This beautifully designed museum located in Sparta invites visitors to discover the rich culture and history surrounding Greece’s famed olive and olive oil production – from prehistoric times to the early 20th century.
Housed in a two-storey, industrial stone building the Museum of Olive and Olive Oil is a place where you will also learn about olive oil’s many uses as this area is one of the main olive-producing locations of Greece.
For each historical period, guests are able to learn about the contribution olives and olive oil have made to Greece’s economy and the way in which Greeks use it in their everyday life- from its health and beauty benefits to its influence on Greek mythology, religion, art, and technology.
On the lower floor, you will find post-byzantine technology of the olive mills and a section about domestic and industrial soap-making. In the open-air exhibition, visitors can get up close to the three different oil press machines, one prehistoric, one Hellenistic, and one from the Byzantine era.
The upper floor highlights the first testimonials of the olive as well as its contribution to Greece’s economy and shows written testimonies dating back to the 14th century, on Linear B inscribed tablets, while there are also exhibits of rare fossilized olive leaves approximately 50.000-60.000 years old, that were found in Santorini.
Throughout the space, you will also see an impressive wooden double press with a winch from the neighbouring village of Xirokambi, and an olive press from the island of Lefkada, which documents the survival of animal power in the 20th century, as well as models representing the functioning of engine-powered olive presses. And at the end of the visit, you will be given details of archaeological sites to olive oil production in the Peloponnese if you wish to continue your journey of olive and olive oil discovery.
Delphi, Greece’s second most popular archaeological site is located at the foot of Mount Parnassos and is home to the most famous oracle of ancient Greece. In fact, Delphi is regarded as the centre of the ancient world.
Due to its close proximity to Athens (just over two hours drive), Delphi is an ideal spot for a quick getaway from the Greek capital. This historical site offers incredible cultural experiences, including a tour of a family-owned olive grove, which is one of the oldest in the world.
Socrates Oil is a family business that was created six years ago, out of their love for olive oil and their homeland. What makes it even more special is that the traditional olive grove of Delphi is the largest continuous olive grove in the Balkans; occupying an area of about 60,000 acres, it contains roughly 1,200,000 olive trees.
The area is protected by the UNESCO international treaty, as a world heritage site, as the first olive trees were planted here about 2,500 years ago. All the olive trees are of the “Amfissis” variety and the height of many of them exceeds 10 meters; to embrace such an age-old tree you will need 5 to 6 people.
Socrates Oil produces two types of olive oil, as well as green and black olives, and pate olives. Their Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Premium Olive Oil Socrates are two single-variety olive oils that are produced by the process of cold pressing, in a state-of-the-art olive mill that follows very strict hygiene rules.
“Harvesting is done by hand, in early November for premium fresh olive oil and in early December for EVOO. The microclimate of the area with the mild winter and the wet summer, as well as the natural vegetation of aromatic wild grasses, make us a very aromatic olive oil with a special aftertaste,” owner Panos Danatzis tells IN+SIGHTS GREECE.
“We have won 10 international quality awards (four gold) and the Premium olive oil packaging (black bottle) has won the double packaging and label award at the London International Packaging Competition. Socrates olive oil is exported throughout Europe, Canada, Australia, South Korea, and New Caledonia,” adds Panos.
Visitors to the historic olive grove will have the opportunity to walk around and see the age-old trees up close and if it happens to coincide with the harvest season, guests are also able to help with the olive harvesting and watch the unique process of olive oil production.
“You will be able to try different olive oils from other parts of Greece, as well as olives and olive paste. You can also visit the archaeological site of Delphi and admire the ancient findings of the Archaeological Museum, which each year receives thousands of visitors from all over the world,” says Panos.
When asked what else visitors are able to experience in the area, Panos recommends “Trying Greek cuisine at one of the dozens of traditional taverns in the area, which all use local products. Friends of hiking will be able to cross the ancient path of Kirra, and enjoy a unique view of the Corinthian Gulf.”
Visiting Delphi and the traditional olive grove is a unique experience all year round but to experience the harvesting it’s best to get there anytime from November through to February.
Nikkitas, is a Greek family business that spans five generations in Sparta. Producing truly exceptional extra virgin olive oil, honey, and olives- the sustainable company has a deep and utter respect for ancestral harvesting methods.
