Starbucks Salad: Not As Bad As Expected!

I don’t normally eat food from Starbucks. I do, however, drink their teas, and because I’m a Gold Member, I get rewards after buying a certain amount of drinks. The rewards are whatever you want – any food item or any drink – so naturally, I’ll get some kind of packaged food which I’ve been giving to my boyfriend since he’s not that picky about what he eats.

More than half-way through the Hearty Veggie & Brown Rice Salad Bowl, wishing there was more!

Well, this last reward, I was on my way to work at said boyfriend’s store so that he could do a garden job, but instead of getting something for him, I decided to get myself a salad since our kitchen was still under construction and our food supply was very limited that day.

I have to admit, I wasn’t really looking forward to eating this salad since I’m a total salad snob. First of all, it was from Starbucks which is internationally renowned for its coffee which I think is super sub-par, so why would their packaged salads be even remotely good? Second, it was from Starbucks.

The salad dressing is made with olive & sesame oils, & this container is 250 calories which is more than all the salad ingredients combined!

Well, lo and behold, after eating it and reading its stats,  I was slightly more than moderately impressed with this salad! The taste was surprisingly good, and shockingly, they used olive oil in the brown rice and olive and sesame oils in the dressing. The butternut squash, also, was roasted with olive oil. The only thing that they cooked with canola oil were the tomatoes. And although they list refined olive oil in two places (followed by EVOO both times), I believe it has to be better than a soybean or a canola oil, unless by refined they mean “soybean and/or canola oil masquerading as olive oil?” Either way, the fact that they follow it up with EVOO makes me feel much better about Starbucks. The only things that could make this salad better would be to make it organic, and to make it larger. 😉

I really like how on the fronts of their salads Starbucks shows the calories including the dressing. That way, you can somewhat control your final amount of calories by how much dressing you choose to use.

Olive Oil: Are You Buying Real or Fake?

Olive oil. . .it does a body good! But are you buying real olive oil or fake? Because if you are consuming olive oil that’s not 100% olive oil, your body is likely suffering due to the imposter oils that are used as substitutes for the real thing.

My new favorite olive oil and vinegar company.

You see, olive oil production in Italy has taken a mafia-like turn with oil producers using lower quality olive oils from other countries and labeling them as EVOO, and even using different cheaper oils like sunflower, soybean, or canola and then adding chlorophyl to make them green and adding artificial flavorings. Why would they do this? It all boils down to money. Lots more money can be made using the cheaper oils due to the huge demand for olive oil now because of all the known health benefits such as: being full of antioxidants, being heart-healthy, being anti-inflammatory, lowering LDL cholesterol and helping to prevent strokes, just to name a few.

This tuna salad was excellent drizzled with only Fandango olive oil & their lemon balsamic vinegar!

We don’t know how long Italians have been scamming the public with fake olive oils, but we do know that 91 people in Italy were exposed as being involved in this type of fraud in 2008 during a huge police raid called Operation Golden Oil. And in 2015, another ring of olive oil fraudsters was busted in Puglia, Italy involving twelve companies who were using olive oils from Syria, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia, then bottling it and labeling it as being made in Italy. It turns out you can’t always trust what you read even on food labels. . .ahhh!!

All Fandango’s bottles are fitted with these awesome lids which makes for super easy drizzling & almost zero dripping.

Why are the imposter oils so bad for you, you ask? Well, if it’s soybean oil they’re using, you can bet it’s genetically modified since 94% of soybean crops in the United States are GMO, plus GM soybean oil has been shown to cause obesity, diabetes and fatty liver as well as being high in omega-6s which promote inflammation. Sunflower oil is also high in omega-6s, and as far as canola oil goes, 90% of crops in the US and Canada are genetically modified, and they use hexane to extract the oil from the rapeseeds. Hexane can’t be good to ingest, right?

So what are we to do? How can you tell if your olive oil is real or fake? Here are a few things to check for before you buy:
– The bottle should be dark green or brown, not clear. Light quickly
   degrades real olive oil.
– Check for a harvest date. Good oils will have a harvest date, and olive oil
   is good up to one year if stored in a cool, dark place.
– The bottle should have a seal of approval from a local or regional
   authority.
– It should say where the oil comes from.
– It should indicate what type of olive or olives were used.
– For those of you who rely on the “fridge test” for purity, read here to see
   why it’s not a reliable test after all.
Their labels pass the test!
For those of you interested in ordering a really good olive oil, I recommend ordering from Fandango. They are located in Paso Robles, California, and they make organic extra-virgin olive oils. Plus, they even made the California Olive Oil Council’s certified list for 2016. Their oils might cost a little more than what you’re probably used to spending for olive oil, but once you taste how good theirs is, you’ll be super happy! And after all. . .aren’t you and your family worth really good olive oil? (By the way. . .I don’t get any kick-backs from Fandango if you decide to order from them. For years I was buying my oil from a different company in Los Olivos, but since I recently found Fandango whose prices are considerably less and whose oils [and vinegars!] are super good, I thought I’d share them with you. I hope you like them as much as I do, and should you decide to order from them, please let me know what you think!)