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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for the Category 'Olive Oil'

California Olive Ranch Olive Oil

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

California-Grown Extra Virgin Olive Oil from California Olive Ranch recently was featured on California Olive Ranch’s new blog catering to chefsBased in Oroville, Calif., California Olive Ranch is North America’s largest producer of extra virgin olive oil. It’s aiming to do for California olive oil what Napa Valley winemakers did for California wine back in the 1970s.  pressed olive oil

To make the freshest possible extra virgin olive oil, the company uses an innovative system that speeds up the process of harvesting the more than one million Spanish and Greek varietal olive trees it has planted in California. That way, it can rush the olives to the mill and quickly press them to extract the freshest possible flavor. 

More and more top chefs are turning to California Olive Ranch’s award-winning extra virgin olive oil to finish off their dishes. They drizzle the oil on grilled fish, roasted vegetables, salads and much, much more to kick up the flavor of the dish. A chef made the blood orange olive oil cake pictured here using California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil. Consumers, meanwhile, also are using the fresh, flavorful, aromatic oils in much the same way.  orange cake

California Olive Ranch makes four types of extra virgin olive oil: 

  • Arbequina, a fruity oil that has a balanced pungency. It’s pressed from a Spanish varietal olive.
  • Arbosana, a fruity, nutty oil with a medium pungency. It, too, is pressed from a Spanish varietal. 
  • Miller’s Blend, a blend of oils selected by the company’s tasters to include the fruitiness of Arbequina and the slight pungency and mellow notes of Arbosana. 
  • Olio Nuovo, a unique seasonal oil which is unfiltered and bottled directly from the press. It’s the freshest possible oil you can have. When you taste it, you’ll experience a peppery, fruity and pleasantly bitter burst of fresh olive oil. 

Find unique recipes, tips and information about extra virgin olive oil on California Olive Ranch’s chef blog as well as a new blog for consumers. The company also produces an eNewsletter chock full of information about seasonal vegetables and fruits as well as chefs and recipes.

California Olive Ranch’s extra virgin olive oil is a natural match for the hand-blown cruets offered by

California Olive Ranch, California olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, EVOO, olive oil recipes, extra virgin olive oil recipes

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Olive Oil Dipping Dishes a Gourmet Gift

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Bread dipping, minced herbs and spices with quality extra virgin olive oil is complimented with dipping dishes which in turn makes for fine gourmet gifts. Bread dipping dishes are now both adaptable and fashionable. When you drizzle extra virgin olive oil in a dipping dish, it makes for a tasty Italian appetizer, using freshly baked bread and crisp vegetables. When using white stoneware dipping dishes a visual display of color graduations in the dish is displayed when filled with olive oil. Olive green tones in various hues can be seen and the artwork displayed is unique.

When inviting friends over, offer them fresh baked bread. Let them dip the bread in extra virgin olive oil in which herbs and spices have been added. Make sure you use quality dipping dishes which are custom made exclusively for bread dipping. When buying white stoneware dipping dishes spiral lines are featured for an artful table appearance. When extra virgin olive oil is added, the spiral design in the dipping dishes feature a floral rose inside the dish. When balsamic vinegar is added, the oil and vinegar separates and the vinegar settles to the bottom of the dipping dish with the oil floating on top.

Dipping dishes have multiple uses including adding gourmet sauce. Your freshly baked bread can be dipped into the dishes or you could use spring rolls, steamed vegetables or even pot stickers. You can also use dipping dishes to serve flavored oils or even to add spices to the olive oil. By adding a teaspoon of Italian crushed herbs with freshly ground peppercorns to a ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, you will have a delightful appetizer that is sure to compliment the main meal. Try sprinkling freshly grated Parmesan cheese into the olive oil filled dipping dish. By dipping warmed sliced bread, your guests will be pleasantly surprised at the unique taste and the blended flavors of the herbs and peppercorns.

If you are stumped in determining the best gourmet gift to give a friend or relative, consider high quality bread dipping dishes. They easily fit into anyone’s kitchen décor. Dipping dishes are made of fine American chip resistant stoneware and you can use them in the microwave and they are dishwasher safe.