Looking after their olive groves and beekeeping for hundreds of years, each family member has played a pivotal role in protecting the authenticity of the production- through both dedication and craftsmanship.
Nikkitas’ family olive grove
Set in a landscape of archaeological wealth and historical heritage, the lush family grove sits among the ruins of Ancient Sparta, at the foot of Mount Taygetos. Flanked by the Eurotas river and a stone away from heroic warrior King Leonidas’ tomb, it’s also close by to the Unesco World Heritage fortified town of Mystras.
Dedicated to producing the finest products and just as committed to taking care of the resources and its local community- Nikkitas’ main priority is to balance traditional techniques with modern quality controls, which allows them to create olive oil and honey that can be enjoyed and appreciated by people worldwide. Their liquid gold is produced entirely in Sparta in the family-owned groves; where in less than 24 hours, the handpicked olives are pressed and bottled, retaining all the fruits’ nutrients and producing an exceptional polyphenol-rich golden-green Extra Virgin Olive Oil- unique to these lands. Nikkitas’ antioxidant honey is pure, unheated, and unpasteurised; pine, thyme, flowers, and conifers honey deliver wonderful and complex tastes and are the fruits of nomadic beekeeping- using traditional methods, artisanal love, and care on carefully chosen fields.
The range of family-made products combines luxury and transparency bringing quality olive oil, heavenly pine honey, and glossy Kalamata olives into homes around the world.
IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently spoke with Christina, who has helped turn her family’s love of farming into a successful Greek family business.
How did it all come about?
Three years ago, in London, in a starred-restaurant, the chef mentioned he wanted me to try olive oil he had just found from Spain and I cheekily told him that my family produces a great extra virgin olive oil. He was curious and asked me to come back the next day so he could try it. When I came back he was there with a professional buyer – they tried my EVOO, olives, and honey and loved it all. They advised me to create nice packaging for my products. Until then, we had never thought of selling our products. They were always purely for friends and family’s consumption. And that’s how it all began.
Tell us about your family’s Spartan olive grove?
As a child, I used to spend three months in Sparta during summer, at my grandparents’ house. I remember the stark, ‘Spartan’ ways and silence of my grandparents’ home. I did not speak good Greek at the time and language was a clear barrier between us. I spent my days cycling in the garden, running after the chickens and amongst olive trees. Eventually, when I grew bored, I used to peek into the semi-dark kitchen backroom where my grandmother used to stand for hours, preparing food and marinating olives. The overpowering smell of olive oil and olives was intoxicating, inebriating… my Yiayia would stay in that room until it was lunchtime when she would call us all to sit. The sight of the kitchen table was unbelievable: covered with Greek delicacies, homemade delectable foods were bringing us all together and there and then, something magical happened: a flow of conversations, sounds, smells, tastes would submerge our home, in striking contrast to the rest of my day.
For me, Nikkitas is my strong connection to my roots, it symbolises the deep bond I could make as a child in a ‘Spartan’ austere upbringing, when for a brief moment in time, but forever in my memories, my home would be alive- surrounded by the most amazing smells and tastes- complete awakening of my senses.
How important is sustainable farming to you?
Our family produces olive oil, olives, and honey, the traditional way- respectful of our great grandparents. Traditional care, pruning, composting, and no usage of machines enable a considerable increase in soil organic matter, which improves not only our olive groves’ soil fertility but also our trees’ health. This emphasizes the potential of our olive trees for mitigating climate change by storing carbon in the soil and in the tree biomass. Our olive by-product is either used to feed goats, sheep and cows, or for energy generation and fertilization (with 80% used for composting and 20% in direct field application).
Our glass bottles and jars are responsibly sourced from raw materials and are infinitely recyclable. And we are proud to use 100% recyclable packaging. We are also supporting our local community of very small artisan producers, from whom we gather the fruits of hundreds of tiny neighbouring kindred family groves and fields, all applying the same respect for traditional ways in the fertile and wildlands of Sparta.
We have also partnered with Desmos, a non-profit foundation, to support local schools in Sparta by providing educational equipment and supplies.
What makes your products so unique?
– Passionate craftsmen: we dedicate our skills to working our lands by hand. Many of our olive groves are in small, inaccessible orchards, so the olives are hand-picked, pressed and bottled on site in less than 24 hours, ensuring we keep the whole fruit’s nutrients.
