Chicken pita pockets & Greek salad make for healthy diabetes meal

How to choose a good table olive

Featured-Image1Learn these important points on how to choose a good table olive

Olives are one of those unique foods that don’t only taste delicious, but also offer many health benefits. It is however important to learn how to choose a good table olive, since they vary extensively in appearance, flavour and texture.

We asked the South African Olive Industry Association how to choose a good table olive. Here are a few pointers:

How to choose a good olive1. Looks
The first characteristic to take important notice of is of course the appearance of the olive. The olive must always looks physically appealing and it must make you want to eat it immediately. Physical defects are not good.

2. Aroma
Next important point is smell. A good olive will always smell great. The aroma will give a good indication of how the processing was managed as most of the volatile components are a result of the fermentation process. If not fermented, the aroma is usually that of the added ingredients, like garlic, herbs and various other flavourings. An off-fermentation will be noticeable on the nose, and any off-odour is totally unacceptable in quality table olives.

3. Taste
Right so now we get to the taste. As with anything, taste and flavour are very subjective, so we always suggest that newbies to olives start with a blander product, just like they start new wine drinkers with a sweeter wine. Once hooked on these little delicacies, then move onto products with more flavour, the natural olive flavour in particular. A fully fermented table olive should display a balance between the natural flavour of the fruit, the natural lactic acid and the added salt and vinegar.

4. Texture
A good table olive should have a degree of firmness in the flesh, without being tough or woody. The skin should not be too tough and the flesh should detach from the pit quite easily. The texture is determined by many factors, but most importantly is when the olives are harvested and cultivated. The methods of processing play an important role, which can either maintain the texture of the olive or compromise it.

5. Final tip
It’s important to experience as many different styles and flavours as possible and in so doing, build up a profile of the olives you like.

For more information please visit or find us on Facebook 

Head Over Heels For Olives

posted by Cindy L. Tjol

str2_pxvillage_ev_3Olives are often used for flavoring or garnishing food, while olive oil is often used to cook other foods. However olive is eaten, it has high nutritious value. These black or green nut-shaped fruits have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can protect you against heart diseases, cancer, and other inflammatory diseases like asthma and arthritis. Studies have also found that when unhealthy fats in one’s diet is replaced (yes, unhealthy fats still need to be eliminated) with healthy olive fats or olive oil, LDL cholesterol levels could drop by 18%. A double-blind-placebo-controlled study also found that extracts of olive leaves helped reduce blood pressure in those with hypertension. Olives are rich in an omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid. A study published in the Annals of Oncology reported that oleic acid found in olive oil can help significantly cut the expression of a breast-cancer-promoting-gene by up to 46%. Studies have also found that diabetic patients who ate meals with olive oil gained better control of their blood sugar than those who ate low-fat meals without olive oil. Beside being an excellent source of healthy fats, olives are also filled with iron, vitamin E, and fiber.

[1] Collins, Elise Marie. An A-Z Guide to Healing Foods: A Shopper’s Companion. San Francisco, California: Conari Press, 2009. Print.
[2] Murray, Michael, ND., Pizzorno, Joseph, ND., and Pizzorno, Lara, MA, LMT. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books, 2005. Print.

Cindy L. TJOL is trained in Psychology, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has several years of experience writing on natural health on the internet. Follow her on her blog and read her other articles at Insights On


Harvesting your olives

harvesting articleTHE three main objectives of harvesting olives are: Pick when ready for preparing eating olives or making olive oil, to cause as little bruising as possible and cause as little damage to the trees as possible. Olives for eating need to be picked while still firm. Olives for oil can be picked at the same stage or left to fully swell to maximise the overall yields.

Some high quality producers still pick by hand. However most olives are allowed to fall naturally or racked, knocked off with long canes, or shaken off with mechanical tree shakers onto nets and then transferred to plastic boxes.

In some areas, to reduce harvesting costs, the ground under trees is laid bare by using weed killers two weeks before shaking the olives onto the ground when they are blown or brushed into heaps for sacking.

Yields can vary from 10 to 110 kilos or more per tree depending on the age, health and pruning of the tree, and the summer and autumn sunshine and rainfalls.

