Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

The Olive Oil Hunter News #148

Yellow Rice and Green Beans with Pimentón Recipes, Spotlight on Pimentón and Turmeric, Storing Spices and Your Health, and How Restricting Calories Can Boost Longevity

Want to elevate your cooking this holiday season? Grab your spices and turn dull into delicious! In this installment of my single-origin spice series, I’m focusing on two high-flavor choices that may seem exotic, yet can be used often and with tempting results.

Remember too that spices aren’t just for cooking—many are great for boosting the flavor of finished dishes. So, bring some out when you set your table. You and your guests won’t reach for the salt shaker as often, and that’s good for your health.

Yellow Rice

  • Yellow rice with peas Yellow Rice

    Fragrant and richly hued, yellow rice takes the standard side dish and elevates it. This recipe gets another taste boost from the green peas. 


    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1/4 cup minced onion
    • 1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1-1/2 cups water or chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium store bought
    • 4 strands saffron, optional
    • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed


    Heat a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil and butter, then the onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and turmeric, stirring to coat the grains. Add the water or broth and saffron, if using, and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, checking after 15 to see if all the liquid has been absorbed. When done, turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, fold in the peas, and cover the saucepan for 2 minutes before serving.

    Yields 4 servings

Green Beans with Pimentón

  • Green beans with pimenton Green Beans with Pimentón

    Wonderful when made with thin French green beans called haricots verts, often available frozen year-round.


    • 1-1/2 pounds fresh or frozen green beans
    • 4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into strips
    • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon Pimentón or more to taste 
    • 3 ounces cured ham, preferably Serrano, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
    • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • Coarse sea salt, if needed


    If using fresh beans, trim the ends and steam them until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Immediately plunge them into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the color. Drain and set aside. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the bell peppers, sautéing the peppers until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and the pimentón, stirring well to distribute the spice. Add the ham and the steamed beans. Season with black pepper and, if needed, salt (the ham itself may add enough salt), and stir the beans with tongs to heat through. If they seem dry, add the rest of the oil. When the beans are ready, taste and add more pimentón, black pepper, and/or salt as desired. 

    Yields 4 servings

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Burrata

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Pimentón and Turmeric


All peppers were brought to Spain from the Americas, but the peppers used to make pimentón (Capsicum annuum) have a history all their own. They were given to monks at the Yuste monastery in La Vera, an area within the region of Extremadura, by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The monks dried them and turned them into a powder. Peppers later made their way to the rest of Europe, notably Hungary, where the unsmoked version of the powder became that country’s classic spice, paprika.

The distinct sweet smoky aroma and flavor of pimentón come from thelocalclimate and the unique, centuries-old and labor-intensive smoking process. After being handpicked, the peppers go to a two-story smokehouse. On the first story is an oak fire that burns around the clock. The peppers are smoked on the second story—for two weeks, they’re continually bathed in the aromatic heat and regularly rotated for even crispness. The spice’s full name is Pimentón de La Vera DOP. DOP means “Designation of Protected Origin,” a label bestowed when a specific region is recognized as producing certain foods with special local characteristics. It’s pimentón that, in turn, gives the region’s famed chorizo and other pork products their distinctive flavor and color.

Why you should have this spice in your kitchen: Pimentón defines many Spanish dishes, such as shrimp with pimentón and garlic,patatas bravas, and paella. It’s also wonderful in deviled eggs, dry rubs, and marinades for barbecues, and, for the adventurous, homemade sausages. It marries perfectly with fresh-pressed extra virgin olive oil to add heat to any sauté or to popcorn made on the stovetop. I love it on braised greens and cooked legumes.

Golden Turmeric

India is the land of intriguing spices, rich and deep, and none more colorful than turmeric (Curcuma longa). It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, which also includes ginger, and you can see the similarity between them when you hold up the edible parts, the rhizomes. Also, like ginger, turmeric has been used for thousands of years, and not only in India but throughout South Asia and into the Middle East, Africa, and beyond, in both sweet and savory dishes. Besides its culinary tradition, turmeric is used in Eastern medicine, in religious ceremonies, and even as a natural coloring.

Why you should have this spice in your kitchen: Besides using turmeric in your favorite Indian dishes from kormas to dals, add it to sauces, stews, broths, salad dressings, juices, and baked goods for a depth of flavor and a jolt of color. Toss cut-up root vegetables with olive oil, sprinkle with turmeric, and roast at 400°F until soft. For a soothing brew, createa paste with turmeric, honey, cinnamon,and a healthy pinch of freshly ground black peppercorns, and whisk it into a cup of warmed milk of your choice. 

