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Healthy eating: even more reason to eat olives

14 JANUARY 2013

After the excesses of Christmas, it's only natural that you should want to eat healthily this time of year.

And olives are the perfect snack for those looking for a lighter treat without compromising on flavour.

A Mediterranean staple, Greece, Italy and Spain all claim to produce the best, but the truth is that they all have their own merits.


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Spain's geographic location – close to the sea – means that it can produce olives nearly all-year round, meaning you can get your hands on them easily at this time of year.

Olives are most often recognised in two popular forms, green and black.

Unlike wine-producing grapes, the colour of an olive does not signify its variety but rather its level of ripeness at the stage when it is plucked from the olive tree.

Early olives are green while more mature olives are black, and there is a vast spectrum of flavours and varieties in between – Spain alone produces over 60 types – look out for the manzanilla, sevillano and verdial varieties.

Olives are renowned for their nutritional qualities, are very easily digested and are packed with goodies such as skin-kind Vitamin E, all-important antioxidants and healthy heart fat Oleic acid.

 

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And with an average of only 150 calories to every 100g serving, olives are fast becoming a healthy and tasty alternative to other snacks.

They offer much more nutritional value than crisps, popcorn and other savoury nibbles as well as saving you a fair few calories.

Spanish olives are known for their mild flavour, making them ideal for marinating. Popular marinades found in tapas bars and on kitchen tables all over the country include garlic, anchovies, red pepper, almonds and cheese.

Young Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy has teamed up with Olives from Spain, creating olive marinade recipes to share with us Brits of one of his country’s finest exports.

The juicy and effortlessly stylish olive marinades can be mixed up in no time at all.

They involve little or no cooking time and require just a handful of simple ingredients.

Spanish olives marinated in oregano and chillies

Spanish olives, sesame seeds, lemon juice and mint

Spanish olives marinated in sweet pimentón, red onion and fennel seeds

Spanish olives with Manchego cheese marinated in olive oil, black peppercorns, bay leaves, rosemary and garlic

As well as snacks, olives bring flavour and colour to salads, antipasti plates, sauces, baking and hot dishes.

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