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Antioxidant benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
14 June 2019

First of all, what is  'Oxidation'? It is a process that occurs not only when oil is being produced, but also inside our own bodies. Reactions occur continually inside the body, giving rise to the formation of free radicals (peroxidants). As a rule, free radicals do not cause severe damage thanks to the protection provided by antioxidants, which help to keep a balance up to a point. If the balance is spoiled, however, "oxidative stress" occurs, leading to deterioration of normal cell functions and even cell death.

Oxidation is a complex, fundamental phenomenon in the process of cell ageing. Lipid or fat peroxidation tends to be proportional to the number of double bonds in a compound, explaining why oleic acid shows little susceptibility to oxidation.

Cell membranes contain a large amount of fat and cholesterol and their composition depends on diet. When the diet contains a lot of olive oil, the cells are more resistant to oxidation, they do not deteriorate as much and ageing is slower.

Approximately 1.5% of olive oil is made up of the unsaponifiable fraction, which contains antioxidants. Virgin olive oil contains the largest quantities of these substances and other minor components.

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), carotenoids and phenolic compounds (simple phenols such as hydroxytyrosol and complex phenols such as oleuropein) are all antioxidants whose activity has been demonstrated in vitro and recently in vivo, revealing further advantages in the prevention of certain diseases and also of ageing.

The phenolic content of olive oils varies according to the climatic conditions in the producing area, when the olives are harvested and how ripe they are when picked. Oil production and storage methods also have an influence. Phenols have countless biological properties, for instance hydroxytyrosol  is anti-inflammatory and oleuropein encourages the formation of nitric acid, which is a powerful vasodilator and exerts a strong anti-bacterial effect.

Oxidised LDLs are known to be atherogenic, which is where olive oil steps in because it has a beneficial, protective effect against LDL oxidation. Moreover, it also strengthens other cells in the body against the toxic effects of oxidants.

The high antioxidant content of the Mediterranean diet appears to contribute significantly to its effect on longevity.

These antioxidants are found in fresh fruit and vegetables. Because it is the only oil to be obtained from a fruit, olive oil retains a host of substances, antioxidants and vitamins that give it added nutritional value.

The explanation behind this high content of antioxidants is probably that because the olive is a fruit that is exposed to the air, it has to defend itself from oxygen. It therefore synthesises a larger amount of antioxidants, which pass through to the oil.

Virgin olive oil, i.e. olive oil that has not been refined or industrially treated, is particularly rich in these substances and it has a strong antioxidant effect, protecting against damage from free radicals (scavenger activity) and against the formation of cancer.


Like 0        Published at 22:33   Comments (1)

It's Gazpacho time again.. but with a twist!
07 June 2019

With all my recipes I attempt to share the raw essence of Spanish cuisine, the simple basic recipes that have become the foundation of the Mediterranean diet. They are not necessarily flamboyant dishes and certainly don’t need expert hands to make them, but they have all passed the test of time and are still classics to this very day. 

Almond Cream Gazpacho is similar to a normal Gazpacho but much more filling and creamier in texture more like a Salmorejo, personally, I prefer it and depending on how you prepare it can be a meal in its own right. Whereas with the original Gazpacho you would need a second course to accompany it. This recipe is basically a combination of the two, through trial an error, I finally found the consistency and flavour that was ideal for me. What I am going to share with you is not strictly a Gazpacho or a Salmorejo but a variation of the both and it is absolutely fantastic! My mouth is watering as I write! It’s an all-time favourite with all my family.
It is cheap, easy and quick to make and as it’s main ingredients are tomato and olive oil, so you can’t go wrong! Anyone who loves a salad will adore this recipe. All you need is a blender, a fine sieve and a pestle and mortar.
These are the ingredients you will need for 8 servings, as it keeps in the fridge for a couple of days I always tend to make more than I will need for one sitting.
For 8 servings 
1 kilo of mature tomatoes, peeled and with the seeds removed
30 g of peeled almonds 
2 cloves of garlic (removing the inner root so you don’t have that taste of garlic repeating all day!)
3 slices of stale country loaf bread approx 300g from the day before (without the crust, not baguette)
100 ml of white wine vinegar 
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 large spring onion (just the onion, not the Green sprouts but the size of a normal onion)
1 cucumber ( about 20 cm)
150 ml extra virgin olive oil
10g Salt – or to taste
8 slices of Serrano Ham
8 boiled Eggs
Baguette Croutons fried in Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 The first step is to scald the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute and then place them in cold water straight away and remove the skin. Then we dice up the bread and add the vinegar to the stale bread. Grind the almonds and the garlic cloves in the mortar. Once you have a paste add the bread and vinegar and keep grinding until they have all blended together nicely.
 We remove the skin from the cucumber using a potato peeler and chop it up along with the tomatoes, spring onion and peppers. Now place all the ingredients in the blender all together along with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I use Arbequina variety olive oil for this recipe but really you can use any good extra virgin olive oil: Picual; Hojiblanca; Royal. Just make sure it isn’t too pungent. Blend them all together until you have an even mixture. Variations may occur depending on the type of bread you have used, so if it is not thick enough just add more bread to the recipe. If it has turned out too thick, you can correct the mixture with a little water. Salt to taste and then pass the entire mixture through the sieve to remove all the seeds from the tomatoes and the cucumbers.
At this point, the Almond Cream Gazpacho is finished. The mixture is certainly not written in stone, so some may prefer it with less vinegar or more vinegar, or more almond or fewer almonds. It is a question of finding your balance. All you need to do is adjust the proportions until you find your ideal flavour. The texture should be a like a thick creamy soup.
Next, we need to prepare the toppings. I place the Serrano ham in the microwave for 1 minute until it is nice and crispy, once out of the microwave place the ham on a piece of kitchen paper so it cools down and soaks up the fat that has been released. We don’t want that fat in the gazpacho.
This is not traditionally Spanish, but I’m not so keen on chewing cured ham in my soup, I prefer that on its own with a bit of cheese and wine. So now we chop up the crispy ham and the boiled eggs and put them to one side.
Finally the croutons, you cut up a baguette into small pieces including the crust. Get a frying pan and pour in a healthy amount of extra virgin olive oil. Heat up the olive oil and make sure it is hot before putting the bread in that way the bread won’t soak up the oil but toast it almost instantly. It is very fast so be prepared to take them out quickly before they get too toasted. Let them cool down and dry on a piece of kitchen paper.
When it comes to serving, serve the Almond Cream Gazpacho in a bowl and sprinkle a chopped egg over the top, one chopped slice of crispy ham and a handful of croutons. Listo! Ready to eat.

Like 3        Published at 10:59   Comments (1)

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