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This blog started as a way for me to share my recipes + culinary adventures, tips for vibrant health + happiness, thoughts on the latest developments in nutritional medicine + the low down on the Sydney wholefoods scene and beyond...

Filtering by Category: Broth Bar & Larder

The Due Diligence Series: 4 Questions to Ask when Buying Olive Oil

Becca Crawford

 

I’m frequently asked about the brands of products I buy and use. I’ve devoted  my life over the past decade, and made a living out of, researching and seeking out the best quality food, drinks, personal care products and household cleaning products. For what we put in, on and breathe into our bodies directly and profoundly impacts our health. To not be concerned about such things is a complete anathema to me. It’s why my nickname is the quintessential qualitarian. 

This extensive investigative process is called due diligence. I know from my days as a corporate lawyer the importance of doing a thorough due diligence diligence before making an acquisition. We would have an extensive checklist of items to investigate when acting on behalf of a purchaser to ensure that their acquisition was fruitful. Without formalising it, you might have a list of questions that you ask when buying a house, a car or a pet. I do the same when buying anything that touches my body (and on the occasions that I don’t, I often regret it). 

In my health coaching sessions I give my clients an extensive shopping list that lists all of my favourite brands of products in Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast that they can buy in those areas. This is mighty convenient as I save them doing the exhaustive investigative work that I already have done. But what if you don’t live in those locations? And even if you do, what I feel is more empowering than handing someone such a list, is to arm them with the very questions to ask when purchasing products. This gives you the information you need wherever you are in the world to make savvy choices. 

In my due diligence series of blogs, I’ll be covering all of the basic staples so that you have all the questions to ask when purchasing products. Often this involves making enquiries of the producer when the relevant information is not on the packaging. But the more people who ask these pertinent questions, the more that suppliers will respond accordingly. 

I will also share my favourite brand for each product I will look at. There may of course be other brands which meet my due diligence questions but as Broth Bar & Larder is teeny tiny, I can only store one brand of any given item due to space restrictions. This is not a bad thing as it has forced me to hone in my due diligence enquiries to select the highest quality everything. 

I’m kickstarting my due diligence series with the questions to ask when buying olive oil and I’m intentionally keeping the questions simple instead of going into song and verse.

Olive oil is one of my staple healthy fats. It’s one of the few fats that pretty much everyone worldwide, regardless of dietary philosophy, agrees is healthy. A high quality olive oil is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, flavour and is anti-inflammatory. Anti-oxidants combat 'free radicals', helping to slow the ageing process and prevent various diseases. Anti-oxidants also contribute to the shelf-life of olive oil and enrich its unique flavour.

I tend to use olive oil cold as a finishing oil for dressing (or should I say “drowning”) vegetables as opposed to cooking with it because it is primarily a monounsaturated fat meaning that it is not as heat staple as the saturated fats (i.e. there is one place in its molecular chain where oxygen can muscle in and cause the molecule to fall apart causing damage). On the rare occasions that I do cook with olive oil,I will use as low heat as possible.

Without further ado, set out below are the 4 questions I ask when buying olive oil to ensure the highest quality and full-bodied flavour: 

1. Is it extra virgin? This should be labelled on the bottle. Extra virgin means three things: first pressed, cold pressed and an acidity below 0.8%. This criteria ensures an oil that is as unrefined as possible and of the highest nutritional (and flavour) quality. 


