Flavor Your Life + Olive Oil, Apple, & Oat Granola Recipe

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If you came to my house on any given day, one thing you would be guaranteed to find in my kitchen pantry is EVOO.

What’s EVOO? It’s extra virgin olive oil, and if you really want the good stuff, you’ll want European EVOO. Some people call EVOO “liquid gold,” and I have to agree. I use it constantly as both an ingredient in cooked dishes, in salad dressings, and as a condiment for things like dipping breads. It’s incredibly versatile. Because it has a high smoke point of 400° F, you can use it for anything from lightly sautéing to deep frying.

Olive Oil

I could talk to you all day about why I love EVOO, but I still wouldn’t be as informative as Flavor Your Life, an extra virgin olive oil campaign supported by the European Union and the Italian government. Their goal is to educate the world about authentic EVOO from Europe, where EVOO has long been considered the gold standard for cooking. Buying the right EVOO can be tricky, and Flavor Your Life wants to help make the decision easier.

So, let’s talk a bit about extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil comes from the fruit (or “drupe”) of the European olive. EVOO is made by pressing without any heat or chemicals, and it’s the freshest and purest form of olive oil available. EVOO is almost free of acidity (it’s less than 0.8%), which ensures quality. The best olive oils are low in peroxide values, which is required for the “extra virgin” rating. And that rating isn’t just an arbitrary label on the bottle; each oil must be judged by expert tasters who decide if it meets the high standards of the extra virgin designation.

Flavor Your Life

Now that we’ve nailed down what makes EVOO special, let’s look at why the best is European. Olive trees have been cultivated by European farmers for thousands of years, so they have evolved to be perfectly suited for their varying environments. There are different olive tree regions and times of harvest, so European olive oil has many different flavor profiles. Early season oils tend to be greener and more bitter, while late season oils are mild and buttery. Italian oil is often dark and herbal, Greek oil has a strong aroma, and French oil is pale and mild. All of these different flavor profiles can mean different outcomes for recipes, so I love keeping a variety of oils on hand. When I first started buying EVOO, I wasn’t familiar with the different options, so I just grabbed what looked good on the shelf. Now that I know more, I’m able to choose the right oil for a recipe and innovate as I go.

There are countless brands of EVOO available to buy, but one of my favorites is Zucchi, which has been run by seven generations of the Zucchi family. They source only from the top growers, and they offer a feature I love: traceability. This means you can use the QR codes found on every bottle of Zucchi oil to trace the origins of the raw materials used to make the final product. I’m a huge fan of transparency in the production of the foods my family eats, so this feature automatically pushes Zucchi to the top of my list.

Olive Oil, Apple, Oat Granola

Since I love cooking with EVOO so much, I want to share a delicious recipe for Olive Oil, Apple, and Oat Granola.  We love this for breakfast because it’s packed full of healthy ingredients like sunflower seeds and walnuts, and the kids will devour it without any arguments, but it’s great as a snack any time of day.   Since it’s so easy to make, I can prepare this with my daughter, and we enjoy both cooking and eating it together.

Olive Oil, Apple, and Oat Granola Recipe


5.0 from 3 reviews
Olive Oil, Apple, & Oat Granola
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12
  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • Parchment paper
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed
  • 1 small apple, cored and shredded
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 300º F.
  2. Line a 10 x 15 baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush with extra virgin olive oil.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, brown sugar, flaxseed, shredded apple, and salt. Mix well
  4. In a small saucepan, gently heat the extra virgin olive oil, honey, and vanilla, stirring continuously until blended and warmed through.
  5. Gently pour the extra virgin olive oil mixture over the oat mixture. Stir well.
  6. Evenly spread the mixture out onto the baking sheet.
  7. Bake in the 300º F oven for 35 minutes until browned and slightly crispy.
  8. Take out of the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.
  9. Break into small clusters
  10. Store in an airtight container. Can keep for up to 2 weeks.

