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Olive Pasta Salad

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A well-balanced and chilled pasta salad is an excellent addition to lunch.  I recommend brown rice pasta versus traditional flour/wheat pasta to avoid gluten for individuals dealing with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, or for anyone trying to lose some weight. Weight concern is also why we move pasta to lunch, the mid-day time when we require good quality carbohydrates for even afternoon energy. Unless you are sensitive to rice, I do recommend sticking to the simple 100% brown rice pasta. There are many kinds of  “gluten-free” pastas on the market, but I encourage you to read the ingredient list. You may be surprised what ingredients you will find. Do not be misled. A box featuring a quinoa logo, for example, is misleading as it contains corn as the first ingredient (ingredients are listed in the order of the amount) and quinoa is only the second and last ingredient.

Prepping Your Pasta Salad

As the name suggests, olive pasta salad includes olive oil.  Whenever I have just cooked the pasta, I will run some high quality olive oil over it and toss it, preventing pasta from sticking and also adding flavor. This oil has been used for more than 5500 years and it was first used in the Mediterranean region. We are now very aware of the amazing health benefits this oil provides, as long as you buy pure olive oil. The reason why this oil is so healthy is simple – it contains various antioxidants called polyphenols.

Like other antioxidants, polyphenols fight oxidative stress, may fight cancer and age-related diseases like heart disease, and have strongly anti-inflammatory properties.  The oleocanthal phenol, for example, exhibits similar benefits to ibuprofen. Monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid also have shown strong anticancer properties. Namely, oleic acid has the ability to lower the activity of the gene related to the formation of cancer known as an oncogene. Some studies suggest that olive oil helps patients dealing with a colon, prostate, and breast cancer. Numerous scientific studies have also shown that olive oil can stabilize blood pressure and lower hypertension and reduces the bad cholesterol. Countries where olive oil is consumed on a daily basis, like Greece and Italy, have very low rates of heart disease.

Several studies have confirmed that olive oil can naturally manage insulin and blood sugar levels. Olive oil is mild and this characteristic makes it ideal for treatment of gastritis and ulcers too. In addition, it can support the production of specific hormones and bile that can protect us from the formation of gallstones and ulcers.

We should not forget that olive oil is good for the skin too. It has been used to improve skin health for hundreds of years. It has the ability to retain water in the skin and can be applied both while you are having a warm bath and directly on the skin. Scientists have also pointed out that the high antioxidant content in olive oil is the reason why this oil can easily eliminate free radicals on the skin.

When choosing olive oil, splurge and buy a small best quality you can get in dark glass bottle. I have sees some specialty olive oil stores in a few big cities, where you can taste samples from various countries. If you live in Baltimore, you can experience that at En Olivier. Whenever I can, I treat myself to the “youngest” olive oil there, which is as young as 6 months! And what a treat it always is. EVOO is one of the only two oils I personally use in my kitchen.

Looking for more recipes with functional nutrition benefits? Follow me on Pinterest!



Eat Well. Look Great. Feel Spectacular. Naturally!

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