Quick Kitchen Nugget: Rinsing Lettuce

Quick Kitchen Nugget

Storing Spices

The best way to store spices isn’t the handiest—they should be in tightly sealed glass containers away from light, humidity, and heat, so not above the cooktop. Keep them on a dry pantry shelf or in a drawer away from the oven, and soon it will be second nature to take them out of their new “home” as you prep ingredients and set the table with these great alternatives to salt.

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

For Your Best Health

Spices and Your Health 

Peppers have among the highest levels of antioxidants of any vegetable, including bioactive compounds like vitamin C, phenolics, and carotenoids (the source of their color), all strong disease fighters. The carotenoids include zeaxanthin and lutein, good for eye health, according to International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Pimentón’s spiciness comes from capsaicin, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties. While the amount of all this goodness in a little pinch of the spice is small, all those little pinches can add up to help meet micronutrient needs. 

Most of the interest in turmeric comes from its powerful polyphenol curcumin, thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, though research done in Western countries hasn’t quite been able to explain how it works. A newer concept, published in Advances in Nutrition, is that curcumin could have a direct positive effect on the GI tract and that its health benefits could emanate from there. Interestingly, we know that, on its own, curcumin has a low bioavailability, meaning the body isn’t able to draw out and make the most of its nutrients. According to a report in the journal Foods, you can increase that bioavailability by having it along with black pepper, rich in the active ingredient piperine. So, every time you reach for turmeric, grab your pepper corn grinder, too. 

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!

The Olive Oil Hunter News #147

Guacamole and Pico de Gallo Recipes, Spotlight on Cumin and Black Lime, Toasting Spices and Your Health, and a 6th Sense Discovered!

Let’s get the party started! Who doesn’t love guac and salsa? (My pico de gallo recipe, below, is one of the simplest salsas you can make.) Just add your favorite dippers—I love bell pepper spears for the extra nutrients—and you’ll have a happy crowd.

Both of this issue’s recipes feature two of the most flavorful spices on the planet: wild cumin and black lime (read on to discover more about them). If these are new to you, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their depth of flavor. I love them both but was frustrated by not being able to find them easily in stores. So, I became determined to locate harvest-fresh, single-origin spices. The latest spice collection in my Curated Culinary Selections includes them both along with six other spice essentials. 

Speaking of taste sensations, I’m also sharing the first taste bud discovery in over a century—turns out we have a sixth taste. I’m sure you’ll find the news as interesting as I did! 

The Only Guac You’ll Ever Need

  • The Ultimate Guacamole The Ultimate Guacamole

    This guacamole gets a jolt of flavor from cumin. You can intensify the heat by leaving in some of the jalapeño seeds.


    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 1 small jalapeño
    • 1 small onion
    • 1 cup of cilantro, leaves and some stems
    • 3 large ripe avocados
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
    • 1 lime, halved
    • 1 teaspoon cumin (wild if possible), toasted and ground
    • Freshly ground black peppercorns
    • Coarse sea salt


    Mince the garlic and set it aside for 10 minutes to allow its healthful compound allicin to develop. Wearing gloves to keep the jalapeño’s powerful oils off your skin, slice the pepper in half lengthwise and use a small spoon to scrape out the ribs and seeds, and then cut it into a small dice. On a large cutting board, chop the onion into a large dice and keep chopping as you add in the garlic, jalapeños, and cilantro to meld them together. Halve the avocados and use a spoon to scoop all the flesh into a large bowl. Add the olive oil, coarsely mash the avocado with a fork, and then fold in the onion mixture. Squeeze in the juice of a lime half and fold in the cumin, a few twists of your peppercorn grinder, and a sprinkle of salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more olive oil, lime juice, black pepper, and/or salt as desired.

    Yields 4-6 appetizer servings. ​

Pico de Gallo

  • Pico de Gallo Pico de Gallo

    I love this Mexican condiment for its bold flavors and easy prep—no machines needed, just a good sharp knife to dice the main ingredients. Besides being a delicious dip for chips and veggies, it’s a great condiment for grilled chicken and fish for your next Taco Tuesday. 