I’ve given you some general information about European extra virgin olive oil, but Flavor Your Life offers a wealth of knowledge. Visit Flavor-Your-Life.com to learn more before your next trip to the olive oil shelves.

13 Things to Do in NYC this Summer

Summer is here, and if you’re planning a getaway to New York City or if you’re just a native wondering what to do to beat the heat, there are many wonderful options for you.  Whether exploring solo, on a first date, or looking for family fun, Vanessa Seis, Fall Fair Director of Affordable Art Fair NYC, has compiled a list of events, fun locations, art exhibitions, and cultural activities that will help you make the most of summer in the NYC area.

Affordable Art Fair NYC

Affordable Art Fair NYC’s Spring Fair courtesy of Phillip Reed

1.  We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 at Brooklyn Museum
This amazing exhibition features the works of over 40 black women artists who were creating work during the emergence of second-wave feminism, 1965-85. One of my favorite pieces is “Revolutionary (Angela Davis)” by Wadsworth A. Jarrell. It’s incredibly powerful and inspiring!

2.  The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s and PROCESS LAB: CITIZEN DESIGN at Cooper Hewitt Design Museum
On VIEW: April 07, 2017 – August 20, 2017
The Jazz Age is a flashback to the 1920’s, featuring over 400 examples of interior design, industrial design, decorative art, jewelry, fashion, and architecture, as well as related music and film. PROCESS LAB: CITIZEN DESIGN on the other hand is an exhibition that invites you to think about what you and your community care about, what the issues are, and what design tactics you would propose to make a positive change. It’s fascinating to realize how much you’re impacted by the design of your surroundings and it’s exciting to think about the changes that can be  made to improve your community.

3.  Arts in Bushwick Community Day 2017 Hosted by Arts in Bushwick at House of Yes
DATE: June 17, 2017
A super fun day for the entire family, Arts in Bushwick Community Day features art, live music, performances, kid’s activities, and so much more. Make sure to pick up information about Bushwick Open Studios in September, one of my favorite open studios events in NYC.

4.  JUST UNDER 100: NEW PRINTS 2017/SUMMER Selected by Katherine Bradford
ON VIEW: June 17 – September 16, 2017
Look out for work by my friend and artist Cary Hulbert. Cary works primarily in print and installation, and I’m super excited we got her on board for the upcoming fall edition of the  Affordable Art Fair NYC, where Cary will be producing a Limited Edition Print that will be for sale at the fair.

5.  Circle Shade – 2πR4 by Eva Jensen Design at Socrates Sculpture Park
ON VIEW: JUNE 21, 2017 – OCTOBER 28, 2017
In the summer, there is nothing better than blue skies and large-scale installations!

6.  Katja Novitskova, EARTH POTENTIAL presented by Public Art Fund
ON VIEW: from June 22 – November 9, 2017 June 22 in City Hall Park Seven large aluminum sculptures will be scattered throughout City Hall Park, inviting passersby to reflect on the ways in which we see—and comprehend—the potential of the Earth. I can’t wait to experience how the sculptures will interact with their surrounding and how people will respond to it!


7.  MoMA PS1 Warm Up 2017 Outdoor Music Series
[Read more…]

The Ultimate Online Kids Party Guide Is Here

Do you have a party coming up for a child between 1 and 18 years old?

Yes? Perfect! We have great news.


There is a new and exciting website out there that has been designed to help Moms and Dads like you with this daunting task. KidsParties.Party aims to please with their user-friendly pages and infinite lists of highly recommended entertainers, party places, rentals, and more for every state across the nation!

The KidsParties.Party goal is to be the number one party source for parents. Unlike other party directories, they aim to create a space that anyone can feel comfortable using and will help in planning a successful and memorable birthday party.

Their site also includes some unique features intended to benefit you!

You can email entertainers directly through the KidsParties.Party site. If you have hired an entertainer listed or are thinking about one, you can see reviews from other customers as well as leave your own. There is also a new system that allows entertainers to be star rated!

With over 120 party categories, you will find everything you need for your next birthday, graduation, or other children’s event. Everything is organized by state, but you can even narrow your results further by county.