– Transparency: our mill and factory are equipped with in-house chemical laboratories performing regular quality control analysis. Our cultivation, harvest, pressing, bottling, packaging and quality control all take place onsite.
– Unique extra virgin olive oil: we harvest and blend three exceptional varieties of polyphenol-rich olives in equal proportion: Koroneiki, Athinolia, and Koutsourolia. This balance is unique to our lands (as Athinolia can only be found on our lands and has an extremely high level of polyphenols) and results in highly antioxidant olives charged in polyphenols and healthy golden-green first cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, with a mildly piquant taste, full of texture and long-lasting aftertaste.
– Unique honey: every harvest depends on the quality of the ecosystem that surrounds it; wild forests and ecosystems are our home. We are nomad beekeepers looking for ideal conditions for our bees, and how far they travel to their food source. The natural properties of our real honey are impressive: antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-booster.
Where are your products stocked and do you ship internationally?
At the moment Nikkitas delivers to the UK, in 24/48hours, from our e-shop nikkitas.com.
OLEOSOPHIA is the result of a love story between a young Greek couple who turned the Ancient Greek tradition of olive harvesting into a modern family business that is being widely recognised and praised as one of the best and healthiest in the world.
Launched in 2018 in the village of Kalentzi, by Marianna Devetzoglou and Aris Magginas, this Corinthian extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and was recently awarded for its wellbeing content by the World Olive Centre for Health.
Ensuring consistency in quality, flavour, and aroma, OLEOSOPHIA is a limited edition product as the quantities depend on each year’s yield.
The brand’s vision is to promote the philosophy of extra virgin olive oil while sharing the values and ethos of their land. With a mission to inspire people to add this unique and healthy liquid gold into their everyday life- the small and talented team consists of young individuals of different backgrounds who love their country and its produce.
We recently had a chat with co-founder and Olive Oil Sommelier Marianna Devetzoglou about her family business, which is growing rapidly by the day.
Tell us about your olive oil brand. How did it all begin?
It all started when my husband George and I met – two people from different backgrounds who fell in love. We used to attend events and walk together through the olive trees, discussing ideas and future plans. OLEOSOPHIA started shortly after our love story blossomed with the aim of communicating our ethos, our values, and our vision to the world. OLEOSOPHIA represents the wisdom of olive oil, the unification of two families, and their traditions. We are happy to share this love for extra virgin olive oil with people, exchange ideas, and form solid partnerships around the world.
Tell us more about your upbringing and how that helped you launch OLEOSOPHIA?
George and I grew up in very different families. George comes from an agricultural family in the village of Kalentzi, Peloponnese, whose activities involved cultivating olive trees, table grapes, and apricots. He then studied IT at the Polytechnic University and got an MBA degree, before setting out on his IT career while helping his family. I, on the other hand, was born and raised in Athens, away from nature and in an urban family. I studied Physics and Materials Science in Athens and London before coming back to Greece. When we met, we enjoyed long hours of talking about new ventures, while our romance grew. Despite the different backgrounds, we shared the same passion – sharing our dreams and values with people, contributing to life changing experiences. There, under the olive trees, OLEOSOPHIA was born as a manifestation of our common passion: to create a point of reference where people can learn, enjoy, participate and get to know the local culture, the local olive variety, build a health-oriented mentality, experience artisan products and create long-lasting friendships.
What is the history behind your olive grove in Corinth?
My in-laws family live in the village of Kalentzi, which is located at the base of Mt. Fokas (in the Corinthian area), the mountain where the Lion of Nemea was born, according to legend. For three generations, the family has been cultivating olive trees, table grapes, and apricots.
Blessed with a strategically mild microclimate and fertile land, the area offers a variety of products with excellent quality and authentic taste. OLEOSOPHIA is our family’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil, produced by handpicked olives from our family grove, ensuring consistency in quality, flavour, and aroma. This tradition and experience has been passed on from generation to generation and is an integral part of our identity. Now, the new generation, young brothers and sisters have spread their wings, built their education in different sectors – chemistry, physics, and engineering, and have returned to their roots to build a new era for the family – with ethos, persistence, honesty, and integrity. Our olive grove is our sacred family heirloom, where we work hard to produce our awarded monovarietal extra virgin olive oil of the Manaki variety. It is also open to visitors to learn, explore, share and experience the magic of olive oil through olive grove tours and olive oil tasting events under the trees.
