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The Skinny on Fat!

04/29/2015 10:13PM ● Published by Crystal Tingle

 The Skinny on Fat!


Have you ever had those moments when you think back to something you did or tried and thought, “How could I have been so stupid?” I wish I could say it a little differently but it is the only way that fits my actions. Yes, that “try” was the fat-free diet back in the 90s. Did it work? Absolutely! I went from a size 12 to a size 4! And I may have kept going except for the fact that my hair started falling out and my skin was so dry you could have used my face as sandpaper, not to mention that I was a skinny fat, no tone or definition. But it was amazing what I could find that was fat free! Cookies, potato chips, and cheese! Who needs anything else? I finally started eating a normal diet again and, of course, gained most of the weight back! It would not be until almost 15 years later that I would learn how essential healthy fats are to our bodies AND our weight loss. Fats don’t make you fat! The right kind and in the right amounts actually aid in weight loss.


Olive oil is a great example of a healthy fat. In addition to weight loss, among its many benefits is the fact that the phytonutrients in these oils help fight inflammation and oxidative stress on our bodies which is a known contributor to chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Other studies show that olive oil can help to reduce blood pressure and even osteoporosis.  But it does matter how and where you get your oils from and how these oils are pressed. Traditionally, it is a pretty straightforward process; the olives are pressed until the oil comes out. But many oils on our grocery shelves are not really what you think. Many are chemically treated to extract the oil or infused with lesser quality oils.  


There has been much in our media about the purity or “fakeness” of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) on grocery shelves. Studies have revealed that an average of almost 70% of well-known brands fail accredited International Olive Council sensory panels that were set up to help provide a method and standard for testing the purity and quality of EVOOs. Most oils were oxidized, poor in quality and mixed with cheaper, more refined oils.  And why shouldn’t they be? FDA standards state that only 10% is required to be pure EVOO. The other 90% can be lower quality oil.


Not too long after reading about this, I noticed we had several new stores in our area that specialized in olive oil - Emerald Coast Olive Oil in Pier Park, Panama City Beach, Wild Olives Market in Rosemary Beach and Olive Oil Balsamic Tastings in Destin. I stopped by Olive in Destin, owned by Dar Zook, since it was the closest to me, and it was wonderful. Each trip there is my healthy version of a candy store because I turn giddy when I visit. And in one trip I was sold! I have been a patron for a while now and love the variety of flavors of the oils as well as the healthy vinegars they offer. The atmosphere of the store is not only pleasant and welcoming but appeals to the foodie in all of us.  As you enter you are beckoned by the beautiful stainless steel fustis (the containers that hold the oils and vinegars) lining the walls, there for you to sample each one if you’d like. Your bottles are filled from the very containers you just tested. What I love most about Dar’s oils is that they are pure, 100% pure. They fall under the UP or Ultra Premium standard which means the oils are 100% 1st pressed, cold-pressed, unfiltered and taste-tested for quality.  They are also non-GMO!  She carries at least one or two organic oils at a time.


I asked Dar why they decided to open Olive and this is what she had to say:  “After reading countless articles and books about the common practice of mixing inferior quality oils with extra virgin olive oils and selling them as ‘pure EVOOs,’ we began searching for a source of olive oils that could guarantee 100% extra virgin oil and nothing else. We routinely traveled to California and Europe and found an abundance of great regional shops that carried what we were looking for, but none existed in Destin. We thought, ‘Why not us? Surely there must be enough foodies here to support the cause!’  Olive has been a great success, and our patrons come time and time again raving about the product and commenting on what they often call ‘their new obsession.’”


I love that! And I love the fact that as locals we have access to these wonderful, trustworthy oils and vinegars. I no longer use store-bought salad dressings or oils, and why would I? I have a cabinet full of olive oils and vinegars that I can mix and match to take a mundane salad and create a different party in my mouth each time! (Sorry, my inner foodie is taking over.)


You can use these oils and vinegars in so many ways, but I asked Dar to give me a couple of summer salad recipes to get your taste buds quivering. So stop by one of our local olive oil stores and let them give you the skinny on their fats as well! Bon appetite!


Avocado & Citrus Salad


·          1 lg red grapefruit

·          2 navel oranges

·          2 sliced avocados

·          ½ cup grated or shaved parmesan cheese

·          6 cups butter lettuce or other green leaf lettuce

·          Grapefruit Vinaigrette (recipe below)


·          Cut a slice off the top and bottom of the grapefruit. Following the line of the fruit, slice off the peel and white pith in thick strips. Then, holding the fruit, cut along the membranes in between the sections. The sections should fall right out. Repeat with the oranges. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with dressing to coat the leaves. Divide equally among six plates. Top with grapefruit slices, orange slices, avocado slices and Parmesan. Garnish with fresh-snipped chives.

·          To make Vinaigrette: whisk ⅓ cup Grapefruit White Balsamic Vinegar and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, add sprinkle of salt and fresh pepper. Add ⅔ cup Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Use a medium- to robust-intensity EVOO like Organic Barnea or Spanish Hojiblanca, or use the Lemon-infused olive oil for an extra citrusy kick. For a spicy kick, substitute Harissa-infused olive oil.




Spinach Salad with Ripe Peach Balsamic Vinaigrette


·          6 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and dried thoroughly

·          1 medium red onion, sliced into rings, separated

·          ½ cup pecans, toasted

·          1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled

·          ¼ cup Mild EVOO**

·          3 Tbsps Peach White Balsamic Vinegar

·          Dash of black pepper, optional


Place spinach in large serving bowl (or four separate salad bowls). Top with red onion rings, toasted pecans, and crumbled goat cheese. In a separate mixing bowl or large measuring cup, add peach balsamic. Slowly pour olive oil into balsamic vinegar, whisking while pouring to emulsify. Drizzle vinaigrette over spinach, red onion, pecans, and goat cheese. Lightly toss to distribute the vinaigrette. Top with ground black pepper, if preferred.


**Use a mild EVOO like the California Arbosana or the Spanish Arbequina, or try with Tuscan Herb or Basil-infused olive oil for an herbier flavor!



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Health+Fitness, Today, Today Fat Olive Oil International Olive Council Emerald Coast Olive Oil Pier Park Panama City Beach Wild Olives Market Rosemary Beach Olive Oil BAlsamic Tastings The Olive Dar Zook

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