Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

The Olive Oil Hunter News #113

Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe, Spotlight on Broccoli, Immersion Blender 101, How to Overcome Excuses for Not Exercising and Mastering Functional Fitness

Winter is a time of year when a thick and hearty broccoli soup can easily be dinner. Make a large batch, and you’ll have enough for a lunch or two as well. Winter is also when most of us need a little extra motivation to exercise. I’m sharing ideas as well as one aspect of fitness that may be new to you.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  • Brocoli Cheddar Soup Broccoli Cheddar Soup

    This is a popular item at restaurants and the soup station at supermarkets, yet so often tastes gummy. My recipe is chunky and creamy at the same time, thanks to a simple roux technique and not over-blending.  


    • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
    • 1 large sweet onion, about 12 ounces, finely chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • Coarse salt 
    • 2 pounds broccoli, trimmed and cut into small florets (slice stems into discs)
    • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
    • 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
    • 2 cups milk
    • 10 ounces sharp or very sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
    • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


    Step 1

    Heat a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat. When hot, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the onions, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt to help the onions sweat. Sauté until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook until it turns a brighter green, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Use a large slotted spoon to transfer all the veggies to a large bowl next to your cooktop.  

    Step 2

    Add the rest of the olive oil to the pot along with the flour and stir vigorously for 2 minutes to make a roux and cook the flour. Whisk in the broth, a half-cup at a time, letting the mixture come to a boil before adding the next half-cup. Repeat the technique with the milk and then stir in 8 ounces of the cheese. When smooth, add back in the vegetables. Continue to cook, partly covered, at a low simmer for 30 minutes or until the broccoli is tender. Stir occasionally to make sure all the broccoli gets submerged.

    Step 3

    Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a standard blender, blend the soup, stopping short of a full purée. Taste and season as desired with salt and pepper. Garnish servings with the rest of the grated cheddar and a drizzle of olive oil.

    Yields 8 to 10 servings

Food Pairings: The Power of Purple Potatoes

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Broccoli’s Bounty

Broccoli is on nearly every top 10 list of healthy foods, and science is still uncovering more of its benefits. Beyond its impressive list of vitamins and minerals, broccoli, like other cruciferous vegetables, has a phytochemical—or plant-based compound—called sulforaphane. Since the early 1990s, over 3,000 lab studies and over 50 clinical trials have looked at sulforaphane’s role in cancer prevention and even in cancer treatment. According to a review of research on broccoli and broccoli sprouts published in the journal Molecules, sulforaphane’s anti-inflammatory properties also show promise for easing arthritis and asthma, managing diabetes more effectively, and improving fatty liver disease. 

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Sweet spices for savory dishes

Quick Kitchen Nugget

Immersion Blender 101

I love a handheld cordless immersion blender for puréeing foods without having to transfer them to a standing blender or food processor. But not all models have the same power as those countertop workhorses. To make yours more effective, try these tips:

  • Precut any solid foods you’ll be blending into 2″ pieces or smaller.
  • Be sure any cooked foods are tender before blending.
  • The food to be blended should come at least an inch above the blade, and the blade should always be submerged, even when working it up and down. 
  • When using the immersion blender to homogenize small amounts of liquids for salad dressings or sauces, use a tall measuring cup if your appliance didn’t come with a special container.
Healthy Kitchen Nugget: The Truth About Nondairy Milks

For Your Best Health

How to Overcome Excuses for Not Exercising 

As many benefits as exercise has, people find even more excuses for not working out. Here’s some motivation from NIH’s National Institute on Aging:

No time? Get up a few minutes earlier and exercise first thing or combine physical activity with a task that’s already part of your day, like starting to walk to work.

Too boring? The only way to stick with a plan is to do activities you really enjoy. Also, try new types of exercise to keep it interesting.

Too expensive? All you need is a pair of comfortable, nonskid shoes to start walking and, for upper body strength training, your own body weight for moves like pushups or a pair of filled water bottles.

Too tired? That’s another reason to exercise early in the day when you have more energy. Plus, regular, moderate physical activity can help reduce fatigue.

Not convinced? Take a few seconds to read this list of exercise benefits whenever you need a little impetus to get going:

  • A lower risk of chronic conditions, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers
  • Easier weight control
  • Better cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • A lower risk of falling and better bone density
  • A lower risk of depression
  • Improved cognitive function and sleep quality
Healthy Kitchen Nugget: The Value of Variety

Fitness Flash

Mastering Functional Fitness

Your fitness and mobility levels are important signs of independence. They’re often assessed by what’s called functional fitness, the ability to carry out activities of daily living, or ADLs—being able to care for yourself, go shopping, get on and off the sofa with ease, and so on. Building and maintaining functional fitness is key to moving with ease now and staying mobile as you age. 