To flesh out each of these three criteria in turn,  cold pressing requires that chemicals and heat over 27 degrees Celsius (80 Fahrenheit) are not used to extract the oil from the fruit. Cold pressing is important because, as mentioned above, heat over a certain temperature can damage the delicate properties of olive oil. Secondly, the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) requires extra virgin olive oil to be first (cold) pressed. First pressing  means that the olives were crushed and pressed only one time. The olive oil extracted from the first pressing is of the highest quality and purity. Thirdly, extra virgin also requires the oleic acidity of the oil to be between 0-0.8%. The lower the acidity, the better the quality. Acidity between 0.8-2% is virgin oil and not extra virgin. When olive oil isn’t extra virgin, many producers unfortunately like to use empty buzz words like “cold pressed” or “first pressed” on their labels for marketing with little truth or accuracy behind them. So ensure that your bottle of olive oil is first and foremost “extra virgin”. Pressing olives multiple times at high heat yields more oil out of the olives but also destroys much of the nutrition and creates a lower quality olive oil. Avoid anything sold as “light” olive oil as this means it is refined by chemical extraction and/or high temperature (and has nothing to do with calories). “Pure” olive oil is typically a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil so I avoid it. Ditto for “deodorised” which is another word for chemical shit storm. 

2. Is it certified organic? 

If it is not certified, can the supplier confirm that the farming practices are organic in substance (i.e. no petrochemical fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides are used in the trees and soil)?

3. Is it in a dark (light proof) container? 

Light oxidises olive oil (i.e. makes it turn rancid). I avoid anything sold in light bottles or in a spray can. Opt for a dark bottle, tin or cask (bag in a box).  

4. Is it made in Australia? 

To reduce food miles and to support local producers I prefer to buy Australian made where possible. Australia makes some terrific olive oil. (For those living overseas ask if is it made in locally in your country and if none exists in your locality then find the closest country). 

Olive oil’s best storage temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius. Olive oil should be stored in a dark place place with a cool constant temperature such as a pantry away from direct heat and light. Always leave the cap on the bottle when not using it as oxygen also degrades olive oil. Olive oil is best not stored refrigerated because the change in temperature when taking it in and out of fridge damages its quality. A good test of whether an oil is purely olive oil or contains industrial seed oils (like vegetable, cottonseed, rice bran, grape seed, corn, sunflower, safflower, soy or canola oil – all which are in a word toxic and should be avoided at all expense) is to put a small amount in the fridge. Olive oil tends to go cloudy when refrigerated and hence doesn’t look very aesthetically pleasing. Which is precisely why producers of marinated products (often including organic ones!) will marinate products like goats cheese and olive oil in one of the industrial seed oils because they don’t go cloudy when refrigerated and hence look more attractive - so read labels carefully to ensure that only olive oil is used for marinating!! Ditto at food halls and delis- most items are marinating in industrial seed oils!! 

Olive oil keeps for approximately 18 months after which time oxidisation accelerated and acidity increases. Best to buy in small bottles so that you use it up quickly unless you think you can go through it within 18 months. I personally buy in a 4L bulk tin container and decant into a smaller bottle that I keep in the kitchen cupboard for everyday use. 

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In terms of brands of olive oils, the brand I exclusively use and sell at Broth Bar & Larder is Toscana Olives as this brand meets all my due diligence questions. It is extra virgin (first cold pressed and has an acidity level of only  0.1%), certified organic, sold in dark bottles and is a family owned and operated business in rural Victoria. The olives are pressed on-site within hours of picking, which maximises antioxidants such as Vitamin E, phenolic compounds and carotenoids. Their olive oil meets and exceeds both Australian and international standards and they are proud signatories to the Australian Olive Industry Code of Practice. Their oil is routinely tested by an independent laboratory to ensure it meets the IOOC chemical and organoleptic standards for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. They have received numerous awards for their olive oil. This olive oil retails for $85/4L or $49.95/2L. It is not available via our online store but, like all our third party products, we can courier it to you if you email orders@staraniseorganic.com and prepay with your credit card. 