    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 2 large fresh tomatoes or 6 canned Roma tomatoes
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 jalapeño or other chile pepper
    • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (leaves and some stems)
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground 
    • Juice of 1/2 lime
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • Coarse sea salt 
    • Black Lime


    Mince the garlic and set aside. Dice the tomatoes and onion. Wearing gloves to keep the powerful oils off your skin, slice the jalapeño in half lengthwise and use a small spoon to scrape out the ribs and seeds, and then cut it into a small dice. Place the vegetables in a large bowl along with the garlic and cilantro, and toss well. Fold in the cumin and lime juice. Taste, add a few twists of the black peppercorn grinder and a sprinkle of the salt, and taste again, adding more salt and pepper as desired. Let the flavors meld at room temperature for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until serving. Just before serving, top with a sprinkle of black lime.

    Yields about 2 cups

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Burrata

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Cumin and Black Lime 

Foraged Wild Cumin

Cumin is used in so many cuisines, not only those of countries where it was first grown but also in others a world away. The common variety (Cuminum cyminum) is indigenous to the Middle East and central regions of India. My preference, wild cumin (Bunium persicum), used in cooking for centuries, has a somewhat mysterious history because it’s native to very remote areas of the world. These include regions of central Asia such as Iran, Pakistan, and the Himalayas in northern India, where it is known as kala jeera—you may see it listed that way in recipes, including Mughlai cuisine. The small, dark-brown seeds of wild cumin are extremely rare. They’re not farmed but rather handpicked from wild plants and then sun dried.

Why you should have this spice in your kitchen: Wild cumin, used whole or ground, shines in classic Indian dishes such as biryanis and curries, Middle Eastern falafel and hummus, and North African tagines and harissa, a heavily spiced chile paste. Cumin also is key to many exotic spice blends, such asbaharat and dukkah. But don’t be shy about using it in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes that typically call for plain cumin, in beans and chili, and in guacamole and pico de gallo.It also adds wonderful zest when sprinkled whole on naan and other flatbreads and when ground for dry rubs and marinades.

Black Lime

Black lime has a rich and storied legacy in Persian cuisine, dating back centuries, and has been used for everything from making a delicious tea to dyeing yarn. It’s popular in northern India, in Iraq, and in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman, where it’s known as loomi or limu Omani. Still, many American cooks have never used black lime before, and it’s hard to find outside of some ethnic food stores. To create black lime,ripe limes are dried in the sun to naturally turn black. While black limes are added whole in many Persian recipes, the ground version is very handy to use, plus the grinding process releases their fragrant oils to the max.

Why you should have this spice in your kitchen: Black lime is the brightest and most intense lime zest you’ve ever tasted. It’s especially delicious on seafood—grilled shrimp, salmon, and tuna—and on meat, rice and other grains, and vegetables. Try it on ceviche, avocado toast, and soft cheeses; as an ingredient in vinaigrettes; in marinades, dry rubs, and za’atar, a spice blend especially delicious with for lamb and chicken; and on any food you like with a squeeze of lime. A fun way to enjoy its flavor jolt is to use it to rim the glasses the next time you mix up a batch of margaritas or bloody Mary’s.

Quick Kitchen Nugget: Rinsing Lettuce

Quick Kitchen Nugget

Toasting Whole Spices

Lightly toasting whole spices like cumin seeds intensifies their flavor. The easiest way is in a small frying pan on the stovetop over medium heat. It’s fast—about three minutes—but requires your attention for the entire time because they can burn in a snap. Shake the pan every few seconds to rotate the spices. As soon as you smell the aroma rising from the pan, they’re done. Let cool briefly before grinding or proceeding with a recipe.

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

For Your Best Health

Spices and Your Health 

Wild cumin has a bounty of antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Many cultures have used the essential oils pressed from the seeds as a botanical remedy for digestive and other problems for centuries. Because different strains grow wild in different parts of the world, it’s hard to study its health benefits in a formal setting to truly unlock its potential, according to research in the journal Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants. 

It’s hard to say how many of the lime’s natural plant compounds, such as vitamin C and other antioxidants, remain intact or, conversely, become intensified by the drying process of making black lime. One thing is certain: It’s a great way to season food without reaching for the salt shaker, and limiting salt has great health benefits, including keeping blood pressure in a safe zone, according to the American Heart Association.

Food Flash

Discovered: A Sixth Taste!

Back in the early 1900s, Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda first proposed umami as a basic taste in addition to sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. About eight decades later, the scientific community officially agreed with him. Now scientists led by researchers at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences have unraveled the mystery surrounding a sixth basic taste.

