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Our New Blog Format for 2011

Ending the U.S. Dependence on Imported Oil

Compound Found in Olive Oil May Curb Memory Loss - Study

Olive Oil Primer: "Earthy," "Greasy," & Other Taste Defects

Events in Season
Winter Fancy Food Show
San Franciso
Jan. 16-18, 2011

CIA Greystone: Worlds of Healthy Flavors
St. Helena, CA
Jan. 19-21, 2011

CIA Greystone: Produce First! American Menus Initiative
St. Helena, CA
Jan. 23, 2011
Good Food That's Good For You
It's really already too late to make any more rigid New Year's resolutions. So why not just resolve to eating food that tastes great and also happens to be Courtesy of Wikimedia Commonsnutritious? That's how we're planning to approach the start of 2011 and another new decade.

We're not the only ones thinking this way. Mario Batali grabbed headlines recently when the "the King of Pancetta" embraced the Meatless Monday concept at his restaurants. The celebrity chef is extending this sort of thinking to what he's planning on cooking with his kids this year: "We want to master more vegetarian dishes, like simple bruschetta, that are fun to cook as a team," Batali was recently quoted as telling

Need some inspiration to do the same?

We've compiled recipes and suggestions to serve as a guide to eating good, nutritious foods. The recipes below provide a variety of flavorful dishes: steamed salmon with leeks and roasted tomatoes, a gingery carrot soup, and sweet potato fries with a maple barbecue sauce. Not surprisingly, all use extra virgin olive oil.Legumes - Puglia Martina Franca

The recipes include a healthful twist. The oven-roasted sweet potato fries are a great alternative to French fries. The carrot soup has a creamy texture not because of cream, but because it's puréed and uses a potato. The toasty pecan topping for the pancakes offers a healthful and more flavorful alternative than butter.

If you need more structure to keep your resolve for eating well this year, here's a checklist from David Eisenberg, an accomplished cook and director of the Osher Research Center at Harvard Medical School:
  1. Eat more fruits, vegetables and nuts in place of processed carbohydrates.
  2. Choose healthier carbohydrates - whole grains and foods with lower glycemic loads.
  3. Choose healthier proteins - emphasize fish, poultry, tofu, nuts and legumes.
    Vegetable Market in Heraklion via Wikimedia Commons
    © Hans Hillewaert
  4. Eliminate trans fat, reduce saturated fats and replace these with healthier, plant-based fats and oils. (Yes, that means olive oil!)
  5. Imagine your "ideal plate" - ¼ protein; ¼ healthier carb; ½ vegetables.
  6. Also consider the "dessert flip," with more fruit and smaller portions of indulgent desserts.
  7. Portion control is king - "It's the calories stupid."
  8. Look for opportunities to reduce salt. Season with herbs and spices first.
  9. In place of sugar-sweetened beverages, emphasize water, tea and coffee.
  10. Enjoy wine/alcohol - but not too much.
  11. Consider the environmental impact of the foods we buy and eat.

Here's to a happy and healthful New Year.
 Featured Recipes
Recipes Courtesy of Our Featured Chef Tony Polito

Steamed Alaskan Salmon with Leeks & Roasted TomatoesSteamed Salmon Polito

Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese & GreensBeet Risotto with Goat Cheese and Greens - Polito

Additional Recipes

Gingery Carrot Soup
Gingery Carrot Soup

Recipe credit: The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2006), by Peggy Knickerbocker and Christopher Hirsheimer
Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books

Sweet Potato Fries with Maple Barbecue Sauce Sweet Potato Fries with Maple BBQ Sauce

Recipe Credit: Anna Getty, Anna Getty's Easy Green Organic (Chronicle Books, 2010)
Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books

Toasty Pecan Topping for Pancakes
 Toasty Pecan Topping for Pancakes

Recipe courtesy of Roger Fillion for California Olive Ranch
 Featured Chef
Tony Polito

Tony Polito calls himself "a health nut." The Boston chef uses fresh, raw foods and high-quality ingredients. It's the kind of healthy that tastes good, like his steamed salmon with leeks and roasted tomatoes. Polito performs cooking shows on local TV and radio stations. And he shows people how to make better choices in the foods they eat. He helped his mom lose more than 100 pounds. Polito has taken his recipes and produced a cookbook entitled Fresh (Aurora Foods Publishing, 2010).

We asked him about healthy eating and cooking. 

What would you advise people who want to prepare healthy meals in 2011?

Right off the top you should read the labels on the foods you buy. Knowing what's in the ingredients is the first step. For example, if you buy quinoa and on the back of the package there's a flavor packet that you're supposed to add, check to see what's in that flavoring. There could be 30 ingredients in there that you don't even know how to pronounce. Most are probably preservatives to support the shelf life. You're better off just buying the quinoa itself and adding your own spices.

What simple adjustments can people make in their diets?

Number one, chew your food. That will make it easier for your body to digest the food. Digestion starts in the mouth, like a food processor. Number two, eat small portions. Open your hands and that should generally be the size of your meal - without piling up all the food. Alternatively, eat off a smaller plate.  Portion control has been talked about for a long time. Yet everyone steers away from this concept.  Finally, eat more slowly. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to tell you when you're full.

What simple adjustments can people make in their cooking? Tony Polito at 2010 HR

Avoid burning your meat or poultry on the grill. You want to avoid the black marks, because they contain carcinogens and can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. If you're steaming vegetables like broccoli, don't steam for too long. Three to four minutes should be plenty, if you've added the vegetable to the steamer when the water already is boiling. If you steam for too long you sweat out the nutrients from the vegetable.  

What are some "super foods" we should try to include in our diets - and why?

These can be eaten as snacks. Broccoli is a super food, because it's loaded with antioxidants. Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts are good too. They're high in vitamin D and contain antioxidants. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds can help with lowering your cholesterol. They contain good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A handful of any of these foods would be a good snack size. Raw or roasted buckwheat is great added to a salad. It's packed with antioxidants and provides a nice, nutty flavor.

What's the best way to have an enjoyable cooking experience?

Set yourself up for success and prepare all the ingredients ahead of time, before you begin cooking. Your life will be much more fun in the kitchen. And if you do make a mistake, don't sweat it. Use it as a learning experience. And, who knows, maybe that "mistake" will actually improve the dish.

 Thank You

Stay Healthy in 2011 with California Olive Ranch!

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