Everyone deserves a special gift as well as a unique gift. Not too many people are aware that there is such as a thing as dipping dishes made of white porcelain with a spiral design which creates a delicate floral rose inside the dish. Instead of having the usual appetizers of celery sticks or crackers with cheese, why not go that extra mile and serve warm sliced French bread dipped in olive oil in which herbs and spices have been added. Even extra virgin olive oil can be served alone or with a balsamic vinegar. The added vinegar will create the floral rose as the vinegar settles to the bottom and the oil continues to float on top. So…surprise your guests and show them how much you appreciate them by inviting them over and tantalizing their taste buds with unique bread dipping dishes. 

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Bruschetta an Italian Bread Dish

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Bruschetta originated in Italy’s Tuscany region, as it is known presently, is an Italian bread appetizer that is made with drizzled olive oil, rubbed with roasted garlic and topped with tomatoes. It became popular in American restaurants in the 1990’s and has sense retained its popularity.

Bruschetta is toasted brown on each side and then olive oil is generously poured over the bread. Garlic can be used but it is optional. The original cooking method was taken from the Italian verb, bruscare which means “roasted over coals.” Bread was not to be wasted and now you know what to do with bread that has gone stale and seemingly not to be used for anything else. Just add extra virgin olive oil and your prepared seasonings, or you can even dip the entire bread in a plate of olive oil. Further toppings, like chopped onions and tomatoes, have become increasingly popular in many restaurants depending on the clientele‘s particular taste. You can decide on any topping to “dress up” your bruschetta. The sky is the limit and of course whatever is available throughout the seasons.

Perhaps a little trivia will be appreciated by you. Bruschetta is the poor man’s original method of preparing stale bread. In reality, it is charred, oil soaked bread rubbed with garlic. Garlic bread is the overstated  “pretender.” Democracy in Britain confused the two garlic bread and bruschetta. Garlic bread was sold in the freezers but the elite citizens drooled over bruschetta, paying a small fortune at the River Café. Garlic bread became the “people’s food” and bruschetta became the snack for the People’s Party. What a reverse in just preparing bread with the use of olive oil.

Did you know that olive oil is the most important ingredient of bruschetta, not garlic? The garlic used on bruschetta is rubbed on so that the fresh garlic is inhaled and is the background for the use of olive oil. Garlic lumps are not eaten. Perhaps the very beginning of bruschetta was found in the ancient Roman practice of tasting newly pressed olive oil on a piece of bread as olive oil had to be prepared literally within hours of harvesting the olives. Garlic may or may not have been used; there really is no way of knowing. This practice of preparing bruschetta continues in the oil producing areas of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio to this date.

Bruschetta can be prepared many ways but some versions involve frying country bread in lots of oil until the bread is literally permeated with extra virgin olive oil. Other cooks choose to bake slices of white bread in the oven and then coat the bread with olive oil.

If there is a loaf of stale bread not being use, than think of bruschetta. Toast the bread and soak the browned bread in extra virgin olive oil, rubbed with garlic and to be enjoyed as an entrée, fit for the elite, though bruschetta at one time being the food for ordinary people. 

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Bread Dipping Simplicity

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Bread Dipping Simplicity

The Mediterranean region introduced bread dipping. It is very popular due to its simplicity and delightful taste. Bread dipping paves the way for the main course and of course lively conversations are prompted in a very relaxed atmosphere.

Usually, the typical appetizer served for a get-together are crackers and cheese or celery sticks and cream cheese. It has become a boring ritual and definitely does not invite a robust conversation. But…when you serve fresh sliced, toasted, freshly baked Italian bread with herbs and spices which are bathed in extra virgin olive oil, now that is a wake up call for a tasty before-the-main meal course. A good bread dipping seasoning has multiple uses. It can be used on salads as well as pasta dressings. Or steamed vegetables, roasts and chicken can also benefit from various herbs and spices which are also used for bread dipping.