Clowns, princess characters, laser tag venues, petting zoos, and party favors are only a few examples of what you can find here. And the fun does not stop there!

Their blog continues to be updated with the most useful information for parents struggling around their child’s birthday. KidsParties.Party’s writers have even taken the time to write hundreds of completely unique birthday wishes.

Find the perfect wish for your son or daughter and write it up in a blank card! Save yourself the hassle of trying to find the most special card for your child. These exclusive birthday messages are organized into age categories and cover every passion your little one might have!

Kids Parties

KidsParties.Party goes above and beyond making your life easier!

Their site also has a completely free and user-friendly software that allows you to make your own birthday party invitations. Customize these creative templates with your own text, fonts, and images, or start from scratch on a blank card. Invites print best on high-quality 5×7 photograph paper – but you will be most impressed with how much money you have saved yourself by printing these at home!

The mission at KidsParties.Party is to take business directories to an entirely new level. They allow parents to become a part of this process; users like you get to review and rate every entertainer, allowing others to see your party experiences and giving you the opportunity to read up on theirs.

This site will become your new go-to for every party in your future. You will never again waste hours Google searching for nearby magicians or banquet halls. Trust the kid party professionals, and your next party is sure to be a hit!

Get started now: https://www.kidsparties.party/

Thank you to Danielle Ternyila for contributing this article.  Danielle is a published novelist and graduate of the Rowan University Writing Arts Program. She now writes for FunNewJersey.com and KidsParties.Party. She loves to travel everywhere and anywhere in the world, usually with her dog by her side.

Lightning Strikes this Friday when Cars 3 Comes to Theaters + $25 Fandango Gift Card Giveaway with THREE Winners!

My son’s bedroom has been decorated with a Cars theme since he first saw the movie back when he as just two years old.  Lightning McQueen has been one of his very favorite characters ever since, and as you can imagine, we’ve seen Cars more times than I can count.  Needless to say, he was VERY excited when he learned that Cars 3 was coming out, and he’d been waiting rather anxiously to see it.  The big moment finally happened for us last night.

Cars 3 - Lightning & Cruz

Over the past couple of months, I’ve heard people expressing concerns over the new addition to the Cars franchise.  Some didn’t like what they saw in the trailer–no one wants to see our beloved #95 hurt, right?  Others were disappointed in Cars 2, and I have to admit, I happened to be one of those.  Still, I had hope, and after seeing the extended sneak peek of the film at the Cars 3:  Road to the Races Tour, I was pretty confident I was going to like this one.  I was right.

Cars 3

After more than a decade of racing, Lightning McQueen finds himself surrounded by younger, faster cars.  A devastating loss to his main rival, Jackson Storm, prompts him to team up with  high-spirited, high-tech trainer Cruz Ramirez, with the hope that she can keep him from having to retire and become just another brand promoting merchandise to his fans.  Lightning only has one chance to get himself back on top, but he finds that the latest technology isn’t what’s going to get him there.  With Cruz by his side, he goes back to his roots and they both get a little dirty.  Okay, maybe more than a little.

Cars 3 - Miss Fritter

Lightning’s return to his roots allows some screen time for the original characters we loved from Radiator Springs, including a few heartfelt flashbacks featuring the late Doc Hudson. Surprisingly, it’s also an effective way to introduce a few interesting, new characters, like the formidable Miss Fritter pictured above.  There’s plenty of action in that scene, and it really throws Cruz into the middle of things.

We also meet a group of veterans whom Pixar based on real life racing legends.  They’re a great bunch of characters who provide an important link to the Fabulous Hudson Hornet and to the roots of car racing.

Cars 3

Lightning and Cruz both learn a lot about racing and about themselves, and they come out winners in their own ways.  As for the ending, I can’t say I’m totally on board with it, but I would say that I’m about 95% there.  (See what I just did?)  While it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to see happen, you have to love where they went with the story.  That’s about as much as I can tell you without giving too much away, but I think you’ll like it too.  Cars 3 is a story about relationships, and it really brings back the warmth and emotion of the first movie.  If you were a fan of that one, you won’t want to miss Cars 3.

