Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Air Fryer Chickpea Tacos

Dear Mark: Olive Oil Followup

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering questions from last week’s olive oil post. First, is there a way to identify real olive oil and distinguish it from fraudulent olive oil? Second, should EVOO be used when grilling food? Third, how can we know if our canned seafood is packed in real, actual olive oil and not some industrial seed swill? Fourth, is algae oil worth eating? And fifth, what about just eating whole olives? Finally, why not just eat beef fat, which is also relatively high in MUFA?

Let’s go:

I’ve read that some “olive oil” has canola or other oils mixed in, fraudulently. Is that still an issue, and is there any way to be sure (reliable brands or sources) that what you are buying is pure and authentic?

It’s still an issue.

It all started after a raid by Italian police discovered that many olive oil producers were adding chlorophyll to sunflower and soybean oil and passing it off as EVOO. Later, UC Davis conducted a study on popular brands of imported EVOO, finding that about 70% were adulterated with seed oils. Other studies have found similar results.

Find a brand you trust. Research a maker, whether it’s a local market or a specialty brand you find at the store.

There’s this master list of olive oils certified by the North American Olive Oil Association for quality and authenticity. Many are commonly available in grocery stores.

I like it drizzled over cottage cheese for lunch or brunch, topped with cracked pepper, yum!

Finally someone agrees! This is indeed the best way to consume cottage cheese, for those who don’t know. Use at least a teaspoon of pepper, as much as you can handle.

I typically use an EVOO spray on meats before searing on the grill. Could this be harmful with the flame on high?

I wouldn’t recommend EVOO for high heat or direct flame. Personally, I use an oil made for high heat cooking in that kind of situation.

How can one be assured that they’re packed in genuine EVOO? Is there some source/website that lists those that have been tested and verified? Call me a skeptic. If I’m Crown Prince, King Oscar, Starkist, or whoever, I’m buying massive quantities of olive oil for my fish packing operation. And the cheaper price gets my business. I’m not sending samples off to a lab to test if it’s authentic EVOO.

Good question. I can’t attest to any particular brand. It’s possible some adulterated oil could slip in, and I was unable to find any mention of it in the online literature.

If you’re concerned, drain the oil. Even if a half gram of omega-6 PUFA were to slip by, the actual fish in the can is rich enough in omega-3s that I wouldn’t worry.

For what it’s worth, I doubt something like Wild Planet sardines (what I generally buy) uses fake olive oil. Unless I’m including it specifically for a recipe, I usually pour the oil into a bowl for my dog to eat, since it’s good for her, too. (You can imagine how much she enjoys it….)  Her fur shows the benefit as well.

Terrific info, thank you!
Can you do the same breakdown and analysis of algae oil? Please. I’m using ‘thrive’ brand. Thanks!

Algae oil is a good source of long chain omega-3s and has been shown to improve omega-3:omega-6 ratio in people and animals, a strong indication it “works.” Algae represents the “source” of DHA for most of the seafood we eat, in fact. Great way for vegans and vegetarians to get them.

Don’t use it for cooking. Omega-3 fats are very fragile in the presence of heat, unless protected by the

To what extent do you get the same benefits from just eating olives? I’m usually more inclined to do that… wondering if there’s any research on the health benefits?

Yep, olives are great. Love them. There isn’t really any research into olive consumption, and you’d have to get about two dozen olives to get a tablespoon worth of EVOO, but they’re bound to be good for you. Just account for the sodium intake.

Every time I see these claims about EVVO, I think:
1. EVOO is rich in MUFAs; so is BEEF FAT.
2. BEEF FAT is rich in SFAs; so is EVOO.
3. EVOO is rich in polyphenols. Does polyphenols show some improvement in healthspan and longevity in humans in a prospective study?
4. EVOO is a liquid fat. There are some studies showing that liquid fats increases intestinal permeability.
OBS.: yes, I´m doing carnivore.

1. Agreed. Beef fat is rich in MUFAs, just like EVOO.

2. Beef fat is rich in SFA, but it’s a particular type of SFA (stearic acid) that turns into MUFA in the body. EVOO isn’t really rich in SFA, though it’s rich in the MUFA that stearic acid becomes.

3. Plant phytonutrients actually do have consistent inverse associations with mortality in humans. More phytonutrients, longer lifespan. However, this isn’t measuring cause and effect. It’s very possible that people who eat more polyphenols also do other types of healthy behaviors, like exercise regularly and avoid smoking, that definitely improve longevity.