Two of my favourite simple ways of using olive oil in the kitchen:

1. Drizzle on top of steamed or sautéed leafy greens (like silverbeet or Greek “horta” that I grew up on) with a good squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of unrefined salt

2. Combine with balsamic vinegar to dip some quality sourdough bread into. 


In addition to culinary uses, I use olive oil almost exclusively as my face and body moisturiser (with a few drops of Young Living essential oils). My skin loves it! I use the same brand of olive oil whether it’s as a finishing oil or for (rare occasion) cooking or as a face and body moisturiser. This means one less personal care product to buy as I’m using olive oil anyway for culinary purposes. I just decant a small amount in a small glass jar to keep in the bathroom. My rule is to not put anything on my skin that I can’t otherwise eat. I found much better results using olive oil than coconut oil as a skin moisturiser because the saturated fat molecules in coconut oil are much bigger and tend to just sit on the surface of the skin rather than deeply penetrate into the skin like olive oil does. Many people also put olive oil in their hair as an intensive hair treatment and wash it out the next day. Or leave in the tips of your hair to strengthen the ends. I recall my mum telling me that back in her village in Cyprus the women would rub olive oil in the roots of their hair every day to maintain their thick luscious plaits of black hair. This is the true meaning of natural beauty. 

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So there you have it. The first of my due diligence series.  

Did you find this post helpful? Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below. 

 

Celebrate Mother’s Day with some healthy indulgence!

Becca Crawford

 

Motherhood.

For me, it has been the most incredibly rewarding journey. And to be honest, not without its hardships either. My children are my greatest teachers. They remind me on a minute to minute basis how much I still need to grow as a mother and as a person. I probably wouldn’t have changed careers had it not been for them and they provide me with constant inspiration in both my personal and professional life. My children bring up in me the full gamut of emotions – from sheer wonderment, to unconditional love to utter exasperation. It wasn’t until I became a mother that I truly understood that a love so pure and intense even existed, nor truly appreciated the sacrifices that my own mother had made to raise me.


To my own mother, and to all my fellow mothers out there: I salute you. I see first hand through my health coaching sessions, cooking classes and from meeting and talking to you every day at Broth Bar & Larder just how hard you are working for the health of your family. I see the effort you put into making nourishing meals and the hurdles that you are overcoming in the pursuit of providing your children with the best start in life. I am in awe of you and I want each and every one of you to take a moment to reflect on all that you do, to appreciate your worth and to take a little time out on Mother’s Day to savour all of the delights showered your way no matter how great or small.

To celebrate and honour the mothers in our lives and the incredible role they play, we have crafted something truly special this year. An organic muesli of the highest quality. We started with our organic hand-crafted muesli (to read why our muesli is so unique and of the highest quality that you will find in Australia, click here). We then infused it with Ovvio Organics rose petals and pieces of our signature maple-sweetened raw dark chocolate for the ultimate healthy indulgence.  

The impetus for creating this muesli came from my own mother a few years back who asked for something that would provide nourishment and delight rather than “dust collecting crap that I don’t need or want” (that’s the English translation of the Greek version!). So I put together something that I as a mother would love to receive. Organic artisan wholefood that will nourish, satisfy, and delight! This muesli is bound to entice even the fussiest of yummy mummies, and those who need or want for nothing.

Retailing at $25.50/300g, we are selling a very limited quantity only. These make a beautiful gift in and of themselves or as an inclusion in a hamper as part of a larger gift. For ideas on what to include in a Mother’s Day hamper, I can suggest a bottle of Toscana cold pressed extra virgin olive oil which we sell at Broth Bar & Larder, a packet of our activated macadamia nuts, our fruit & nut raw dark chocolate,  our macadamia nut sokolata and/or our choc orange bliss balls.  My friendly staff and I are more than happy to help you construct a hamper if you bring in the box for us to fill. 

As our Mother’s Day muesli contains our pure chocolate, it does require refrigeration.  Purchase prior to Mother’s Day (13 May 2017) from our retail store Broth Bar & Larder or if you prefer to have a packet couriered to you for an additional shipping fee please pre-pay and order on 0421 786 009 or orders@staraniseorgnic.com in advance.

