May 2021; doi: 10.3390/nu13051701.
  5. Gonçalves, S. and Gaivão, I. “Natural Ingredients Common in the Trás-os-Montes Region (Portugal) for Use in the Cosmetic Industry: A Review about Chemical Composition and Antigenotoxic Properties.” Molecules, August 2021; doi: 10.3390/molecules26175255.

The Olive Oil Hunter News #59

Olive Oil and Scrambled Eggs with Peppers and Feta Recipe, The Benefits of Olive Oil for Beauty and The Anti-Aging Benefits of Olive Oil

Olive oil has a rich history not only as a delicious food but also as an anti-aging, health and beauty booster, dating back thousands of years. Scientific research is just beginning to unravel exactly how its nutrients work to keep the cells in your body young—younger than your chronological age. Here’s what we know so far. Plus: my favorite breakfast to power up your day.

The Benefits of Olive Oil for Beauty

The Research: International Journal of Molecular Sciences: “Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils.” 

Molecules: “Natural Ingredients Common in the Trás-os-Montes Region (Portugal) for Use in the Cosmetic Industry: A Review about Chemical Composition and Antigenotoxic Properties.”

A recent article in Town & Country magazine highlighted how celebrities from Sophia Loren to Jennifer Lopez have tapped into olive oil as their go-to beauty enhancer. J.Lo has even created an olive oil-based skin care line. A report published in the journal Molecules on the healing power of certain plant oils offers a technical explanation of why olive oil works well in beauty formulas and why it may enhance your skin: “…olive oil provides a safe and stable emulsion delivery system. The antioxidant activity of olives makes them a candidate for moderating the effects of the aging process on the skin by limiting biochemical consequences of oxidation.” Simple translation: It seems to help guard against the ravages of the environment.

Another report, this one in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, offers more detail on olive oil’s wealth of nutrients: “More than 200 different chemical compounds have been detected in olive oil, including sterols, carotenoids, triterpenic alcohols, and phenolic compounds. Hydrophilic phenols are the most abundant antioxidants of olive oil. The phenolic contents have antioxidant properties higher than those of vitamin E. In fact, these phenolic compounds and their antioxidant activity exhibit anti-inflammatory properties when olive oil is included in regular diet. Unsurprisingly, olive oil has been used as a skin product and hair cosmetic for a long time in several cultures.”

Lab studies have found that olive oil has wound-healing properties, possibly because it helps ease inflammation and may stimulate skin reconstruction. But it’s important to say that, when it comes to the benefits of applying it to your skin, much fewer studies have been done compared to how it helps when part of our diet.

The Anti-Aging Benefits of Olive Oil 

The Research: Nutrients: “Dietary Polyphenol Intake Is Associated with Biological Aging, a Novel Predictor of Cardiovascular Disease: Cross-Sectional Findings from the Moli-Sani Study.”

Advances in Nutrition: “Plant-Rich Dietary Patterns, Plant Foods and Nutrients, and Telomere Length.”

Nutrients: “Virgin Olive Oil and Health: Summary of the III International Conference on Virgin Olive Oil and Health Consensus Report, JAEN (Spain) 2018.”

How olive oil might promote youthful skin isn’t as clear as how it promotes a youthful body. I’m fascinated by the science of biological aging vs. chronological aging, the idea that your diet and lifestyle can keep your body younger than your birthday would suggest. According to the first of two Nutrients studies that I’m sharing, that benefit of olive oil stems from its polyphenols, and the most effective way to get them is by following the Mediterranean diet. As the researchers wrote, “A Mediterranean diet is traditionally rich in foods that are major sources of polyphenols, naturally occurring bioactive compounds that are the most abundant antioxidants in the diet. Prior work showed that a healthy diet, such as a Mediterranean diet, is associated with decelerated biological aging. Our group recently reported evidence that subjects with high adherence to Mediterranean diet are on average almost 1 year biologically younger than their chronological age, as compared to those with low adherence.” 

They explained that “decelerated,” or slowed, biological aging is a “novel predictor of cardiovascular disease risk, possibly through mechanisms that go beyond their antioxidant activity. In addition to being powerful antioxidants, polyphenols also possess anti-inflammatory properties, and their role in the prevention and treatment of various diseases linked to oxidative stress or inflammation, such as cardiovascular disease, has been extensively reported. Also, polyphenol-rich diets are favorably associated with bone mineral density; in particular, high consumption of extra-virgin olive oil, a major source of polyphenols, leads to lower risk of osteoporosis-related fractures.”

How can polyphenols account for so many of the benefits of olive oil? According to research published in Advances in Nutrition, it could be their protective effect on telomeres. Those are the DNA sequences at the ends of our chromosomes—think of them as protective caps. “Telomere length is considered to be a biomarker of aging; shorter telomeres are associated with a decreased life expectancy and increased rates of developing age-related chronic diseases,” the authors wrote. “Telomere length decreases with age and varies considerably among individuals. Moreover, telomere attrition is accelerated by oxidative stress and inflammation. Studies suggest that telomere attrition is modifiable, as substantial variability exists in the rate of telomere shortening that is independent of chronological age…variability may be partially explained by lifestyle practices, including dietary patterns.”

Many foods of the Mediterranean diet have polyphenols and other healthful plant compounds, and this variety also makes it a delicious way of eating. Yet extra virgin olive oil is a real standout. When several experts convened in Jaen, Spain, in May 2018 to discuss the research on the benefits of olive oil and its components, they came to this fascinating conclusion, published in another report in Nutrients: “The preeminent features of the Mediterranean diet have been agreed upon and…the use of olive oil as the nearly exclusive dietary fat is what mostly characterizes the Mediterranean area. Plenty of epidemiological studies have correlated that the consumption of olive oil was associated with better overall health. Indeed, extra virgin olive oil contains (poly)phenolic compounds that are being actively investigated for their purported biological and pharma-nutritional properties…substantial evidence is accruing to support the widespread opinion that extra virgin olive oil should, indeed, be the fat of choice when it comes to human health and sustainable agronomy.” That’s the science of soil management and crop production, meaning choosing olive oil is good for the planet, too.

Olive Oil and Scrambled Eggs with Peppers and Feta

  • Olive Oil and Scrambled Eggs with Peppers and Feta Recipe Olive Oil Scrambled Eggs with Peppers and Feta

    My wife, Meghan, and I love to make breakfast when we’re not traveling on behalf of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club. Eggs scrambled with peppers is one of our favorite meals, and we’ll have it for brunch or even supper if the day has gotten away from us. Peppers and feta are delicious additions—experiment with various cheeses and veggies to make this dish your own.


    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
    • 1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
    • 1/2 green bell pepper (or hot pepper if you’re adventurous), stemmed, seeded, and diced 
    • 4 large eggs, beaten
    • Coarse kosher or sea salt
    • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
    • Freshly ground black pepper, for serving 


    Step 1

    Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the peppers to the pan and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

    Step 2

    Add a pinch of salt to the eggs, then pour into the skillet. Use a rubber spatula to move the eggs around, cooking them slowly until curds form. (Do not let the eggs brown.) Transfer the eggs to two plates. Top with the feta and drizzle with additional olive oil. 

    Yields 2 servings.

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!