The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the mediterranean diet is olive oil. While first introduced in 1946, the mediterranean diet did not become popular until the 1990’s. Actual Mediterranean Cuisine uses lard and butter in cooking and reserves olive oil for salads and cooking vegetables. It is the high level of monosaturated fats that may be linked with lower instances of coronary heart disease. All history aside, I want to go into the quality of olive oil that we are using. In 2011, 2 Andalusion businessmen were jailed for olive oil FRAUD!!! Sounds crazy, but what these men were selling was a mixture of 70-80% sunflower oil and 20-30% olive oil. In a U.C. Davis report, it shows that nearly 70% of olive oil brands are fakes. They are cut in with soybean or canola oil which contain high levels of trans-fats. I don’t know about you, but when I pay umpteen dollars for olive oil in the store, it better be the real thing.
How do you know if you have pure olive oil?
True olive oil will be pungent, bitter and even a little spicy.
Olive oil will always come in a dark glass bottle, never clear.
You get what you pay for. True olive oil comes with a higher price tag because it is more difficult to mass produce. One olive tree only produces around 3 liters of olive oil a year.
Look for a date. You should not only see an expriation date, but a harvest date as well.
Look for oils produced in Italy, Greece, or California.
What do I recommend??
Enter, Kasandrino’s International.
I started looking for a high quality olive oil when I began making homemade baby formula for my daughter. I didn’t trust what I was finding on the store shelves so I started to look a little further. I will be a lifetime consumer of this oil as long as they are still producing it! Kasandrinos is a family operated company and their olive oil is 100% pure.
Here is what Tony Kasandrinos has to say about the oil business –
“The problem is many times some of the larger olive oil companies buy olives and olive oils from all over the world and then blend them together. In some instances, companies will “water down” the olive oil with with other vegetable oils like soy or canola. That’s when fraud occurs and the entire industry gets a black eye because of the actions of a few. An easy way to know if your olive oil is real is to purchase from a reputable small company who takes pride in the quality of their product.”
After using Kasandrinos olive oil, I never looked back. I thought I’d do a taste test to see if I could tell the difference, and I could…
You can see by the glasses, the Olivari is slightly lighter in color with a more yellow tint to it. As far as pouring, the Olivari seemed very watery compared to the other two. Now, for taste – the Olivari was bland not much flavor at all. The Nash Borther’s did not have any flavor to me and actually tasted a bit rancid!! The Kotinos was perfect! Not that I have had much experience with olive oil, but it has a slight bitterness with just a hint of pepper. It was also nice and thick, the kind that will drip nicely off a spoon. The Kotinos also has a production date and an expiration date and the other two did not. For me, I will stick with Kotinos. Now that you are more informed, the choice is yours but if you plan on spending the money, get the good stuff !!
So how about a recipe?? I LOVE pesto. I always purchased it from the store but it is SUPER EASY to make!! Here is a recipe from the Kasandrinos blog for a great pesto!
- 2 cups organic basil
- 1 cup Kasandrinos Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 cup cheese (I like Kerry Gold Grass Fed)
- ½ cup pine nuts (or any other nut you want, cashews tastegreat as well)
- 6 garlic cloves
- salt and pepper to taste
- Chop pine nuts, garlic and cheese in food processor or Magic Bullet
- Stuff basil and add olive oil, blend and add pine nuts, garlic and cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Experiment with different ways to use your pesto. Put it on burgers, in meatballs, saute shrimp in it, add to pasta (we use rice pasta) with a little parmesan cheese and sundried tomatoes, put in on homemade pizza, or add to your marinara. The possibilities are endless!!