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 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.

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The Olive Oil Hunter News #111

Pork Chops with Tomatoes and Capers Recipe and What Makes Olive Oil a Good Fat

As members of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club know, the vibrant pepperiness of extra virgin olive oil comes from its polyphenols, important antioxidants that foster good health in so many ways. But there’s more to the story. EVOO’s main nutrient and the source of its calories is monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, which confer special benefits as well. That’s why many health authorities recommend them over saturated fats (those solid at room temperature, like butter). In this edition of the Newsletter, we’ll look at the one-two punch of MUFAs and polyphenols—and how together they can help staunch a very serious health epidemic, metabolic syndrome. But first, a wonderful winter recipe sure to become a favorite.

Pork Chops with Tomatoes and Capers

  • Pork chops with tomatoes and capers Pork Chops with Tomatoes and Capers

    This Mediterranean-style dish is cooked on the stovetop in a single pan and creates a rich, tomato sauce. 


    • 1/4 cup white whole-wheat or all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon each coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 6 pork chops, each about 1/2-inch thick
    • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/3 cup chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
    • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with its juice
    • 4 tablespoons capers


    Step 1

    Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a pie plate. Heat a frying pan large enough to hold the chops (if necessary, you can cook the chops in batches). Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil and quickly coat both sides of each chop in the flour mixture, shake off any excess, and add to the pan. Sauté 5 minutes on each side or until browned. 

    Step 2

    Transfer the chops to a dish. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté slightly, then deglaze the pan with the vinegar. Add the tomatoes along with their juice, the broth, and the capers, and briefly bring to a boil.

    Step 3

    Add back the chops, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the chops are cooked through and register 145°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes more. 

    Yields 6 servings.

Healthy Kitchen Nugget: The Truth About Nondairy Milks

For Your Best Health

What Makes Olive Oil a Good Fat 

The study making news: “The clinical impact of an extra virgin olive oil enriched Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome: Lights and shadows of a nutraceutical approach,” a research review published in Frontiers in Nutrition (2022).

Most research on the benefits of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet centers on the healthful properties of its polyphenols, but its fatty acids deliver benefits of their own. What’s more, the polyphenols and fatty acids seem to work in synergy to do even more. 

As stated in this research review, one component of the Mediterranean diet “believed to contribute a strong beneficial effect is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and with variable concentrations of phenols. These not only determine EVOO’s main organoleptic qualities (oxidative stability, specific flavor, and taste features) but make it a source of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, insulin-sensitizing, cardioprotective, antiatherogenic, neuroprotective, and immunomodulatory activity.” (Antiatherogenic means that it fights against dangerous plaque buildup, or atherosclerosis, along artery walls.)

Why are MUFAs considered good fats?

According to the National Library of Medicine, monounsaturated fats are good for your health in several ways. They can help lower your LDL or bad cholesterol level. Keeping your LDL level low reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke. Also, MUFAs help develop and maintain your cells. Extra virgin olive oil is an excellent source of MUFAs. Olive oil also has the other preferred alternative to saturated fat, PUFAs, or polyunsaturated fatty acids, but to a lesser extent. (Some of the best sources of PUFAs are walnuts, flax, and sunflower seeds.)

For the Frontiers in Nutrition review, the researchers took a deep dive into how EVOO may help with the condition known as metabolic syndrome, one that has become more prevalent as people have become more overweight. According to the review, it’s “an increasingly pressing global health problem, affecting about 31 percent of the world’s population but predicted to increase over 50 percent in the next 15 years.” Metabolic syndrome is typically diagnosed when someone has at least three of these five conditions: abdominal obesity (belly fat), high triglyceride levels, low HDL or good cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and impaired fasting glucose (blood sugar). Each one is a risk factor for various metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, from diabetes to heart disease; having three or more creates a heightened risk.

As the report pointed out,

“The only established, effective treatment is lifestyle modification through increased physical activity, weight loss, and dietary intake high in fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, and low-fat dairy products: i.e., the Mediterranean diet (MD). Several studies have shown a direct correlation between MD adherence and overall reduction in mortality and morbidity.…

“The Mediterranean diet is a cornerstone in treating [metabolic syndrome] and preventing cardiovascular risk. Literature data indicate that an essential component is EVOO which, with high MUFA and polyphenol content, constitutes a food with excellent organoleptic properties and a substance with surprising nutraceutical abilities. EVOO, by activating multiple metabolic pathways, could optimize glycemic control and lipid metabolism, reduce endothelial damage and blood pressure, and provide systemic anti-inflammatory activity.”