By using flavored oils, added herbs and spices, extra quality oil, and vinegar, bread dipping can actually be made from scratch. Initially, you will have to re-hydrate, in water, the spices and herbs, that will be used, in a shallow dish for at least 15 minutes. The excess water is than drained and extra virgin olive oil is added. The various flavors of the mixed herbs and spices will have their aroma brought out as if the herbs were freshly picked from a garden. Depending on taste of your guests, you can add lemon juice, cracked pepper and grated parmesan cheese for an additional zestful dish.

A bread dipping entrée is only as good as the olive oil purchased and being dipped into. You should buy the best quality extra virgin olive oil that is on the market; it should be stored in a dark bottle to preserve the flavoring. As a variation, balsamic vinegar can be added. When using freshly baked foccacia, baguette, or sourdough bread, you can use the gourmet olive oil which will add extra flavoring.

When your guests arrive, on the table will be freshly sliced bread, bread dipping dishes and extra virgin olive oil and vinegar as an invitation to a delightful prelude to the main course. When balsamic vinegar is added, the vinegar will pool in the olive oil, adding an artistic design to the combined olive oil and vinegar. This is especially noted when bread dipping dishes are used as the shallow dish is conducive to the designs. The bread is sliced at an angle along the loaf and the slices can be halved, serving on an extra platter alongside bread dipping dishes.

For a quick and extra healthy mini-meal, bread dipping recipes are quick and can be prepared rather easily. For a planned party, the preparation can save time and energy for the hostess. Bread dipping is good for your health and the unique taste contributes to the finer aspects of old world cuisine. If you want to deviate from the run-of-the-mill appetizers, think about bread dipping and create an amazing entree that will be most welcomed by your guests.

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Bread Dipping Dish

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Bread Dipping Dish the Unique Gift

Bread dipping using a bread dipping dish has been around for many years. At one time, you only saw it being done in Italian restaurants since the traditional meal includes bread dipping. Now private homes enjoy this wonderful entrée to a meal. Dipping freshly baked bread into extra virgin olive oil that has been mixed with herbs and spices is a perfect excuse to invite friends to a social gathering.

Bread dips have many uses. Your dipping sauce can be added to pastas, salads and different meats. Extra virgin olive is the base ingredient and with vinegar, the mixture will be reflected in taste and appearance. You will want to use bread that is suitable. Italian Foccacia, Ciabatta, French baguette or sourdough work very well, dipping into a bread dipping dish.

Before your guests arrive, arrange the sliced bread in an attractive manner. When everyone has seated themselves at the table, provide your guests with flavored dipping sauce. Adding oil dressed with swirls of balsamic vinegar is eye catching and will add to this unique evening.

Bread dipping dishes make unique gifts for any occasion. This gift easily blends into any kitchen décor. Because the bread dipping dish is made of chip resistant porcelain, it is dish washer safe as well as microwave safe. A visual display of color funnels into the dish when filled with extra virgin olive oil. Olive green tints appear, providing a work of art that captivates the eye, when the olive oil is added. A lovely floral rose appears within the dipping dish. When Italian balsamic vinegar is added, the oil and vinegar separate and the vinegar settles to the bottom of the olive oil in the dipping dish.

The next time you are at a loss as to what to prepare for your guests, think Italian. Fresh, warm bread is all you will need to begin a meal. As an entrée, it is quite easy to carry on delightful conversation as your guests enjoy something totally new to them. You can be the first on the block to start a new fad and it hardly costs you anything.

Bread dipping is very common in Italy and at one time, only restaurants offered this entree to their customers. It is a very healthy way to enjoy a meal and now many homes have savvy hostesses who display their prized extra virgin olive oil in bread dipping dishes with the aroma of freshly baked bread permeating throughout the house. Coupled with a pasta dish and tossed salad, this meal time definitely will be remembered for a very long time. There is no reason to stand over a stove for hours on end when all it takes is a dipping dish, extra virgin olive oil and different breads.

Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy fat and can be enjoyed without feeling any guilt. Even the American Heart Association states that fat is not the cause of serious illnesses, only saturated fat. Now you have no reason not to dip your favorite bread in warmed extra virgin olive oil served in an attractive bread dipping dish.