….cont. at:


Antipasto platter

By Madiha Hamid – Published: January 15, 2015


For the dressing:

•  Mix all the ingredients and whisk them lightly.
•  Keep tasting the mixture every few minutes to check for sourness or sweetness. The dressing should be tangy in taste.
•  Adjust the mixture by adding sugar or honey.

For the vegetables:

•  Marinate the sliced vegetables in the dressing for about an hour or so. Allow them to sit in the refrigerator for the juice to sink in.
•  Sprinkle the veggies with oregano and fresh parsley for added taste.

On the side

•  Cut some pita bread into small, triangular pieces and toast it.
•  Add a small bowl of hummus or salsa sauce to dip the vegetables in.

The concept of antipasti

Antipasto (plural: antipasti) is the Italian name given to the foods offered before a main meal — an appetiser, if you will. This is a delightful way to set the stage for the coming feast and invite family and friends to the dinner table. The presentation of antipasti — the different colours, artful composition, varied tastes and the care taken in its presentation  — serve as reminders for guests that it is time for relaxation, pleasure and indulgence.
According to Italian tradition, the ingredients of antipasti are selected on the basis of colour, flavour and how well they complement one another and the main course. A typical antipasti platter includes olives, pepperoni, anchovies, mushrooms, artichokes, cured meats, pickles, different cheeses and vegetable slices dipped in oil or vinegar. It can be served hot or cold, in bite-size plates or as elegant centrepieces from which everyone is served. In Italy, the most common antipasto dish includes a simple display of cured meats like salami or mortadella slices along with hard cheeses garnished with olives, onions, peppers or sun-dried tomatoes.
The Italians generally save antipasti for special occasions and big parties and celebrations. In Milan, enjoying an aperitif (alcoholic drinks served before a meal) has become a sort of institution. The Milanese consider drinking wine while nibbling on some potato chips, olives and peanuts an hour before the main course an essential for the good life. In fact, it would be unthinkable for the Milanese to start a dinner without an aperitif!.

Winter vegetables for antipasti?

Indulge in your favourite cured meats and cheeses, served with a mix of the best vegetables and fruits the winter season has to offer. These include:


Sicilian caponata: proof that veggie dishes can have plenty of depth of flavour

Bonnie Stern | January 16, 2015 | Last Updated: Jan 16 3:52 PM ET

This Sicilian cooked vegetable salad gets its flavour from the combination of vegetables and the sweet and sour mixture of sugar amd vinegar. We learned a version of this at Maria Grammatico’s La Scuola de Cucina in Trapani. Serve as a salad, a side dish or a sauce for pasta.


Peter J. Thompson/National Post Sicilian caponata: proof that veggie dishes can have plenty of depth of flavour.

-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or more
-2 lbs round Sicilian eggplants, or regular eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes with skin
-4 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
-16 cippoline onions, peeled and halved or quartered
-1 cup puréed San Marzano tomatoes (freeze the rest and use in soups or sauces)
-1/2 cup each black and green olives, pitted
-2 tbsp capers, rinsed
-2 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
-2 tbsp sugar
-kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
-1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1. Heat oil in a large deep skillet on medium-high. Add eggplant, in batches if necessary, and cook 10 to 15 minutes until browned. Remove eggplant to a large bowl. Add more oil to the pan if necessary.
2. Add celery to pan and cook 5 to 6 minutes until partially tender and golden brown. Add to the eggplant.
3. Add onions to pan and cook 10 to 15 minutes until tender and browned. Add celery and eggplant back to pan along with tomato purée, black and green olives and capers. Add 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook gently 10 minutes.
4. Bring vinegar and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir into vegetables. Cook a few minutes.
5. Add parsley and cool. Season to taste. Serve at room temperature.
Makes approximately 6 cups


A Bit of Mediterranean Lifestyle Could Help You Live Longer


As if we didn’t already know that life on the Mediterranean is much better for our health, than the hectic city life and fast food of metropolises, it turns out that new research published this week in the British Medical Journal reveals that a Mediterranean Diet is amongst the healthiest out there. But while you may imagine strolls on the beach and kilos of gelato to take home, like many trips to Italy undoubtedly have, the diet that Harvard researchers investigated for the study was the trademark diet known of the Mediterranean – rich in olive oils, fish, vegetables, legumes and low in sugar. With a little added touch; a glass of wine traditional with every meal. And what the researchers found is that women who follow the strictly healthy fat diet have significantly longer life spans than women who don’t have a healthy diet – keeping them younger and in better health for years more than the global average.

