Thursday, July 12, 2021

The Many Benefits Olives Give You

The humble olive is a culinary gem associated with the Mediterranean region. For thousands of years, ancient cultures in Egypt, Greece, Phoenicia and Mesopotamia cultivated olive trees and used the fruits. Today, nutritional gurus continue to tout the health benefits of this small fruit that is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. This Mediterranean delicacy is healthful, flavorful and versatile. Although olives are officially fruits because they contain a seed, they are used like a vegetable. Cured green and black olives make a tasty garnish for pizzas, salads and appetizers. Experience their complex flavors by trying a few olive dip recipes.



According to ancient mythology, the Egyptian goddess Isis taught common people to cultivate olives and to use the fruit. The practice spread to other early civilizations and made its way to Greece. Even Homer referred to olive oil as liquid gold. Due to its importance as a food source and a fuel for oil lamps, the olive is an important religious and cultural symbol.



In modern stores, shoppers will find green and black olives. Unripe olives are green, and fully ripe olives are black. Because raw olives are bitter, they are cured, fermented or seasoned with herbs and spices. To cure olives and remove the bitterness, they are soaked in brine or a lye solution. Many varieties of olives are grown throughout the Mediterranean region, and they are prepared in different ways.



The Manzanillo is a popular green table olive from Spain. They’re often sold un-pitted, or they can be stuffed, cured in a lye solution and packed in a brine of salt and lactic acid.



Green Picholine olives originate in the south of France and are an important fixture in the gourmet olive market. These olives are cured in salt brine, seasoned with herbs and preserved with citric acid for the U.S. market.



French Niçoise olives are small, meaty black olives that are used to make Niçoise salads. They’re harvested when fully ripe and possess a nutty, mellow flavor that is enhanced by herbs.



Black Kalamata olives from Greece are cured in brine and have a deep and slightly fruity flavor. They’re harvested when fully ripe. They have a beautiful purple color and a graceful almond-like shape.



Black Ligurian olives are grown along the Italian Riviera and have a rich, vibrant flavor. These black olives are cured in salt brine and sometimes packed with the stems attached.



Italian black Ponentine olives have a mild, nutty flavor that is ideal for salads and appetizers. They’re cured in salt brine and packed in vinegar.



Black Italian Gaeta olives are dry cured and have a wrinkled appearance. After curing, they’re rubbed with oil and packed with rosemary and herbs.



Italian Lugano olives are salty olives that are popular at olive tastings and are sometimes packed with olive leaves.



California Sevillano olives are cured in brine and preserved with lactic acid, which produces a crisp texture.



Any of these olive varieties can be used in olive dip recipes alone or in combination with other cultivars. Olives are naturally low in fat, contain very little sugar and have almost no cholesterol. Each olive contains approximately 32 calories. Due to the curing process, olives are high in sodium. When used in dips and salads, olives enhance surrounding flavors and complement almost any meal.


If you would like to learn more, contact Tina Mace. Follow her @tinamarie1810. For more information about Olives and why they are healthy for you, contact me.

Thursday, July 12, 2021

Campfire Recipes


Pepper Stew

Campfire Recipe

Pepper Stew or Fajitas for the Campsite

It’s easy to cook a healthy and non-processed meal even while camping.  Ingredients in this recipe are easily portable and don’t require exact measurements.  All of the ingredients pull double duty, so you can choose between fajitas or a stew.

For this recipe, you’ll need a large fire safe pot and a way for it to be heated over a fire. Depending on your preference, this might be a tripod or it might be a grill that is placed over the fire. Your fire should be fairly hot even as you begin this recipe. Alternately, you can also create this stew on a camp stove that can maintain heat for at least two hours. For food preparation, make sure that you have a cutting board, knife and can opener available.  Peppers can be washed before you leave home.  Optional seasonings can be dashed in or measured with the palm of your hand.  A small cupped palmful is about one tablespoon.