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Bread Dipping an Ideal Appetizer

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Bread Dipping the Italian Cuisine Appetizer

Is there such a thing as a perfect appetizer just by dipping bread? Yes, and it is the perfect addition to any Italian meal that has pasta as the main ingredient.

For oil dipping, using extra virgin olive oil, soft bread is most ideal. There are some dipping variations that allow for the toasting of bread before serving it. If tomatoes are in season, you can dry them and add to your oil dipping appetizer. Basil leaves chopped can also be added.

Try this oil dipping alternative and see if your guests won’t compliment your cooking abilities.

1 tablespoon garlic clove, peeled and pressed
1 teaspoon fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon oregano
1 ½ tablespoon dried parsley
A dash of fresh ground black and red pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients, whisking together. Place a teaspoon on a dipping dish and drizzle with gourmet extra virgin olive oil. Dip soft Italian bread and of course, adjust the seasoning to suit your guests taste. Add additional oil until the herbs on the plate are gone.

Bread dipping is used as an appetizer and when preparing a party, your guests will enjoy dipping a variety of breads and fresh vegetables into the dipping sauce. If meat is served, you can prepare ahead of time a dipping sauce marinade exclusively for dipping meat. A number of dipping sauces can be set out for your guests to try. Why not have each of your guest prepare a dipping sauce which they can bring to your party. Then everyone has an opportunity to try a different sauce.

A good quality bottle of extra virgin olive oil on hand will allow you to create dipping sauces that you particularly like. It may cost a bit more but it is well worth the money spent when purchasing superior olive oil. Always have a bottle in your kitchen cupboard for those special occasions. A fast appetizer can be created when unexpected guests knock on your door. Bread dipping dishes can be recreated over and over and you will never tire of the various ways that herbs can be blended, coupled with herbal seasoning.

Superior extra virgin quality oil will need to be purchased in dark bottles. Light will destroy the fragile taste and your money is wasted. Do not store your precious oil in plastic containers as a plastic taste or flavor will permeate into the olive oil. You can store the olive oil in a glass drizzle cruet if it is placed in the cupboard when not in use. Olive oil will need to be stored in a cool dark place. Any olive oil that has been affected by heat or intensive light will have a copper hue; this is characteristic of oxidization. When stored properly, extra virgin olive oil can be kept for up to two years. Olive oil is most flavorable the first two months after pressing. Olive oil should not be stored in the refrigerator; this will block its full delicate flavor.

For a pleasant dinner among friends, bread dipping adds to any exquisite Italian entrée. bread dipping, oil dipping, olive oil, Italian bread appetizer


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Bread Dipping is a Staple of the Mediterranean Diet

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

You want to eat healthy but there are so many diets claiming they are number one and the Mediterranean diet is one of many allowing bread dipping. Who do you believe?

An entrée worth trying is bread dipping using herbed olive oil. A bread dipping dish, bread and olive oil and vinegar is all that is required for this easy meal.

Either slice or cube sourdough bread or foccacia. Place some extra virgin olive oil or balsamic vinegar in a bread dipping dish. Dip a piece of bread into it and voila…a wonderful prelude to the main meal.

The oil dipping dish adds a special presentation to bread dipping on the table. One dipping dish has a swirl on the bottom which becomes a focal point when you add extra virgin olive oil. This swirl gets darker as the dipping dish gets deeper. The dipping dish is made from white stoneware and can be used for any occasion. It is 4 ½ inches wide and can be put into the dishwasher to clean. If you are of the mind to create your own flavored oils that will be used in the dipping dish, this dish is also microwave safe. The oil can be warmed in the microwave which will help disperse the flavor.

In order to experience the best quality flavor, extra virgin olive oil should be used in the dipping dish since olive oil contains the most flavor. In order to make your own flavored olive oil, add some herbs and spices. Basil, lemon juice, dried tomatoes and black pepper will work very well. Before serving the flavored oil, allow it to blend for at least 15 minutes. If the oil is needed right away, put the dipping dish into the microwave and heat for 10 seconds. The flavors will diffuse and the olive oil can be served immediately.