Tell us about your varieties?
In our olive grove of approximately 4,000 olive trees, we cultivate and produce monovarietal, first harvest Manaki Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is health claim certified and represents our local variety, with a well-balanced, smooth sensory profile whilst we also produce Manaki/Megariti extra virgin olive oil variety combined with a playful twist. As olive oil production has been running in the family for more than three generations, we have improved and optimised our agricultural practices in order to achieve higher quality and showcase the beautiful variety of Manaki. We bottle in luxury bottles of 500mL and 250mL which are ideal for everyday use as well as for corporate or personal gifts.
What do you think makes your business so successful?
We are a team of young people with different backgrounds and this is what makes us so strong. The team consists of Aris, Marianna, and Myrto. Aris is responsible for the cultivation. He is very knowledgeable, takes great care of the trees, and makes sure to keep them healthy and happy in order for them to give us their best fruit every year. I am the Olive Oil Sommelier, responsible for networking, PR, exports/sales, and of course, our olive oil tours and olive oil tasting events. I’m very active through education seminars to both consumers and professionals, while being the contact point between the family and our partners. Myrto is our Quality Advisor – coming from a chemistry background, she is the go-to person for all the necessary, quality-related processes, organisation advice, and science. The three of us complement each other, each building on each other’s strengths and weaknesses, creating a productive, well-balanced result.
What makes Greek olive oil so healthy?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – the highest grade of olive oil – is the healthiest one can possibly consume, rich in healthy fats and antioxidants that have demonstrated to contribute against a number of changes our body undergoes. Moreover, it is a natural juice that comes directly from the pressing of the olive fruit. Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, in particular, is healthy and rich in different sensory profiles because of the many different olive varieties found in Greece. As a result, the consumer can enjoy all the health benefits and experience authentic flavours that depict the local microclimate and flora of each region.
What makes your olive oil so unique?
A number of reasons make OLEOSOPHIA special. The Manaki variety that we cultivate in our family olive grove is a sensitive variety that is mainly used for the production of high quality, high-end extra virgin olive oil. The variety is found only in two areas in Greece and is not cultivated in other countries, making the experience of OLEOSOPHIA an authentic one, one you may explore when travelling in our region. Moreover, OLEOSOPHIA monovarietal extra virgin olive oil holds a Health Claim certificate for its phenolic content – this means that consumers may use OLEOSOPHIA as a health supplement, not just as a tasty ingredient in their everyday cooking. Both, our monovarietal and our varietal combinations have been awarded a GREAT TASTE AWARDS 2020, one of the most prestigious food competitions globally. Finally, OLEOSOPHIA is not just a product – partners and consumers can enjoy this unique variety, participate in our online workshops and also, visit our olive grove to experience olive oil tours, olive oil tasting, and food pairing guided by our Olive Oil Sommelier. Our vision is to create a community of Oleosophers and let people enjoy it, learn about our ethos and olive oil culture, and become part of our family.
Tell us about your awards and accolades?
Our family is constantly working hard to ensure high-quality extra virgin olive oil in order to enjoy the health benefits and unique flavour of our Manaki variety. Our hard work has been rewarded with an OLYMPIA AWARD 2020 for OLEOSOPHIA’s Monovarietal Manaki Health Claim and phenolic content while we have also won our GREAT TASTE AWARD 2020 for both our monovarietal and our variety combination with very positive comments by the judges.
Where is your oil stocked and do you ship internationally?
In our village, Kalentzi, and near our olive grove, we stock our olive oil in stainless steel containers, in dark, cool places as per the appropriate specifications of olive oil maintenance. Internationally, we have been working with a number of high-end, fine food shops globally that address a demanding audience that seeks healthy, authentic, and original products. Our partners are located in the EU (France, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Sweden), USA, and Australia while we keep growing our network through product collaborations, article contributions, olive oil tasting events, and training workshops.
Are you working on any new projects and what is your long-term vision?