  • 4 bell peppers (any colors you like)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 pound beef (can be ground beef, sliced skirt steak, or cubed stewing beef)
  • 2 cans stewed tomatoes  (Alternately, you can also use 5-6 fresh tomatoes, but it will take longer to cook)
  • Canola/vegetable oil
  • Optional Seasonings:  Salt and Pepper, Garlic Powder, Cumin, Coriander, smoked or sweet paprika


Place the pot on whatever you are using as a heating element and allow it to warm up. Peel the onion and cut it up into chunks or slices. Throw the onion chunks into the pot along with a small amount of cooking oil. Cut the bell peppers into strips and throw them in the pot with the onions to soften for a couple minutes.



If you would like to make fajitas, add sliced skirt steak and optional seasonings.  (About half a tablespoon each)

Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and place in the fire for 30 seconds to warm up.  Wrap the fajita mixture in warm tortillas and add optional cheese or salsa and enjoy.



Add the meat and brown for a few minutes and then add your cans of stewed tomatoes and any optional seasonings you like up to a tablespoon of each. Cover the ingredients with about two inches of water and place the lid on the pot.
This simple stew is done when the water is cooked off. The key is to make sure that the ingredients are wonderfully soft and nearly spreadable. If you notice the pot going dry, just add a bit more water.

To serve you can simply spoon the stew into a bowl and serve as is.  Optional additions can grated cheese and a thick slice of bread.
Erica Hill is writing on behalf of Gaiam TV, a healthy lifestyle media company based in Colorado. Gaiam TV specializes in green living, online yoga videos, and workout videos online.

Thursday, July 12, 2021

How to Make a Salad You Will look Forward to Eating

Great Tasting Salads

Great Tasting Salads


While salads are often considered to be a boring precursor to a meal. You probably have not gone home and attempted to recreate the side salad at your local steak house, as it offers little nutritionally and lacks taste and texture.  However, when a salad is constructed thoughtfully it can be not only nutritious, but filling and a dish you will want to eat again.



The key to successful salad building is to abandon the idea of what salad should be and make it into what you want it to be. There are no rules to create your personal salad combination, so be creative!




Branch out from iceberg lettuce and consider other lettuces and greens.  Spinach is tender and subtle as a salad base, while romaine is crunchy.  Arugula has a stronger flavor that has a bit of a bite to it. Kale is a popular green that makes a wonderful base when massaged to tenderize. Even shredded cabbage can be used to add bulk to the base of a salad.




Most vegetables are a great addition to a salad when in the right combination.  The list of vegetable options to choose from for salads is almost limitless – avocado, red onion, shredded carrots, raw yellow squash or zucchini, broccoli, corn, cherry tomatoes, jicama, beets, cucumbers, etc.




It is simple to make a salad into a meal by adding cooked grains, such as brown rice, cooked millet, wheat berries, or barley.




When considering how to add protein to a salad, do not limit yourself to meat, eggs, or cheese. Consider adding quinoa, marinated or baked tofu, or beans.  The added benefit of these protein sources is that they are all heart healthy options.




Apples, blueberries, pears, strawberries, and clementines all add something fresh and tart, while dried raisins, figs, cherries or cranberries add compact sweetness to a salad.  Beware that dried fruits are more calorie dense than fresh.  Even unsweetened, shaved coconut can be a nice surprise!



Nuts and Seeds

Roasted sunflower kernels add a bit of protein and fiber, as do nuts of all kinds.  Nuts such as walnuts, pecans, cashews, and almonds are all wonderful in salads, whether used raw or roasted.




Using store bought salad dressing quickly adds unnecessary calories to your salad. Consider using salsa, hummus, or vinegar and oil instead with a little salt and pepper.



Summertime Salad

4-6 side salads

5 oz fresh baby spinach

6 strawberries, sliced or 1/2 cup of blueberries

1 small avocado, diced

1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup walnuts, halved or almonds

balsamic vinegar

olive oil


Wash and dry the spinach and place into a salad bowl. Slice strawberries or wash the blueberries.  Slice the red onion. Just before serving add the fruit, red onion, and nuts.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and gently toss.  Lastly cut and add the avocado.



Lizzie Watters is a writer and cook.  She enjoys writing about recipes, cooking tips, dieting and kitchen safety.  Lizzie recently wrote about her favorite spiced nuts recipes.

Photo credit: typofi

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