If you are hosting a special evening, make a bread dipping appetizer. The bread dipping dish is an attractive centerpiece. Coupled with a Mediterranean meal, bread dipping is a healthy alternative to other fat laden snacks. It can be eaten any time. There really is no reason to wait until a special occasion to use a bread dipping dish. Should friends stop by unannounced, it is very simple to combine a quick dish, slicing some bread and filling the dipping dish with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

If you are unsure of what gift to purchase for an anniversary or a birthday, than look to buy the stoneware Bread Dipping Dish. It is classy and useful. When used with quality extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, you have created a winning appetizer. Of course, if you are fortunate to be able to grow your own herbs, it takes no time at all to combine your favorite herbs and place them in olive oil, warmed and allowed to blend for at least 15 minutes. Experiment with your culinary expertise and along with your favorite bread, pasta and a salad, your guests will thank you for a very heart healthy meal. No restaurant will be able to top this Mediterranean meal shared with good friends.

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Flavorful Olive Oil

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Olive Oil’s Rich Flavor

For at least 6,000 years the rich flavor of olive oil has enjoyed world wide acclaim. There are presently dozens of brands of olive oil on grocery stores shelves. Consumers are becoming choosy about which olive oil they will bring home, almost as much as deciding which fine wine to purchase. Like wine grapes, no two olives are alike. It all depends on the soil, climate, olive variety, age and the processing method. Olive oil can be nutty or spicy, delicate or mild and the color can range from clear to pale green, to golden, to deep olive green. When olive oil is properly processed, the flavor, aroma and vitamins are maintained. It is widely believed that the oil obtained from the same variety of olive tree cultivated in the same growing region can very greatly.

There are four basic types of olive oil available.

Extra virgin in which the oil’s acidity level has to be under 1%. The olives are cold pressed without any refining. Olive oil that is unfiltered is preferred by some people for its full-bodied flavor.
• Virgin is when the oil’s acidity is between 1% and 3%. It has a slightly sharper taste.
• Pure olive oil has a greater than 3% acidity level and must be processed further with chemicals and bleaching clay. It is then mixed with virgin oil to produce “pure” oil.
• Lampante olive oil or “light” olive oil has the same amount of fat and calories as other olive oils. This oil does have a tendency to lack taste.

The natural acidity of the oil at the time of packaging and testing is done by at least eight testers who determine how the olive oil is classified, using smell, sight and taste. The smell test figures the intensity of the oils’ scent while visual analysis clarity, density, and color of the oil. The oil is required to have a good balanced flavor and to note if there is any unpleasant aftertaste.

In many regions, the olives are still picked by hand using wooden tools or the olives are beaten from the trees with poles and caught in large nets. The entire olive is used to make olive oil and they are crushed using stainless steel grindstones. This paste is then mixed with water and placed on circular hemp mats where it is stacked and pressed. Oil and water is produced and later separated. The cold press method allows olive oil to maintain its flavor, color and nutritional value.

In order to remove sediment and produce extra virgin olive oil a filtration process is used. If the oil is more than 1%, extra refining is done to remove almost all traces of color, aroma, taste and acidity. This process results in extra light tasting olive oil. To produce pure olive oil, extra virgin oil is added to the extra light, thereby achieving the desired level of flavor and aroma. Fine wine is graded by tasting and measuring acidity before bottling. So is it with the many varieties of olive oil. 

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Healthy Olive Oil Cooking

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Olive Oil has a place in the kitchen

Olive oil was once a very much maligned fat but now has gained honor in the kitchen. Olive oil is healthy due to mono unsaturated fatty acids. The oleic acid found in olive oil is very stable at high temperatures. The body processes oleic acid easier than any other fatty acids.

When you buy organic extra virgin olive oil you also are purchasing a product that is high in antioxidants which fight free radicals, preventing premature aging. The oxidation process is neutralized by the antioxidants.

Obviously, the safest vegetable oil for frying is olive oil as it resists oxidation at higher temperatures. When preparing a recipe from the Mediterranean area of the world, frying is very much a common preparation of the Mediterranean cuisines.

When frying, there are some olive oil tips that can be used in the kitchen.