Every year we work hard to improve our products and our methods, simultaneously improving ourselves with respect to our land and its value. We continue working on our product range that will eventually include not only extra virgin olive oil but also olive oil-based cosmetics, herbs, and table olives. Our vision is to communicate our philosophy of life and of extra virgin olive oil while sharing the values and ethos of our land and family. We aim to become a reference point for excellent quality manaki extra virgin olive oil, olive oil tastings and tours, education workshops and to make our local variety known across our network of partners and community of Oleosophers.
You also offer olive oil tours.
Yes. Seeking to communicate our family values and mentality, we host olive oil tours and tasting sessions in our olive grove as part of the OLEOSOPHIA experience. Visitors have the opportunity to walk through the olive grove, learn about the olive trees and the manaki variety specifically, and explore the authentic flavour by experiencing olive oil tasting sessions under the olive trees. We book small groups to ensure a better experience and guide them through the lifecycle of olive oil. We discuss with them the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil, its role in the Mediterranean Diet, ways to make it part of their daily gastronomy, and why it is more of health investment, rather than simply a tasty ingredient. Moreover, visitors can learn which are the positive attributes of extra virgin olive oil, which are the defects, and how to identify them when seeking to purchase olive oil for their friends and family. This is a unique experience, one that enables people to explore new flavours and aromas, live a local, authentic experience and way of life, participate in the evaluation of olive oil and learn how to make well-informed decisions about their health. The tours run all year round, based on bookings, and with a special emphasis in the spring-summer season. We are always happy to welcome visitors, get to know them, educate them, share our values, and make long-lasting friendships with people from around the world and from different backgrounds.
A Greek goddess with a deep love for all that Greece has to offer, a commitment to good health mind, body, and soul, and a yearning for wisdom chances upon the opportunity to bottle these elements into the ultimate elixir. The liquid gold universally recognised as pure extra virgin Greek olive oil.
Greek American Krystalan Chryssomallis has seen the world, pouring her marketing prowess and photography genius into the incomparable (we’re talking groundbreaking concerts at landmarks such as the Pyramids) tours of her father, legendary Greek musician, and composer, Yanni.
Having searched the United States amidst a backdrop of widespread olive oil fraud, for pure, top quality extra virgin olive, it was serendipitous that Krystalan joined forces with an olive oil sommelier to create her own special blend, released last week. For the talented philanthropist who embodies kindness, optimism, philanthropy, and gratitude, it is fitting she labelled her blend Wise Life.
Krystalan spoke to us about her favourite places in Greece, the increasing need for wisdom and positivity in our lives, and paying homage to her ancestry in her special blend of liquid gold.
Interview by Gina Mamouzelos
Tell us about your love affair with Greece?
I absolutely love Greece. Everything about it. The people, the air, the never-ending clear blue ocean, the olive trees, the singing birds, the food, the home-made wine, and all the special coves and surprises that you stumble upon as you wander around the cobblestone streets. The first time I visited Greece I was in university studying abroad in Spain and I was able to take several weeks to go and explore and enjoy. I remember my first experience very vividly… I felt a beautiful sense of peace. I felt at home. The energy there just seemed to match my own and I absolutely loved the people I came in contact with. Even though I didn’t grow up speaking Greek, I was able to communicate and connect with the locals in a way I’ve never experienced anywhere else. There is a big sense of love and inclusivity I experienced while on the islands and it remains one of my favorite places in the world.
By far my time with my dad in our family home in Kalamata, Greece. Nothing beats waking up early in the morning and enjoying the most flavorful fresh-picked fruits, swimming in the ocean and finding the most fish, and enjoying our time together with nothing to do other than enjoy the deep blue. It is our special haven. Since we are constantly touring, working and on the go, Greece is where we do nothing else other than just “be.”
Greeks know how to have fun! There are so many that stand out, but one of my favourites was my time in Crete. I had just arrived and met some new friends who welcomed us to their home with open arms. Before I knew it, we were all up dancing and singing into the early hours of the morning. Nights turn into days and dancing is always part of the fun… which, if you know me, I’m always in for dancing.
Favourite place to stay?
There are so many beautiful places! Greece has such great hospitality, that nearly any place you go will be magical. The most incredible thing about Greece is that there is an experience for anything you are looking for. Each of the islands all have their own unique personality, cuisine, energy, and activities and there are so many of them that you can return to and have a different experience every time. If you want high energy fun, Mykonos remains the place to go. Paros has a beautiful unexplored calmness, and I’ve been interested in visiting Cana Ves Oia in Santorini for a more serene and peaceful time.