It’s been known for some time that the tongue responds strongly to ammonium chloride. However, the specific tongue receptors responsible for it remained elusive until now. In research published in Nature Communications, USC neuroscientist Emily Liman, PhD, and her team found that the response is triggered through the same protein receptors that signal sour taste (the USC team discovered the protein responsible for detecting sour, too). 

Called OTOP1, it sits within cell membranes and forms a channel for hydrogen ions moving into the cell. Hydrogen ions are the key component of acids, and as foodies everywhere know, the tongue senses acid as sour. That’s why lemonade (rich in citric and ascorbic acids), vinegar (acetic acid), and other acidic foods impart a zing of tartness when they hit the tongue. Hydrogen ions from these acidic substances move into taste receptor cells through the OTOP1 channel.

Because ammonium chloride can affect the concentration of acid—that is, hydrogen ions—within a cell, the team wondered if it could somehow also trigger OTOP1. To answer this question, they introduced the OTOP1 gene into lab-grown human cells so the cells would produce the OTOP1 receptor protein. They then exposed the cells to acid or to ammonium chloride and measured the responses. “We saw that ammonium chloride is a really strong activator of the OTOP1 channel,” Dr. Liman says. “It activates it as well as or better than acids.

“If you live in a Scandinavian country, you will be familiar with and may like this taste,” says Dr. Liman, who is also a professor of biological sciences. In some northern European countries, salt licorice has been a popular candy for over a century. The treat counts among its ingredients salmiak salt, or ammonium chloride.”

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!

The Olive Oil Hunter News #129

Pasta e Fagioli Salad Recipe, Spotlight on Tomatoes, How to Quick Soak Beans and Guard Against Forever Chemicals (PFAS), Plus Exercise and Inflammation

Looking for a satisfying dish that requires a minimum of cooking? You’ll love this adaptation of the classic pasta e fagioli soup, a unique way to savor ripe tomatoes (turning large tomatoes into chunks will work as well as the cherry tomatoes). Canned beans offer convenience, but you can try my quick hack for soaking dried beans if you’d like to make your own. You’ll also find strategies to limit exposure to dangerous PFAS (dubbed “forever chemicals”) and insights into how exercise delivers health benefits. 

Pasta e Fagioli Salad

  • Pasta e Fagioli Salad Pasta e Fagioli Salad

    You know pasta e fagioli as a hearty soup that stars the tiny pasta tubes called ditalini and creamy white beans, perfect for chilly nights. But there’s no reason to “table” this great combination when you can give it a summery twist: a salad composed of all its delicious ingredients, plus a sweet-tart vinaigrette great for all kinds of salads. If you can’t find ditalini, you can use any small-sized pasta—the idea is to get a variety close to the size of the beans. For another layer of flavor, top with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.


    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar of Modena 
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
    • 1/2 garlic clove, minced 
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 3 cups cooked cannellini beans or one 29-ounce can, rinsed and drained
    • 3 cups cooked pasta, such as ditalini
    • 3 cups cherry tomatoes 
    • 1 medium red onion, slivered
    • 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh parsley and basil, plus more for garnish


    Step 1

    Make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together the two vinegars, mustard, honey, salt, and garlic. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

    Step 2

    Place the beans, pasta, tomatoes, red onion, and herbs in a large glass bowl and pour on the vinaigrette. Toss gently to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled, garnished with more herbs.

    Yields 6 generous servings

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

There’s no better time to enjoy tomatoes than summer. For the sweetest cherry tomatoes, look for Sungolds and other bright-yellow varieties—wonderful in the pasta e fagioli salad. I love to stuff huge beefsteak tomatoes with tuna flakes from a just-grilled filet and then drizzle them with a vinaigrette. Don’t forget to sample heirloom tomatoes in fanciful colors and shapes. 

When shopping your local farmers’ markets, look for tomatoes with smooth, mostly unblemished skin, but remember that organic tomatoes may not look picture-perfect, and that’s OK. More important is that the tomatoes feel ripe all around—firm, but not hard, and definitely not squishy. Then give them the sniff test—they should smell like…tomatoes!

Quick Kitchen Nugget: A Fast Way to Soak Dried Beans

Quick Kitchen Nugget

A Fast Way to Soak Dried Beans

One reason to buy dried beans rather than canned is the greater variety available, plus you control the salt. But, of course, that involves remembering to first soak the beans and then cooking them until tender. Here’s a hack to speed up the process—it’s especially handy if you forget to soak the beans the night before you want to use them.