There are seven important movements we all draw on for those ADLs: pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, hinging, rotating, and balancing. Doing exercises that use those movements will make it easier to handle all your daily tasks. Many common strength training moves, like pushups and chest presses, pullups and rows, squats, wall sits, and lunges, replicate them exactly. Kettlebell swings and twists mimic hinging. Some core exercises, like the woodchopper and working with a medicine ball, help with rotation. And there are many moves to improve balance, like sidestepping and heel-to-toe walking. If you’re new to any of these exercises or want tailored guidance, consider scheduling a session with a personal trainer.

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 #4

Extra Virgin Fresh Pressed Olive Oil-Roasted Vegetable Platter Recipe, Spotlight on Healthy Fats, Roasting Vegetables Right, Finishing Salt and Bone Loss

As a fan of the Olive Oil Hunter, you know how I love the freshest, healthiest ingredients (including extra virgin fresh pressed olive oil) and always want to know where they come from. That pretty much explains why on any given weekend, you’re sure to find me at my local greenmarket. Seasonal is my mindset—it means planning meals around what’s available rather than hunting around to find the exact ingredients to match a recipe. That’s why I also love another great source of locally grown bounty: community-supported agriculture, or CSAs, where you buy shares of a farm’s harvest in advance (find yours at I get inspired every time I open a new box of produce. 

This issue’s recipe is the perfect example of my food philosophy. Here’s why…

  • The Olive Oil Hunter Newsletter Vol. 2 Olive Oil-Roasted Vegetable Platter

    This dish brings together a rainbow mix of both familiar and exotic veggies. You can definitely make it your own by choosing from what’s available locally. Whatever you include, slow roasting brings out the flavors in each ingredient, so you get different taste sensations with every bite. Using a very wide selection of vegetables also makes this a great main dish, but you can serve it along with a protein if you wish. And if there are any leftovers, I like to add just a splash of balsamic and enjoy them cold for lunch the next day.


    • 4 parsnips, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1.5″ cubes
    • 6 large carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1.5″ cubes
    • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1.5″ chunks 
    • 4 yellow or candy stripe beets, peeled and cut into small wedges  
    • 2 bulbs fennel, trimmed and sliced into wedges
    • 2 red onions, trimmed, peeled and sliced into wedges
    • 1 sweet onion, trimmed, peeled and sliced into wedges
    • 1/2 pound sunchokes, peeled and halved
    • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
    • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
    • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
    • Maldon sea salt flakes for finishing


    Step 1

    Preheat your oven to 400°F. Combine the hard vegetables—parsnips, carrots, squash and beets—in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon thyme and drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add salt and pepper, and stir gently to coat the vegetables evenly. 

    Step 2

    Repeat in a separate bowl with the softer vegetables—the fennel, onions and sunchokes. (See more about roasting mixed vegetables in the Healthy Kitchen Nugget below.) 

    Step 3

    Tip the hard vegetables into a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan large enough to hold them in one layer without touching; they need room to get a nice crisp on the edges. After 30 minutes, add the soft vegetables to a second baking sheet, place in the oven, and continue cooking for about another 30 minutes until all the veggies are tender in the center and caramelized. For even browning, use a spatula to occasionally turn all the veggies throughout the roasting. Transfer all the vegetables to one large serving bowl, drizzle with more olive oil if desired, and sprinkle with a few grains of the Maldon salt.

    Hint: If using traditional red beets, prepare and cook them separately to keep their bright color from transferring to other vegetables. Oil and season them in their own bowl and then roast them in a separate pan or at one end of a baking sheet.

    Yields 8 servings

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Fresh Pressed Olive Oil

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Healthy Fats: Fresh Pressed Olive Oil & Nuts

Don’t get me wrong—butter has its place. But when it comes to healthy fat, extra virgin fresh pressed olive oil can’t be beat. Nearly every week brings a new study confirming the benefits of vegetable-based fats and EVOO in particular. And make no mistake about it, fat is an essential part of the diet; among other roles, it’s needed to use the fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K in the foods you eat. Ironically, the rise in obesity in our country can be traced to the low-fat craze back in the ’90s, when the fats in packaged foods were replaced with sugars. True, the fats used in those products weren’t great, but the sugars were even worse! We now know that the mono- and polyunsaturated fats that come from healthy sources, like olives, hazelnuts, walnuts and grapeseed, make for healthy oils—“healthy fat” isn’t a fad! There’s even research published in The New England Journal of Medicine showing that eating a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin fresh pressed olive oil and nuts can significantly lower blood pressure, blood sugar and total cholesterol.