Based on the studies that the researchers reviewed, they found that, in particular, “Extra virgin olive oil, due to its high MUFA content, significantly reduces concentrations of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, decreasing TC/HDL and LDL/HDL ratios. In this context, polyphenols act synergistically with MUFAs.Overall, EVOO seems to play an antiatherogenic and CVD risk reduction role, improving the overall health status of [metabolic syndrome] patients.” 

The researchers also mentioned that, in addition to helping counteract the inflammation that accompanies overweight, EVOO might indirectly help with weight loss by enhancing the way food tastes and perhaps helping people feel full sooner, thus preventing overeating. 

They did note that there are still unanswered questions. Since most studies don’t spell out the specific varietals of EVOO consumed by participants or their exact polyphenol levels, the researchers can’t say what concentration of polyphenols is needed or which olive varieties are best—things that future studies might tell us. One thing we do know: in general, the fresher the olive oil, the higher its polyphenol content.  

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The Olive Oil Hunter News #96

Easy Pizza Dough for Personal Pies Recipe, Spotlight on Pizza, White versus Wheat Flour, Why Thinking is Exhausting and Why Daily Exercise is Not

Who doesn’t love pizza? The problem is that it’s often saddled with the “unhealthy” label. But I’m here to tell you that homemade pizza can be delicious and nutritious. It all depends on the ingredients, and by that I of course mean the toppings! And I have some more food for thought: Why thinking is exhausting and why daily exercise nuggets are not (they’re actually invigorating!).

Easy Pizza Dough for Personal Pies

  • Personal Pizzas Easy Pizza Dough for Personal Pies

    Using bread flour is the secret for crusty pizza—one that holds up to a lot of sauce and toppings! You can make two large rounds from this dough, but making individual pizzas is more fun. Note: If you’re able to find instant yeast, you can streamline the technique even further, as it can be mixed with the other dry ingredients for a few seconds before adding the water and oil, before proceeding with the kneading as described. 


    • 1 1/2 cups warm water, about 110-115°F, plus more as needed
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons (or one envelope) active dry yeast
    • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
    • 4 cups bread flour, plus more as needed 
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided


    Step 1

    Place the water, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Turn it on for a few seconds to mix and then wait 5 minutes for the yeast to bubble up. 

    Step 2

    With the mixer on the lowest setting, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the salt, and the flour to the bowl. Once a doughy mass forms, slowly raise the speed and continue kneading until the dough ball is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. If the dough feels too dry, add more water, a scant tablespoon at a time. If too wet, add more flour, a scant tablespoon at a time.

    Step 3

    Lift the dough out of the bowl, remove the dough hook, and pour in the last tablespoon of olive oil, coating the bowl thoroughly. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for about 60 minutes or so (depending on how warm your kitchen is) until double in size and spongy.

    Step 4

    Preheat your oven to 450° or 500°F, depending on how high it goes. Gently transfer the dough from the bowl to a large piece of parchment paper. Use a knife or pastry cutter to cut the dough into quarters. Transfer three of the pieces onto their own sheets of parchment. If the dough is sticky, first sprinkle the parchment paper with flour or some cornmeal. One piece at a time, stretch out the dough with your hands, rotating it by quarter turns until it reaches your desired thickness. The shape—round, rectangle, or oblong—is up to you, but keep a slight lip all along the perimeter. Transfer the pizzas to large baking sheets (you should be able to fit two per sheet). Use scissors to trim the parchment to within two inches of the dough.

    Step 5

    Working in batches as needed based on your oven capacity, bake the pizzas for 8 minutes. Carefully take them out of the oven, add your desired toppings, and return to the oven for another 8 to 10 minutes or until bubbly.

     Yields 4 individual pizzas

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Perfectly Petite Pork Tenderloin

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

“Healthify” Your Pizza

One of the things I love most about making individual pizzas is that everyone can customize their pie. I like to “healthify” my pizza with loads of veggies, like onions, mushrooms, Brussels sprout halves, and broccoli rabe. Cherry tomatoes are a fun addition when there’s no time to make sauce (or even in addition to it). Topping your pizza right as it comes out of the oven with arugula and a drizzle of olive oil gives it a fresh and slightly peppery finish. Of course, almost any ethnic dish that you’d eat with bread, from chicken tikka marsala to shish kebab, can top your pizza for a delicious twist.