4. If anything, MUFAs (the primary fat in liquid EVOO) along with omega-3s are protective against intestinal permeability. And let’s not forget that less intestinal permeability isn’t necessarily a good thing. Increased intestinal permeability can be physiological, or it can be pathogenic.

I get the carnivore thing. I’m not against it. Beef fat is great, too. But the evidence in favor of EVOO is quite robust. Definitely robust enough for my taste.

Thanks for reading, writing, and asking, everyone. Take care and be sure to comment down below if you have any more questions!



Kim Y, Je Y. Flavonoid intake and mortality from cardiovascular disease and all causes: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2017;20:68-77.

Cândido FG, Valente FX, Grze?kowiak ?M, Moreira APB, Rocha DMUP, Alfenas RCG. Impact of dietary fat on gut microbiota and low-grade systemic inflammation: mechanisms and clinical implications on obesity. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2018;69(2):125-143.

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Super Oatmeal Cookies

This post is sponsored by The Quaker Oats Company

Oats On The Go

These Super Oatmeal Cookies will be your new favorite portable snack. Ideal for quick breakfasts (paired with fresh fruit or greek yogurt), long car trips, summer hikes, or picnics, you can take them anywhere. You could describe these as a “scuffin” actually. Part scone, part muffin, part cookie. Naturally I like them best toasted and crumbled over yogurt and smoothies.  : )

Super Nutrition

Made with Quaker Old Fashioned Oats, homemade oat flour, flax, carrots, apple, and pumpkin, these cookies are super good! The oats + oat flour make them 100% whole grain, and they have 3 grams of fiber per cookie. Plus, the only added sugar comes from a touch of honey, so they have less than 5 grams of sugar per cookie. You can also make them with Quaker’s Gluten Free Oats for a gluten-free recipe.

Homemade Oat Flour

Making oat flour is super easy if you have a food processor. Just blend rolled or quick oats for one minute until you have a fine flour.

While you have the food processor out, go ahead and grate your carrots and apples. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use pre-ground flour and grate the produce on a box grater.

Mix Wet, Mix Dry, Mix Wet Into Dry

Form Cookies

Since these cookies aren’t heavy on the butter, they won’t spread while baking, so form them into cookie shapes and place on parchment.

Bake at 350* for 15 minutes

Bake for 15 minutes until edges are crispy and golden.


Super Oatmeal Cookies

Made with Quaker Rolled Oats, homemade oat flour, flax, carrots, apple, and pumpkin, these cookies are super good! Ideal for quick breakfasts (paired with fresh fruit or greek yogurt), long car trips, summer hikes, or picnics, you can take them anywhere.

  • 1.5 cups Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
  • 2/3 cup oat flour (made from Quaker Oats)
  • 2/3 cup carrot (peeled and grated (~1 large or 2 medium))
  • 2/3 cup apple (peeled, cored and grated (~1 large or 2 medium))
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup ground flax
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp butter (melted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Make oat flour in a food processor with the blade attachment. Switch to grate attachment and grate peeled carrots and apples.

  2. In a large bowl, mix oats, oat flour, ground flax, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg and stir in pumpkin honey, melted butter, and vanilla.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry. Fold in carrot and apple.
  5. Divide dough into 12 and form cookie shapes.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until cookies are golden and edges are crispy.
  7. Cool completely and store in fridge. Toast or heat before eating.

More Baked Oat Recipes

Thanks to Quaker Oats for sponsoring this post!

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Baked Pancakes (With Only 2 Ingredients!)

Baked pancakes are a wonderful addition to you breakfast meal rotation. They are far lower in fat than pan-fried pancakes, and they still maintain a wonderful flavor! Pssst!!!…. They’re grain-free… Read more →

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Monday, August 19, 2019

How Social Media Works + Recent Meals

Good morning!

Let’s talk about how social media works, shall we? I came across this meme the other day, and it made me LOL. It’s sooooo true!


how social media works meme

True story: I once said: “Everyone loves puppies,” and then got reamed out on social media by someone who got attacked by a puppy as a kid. I know you can’t make everyone happy, but jeez Louise! Just some food for thought! 😉

Recent Meals

I love to see what other people eat because it always gives me tasty ideas for my own meals and snacks. Here are some of my recent meals, which, as you’ll see, are super simple throw-together meals. I am not fancy when I cook, but I still love delicious and nutritious food! 🙂 If you’re on Instagram, check out my new-ish video series on IGTV!