Healthy Kitchen Tip: How to Properly Roast Vegetables

Healthy Kitchen Nugget

Roasting Hard Versus Soft Veggies

Whenever you’re roasting different vegetables together, the right prep work will ensure that they all cook evenly, but make tweaks to the standard rule of thumb that states they should all be cut in the same size. That rule is true only when you’re making all one type, like root vegetables or cruciferous vegetables. When you’re roasting a mix, there are better methods. You could cut the soft ones into bigger pieces than the hard ones and roast them together. Or go for the simple option in the recipe above when you have to use two rimmed baking sheets anyway: Roast the hard veggies first, and then pop in the second sheet with the softer vegetables about 30 minutes later. Check for doneness every time you open the oven to turn them during the roasting—everyone’s oven is slightly different, and you’ll quickly learn what works best for you.

For Your Best Health: Finishing Salt

For Your Best Health

Using Finishing Salt

I love the slight crunch of a high-quality finishing salt with a noticeable texture, like Maldon. But what about the problem of too much salt in our diets? The fact is that nearly three-quarters of the salt we eat doesn’t come from the salt shaker—it’s in packaged and prepared foods, including fast food. The American Heart Association points to the top “salty six” categories to avoid: packaged breads and rolls, deli cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, canned soup, frozen breaded chicken nuggets, and burritos and tacos. So, seasoning at home isn’t the problem, and when you use coarser grains like Maldon, Himalayan sea salt from Pakistan, and Australia’s Murray River sea salt flakes, you’ll see and taste the salt more but actually use less. You’ll also get some natural minerals that are typically processed out of standard table salt (replaced instead with additives and anticaking agents). You also won’t have a problem sticking to the healthier daily max of 1,500 mg (about 2/3 teaspoon) of salt when you add just a pinch here and there.

Fitness Flash: Bone Loss in Men

Fitness Flash

Bone Loss in Men

You’ve likely heard of osteoporosis, when bones have thinned so much that you’re at a higher risk for fractures. But here’s a surprise: Bone loss doesn’t affect women only. It can happen to men, too. 

Bone loss is typically gradual, and a bone mineral density test can spot it at an early stage, when the condition is called osteopenia and there’s more time to slow it down. The test uses a special type of X-ray called DEXA that captures images of your bones’ mineral content, often at the hip and lower spine. It’s painless and takes just a few minutes. The results are given as a T-score: −1 and higher is normal, between −1.1 and −2.4 is osteopenia, and –2.5 and below is osteoporosis. 

Many health organizations suggest waiting until you’re 65 to get the test, but it should be done earlier if you have risk factors such as a history of smoking or of fracture, a thyroid condition, liver or kidney disease, a family history of osteoporosis, being tall and very thin, or taking medications that can hurt bone health like corticosteroids. Talk to your doctor about the right testing timetable for you. 

Most important of all is that you can take steps to strengthen or maintain your bones right now, no matter your age. Do 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercises, like walking or running, on most days of the week, and add twice-weekly strength training to your overall fitness program. Since both types of exercise also strengthen muscles, you’ll appreciate feeling stronger, too.

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!

The Olive Oil Hunter News #2

Mediterranean Chicken Wing Recipe with Healthy Ingredients, Spotlight on Cumin and Garlic, Bone Health and Social Media

As fall gears up, I love to get in the kitchen and revisit recipes from around the world. Sharing them with you and highlighting super-healthy ingredients are very important to me because this message is so important: Delicious food can, and should be, healthy food…and healthy food can be delicious! Whether you follow the Mediterranean diet, have adopted a Keto or Paleo plan, or are vegetarian or vegan, once you have access to a repertoire of great recipes with fresh pressed olive oil, you can tailor them to your diet by swapping healthy ingredients as needed. Below you’ll find my favorite alternative chicken wing recipe.

Let’s get cooking with…

Piri-Piri Drumsticks with Blue Cheese Dip

You don’t have to be a football fanatic to love sports bar food like Buffalo hot wings, named for the city that lays claim to them. I like to indulge not only by recreating this favorite dish at home, but also by elevating it with an alternative chicken wing recipe with fresh pressed olive oil that switches from wings to drumsticks—more meat!—glazed with piri-piri, a Portuguese chile sauce available in larger supermarkets or online.