I will leave you with some of my favourite quotes on motherhood. I hope these resonate with you as much as they do with me.

 

BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH BOX ESSENTIALS

Becca Crawford

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The summer holidays are quickly drawing to a close and as a mama this brings mixed emotions:
BIG YAY for getting back into some semblance of an exercise and meditation routine which went totally out the window, and BIG BOO for early morning rises and gun-to-the-head time pressures. 

I can’t guarantee that the emotional and physical transition back to school this coming week will be an easy one for you either, but I can assure you that with some basic fridge, freezer and pantry staples, you'll be well prepared to tackle the early morning rush hour with less stress and haste, and more ease and grace, as well as ensuring that your little chimps will be well fed with nutrient-dense foods that give them the energy and building blocks to learn, play and concentrate all day without energy dips. 

Here is what I always have on hand at a minimum to make sure I never get caught out:

Lunch boxes:

  1. Rectangular and square leak-proof stainless steel lunch boxes with removable dividers. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder. I love the quadrangle ones because I can ensure that ¾ of my kids’ lunch boxes is vegetables and ¼ is protein. I simply remove the divider when packing a salad. 
  2. Nesting trio of 3 round leak-proof stainless steel lunch box containers. Super handy for morning tea. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder
  3. Insulated food jars to keep food cold (e.g. yogurt) or hot (soups, broth, stews). Sold at Broth Bar & Larder. Hot tip to keep food hot for longer: fill with boiling water to warm the container up, discard the water and add in the hot food. 
  4. Stainless steel (not plastic!) water bottles: buy online from Klean Kanteen or selected homeware stores like Kings of Knives and organic stores. Kings of Knives also sell the spouts separately if you loose one and I also recommend replacing all of the spouts periodically as bacteria can harbour in the spouts. Glass water bottles are another option but there’s the breakage factor (Miss M learnt that one the hard way!) and also the issue with extra weight to lug around. 

Protein:

  1. Activated nuts: if permitted at schools, organic activated nuts are not only delicious but high in protein and  ranked as the 3rd most-nutrient dense food on the planet according to the Mat Lalonde nutrient-density scale. The older grades are becoming more and more relaxed about nuts so these are making their way into my kids’ school lunch boxes in more recent years. Our organic activated cashews, almonds, black pepitas and macadamias come in nifty little 30g snack packs perfect for kids’ school lunches. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder or via our online store.
  2. Gruyere or Reggio raw milk cheeses: still made with 100% raw milk world-wide. Perfect to team with fruit for morning tea or can be the protein part of lunch. We sell these at Broth Bar & Larder by weight so you can buy as little or as much as you need.
  3. All other organic full fat cheese: I always keep a stash of other organic full fat cheeses in my fridge to have on hand. They will each contain different probiotics so ideally rotate between them. Eg gouda (high in vitamin K2), haloumi (pan fry), cheddar, brie, camembert etc. Purchase from organic stores. 
  4. Preservative-free cured meats from Bundarra Berkshires: Capocollo – a little spicy, and Little French Ham – my kids fav! Sold at Broth Bar & Larder.
  5. The Canadian Way wild smoked salmon: delicious to throw into a salad to make wild smoked salad or to throw into lunch boxes as is dressed with lemon juice. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder. Beware that all other smoked salmons in Australia are farmed. Read more here. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder. I keep a stash in my freezer to pull out from the night before. 
  6. The Canadian Way wild tuna: pre-cooked at low temperatures with extra virgin olive oil and sold in retort packs to conveniently add to lunch boxes or throw into a salad. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder. Shelf stable so I have a stash in my pantry. 
  7. Anchovies: buy from supermarkets or organic stores ensuring that they are marinated in olive oil and not vegetable oil or canola oil. Easy to throw into a salad.
  8. Other tinned fish: buy wild tinned fish from supermarkets or organic stores ensuring that they are either in brine or marinated in olive oil and not vegetable oil or canola oil.  BPA-free tinned wild fish sold online from Vital Choice. Easy to throw into a salad or can be eaten straight from the tin.
  9. Preservative-free beef jerky from Kooee made from 100% grass fed meat and spices. 3 varieties sold at Broth Bar & Larder.
  10. Cleavers paleo sausages and meat balls: I keep a stash of frozen ones in my freezer to pull out when needed and fry up the night before. 
    Full fat unsweetened yogurt made by Bondi Yogurt sold at Broth Bar & Larder. I also like the Meredith sheeps milk yogurt sold at organic /health food stores. For our dairy-free friends, an unsweetened probiotic-rich coconut yogurt made by Bondi Yogurt is also sold at Broth Bar & Larder.