Healthy Kitchen Nugget: Meat Safety: Temperature is Everything

Healthy Kitchen Nugget

White versus Wheat Flour

Another trick to making pizza good for you is replacing about 25 percent of the white flour with whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour. Because these flours are the least processed, they retain fiber and nutrients. At the other extreme is 00 pizza flour. It’s been getting more attention lately as Italian brands become more readily available (there’s also 00 flour for pasta, and they’re not interchangeable). It has the silkiest, smoothest texture of all flours and, consequently, retains virtually no fiber. Since, as always, the proof is in the pudding, you might do your own taste test to see the difference and even experiment by using 00 along with some whole wheat flour.

For Your Best Health: Rethinking Moderate Drinking

For Your Best Health

Don’t overthink it!

New research has found that too much mental effort can be as exhausting as physical labor. What’s more, it can cause toxin by-products to build up in the brain (fortunately, they can be recycled during down time). 

Study co-author Mathias Pessiglione, PhD, of Pitié-Salpêtrière University in Paris, France, explains: “Our findings show that cognitive work results in a true functional alteration—accumulation of noxious substances—so fatigue would indeed be a signal that makes us stop working…to preserve the integrity of brain functioning.”

To better understand what mental fatigue really is, Dr. Pessiglione and his colleagues used magnetic resonance spectroscopy to monitor brain chemistry over the course of a workday. They looked at two groups of people: those who needed to think hard and those who had relatively easier cognitive tasks.

They saw signs of fatigue only in the group doing hard thinking. Those participants also had higher levels of glutamate in synapses of the brain’s prefrontal cortex. This supports the notion that glutamate accumulation makes further activation of the prefrontal cortex more costly, meaning that cognitive control is more difficult after a mentally tough workday.

Is there some way around this limitation of our brain’s ability to think hard? “Not really, I’m afraid,” Dr. Pessiglione says. “I would employ good old recipes: Rest and sleep! There is good evidence that glutamate is eliminated from synapses during sleep.” He also advises people to avoid making important decisions when they’re tired.

Fitness Flash: The Dangers of Too Much Sitting

Fitness Flash

Weight Training in Daily Spurts

We all know how important weight, or resistance, training is—having strong muscles is essential to staying self-sufficient, especially as we get older. But you may have a hard time getting enthused about going to the gym for heavy-duty pumping iron sessions. New research from Australia’s Edith Cowan University (ECU) found that small amounts of daily activity could well be the most beneficial approach for muscle strength.

For their study, researchers from ECU in collaboration with Niigata University and Nishi Kyushu University in Japan had three groups of participants perform an arm resistance exercise (eccentric bicep contractions) using a weight training machine, and then the researchers measured and compared changes in muscle strength and muscle thickness. 

Each group followed a different training schedule across the four weeks of the study. Two groups performed 30 contractions per week, with one group doing six contractions a day for five days a week (the 6×5 group), while the other crammed all 30 into a single day, once a week (the 30×1 group). The third group only performed six contractions on just one day each week.

After four weeks, the group doing six contractions once a week did not show any changes in muscle strength or muscle thickness. The group doing 30 contractions in a single day did not show any increase in muscle strength, though they had a slight increase in muscle size. The 6×5 group saw an increase of greater than 10 percent in muscle strength along with a slight increase in muscle size.

ECU Exercise and Sports Science Professor Ken Nosaka, PhD, says this and other studies suggest very manageable amounts of exercise done regularly can have a real effect on strength. “People think they have to do a lengthy session of resistance training in the gym, but that’s not the case. Just lowering a heavy dumbbell slowly once six times a day is enough. We only used the bicep curl exercise in this study, but we believe this would be the case for other muscles also, at least to some extent,” explains Dr. Nosaka, adding, “Muscle strength is important to our health. This could help prevent a decrease in muscle mass and strength with ageing. A decrease in muscle mass is a cause of many chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, dementia, plus musculoskeletal problems such as osteoporosis.”

He stresses that it’s also important to include rest in an exercise regimen. “In this study, the 6×5 group had two days off per week,” he points out. “Muscle adaptions occur when we are resting; if someone was able to somehow train 24 hours a day, there would actually be no improvement at all. Muscles need rest to improve their strength and their muscle mass, but muscles appear to like to be stimulated more frequently.”