  • The Olive Oil Hunter Newsletter Vol. 1 Piri-Piri Drumsticks with Blue Cheese Dip

    Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce is my go-to brand (both spellings are correct!). For the blue cheese dip, the ultimate is Cabrales, an artisanal blue from Asturias, Spain. And for even more flavor, I’m replacing celery sticks with fresh fennel. The only prep work—still fast and easy—is the marinade for the drumsticks. Since they need time to absorb all the spices, I like to do this early in the day.


    For the drumsticks

    • 2 tablespoons pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika) 
    • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard 
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
    • 12 meaty chicken drumsticks
    • Extra virgin olive oil 
    • Large fennel bulb

    For the glaze

    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce or your favorite hot sauce
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

    For the dip

    • 1/2 cup crumbled Cabrales or other artisanal blue cheese 
    • 3/4 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or cream (optional) 
    • Extra virgin olive oil


    Step One

    Combine the pimentón and other spices in a small bowl. Place the drumsticks in a large bowl (or a large resealable plastic bag) and coat them with olive oil. Add the spice mixture and use your hands to distribute it evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.

    Step Two

    To cook, preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then top with a wire rack. Oil the rack and arrange the drumsticks on it. Bake until cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes, turning once or twice with tongs. (Alternatively, you can grill the drumsticks.) 

    Step Three

    While the chicken is cooking, make the dip and the glaze. For the dip, mash the blue cheese in a bowl with a fork. Whisk in the sour cream, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce. If desired, thin with the milk or cream. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil.

    Step Four

    For the glaze, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the piri-piri sauce and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. When the drumsticks are cooked through, remove from the oven, brush on all sides with the glaze, and return to the oven for 5 minutes to set. 

    Step Five

    To plate, trim the fennel bulb, reserving the feathery fronds. Cut in half lengthwise, remove the core, and then slice each half into small wedges. Arrange them on a platter with the drumsticks, garnish with the fronds, and serve with the dip.

    Yields 4 appetizers or 2 hearty main dish servings. ​

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Cumin

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Earthy Cumin

Cumin, the seed of the Cuminum cyminum plant, is a relative of caraway, fennel and parsley and has been used in medicine and cooking for over 4,000 years. Originally found in Egypt, cumin was introduced to the Mediterranean region and Asia (notably India and China) before being brought to the Americas by the Portuguese and Spaniards. Its earthy flavor adds a unique richness to dishes, and it’s a mainstay in countless cuisines…from Indian curries and chutneys to Moroccan tagines to Mexican salsas and moles. Buy cumin in seed form. When a recipe calls for ground cumin, do it yourself in a spice grinder.

Healthy Kitchen Tip: Garlic and Allicin

Healthy Kitchen Nugget

Garlic’s Key Enzyme: Allicin

Eating garlic every day is one of the tastiest ways to enhance your health. To maximize garlic’s benefits, whenever you chop or crush cloves, wait 15 minutes before adding to a recipe. That’s the time it takes for a key enzyme to trigger allicin, one of many compounds in garlic that help fight heart disease, inflammation and damage from oxidative stress. For the greatest benefits, eat garlic raw, as in salad dressings, or minimally cooked, like in a fast stir-fry.

For Your Best Health: Selenium

For Your Best Health

Selenium for Bone Health

When it comes to bone health, most of us think of calcium and vitamin D. But another needed nutrient is the trace mineral selenium. New research shows that a shortage could lead to problems including increased bone turnover, reduced bone mineral density and a higher risk for bone disease. Selenium is also important for reproductive health, proper thyroid hormone function, and combating oxidative damage and infections. All it takes is 55 micrograms a day. You can get about that much from 1.5 ounces of yellowfin tuna, 3 ounces of halibut, 4 ounces of shrimp or sardines, 7 ounces of light meat chicken or just one Brazil nut—a crazy-rich source!

Fitness Flash: Screen Time and Stress

Fitness Flash

Screen Time and Increased Stress

There’s no doubt that we’re all spending more and more time on social media and tapping into streaming services, sometimes as a way to cope with stress or as an antidote to physical distancing. But these are trends that started long before the pandemic. Problem is, excessive screen time can take a toll on emotional and physical health. It can actually increase stress thanks to bad news overload and lead to weight gain, sleep disorders and even addiction to social media or other outlets, like computer games or online gambling. 

According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the takeaway is that media in general and social networks in particular can help you cope when they provide support and fact-based, positive information and when you steer clear of both sensationalized and false news. Also, put exercise in your playbook—it can work wonders on stress, anxiety and insomnia as well as give you a break from day-to-day problems.

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!