Vegetables & Fruit:

  1. Fresh vegetables: buy from your local farmers market or organic stores. At a minimum I try to have in my crisper drawer at all times some cucumbers, red capsicum, cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery and some salad greens. Left over veggies (make more steamed veg from the night before), raw fennel and cooked and cooled potatoes are nice too for variety. Mix things up!
  2. Olives:  Jumbo green olives in brine are sold at Broth Bar & Larder. If you buy marinated olives please read the label or ask if they are marinated in vegetable oils like canola oil – and if so avoid like the plague!
  3. Pickles: sugar-free pickles from McLures are sold at Broth Bar & Larder. My kids adore these.
  4. Raw fermented vegetables: throw into salads. 3 varieties sold at Broth Bar & Larder. Easy to throw into a salad.
  5. Nori seaweed: let’s not forget sea vegetables and their richness in nutrients like iodine not found as abundantly in land vegetables. Remember that diversity is key and the human body wants a diversity of (real, whole) foods. My kids LOOOOVE nori. I buy from organic nori from organic/health stores and be sure that it contains only one ingredients – nori- because many brands coat the nori in vegetable oils. 
  6. Fresh fruit: I always have a few pieces of seasonal fresh fruit on hand for morning teas that I team with yogurt, cheese, cream or some other quality protein/fat source (this teaming is important because fruit and veggies contain fat soluable vitamins and minerals meaning that they need to be teamed with quality fats or proteins for those vitamins and minerals to be assimilated /absorbed in the body. Secondly a quality fat/protein source will help slow down the release of blood sugars from the fruit to avoid insulin spikes and crashes).  I also have some fruit berries in my freezer (when I’ve no fresh fruit) to serve on top of yogurt. 


Crap-free nutrient-dense treats:

  1. Bliss Balls: sweetened only with dates and no concentrated sweeteners and loaded with healthy brain-boosting and energy-giving saturated fats, these come in 4 different flavours: raw cacao, choc orange, white chocolate and activated nut. The first 3 flavours are completely nut free! Sold at Broth Bar & Larder or via our online store.
  2. Gummies: made with 100% grass-fed gut-loving beef gelatin, organic raspberries and pure Canadian maple syrup. Sold at Broth Bar & Larder.
  3. Carob bears + mint carob bears: made with 2 or 3 ingredients only, these are completely free of sweeteners and dates = guilt free! Yay! Sold at Broth Bar & Larder 
    [Broth Bar & Larder is open 7 days a week (Monday- Saturday 8am-6pm, and Sundays 11am-4pm). Note that our online store only ships cold items to Sydney and Wollongong.]

To become a lunchbox pro, check out my SCHOOL LUNCHBOX INSPIRATION ebook where I will share with you robust nutritional theory, my secret tips and tricks, school lunch and morning tea “formulas” for success, teamed with pictures of nutrient-dense, grain-free, processed food free lunch boxes.

And don't forget to check out my social media posts to see what my monkeys are taking with them to school each day. See social media platforms below. 

INSPIRING PARENTS TO RAISE VIBRANTLY HEALTHY KIDS ONE NUTRIENT-DENSE MOUTHFUL AT A TIME!