Studying nutritional data from 4,676 participating in the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, the research team was able to determine which individuals’ diets were the healthiest. And what they found was that women whose dietary habits hewed significant similarities with a Mediterranean diet had elongated telomeres at the ends of their DNA, giving them longer cellular life-spans and healthier skin as a trade-off.

“We know that having shorter telomeres is associated with a lower life expectancy and a greater risk of cancer, heart disease, and other diseases” study coauthor from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Immaculata De Vivo says. “Certain lifestyle factors like obesity, sugary sodas, and smoking have been found to accelerate telomere shortening.”

Continue reading

6 Health Secrets of Greek Food

Shivangana Vasudeva, NDTV, Modified: December 08, 2014 13:30 IST

490451511Beautiful blue waters, sun-soaked beaches and white-walled towns, Greece is unmatched for its breathtaking landscapes. While that may have taken many of you miles away, my fantasy is incomplete without Greek food. During those long lunches and balmy alfresco dinners, I see myself feasting on some of the finest ingredients in the world. Whether it’s a fresh Greek salad, the famous fava dip or a lovely spinach pie, the Greek table offers a variety of colours and flavours.

For a health freak, who is as paranoid about the health quotient as the flavour, it was love at first bite. Greek cuisine is served with a rich history of about 4000 years. When I recently caught up with Chef Paris Kostopoulos from Greece, I could easily agree that Greek food goes beyond the pleasures of simple eating. There was coffee, curiosity and a whole lot of chatter. I discovered that there is a lot that we can learn from the Greeks when it comes to healthy eating.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the miraculous Mediterranean diet. Most health experts claim that it is one of the healthiest diets to follow and there’s ample scientific evidence to prove that. A Harvard study shows that switching to a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease by 30%. It has also been named as the ‘longevity diet’.(Why the Mediterranean Diet Beats All Others)

Here’s our take away from what the Greeks have done right and six reasons to love their cuisine. Continue reading

Celery and Olives Dominated Thanksgiving for Nearly 100 Years—Until They Didn’t

Sweet potatoes. Turkey. Cranberries. Pumpkins. Stuffing. These are the foods Americans think of when they think of Thanksgiving. But for nearly a century, two unlikely foods were absolute must-haves on every traditional Thanksgiving menu.

CELERY_Fitchburg_Sentinel_Sat__Oct_1__1910_Celery and olives.

From the late 1800s until the 1960s, these two foods—which usually only come together in the murky depths of a Bloody Mary—were a must on seasonally decorated tables in homes across America. Fix yourself a cocktail—extra celery, extra olives—as you witness the rise and fall of the menu items for which Americans were once the most thankful. Until, all of a sudden, they weren’t.

Discovering “Sellery”

Back in 1779, a Connecticut girl named Juliana Smith wrote to her “Dear Cousin Betsey” describing the Thanksgiving meal she had just enjoyed. The menu included: “pigeon pasties,” “suet pudding,” “plumbs and cherries,” as well as a new and exotic vegetable which Smith described to Betsey as “one which I do not believe you have yet seen.” She went on: “Uncle Simeon had imported the Seede from England just before the war began and only this year was there enough for table use. It is called Sellery & you eat it without cooking.”

Continue reading

Olives Et Al launches Neat & Dirty Alcoholic Olives

Shaun Weston | 12 Nov 2014

olives et alOlives Et Al has introduced the world’s first olives aimed at over 18s, which it describes as ‘slightly naughty and perfect to create a mouth-watering Martini’.

Preserved in a choice of gin or vodka, naturally infused with fruit, the olives have to be served direct from the freezer. They can be added to cocktails, gin and tonic or simply eaten ice cold.