Favourite place to eat?
One of the really exceptional things about Greece is that any corner you turn into has the most unbelievable food and wine. It’s always fresh, clean and the Mediterranean diet, to me, is among the best in the world. Nothing is overproduced and oftentimes, the owner made their own wine or picked their own veggies or fished what you are eating earlier that day. There is the cutest restaurant set right in the sand below my dad’s home in Kalamata that has the most amazing fish I’ve ever had.
I love the ocean and everything about it. You can’t go wrong anywhere you are in Greece. The water is crystal blue and clear and absolutely stunning. The beaches in Crete are quite spectacular. There are so many you can go to and visit while you are there. Preveli Beach is beautiful and unique in that Kourtaliotis River ends at the beach creating a delta that makes for a rare experience. That, coupled with the beautiful lush vegetation, palm trees and soft sand make for a beautiful landscape. It does get quite crowded, so it’s a great place for early mornings or later in the season. Milos is on my bucket list. They have a beautiful sun-bleached rock coastline set against the turquoise blue waters that I’ve been wanting to photograph!
Favourite spot to get your camera out?
Greece has so many incredible locations to photograph. I hope to be able to return someday soon and really dive in and capture the beauty as I have seen and experienced it. The colors and vibrancy are what always catches my eye. My favourite experience shooting was hiking the trails in Kalamata with my family. The contrast of the trees and the cliffs with the sun setting over the ocean is one of my favorite things.
I would absolutely love to someday work alongside Greece and capture and share the beauty and magic that exists there. That is my next dream!
What do you love to cook?
Since I was travelling so much, I wasn’t cooking as much as I would like, but now, with the current situation and having time at home, I’ve really had the opportunity to bring cooking back into my life on a more consistent basis and I’m loving it! My favourite foods are healthy and simple. I believe that when you have organic fresh ingredients, you don’t need to do too much to them and allow their natural flavors to come through. One of my favourites is the traditional Greek salad! It’s so simple, yet the juices on the bottom mixed with the olive oil and Feta and dipped with some fresh homemade bread is just delicious!
How did your Wise Life collaboration come about?
I absolutely love Greece and wanted to incorporate more of the things I love about it into my daily life, in a more meaningful way. It was a natural fit when I met Theo Stepan, the owner of a beautiful olive grove here in California, to create something that not only has a positive message, but also history going back to our heritage in a way that we can share all the incredible benefits of “liquid gold.” From one Greek American woman to another, we knew we wanted to work together in some way and WISE LIFE comes out of that chance meeting. To me, being wise encompasses the ability to discern a moment in time and make a thoughtful decision. With all that is going on in our world, having wisdom in our homes is so important. Open communication and a willingness to listen and gain knowledge from one another, along with life experiences and understanding, provides the perfect combination to better understand one another and make wise decisions as we progress through life. My hope is that having a positive message and reinforcement of the powers of wisdom in your home in something you may use every day is a reminder that together, we can live a healthy, happy, and wise life.
Tell us about your delicious Wise Life olive oil?
WISE LIFE is a limited edition first cold press run. It is organically grown, hand-harvested, guaranteed fresh, and made with love extra virgin olive oil. It comes in a beautiful 500ml black glass bottle that keeps the oil fresh and also just looks great in the kitchen. It will make for a beautiful gift come the holidays! Since it’s tricky getting around all of the fraudulent olive oil that’s in the market here in the US, I was thrilled to find a solution for my own kitchen. It had been years of searching and trying various olive oils that are here, but I was not able to find anything I was confident in and just loved. Creating this special blend with Global Gardens was my solution and I wanted to find a way to share it with others. It can be found at the Global Gardens.
How should people enjoy Wise Life?
I was looking to create something that could be used easily and on anything. I appreciate a great olive oil that allows the natural flavours to really stand out and that can make any dish enhanced. I love the kitchen and it’s important for me to find products that not only taste good but are great for you. Wise Life is just that and is perfect for drizzling on salads, sautés, frying, you name it. It’s quickly become my favourite olive oil in the kitchen. I should add, I also use it in my moisturizers! It’s fresh and pure so all of the health benefits olive oil has to offer are great for your skin too.