• Use smaller quantities of olive oil when cooking since the oil expands in volume and it is less absorbed by the food being prepared.
• You can reuse your olive oil up to five times.
• Never fry meat in the same olive oil that you fried fish in. Flavors will blend.
• Even though olive oil looks thicker than other oils, it has no more calories than sunflower oil.

In the 20th century, it was learned that the olive oil based Mediterranean diet reduced cardiovascular disease as noted by the late Dr. Ancel Keys. Since people living in the Mediterranean have better cardiovascular health, the initial medical study was around the use of olive oil. It was proven that the use of olive oil will balance the cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart attacks, fight high blood pressure and can prevent arteriosclerosis.

Other areas of the body were researched as to the effects olive oil had. So far, the results have been very positive. With just two tablespoons of virgin olive oil taken daily, the health benefits will be like that of the people living in the Mediterranean.

There are many ways olive oil can be integrated into your diet. Dipping slices of soft bread into olive oil, using it instead of butter and adding olive oil to salads with some salt. Anywhere you go in Europe, you will find people who have their unique ways of instilling the use of olive oil into their dietary habits.

A popular snack is Catalan bruschetta which is bead with tomato. Preparation is very simple. Cut a very ripe tomato crosswise, rub the bread with one half of the tomato on both sides. Drizzle olive oil liberally over the bread, sprinkling with salt. You can add cooked ham, cheese, tuna fish, anchovies, figs and olive for a prosciutto style meal. Include in your meal, salads with olive oil dressing, romesco, a cold sauce and sopa de farigola which is thyme soup.

Recent studies have indicated that the consumption of olive oil is not merely in the olive oil but from the Mediterranean diet as a whole. With this in mind, bon appetite and enjoy Mediterranean way of eating with the liberal use of virgin olive oil.

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Olive Oil Fact and Uses

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Olive Oil and how we can use it for our health.

Olive oil and wine have something in common. We should decide which olive oil to purchase much the same way we purchase wine, by determining the thickness, richness and color of the product.

Olive oil comes in three selections…

• Extra virgin oil which is considered the best and least processed olive oil. The olives are first pressed, releasing this exquisite oil. Extra virgin oil has a peppery taste and coats your mouth like melted butter.
• Virgin oil which is pressed twice. This particular oil is perfect for all purpose cooking.
• Pure oil which has been pressed as well as processed. It has also been filtered and refined. Extra light olive oil has been processed quite a bit and will retain a very mild olive flavor. Olive oil that is organic tends to be light with less flavor and less structure.

There are many uses for olive oil as well as eliminating or reducing many diseases.

Olive oil aids in digestion, therefore sustaining your metabolism. It is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and iron. The body’s strong level of vitamin E is maintained by the use of olive oil, thereby delaying the aging process.

Olive oil has no cholesterol. It helps keep “things moving along” in the digestive tract. It also helps the stomach fight ulcers.

Olive oil can be substituted for salad dressing and to fry your favorite fried dishes. When sautéing your vegetables, use olive oil to coat your pan.

Olive oil is also good for your baby’s bottle, so add a few drops. Also, drop a few teaspoons in the bath water or on your lufah.

Many health complications associated with diet can be minimized with the use of olive oil. The Greeks diet, rich in salt and fats, were able to live longer than the Japanese. They also had less heart disease, stomach cancer, strokes and other forms of cancer. All of this because of their use of olive oil. As a pain killer, researchers have found that 50g of extra virgin olive oil was the same as to a 1/10th of a dose of Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory medicine.

Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat. Other oils are polyunsaturated fats as well as pure fat. Olive oil’s properties lower the risk of getting colon cancer much the same way as fish oil does. Cholesterol levels are lowered and even weight loss is achieved with the use of olive oil. Excess fats from both the lower and upper body is lost with the use of olive oil as opposed to losing weight primarily in the lower body.

There is one note worth mentioning. Not all olive oils have a high phenolic content. So the health benefits may not be realized. The reason for this is that the ‘extra virgin olive oil’ may be diluted with other oils so the phenolic content is diminished. No substitutes should be accepted when it comes to purchasing olive oil. The taste and the flavor are more than enough reasons to add extra virgin olive oil in your daily diet. 

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