To create Neat & Dirty Olives, Olives Et Al chose the Sicilian Nocellara olive because of its creamy flavour and low salt content. Each olive is hand-sorted and double-graded before being placed in its jar, ready to be steeped in alcohol, infused with either natural lemon or orange zest.

“I seem to remember we had a rather jolly time creating these,” said founder Giles Henschel. “We discovered the best way to serve them ‘au naturel’ is placed in a Martini glass filled with crushed ice. Just pop a few on the top and hand them around. Although, we do advise people to eat responsibly, as these really are alcoholic.”

There are three varieties to choose from: Lemon Infused Vodka, Orange Infused Gin and Lemon Infused Gin.


Marinated Feta with Olives

Description:  Using a lemon-flavored extra-virgin olive oil gives the marinated feta extra flavor. Flavored olive oils are available at a variety of specialty stores, such as the Oilerie and Oro di Oliva. Wisconsin-made Weyauwega feta makes a good cheese choice.

Recipe tested by Terri Milligan | Read more:  All about olives


b99384438z.1_20141104144751_000_g158g9qj.1-02 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, preferably lemon extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 piece (8 ounces) feta cheese
1 ½ cups olives of your choice
French bread or pita bread


Thinly slice the garlic cloves. Place in a bowl and add the lemon and orange zest.

Coarsely chop 1 tablespoon of the rosemary. Add to bowl. Whisk in 1/3 cup of the oil, the red pepper flakes and ground pepper.

Place the feta piece in a container small enough to just fit the feta and all of the marinade. Pour olive oil marinade over feta and place remaining sprigs of rosemary on top. Cover and chill overnight or up to 2 weeks.

To serve: Place the feta on a platter. Pour olives and marinade over the feta. Brush French bread slices or pita bread with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lightly toast.


6 high fat foods you should be eating

WHETHER we’re trying to lose weight or just avoid gaining it, many of us think steering clear of dietary fat is the first step. Rather than cut out all fat, however, we’d be better served if we focused on what types of fat we’re getting.

The body needs some fat — just not too much. Fat gives your body energy, keeps your skin and hair healthy, helps you absorb certain vitamins and even keeps you warm, among other responsibilities.

A diet high in saturated fat — found in animal products and some vegetable oils — can lead to heart problems, but eating the right amount of unsaturated fats can protect the heart.

Unsaturated fats — including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — are considered good-for-you fats. Polyunsaturated fats include the famed omega 3 and omega 6 fats, both considered essential fatty acids, because our bodies can’t make them on its own. Polyunsaturated fats can help lower total cholesterol, while monounsaturated fats can raise “good” cholesterol, or HDL, and lower “bad” cholesterol, or LDL.

The average adult should get about 20 to 35 per cent of their daily calories from fat and less than 10 per cent of their daily calories from saturated fats. A gram of fat contains nine calories, so a daily diet comprised of 2000 calories would even out to about 44 to 78 grams of total fat a day.

So where can you find these unsaturated fats? Look no further than the six healthy picks below.

Olives (And Olive Oil)



Mixing 10 large olives into your next salad will add about 5 grams of fat, 3.5 of which are monounsaturated and .4 of which are polyunsaturated.

Not an olive fan? The oil is an even more concentrated source of healthy fats — just don’t be too heavy-handed on your pour: A single tablespoon contains over 13 grams of fat, nearly 10 of which are monounsaturated and about 1.5 are polyunsaturated.

Continue reading

Chicken ballotine with 
olive & fig tapenade

serves 8 | prep 1 hour (+ 30 mins cooling & resting time) 
| cooking 1 hour 10 mins