Greece is dripping in addictive, magical oils that pack a rich, antioxidant punch, and I’m not just talking about the liquid gold that is their world-famous olive oil. Follow the lead of the Ancient Greeks and experience the plentiful benefits of these key oils.
Prickly Pear Seed Oil
The Opuntia Plant grows wild in Greece, as well as other parts of the Mediterranean, and is lauded for being a miracle plant. The prickly pear seed oil contains the highest percentage (88%) of unsaturated fatty acids than any other beauty oil and is rich in protein, essential fatty acids, and vitamins E and K. Known to transform the skin by refining and tightening pores, reducing inflammation, brightening under the eyes, it also lightens dark spots, enhances skin tone and restores elasticity.
Find it in: Opuntia Luxury Oils,
The Calendula flower holds many natural properties that assist in rehydrating dry, broken skin, as well as areas of redness. The oil from the flower is one of nature’s most powerful botanicals due to its therapeutic properties and contains vitamin C and and potent antioxidants.
Find it in: Dokimon Pure and Korres
Homer referred to olive oil as liquid gold, and the Ancient Greeks used their native olive tree for everything, including to hydrate and moisturize skin and hair. A natural source of vitamins, minerala, amino acida and antioxidants, make like the ancient Greeks and use it to deeply nourish your skin, lock in moisture, and restore elasticity to maintain youthful, soft skin.
Find it in: Supermarkets stocking good quality oil, Greek villages overflowing with their local pride and joy, and skin care from Korres and Apivita.
In ancient Greece, Hippocrates, the most admired figure in the history of medicine, would use propolis to heal infections and wounds. Propolis is effective for treating acne, sensitive skin, protecting the skin against pollution, as well as soothing irritated skin. For its protective properties, it is also commonly used in lip balms amd multi purpose balms.
Find it in: Apivita products. In 2013, APIVITA won an Innovation Award for the Patent of Propolis Extraction against Premature Ageing, resulting from years of experience and the company’s extensive know-how on apicultural products. With effectiveness verified by 8 clinical studies, this particularly powerful antioxidant and anti-aging extract moderates significantly the influence of free radicals, increases skin vitality and enhances the production of collagen and elastin.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). We know it. We eat it daily. And we love it. But why is it so good for us?
By Marianna Devetzoglou
EVOO plays an integral role in our daily diet – the famous Mediterranean Diet, which was once again voted as the world’s healthiest diet for the year 2020. And at the heart of it, is the almighty EVOO. Although there are several olive oil grades, EVOO is the one we should always prefer, due to its strong health benefits and gastronomical profile.
What makes EVOO so different from other oils? A number of characteristics actually!
To begin with, contrary to other oils, olive oil is a natural juice which means it comes directly from the olive fruit. There is no chemical or industrial processing taking place. It is produced from the crushing of the olives at the olive mill, much like orange is squeezed to produce orange juice. This, in itself, makes it a very healthy food to consume, as we enjoy the bioactive compounds in their natural raw form.
Moreover, EVOO is one of the best sources of unsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants such as polyphenols, a-tocopherol, carotenoids etc. has the ability to deliver important health benefits to various health aspects. On the area of cardiovascular health, its high content in monounsaturated fatty acids in combination with the antioxidants, decrease the risk of arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. The strong antioxidant properties of olive oil constituents contribute positively to the body’s ability to resist oxidative stress, combat inflammation and promotes a healthier neurological and cellular function. Epidemiological studies show encouraging results in that olive oil consumption, as part of the Mediterranean diet, can help manage diabetes type 2 and reduces the risk of cancer, as well as cognitive and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
The health benefits of EVOO are accumulative, making the consumption of EVOO a lifelong, health investment and not a one-off medicine. So, it’s important to consume EVOO on a daily basis. And how easy is that? It is easier than most think!
EVOO is best consumed raw in salads but is also a good option to cook with and fry in because it is more stable in high temperatures than other frying oils. To increase daily consumption, EVOO can be added in raw salads, boiled or roasted vegetables, in pasta once it’s ready, and, of course, in baking- to replace butter.