Dr. Nosaka also believes that there needs to be more emphasis on making exercise a daily activity, rather than hitting a weekly minute goal. “If you’re just going to the gym once a week, it’s not as effective as doing a bit of exercise every day at home,” he says. The study was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.

Fitness Flash: The Dangers of Too Much Sitting

A New and Exciting Health Event

Is Your Immune System in Prime Shape?

While we tend to think of the body’s immune system as our first defense against the flu and other viruses, it’s responsible for so much more. That’s why I’m excited to share news about a brand-new online series called The Immunity Solution led by Austin Perlmutter, MD, the internationally recognized educator on the neurobiology of mood and decision-making, and Jeffrey Bland, PhD, the integrative health pioneer.

These well-respected experts know that an imbalance in your immune system can hurt your health, sap your energy, and bring down your mood.  It’s also been linked to poor gut health, painful joints, brain fog, skin problems, and more. But they also know that there’s a lot you can do to improve immunity…and they’ve put together a new 12-episode event to show you how.

Joining Drs. Bland and Perlmutter for this groundbreaking new series are leading experts on health, nutrition, and the immune system. You’ll learn how to beat fatigue and increase energy, improve mood, and optimize your health so that you feel great, all by making some simple diet and lifestyle changes. 

Consider this your personal invitation to attend this incredible event for FREE!

From October 12 to 23 at absolutely no cost to you, you will have the opportunity to learn about the latest discoveries and breakthroughs in immunity and get powerful tools that will work fast and last for the rest of your life. Here are just a few of the featured experts and topics in the 12-episode series:

  • Dr. David Perlmutter: The Brain Immune Connection
  • Dr. Daniel Amen: Mental Health in the Modern Day
  • Dr. Uma Naidoo: Food and Mood Connection
  • Dr. Mark Hyman: The Longevity Immunity Connection 
  • Dr. Austin Perlmutter: Nature, Sleep, Exercise
  • Dr. Jeffrey Bland: Food, Nutrients, Supplements, and Energy Immune Connection
  • JJ Virgin: Women’s Health and Immunity
  • Dr. Tom O’Bryan: The Incredible Gut-Immune Connection
  • Dr. Anna Cabeca: Inflammation: What Is It? And Why Care?

To learn more about this unique series hosted by Dr. Austin Perlmutter and Dr. Jeffrey Bland, go to The Immunity Solution.

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The Olive Oil Hunter News #86

Endive with Pears and Gorgonzola Recipe, Spotlight on Endive, How to Vet Vinegar, Improving Your Emotional Outlook and Exercise and Knee Arthritis

I love creating dishes that have distinctive flavors yet are easy and quick to assemble. Pairing endive and mild Gorgonzola with pears is just that. I’m also sharing important news about exercise—often called “free medicine”—which studies show has even more wide-ranging benefits than we thought!

Endive with Pears and Gorgonzola

  • The Olive Oil Hunter News #91 Endive with Pears and Gorgonzola

    If you’ve shied away from strong blue cheeses in the past, Gorgonzola dolce, sweeter than regular Gorgonzola, is a great introduction! The walnuts and pears add to the sweetness, a great counterbalance to the endive


    • 1/2 cup walnut halves
    • 2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 
    • 6 ripe Seckel pears or another small variety, halved through the stem ends 
    • 1/2 cup pear nectar
    • 1/4 cup pear balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
    • 2 teaspoons honey, or more to taste
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 6 heads endive or radicchio di Treviso, or 3 of each
    • Six 1-ounce wedges of Gorgonzola dolce or your favorite blue cheese


    Step 1

    Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts until fragrant, and then transfer them to a small bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and heat the oil. Use a small melon baller to remove any seeds from the pears and then place them, cut sides down, in the oil and cook until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and reserve. 

    Step 2

    To make the vinaigrette for the salad, use the same pan, increasing the heat to medium high. Add the pear nectar and vinegar and bring to a boil. Boil until the mixture is reduced by half, then whisk in the honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool slightly, then whisk in the 1/3 cup of olive oil. Taste, adding more vinegar, honey, salt, and/or pepper as needed. 

    Step 3

    Trim the endive and remove the leaves from two of the heads; arrange them on 6 salad plates. Slice the 4 remaining heads crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces and divide among the plates. On each plate, arrange 2 pear halves, a wedge of Gorgonzola, and a few of the walnuts. Lightly drizzle each dish with the vinaigrette. 