Step 1: “Hot soak” the dried beans. In a large pot, add 1 pound of dried beans and 6 cups of cold water (multiply as needed). Bring to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let soak for 1 hour.

Step 2: Cook the soaked beans. Drain and rinse the beans in cool water, and wash out the pot. Return the beans to the cleaned pot and cover them with cold water. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, but not mushy, about 1 hour for cannellini beans (larger beans may take up to an hour more). 

For Your Best Health: Guarding Against “Forever Chemicals”

For Your Best Health

Guarding Against “Forever Chemicals”

News of chemical manufacturer 3M agreeing to pay over $10 billion to settle lawsuits over contamination of many US public drinking water systems by its harmful compounds has brought national attention to the problem of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. They’re called forever chemicals because they don’t degrade naturally in the environment. And they’re dangerous—exposure over time has been linked to health problems, including liver and immune-system damage, heart disease, some cancers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and decreased fertility, according to experts at Hartford Healthcare.

Here’s advice from the watchdog group NRDC you can use to protect yourself:

  • Replace nonstick pans with stainless steel, cast-iron, glass, or ceramic alternatives.
  • Consider transferring store-bought foods to glass containers when you get home. Don’t heat food wrapped in grease-resistant packaging or reheat leftovers in takeout containers. Make popcorn on the stovetop instead of in PFAS-treated microwave bags. Look for BPI-certified compostable packaging, which doesn’t contain PFAS.
  • Choose clothing brands that have removed PFAS from their lines, such as American Eagle and L.L.Bean.
  • Avoid buying any home furnishings labeled water- or stain-repellent, which likely involve treatments that use PFAS.
  • Install reverse osmosis filters on your water faucets to get PFAS out of your drinking water.
Fitness Flash: How Exercise Helps with Inflammation

Fitness Flash

How Exercise Helps with Inflammation

Researchers have long known that moderate exercise has a beneficial impact on the body’s response to inflammation, but what’s been less understood is why. New research done on a mouse model at York University in Toronto, Canada, suggests that the answers may lie within the body’s macrophages, white blood cells responsible for killing off infections, healing injury, and otherwise acting as your internal first responders.

“Much like you train your muscles through exercise, we showed that exercise of moderate intensity ended up training the precursors of those macrophages in the bone marrow,” says Ali Abdul-Sater, PhD, associate professor in the University’s School of Kinesiology and Health Science and York Research Chair. “The way that exercise is doing this is by changing the way those cells breathe—essentially, how they use oxygen to generate energy and then changing the way they access their DNA.”

While many studies have looked at temporary boosts to the immune system immediately after exercise, this study, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology, found these changes occurred even a week later, suggesting that they are long term. 

“Inflammation is amazing—it’s a very important part of our normal immune response,” says Dr. Abdul-Sater. Inflammation is the body’s response to infection and other stressors, and some level of inflammation is necessary and desirable. “What we’re concerned about is excessive inflammation,” he explains. “Heart disease, diabetes, many cancers, and autoimmune diseases all essentially begin because there was an inappropriate inflammatory response.”

The study found that, for active mice, it was around the six-to-eight-week mark into the exercise regimen when changes really became apparent. “There’s a lot of rewiring that’s taking place in the circuitry of how the cells breathe, how the cells metabolize glucose, how the cells then access DNA. So all that just takes time.”

Dr. Abdul-Sater says that because the inflammatory response is a very ancient one, this aspect of the immune system is generally very similar across mammals, and he expects the research will translate well to people. In the next phase, the team will collect immune cells from human volunteers who will do exercises of various intensities to see which workout routines are most beneficial to balance the inflammatory response. 

“The thing with humans is there’s no intervention that will work on everyone. We know that, but what this study suggests is that moderate and persistent exercise not only improves metabolic health, but also will improve immune health in the long run.”

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!

The Olive Oil Hunter News #124

Chicken with Cashew-Cilantro Sauce Recipe, How to Choose Foster Well-being with Healthy Fatty Acids—Another Contributor to the Benefits of Olive Oil

When it comes to most studies on the benefits of olive oil, polyphenols get all the attention, yet these micronutrients add up to just a fraction of the oil’s content. Extra virgin olive oil is primarily made up of a monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid, which contributes to the healthful benefits of olive oil as well, according to a study done in Spain, which I’m sharing. The following chicken recipe is a delicious way to get these benefits!

