What you didn’t know about Olives

800px-NCI_2_green_olivesOlives have become an essential ingredient in the kitchen and especially in Mediterranean cuisine. In a previous post, we talked about how good olives are for your health but did you know all these unique facts about them?

1) Olive oil is produced the same way now as thousands of years ago. Olives are still harvested by hand, collected in nets and placed at the foot of an olive tree. Several days later, olives are  taken to the closest mill where stones weighing several tonnes crush the olives and pits into mash. The olive mash is then spread on to thin mats and pressed, separating the oil.

2) Olive oil is a stretch mark prevention treatment.

3) Greece is the largest producer of olive oil.

4) Olive oil contains no cholesterol, sodium or carbohydrates.

5) Eye shadow was once made from olive oil. Women in Greece created the first ever eyeshadow by mixing olive oil and charcoal. 800px-Olives_in_bowl

6) Your baked goods will last longer if you substitute butter for olive oil. The vitamin E and poly-phenols help for a longer shelf life.

7) Olives start out green and turn black or purple as they ripen.

8) Olives are drupes— fruit with skin.

Chef Christine Cushing just released a brand new olive oil with  the taste and aroma of fresh almonds, green apple, green banana and fresh lettuce. Click here to find out about it. Also, if you’re interested in the Mediterranean and Mediterranean cuisine, find out about an EXCLUSIVE Bon Vivant offer by clicking here.

Mediterranean Superfood: Olives

In a Mediterranean diet, olives are essential. Not only are they colourful and tasty, they are extremely healthy— who knew?

Olives are known to be an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, to which many of olive oil’s Oliveshealth benefits have been ascribed, especially its ability to prevent heart disease. Both olives and olive oil have been studied because of their potential beneficial effects toward blood pressure and cholesterol levels. What else can olives so do for you?

1) Protect against colon, breast and skin cancer. Olives and olive oil contain phenolic antioxidants as well as anti-cancer compounds such as squalene and terpenoid.

2) Olives can reduce pain. They contain a compound called oleocanthal, which has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties— mimicking the acts of ibuprofen. Adding olives to your diet can reduce the pain of arthritis.

3) Olives and olive oil protect against ulcers. The antimicrobial properties in olives help to combat the bacteria responsible for causing stomach ulcers.

4) Olives contain a substancial amount of iron! Iron also helps to build he enzymes responsible for regulating immune function and cognitive development.

The next time you’re wondering what your Spring meal is missing, use olives.

If you’re interested in Mediterranean cuisine, click here for more information.

What are the top 5 spices used in Turkey?

Turkish cuisine is the perfect juxtaposition of east meets west— a fusion of Central Asian,Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 1.50.29 PM Caucasian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisine.

The spices that are prevalent in their dishes are unique, bold and bursting with flavour.

The top 5 spices used in Istanbul are:

Red Pepper Flakes

If you like your food a little bit spicy, try adding red pepper flakes. Made by drying and crushing red chili peppers, usually cayenne, red pepper flakes adds a perfect addition to a flavourful meal.

Health Benefits:

  • An excellent source of beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A— promotes healthy vision, particularly night vision.
  • A potent antioxidant

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Urfa Biber
Also known as Isot Pepper, Urfa Biber is a dried Turkish chili pepper that often is described by its smoky, raisin-like taste with hints of chocolate and tobacco.  Use this in rice, stews and any dish that you wnt to have a deep, dark flavour with a touch of heat.

Health Benefits:
Peppers are filled with capsaicin, which has a lot of health benefits. It helps to burn calories, helps heartburn, has pain-relieving properties and also helps to curb your appetite.

Oregano
This is one of the worlds most widely used spice. The warm, balsamic and aromatic flavour of oregano makes the perfect addition to Mediterranean cuisine.

Health Benefits:

  • Used to help respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders.
  • Applied topically, oil of oregano can help skin conditions such as acne and dandruff.
  • Contains fiber, iron, magnese, vitamin E, iron, calcium, omega fatty acids and more.

Mint
In Turkish cuisine, Mint is used fresh and dried in many salad recipes as well as meat, poultry and fish. Since Mint has an extremely strong flavour, use a small amount at first until you get used to it.

Health Benefits:
Promotes digestion and soothes stomach aches and indigestion
The strong aroma of mint can help with nausea and headaches
It is very effective in clearing up congestion of the nose throat and lungs
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Cumin
Cumin packs a big punch. It’s nutty, peppery flavour brings the perfect spice to any dish. It is great for fish dishes, curries, couscous and much more.

Health Benefits:

  • Controls diabetes
  • Contains essential minerals. A tablespoon of cumin will give you 6 percent of the recommended daily value of magnesium
  • Because of it’s high antioxidant content, some studies have shown it to play a role in fighting cancer

If you want to get a taste of Istanbul and learn perfect Turkish recipes click here.

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Image from: http://www.curiousaroundtheworld.com/the-spice-market-in-istanbul/