There are many different varieties of EVOO, depending on the olive trees, and the EVOOs that are produced can be delicate, mild or robust. Each variety gives a different profile – delicate aromas or robust pungency, mild bitterness or intense fruitiness. There are basically two distinct ways to pair olive oil with food: complementary and contrasting. In complementary flavours, two similar ingredients are blended, without overpowering primary flavours, such as fish, mushrooms, seafood paste and baking. In contrasting flavours, each ingredient is tasted separately, so adding a robust EVOO can add some interest. You can easily use a robust EVOO in barbeque meat, a mild EVOO in pasta, and a delicate EVOO in baking as a butter replacement.
Food pairing and the gastronomic combinations are endless with such a unique and versatile product and exploring the different varieties of olive oil, flavours, aromas and intensities open up a new world of possibilities in creativity and culinary activities, all without compromising on your health! So, cheers to EVOO!
Discover why this humble salad is not only a gratifying and balanced meal in itself on a hot summer’s day but a super healthy one too.
The Greek salad, or Horiatiki, which translated in Greek means ‘village salad’, was ironically born in the Greek capital rather than a Greek village. It is said to have been the invention of taverna owners in Plaka during the 1960s and ‘70s, who according to government standards were not allowed to charge for cucumber and tomato salad (much as there’s no charge for tap water today), so they added a piece of feta to the mix and voila! – a dish tourists had to pay for was invented.
With the passing of time, the salad was embellished with Kalamata olives, strips of green bell pepper and a sprinkle of oregano (today it’s common for it to be served with a sprinkle of capers and a bed of barley rusks too). There cannot be a Greek salad without slatherings of olive oil, which by the end of the meal becomes a sauce at the bottom of the plate that’s beautifully mixed with crumbs of feta, cucumber and tomato seeds and salt. At this point, it’s considered almost unorthodox not to grab a piece of a hunk of bread and dip it indulgently into the juices, in a ritual beloved to most Greeks that’s called ‘papara’. And it gets even better. This salad is a superfood dish!
image via My Greek Dish
Tomatoes, which originated in central America, reached Greece as recently as the early 1800s, along with potatoes. Red, juicy, plump tomatoes sprinkled with salt are a sensory delight on a hot summer’s day and offer significant health benefits. They’re packed with antioxidants, vitamins C, K, B3, B5, B6 & B7, folate, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and potassium. When cooked they are also high in lycopene, known for its cancer-preventative qualities. They’re good for the skin, boost heart health and balance blood sugar levels. They’re ideally eaten at room temperature.
Cucumbers are high in water content, which makes them wonderfully hydrating on a hot summer’s day, especially if they’ve been chilling in the fridge. They contain fisetin, an anti-inflammatory substance that helps protect from age-related neurological diseases of the brain, as well as polyphenols called lignans, which are also anti-inflammatory. They also contain vitamin K and are high in insoluble fibre, which aids digestion. Tip: Don’t throw away the peels. Use them as a refreshing, pore-tightening face toner by rubbing them on well-cleansed skin.
Nutrient-dense and packed with antioxidants (with 25 varieties of flavonoid), onions are known for their medicinal properties, as is garlic, also from the Allium family. They are high in potassium, Vitamins C, B9 (folate) and B6 (pyridoxine, known for alleviating melancholy) and have strong anti-inflammatory properties that are said to prevent heart disease and lower blood pressure. They’re thought to prevent cancer, increase bone density and are considered a great antibacterial food, especially good when accompanying meat dishes as they’re said to help break down fats and clean the blood.
image via Serious Eats
Green Bell Pepper (optional)
Sometimes left to the side of the plate, green bell peppers are high in fibre, Vitamins C and E.
Low in fat, feta cheese is made from sheep’s and goat’s milk and is high in probiotics, which help strengthen gut health. It’s high in vitamins K, B and A, magnesium, calcium and iron so it’s good for your eyesight and boosts bone density.
High in antioxidant phenolic compounds, which also give them their distinctively sharp flavour, these olives are also high in vitamins E, C, A, B and K, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-microbial oregano is strong not only in its flavour but in its antioxidant effects. This anti-inflammatory herb is also thought to be good for soothing congestion.
Global scientific research has repeatedly touted the numerous health benefits of Greece’s antioxidant-rich ‘liquid gold’. The monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil (oleic acid) protect from oxidative stress, help prevent cardiovascular diseases and have anti-cancer properties. Olive oil also helps the re-mineralisation of the bones, lowers cholesterol and helps keep brain function strong while balancing hormone levels.