Air fryer fish tacos made with cod, guacamole, Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar, and shredded purple cabbage 

Buffalo shredded chicken with arugula, lentils (Trader Joe’s pre-cooked), and maple roasted carrots 

Hummus chicken salad with sautéed Brussels sprouts with a little bit of taco seasoning (I used this meal prep tool to quickly chop them), and fresh salsa

Veggie + cheddar sandwich with mayo and sprouts – I had this at a sandwich shop in Concord, NH and loved how simple and delicious it was. I definitely want to recreate it at home! 

banza mac & cheese with chicken breast and broccoli

Banza Mac & Cheese with leftover chicken breast and roasted broccoli mixed in

Arugula with roasted sweet potatoes, half of an avocado, and deli turkey drizzles with balsamic glaze on top

Throw-Together Dessert: Warm Lemon Bar with Blueberries & Whipped Cream

I’m also loving this quickie 3-ingredient microwaveable blueberry pie. Trust me, you want to try it! 🙂

Question of the Day

What meal are you loving lately? Do you like these recent meals posts? 

P.S. Do you love single-serving desserts? Download my Single-Serving Desserts Ebook for FREE! There’s lots of tasty ideas inside!

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Dog-Friendly Friday Night on the South Shore

Hi, guys!

We had quite the fun time on Friday night… and it was totally impromptu! I didn’t feel like cooking, so we decided to take the whole family out to dinner at the Hingham Shipyard. We took Murphy to dinner at Trident last year and had such a great time together, we decided to do it again. It was basically a dog-friendly Friday night on the South Shore. Woohoo!

Trident has an outdoor patio space that is dog-friendly, so it’s the perfect spot to bring a pup. (Hingham Beer Works and Wahlburgers across the way also allow dogs outside.) We brought along Murphy’s food and water, so he could eat dinner with us.

Dog-Friendly Friday Night on the South Shore

Dinner started with drinks and oysters, which Quinn actually tried again. He didn’t love the bite that he took, but we were pumped he gave them another shot!

For my entree, I ordered the Brussels sprouts and shared Quinn’s hummus plate with him. He wasn’t into the grilled vegetables and barely made a dent in the huge portion of hummus, so it worked out perfectly.

Murphy, of course, was on “cleaned up” duty and ate every morsel of food that fell onto the ground.

After dinner, we explored the Shipyard and ended up staying for the free concert, which was such a nice way to spend the night. The concert was actually really packed, and I kind of wished we had attended a few more of them this summer.

There’s two more Friday night concerts, so I definitely think we’ll plan better next time and make a whole night of it. We didn’t bring anything with us – like chairs, blankets, drinks, snacks, etc. Even still, we really had a great time, but I could see how the outdoor concerts could be even more fun!

Murphy definitely enjoyed our dog-friendly Friday night on the South Shore. I mean, look at that happy pug face!

dog-friendly hingham shipyard free concert summer

Question of the Day

Local readers: What are your favorite dog-friendly places in the area? Where would you spend a dog-friendly Friday night on the South Shore?

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Primal + Keto Cooking Made Easy: Primal Oatmeal

On mornings when a bowl of oatmeal is what your body craves, this hearty and comforting Primal breakfast cereal is exactly what you need. Coconut flakes, almonds, pecans, and the milk of your choice are blended into a creamy, oatmeal-like cereal and topped with fresh berries.

Make Primal oatmeal in the morning or the night before. Serve it hot or cold. Personalize your bowl by using different types of nuts and non-dairy milks, sweetening with pure maple syrup or yacon syrup instead of a Medjool date, and adding more flavor and nutrients with add-ins like butter, cinnamon or chia seeds. However you do it, “oatmeal” doesn’t get any tastier than this.

Serving: 1 larger serving 

Time in the Kitchen: 5 minutes (plus, time to soak the nuts, if desired)


  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (16 g)
  • ¼ cup raw almonds, preferably soaked (1.25 oz/37 g)
  • ¼ cup raw pecans, preferably soaked (1 oz/25 g)
  • ½ cup coconut milk or whipping cream/full-fat milk/half and half (120 ml)
  • 1 pitted medjool date, soaked for 20 minutes in hot water (Can omit or substitute stevia, Swerve or yacon syrup.)
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Coconut Primal Fuel
  • Pinch of salt

Optional Add-ins:

  • Fresh berries
  • Butter
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds*


In a high-powered blender, chop the coconut flakes and nuts until finely ground.

Add the milk, date (if desired) and a pinch of salt. Blend until thick and smooth.

Pour into serving bowls. Add more of your favorite milk, if desired, plus additional add-ins. Serve hot or cold.

Nutritional Information (with date, without toppings):

  • Calories: 680
  • Total Carbs: 27 grams
  • Net Carbs: 17.3 grams
  • Fat: 60 grams
  • Protein: 19 grams

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