Chicken with Cashew-Cilantro Sauce

  • Cashew and Cilantro Pesto Chicken with Cashew-Cilantro Sauce

    This recipe brings together many strong flavors that meld beautifully—the sweetness of the cashews, the citrusy zest of the lime, the spiciness of the pepper and the garlic. You can make the sauce and marinate the chicken a day ahead; cover both and refrigerate until needed (allow the sauce to come to room temperature before serving). Although you can grill the chicken, it bakes up quickly in the oven. If you can’t find the sweet soy sauce known as kecap manis at your local supermarket or Asian market, substitute 2 tablespoons regular soy sauce and 1 tablespoon sugar. 


    • 2 cups raw or low-sodium roasted cashews
    • 1 cup cilantro with stems, loosely packed
    • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 3 tablespoons sweet soy (kecap manis)
    • 1 fresh jalapeño pepper, stemmed (remove the seeds for a milder taste)
    • Zest of a large lime 
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 
    • 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs 


    Step 1

    If using raw cashews, toast them in the oven at 350°F for 10 minutes to bring out their flavor. Place all the ingredients except the chicken in your food processor and pulse until you get a thick and chunky sauce. Transfer all but ¾ cup to a serving bowl and reserve. Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the ¾ cup of the sauce. Use your hands to coat the chicken thoroughly. 

    Step 2

    Preheat your oven to 385°F. Transfer the chicken to two rimmed sheet pans that have been lined with parchment paper. Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Turn on the broiler and place each pan under it, one at a time, for 3 minutes for a nice crisp.

    Step 3

    To serve, top each thigh with a dollop of the reserved cashew-cilantro sauce and pass the rest on the side.

    Yields 6-8 servings

Fitness Flash: Fostering Well-being with Healthy Fatty Acids

Fostering Well-being with Healthy Fatty Acids

Another contributor to the benefits of olive oil 

The Study

“Update on Anti-Inflammatory Molecular Mechanisms Induced by Oleic Acid,” Nutrients, 2023

The Findings

“Oleic acid, the principal component of olive oil, has properties that help to prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s disease and to lower cholesterol.”

A Summary of the Study from the University of Seville

“The health benefits of olive oil, which are commonly attributed to its minor components such as polyphenols, are now well recognized by science. But little attention has been paid to oleic acid, which represents 70 to 80 percent of the oil’s composition. That is why a group of professors from the Faculties of Pharmacy and Medicine at the University of Seville, in conjunction with professionals from the Seville North and Aljarafe Health District and the Costa del Sol Hospital, have produced a study on oleic acid’s main contributions to health. This fatty acid is the main constituent of olive oil and is responsible for many health-promoting properties. Oleic acid is produced by the diet and synthesis in the body itself, and is the most abundant monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) in the human diet.

“The Mediterranean diet is the most widely recognized diet for preventing disease and slowing the effects of aging. The olive tree (Olea europaea L.) is abundant in the Mediterranean basin, and olive oil, which is extracted from its fruit, is the most characteristic item and the main fat in this diet, which is also marked by a high vegetable intake, moderate fish consumption, low-to-moderate dairy consumption, low red meat intake and moderate wine consumption.

“Oleic acid is the principal MUFA in the human circulatory system. In the brain, it is a major component of membrane phospholipids and abounds in the neuronal myelin sheaths. A significantly decreased level of oleic acid has been observed in the brains of patients suffering from major depressive disorders and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Like all free fatty acids, oleic acid’s main function is that of an energy molecule and a component of cell membranes. One of its most characteristic qualities is its antioxidant properties, since it can directly regulate both the synthesis and the activity of antioxidant enzymes. Another beneficial property is its hypocholesterolemic effect: It inhibits the expression of proteins associated with cholesterol transport, reducing cholesterol absorption and thus preventing atherosclerosis.

“Oleic acid is also recognized as an anti-cancer molecule because of its inhibitory effects on the overexpression of oncogenes and their effects on programmed cell death. Moreover, oleic acid is generally considered an anti-inflammatory molecule, although this quality is still under debate among scientists.

Furthermore, “oleoylethanolamide, a derivative of oleic acid, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of its own and has now been proposed as a potent therapeutic agent to treat obesity. This underlines the benefits of oleic acid for health. Emerging research suggests that it may influence epigenetic mechanisms (direct modifications of DNA and DNA-associated proteins) and may help modulate the immune system, specifically by regulating cells involved in developing inflammation.”

The authors of this study do point out that research on olive oil has been done with animals and that there’s a need for further research to confirm the significant properties shown by oleic acid and its derivatives in people.

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!