    Yields 6 servings

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Endive

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Excellent Endive

Native to Belgium and typically referred to as Belgian endive, this slightly bitter green is now cultivated in the US, notably in California. Its unique growing process makes it available almost year round. 

Endive is part of the chicory family of greens and actually starts from chicory seeds under typical field conditions. But once it grows into a plant, the leafy part is cut off and the deep roots are dug up and put in cold storage for a dormant period. Those roots then undergo forcing in a dark environment, somewhat like mushrooms, during which the oval-shaped heads with yellow-tipped leaves are formed.

Other relatives in the chicory group include red-purple radicchio, which can either be a small cabbage-shaped head or the endive-shaped radicchio di Treviso with distinctive color striations along the leaves; escarole, which has broad leaves with wavy edges; and curly endive or frisée.

When you’re selecting endive, the heads should be tight and feel heavy in your hand for their size. The leaves should be crisp and white at the base, with pale yellow edges and tips. Store them in your fridge’s crisper drawer for up to a week. 

When lightly brushed with extra virgin olive oil and grilled, whole endive make a great accompaniment to any protein. Besides using the leaves raw in salads, you can gently separate them and use them instead of chips to scoop up dips. The leaves also make a healthy alternative to crackers and bread slices when you’re making canapés—just pipe or spoon your favorite fillings down the center of each leaf. 

Tons of research has done little to settle the debate over whether it’s better to reach for full-fat, fat-free, or something in between when it comes to dairy. What we do know is that dairy has many important nutrients and that yogurt is especially good for you, thanks to its beneficial bacteria. 

Healthy Kitchen Nugget: How to Vet Vinegar

Healthy Kitchen Nugget

How to Vet Vinegar 

As with extra virgin olive oil, you have to do your due diligence before buying vinegar, especially flavored types. You want to avoid commercial brands that have been produced on a mass scale. They’re likely to be nothing more than artificially flavored distilled vinegar and contain a host of ingredients that you’d never find in finely made and often well-aged varieties. 

Fruit vinegars in particular should have as their base the actual fruit in their name, fruit that has been allowed to ferment and turn into alcohol before special bacteria are added to turn it into vinegar. Such artisanal vinegars typically cost more, but to be sure you’re getting what you’re paying for, always read the fine print to know exactly what’s in the bottle. (The first vinegar selection from the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club was so well received that we’ll be announcing the second one in late summer!)

I love using vinegar to enhance a primary ingredient in a recipe, which is why I suggest pear balsamic for the endive and pear salad above. 

For Your Best Health: Improving Your Emotional Outlook

For Your Best Health

Improving Your Emotional Outlook

It’s no secret that depression rates soared during the pandemic. Among Americans adults, they tripled from 8.5 percent before the pandemic to a staggering 27.8 percent in 2020. Research done at the Boston University School of Public Health showed that this high rate not only persisted into 2021, but even worsened, climbing to 32.8 percent. The truth is that depression can affect people for any number of reasons and at any time, and it’s a challenge to treat. That’s why taking lifestyle steps that help prevent it is so important. 

Research has already shown that exercise reduces depression risk, one of the many reasons it’s called free medicine. Recently, an international team of scientists sought to identify the right dose to get the strongest protection. They reviewed 15 different studies and found that the greatest preventive effect was seen in people who get the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise every week—they lowered their depression risk by 25 percent. Their analysis, published in JAMA Psychiatry, also found thatthere are benefits even for people who exercise lessFor instance, those who got half the recommended amount of exercise had an 18 percent lower risk of depression. The researchers deemed these results as significant mental health benefits and concluded that “health practitioners should therefore encourage any increase in physical activity to improve mental health.”

Fitness Flash: Exercise and Knee Arthritis

Fitness Flash

Exercise and Knee Arthritis

Researchers in Denmark have added to what we know about the benefits of exercising to improve the symptoms of arthritis. Their study, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, looked at knee osteoarthritis in particular and the advantages of following an 8-week program of exercises and education. Program participants reported less pain on the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score questionnaire compared to a group of participants who had a placebo treatment. 

According to the American College of Rheumatology, exercise is an important part of osteoarthritis treatment because it can ease joint pain and improve function. If you’re in pain and unsure how to get started, or have let an exercise program lapse, work with your doctor to get moving again.

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