7449_21 brown onion | 1 1⁄2 tbs extra virgin olive oil | 1⁄2 garlic clove, crushed | 1 bunch English spinach, 
stems removed, thinly sliced | 1 carrot, peeled, 
coarsely chopped | 2 x 1.8kg whole chickens, deboned, wings reserved | 1 1⁄2 tbs lemon juice | 185ml (3⁄4 cup) hot water
olive & fig tapenade | 90g (1⁄3 cup) Angas Park 
Soft & Juicy Figs | 80ml (1⁄3 cup) water | 80g (1⁄2 cup) pitted kalamata olives | 1 tsp baby capers | 1⁄2 garlic clove, chopped | 3 tsp lemon juice | 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan forced. For the tapenade, place the figs and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 6 minutes or until water is almost evaporated and figs are soft. 
Set aside for 10 minutes, to cool. Process the figs, olives, capers and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice and oil. Process until combined. Season with pepper.
2. Finely chop half the onion. Thickly slice remaining onion. Set aside. Heat 2 tsp oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook garlic and chopped onion, stirring, for 2 minutes or until soft. Add the spinach. Season. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until just wilted. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
3. Place the carrot, sliced onion and reserved chicken wings in 
a large roasting pan. Place the chickens, skin-side down, on 
a work surface. Spread each chicken with tapenade, leaving 
a 1cm border. Sprinkle with the spinach mixture. Roll up carefully to enclose. Tie with kitchen string at 3cm intervals to secure.
4. Place the chickens in tray. Drizzle with lemon juice and remaining oil. Season. Roast for 20 minutes. Pour hot water into pan. Roast, basting halfway 
with pan juices, for 30-40 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a chopping board. Cover loosely with foil. Set aside for 10 minutes, to rest.
5. Pour the pan juices through 
a sieve into a jug. Discard solids. Skim fat from the surface. Thickly slice the chicken. Arrange on 
a platter. Drizzle with pan juices.


Citrus Salad


12 baresane olives – 12 cerignola olives – 1 Tbsp bomba calabrese – 1/2 cup olive oil, divided – 2 navel oranges – 2 blood oranges – 4 clementines – 1 lemon – 2 ruby grapefruits – 1/2 pomegranate – Salt (we use Maldon) and freshly ground black pepper – 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves – 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

citrus recipes


  • Smash olives with side of knife and remove pits.
  • In a medium bowl, combine olives, bomba, and half the olive oil. Stir well and set aside to marinate.
  • Slice the top and bottom off navel oranges and blood oranges. Remove the peel and white pith carefully with knife. Slice across cross-sections and set aside.
  • Peel clementines, individually segment slices, and set aside.
  • Slice the top and bottom off lemon and grapefruit. Remove peel and all white pith carefully. Slice each segment from membrane and set aside.
  • Slice pomegranate in half. Over a bowl of cold water, hit pomegranate with the back of a spoon so each individual seed falls into the water. Remove any white particles. Strain seeds and set aside.
  • On a large, flat serving plate, randomly arrange all citrus fruits and segments, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Spoon olives over fruit and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with parsley and mint.
  • Serve immediately.


Is gourmet food worth the extra dollar?

By Holly Dove

Our taste team finds some nice surprises in a gourmet versus budget food test

When it comes to “party” food, such as salami or olives, many might like to pay the extra few dollars to get added flavour and better quality. But when it comes to the bare essentials, budget food such as milk might taste just as good, if not better, than its gourmet rival. This week the Weekend Herald put gourmet food to the test against budget counterparts as a group of discerning food-lovers – including a Ponsonby chef – took part in a blind tasting. The seven-strong team tried a combination of essential foods and “party” foods – milk, olives, cheese, chips, salami, bananas and peanut butter. Comparing budget, mid-range and high-end foods the tasters sampled food from each category while blindfolded.

Without the packaging and brand-name hype, they were able to judge food based solely on taste – with no distractions.

The winners

Mainland Tasty Cheese, valued at $7.70 for 250g

Mid-range price.

“More crumbly [than the other contestants] and lots of flavour”, according to Herald’s Bite food editor Jo Elwin.

Ponsonby chef Dean agreed with the top spot, grading it a four out of five and describing it as “vintagey”.

Waitrose Halkidiki

olives valued at $8.99 for 300g.

High-end price.

A unanimous winner here, the Waitrose olives were described by tasters as big, juicy and full of flavour. “Succulent and herby”, said Dean, while fellow taster Lizzie Sullivan said they were “delicious and flavourful.”

Continue reading