Cars 3 opens this Friday, June 16th, so you won’t have to wait long to find out exactly what happens.  Grab your Cars 3 tickets from Fandango now to make sure you get a seat at your preferred showing!  If you want to get really fancy, you can also pick up some Cars 3 themed gift cards:

Fandango - Cars 3 Gift Cards

Fandango is also giving you guys a chance to win one of three $25 gift cards! (These are good for use on Fandango.com and not restricted to Cars 3.)  Open to US residents who are 18 and older.  Ends 6/29/17 at 11:59 PM ET.  Good luck!

Cars 3 Fandango Giveaway [Read more…]

The New VIZIO SmartCast Sound Bar System Has Chromecast Built Right In!

I remember the days when televisions were televisions, radios were radios, and we had cassette players in cars like it was yesterday.  Ah, the simplicity of a small selection of channels to choose from, and the satisfaction of popping in that brand new mixtape your crush made you…

Things are all-in-one these days, and as much as I miss the simplicity of days gone by, I really do love the convenience of having plenty of tech options around my home–especially when it comes to audio.  Two of my favorite things to do are listen to music and watch movies, so good speakers are kind of a priority for me.  The sound that comes through a television’s built-in speakers, however, is often underwhelming. I’m the kind of person who loves good, strong, rich audio whether it’s movies or music–a good sound system is a must when buying a new car, so of course I want that kind of premium sound in my home too. Sadly, TV speakers just don’t really do it for me.

VIZIO SmartCast Wireless Sound Bar System SB3651-E6

In addition to wanting good sound, I also want something low profile that won’t stick out like a sore thumb, as well as something cost-efficient. I know, I’m picky. But these are my requirements, and they’re happily met by the VIZIO SmartCast Wireless Sound Bar System, which we received in exchange for review.

We’ve been using this sound bar system in our home for the past month, and we’ve been really pleased with its performance!

Vizio Sound Bar

The setup was incredibly easy and only took a few minutes. For once, the included instructions were clear, well-written, and featured lots of helpful illustrations. I really wish more companies would use VIZIO as an example here, because they honestly made installation a breeze.  You can wall mount your speakers or go with a simple table top like we did–what ever fits your space best.

As for the sound quality, we’ve been impressed. The last time we went shopping for a sound bar, we tested and returned three of them before we found one that actually seemed to make a difference. Since we’ve used so many of them, I feel confident that this one is awesome – it definitely beats the competition. The dialogue is really clear, which is important when you’re watching movies with kids who won’t sit still or keep quiet.  Have you ever discovered new dialogue in a movie you seen millions of times before?  I’m always fascinated when that happens, and this system will do that for you.   The bass sound is great too, and while it won’t disturb your neighbors, it will add an extra level of depth that will make you feel like you’re watching in a real movie theater or listening at a live concert.

Vizio Sound Bar Subwoofer and Side Speakers

And now we come to what I love best about this sound bar system.  As a family, we have just loved what the VIZIO Sound Bar has done for our weekend movie night experiences, but I’m the one who really gives it a workout.  In the past, I’ve mentioned how I almost always have music playing in the house, and during the workday, you can bet either Pandora or Spotify is on in the background.  Since Chromecast is built right in, you can play audio from any Chromecast-enabled app, and that’s just what I’ve been doing.  With a simple tap, I cast my music directly to the sound bar–no TV power required.  I wasn’t unhappy with the single speaker I was using previously, but a nice 5.1 system is definitely a big sound upgrade.  With the satellite speakers and subwoofer, it provides a much richer surround sound that really does fill the whole room.

Vizio Wirless Sound Bar Remote

The sound bar system comes with a remote control for basic functions like subwoofer settings and volume, but you can also control it with your mobile device through the VIZIO SmartCast app.   Again, you can cast directly from within a Chromecast-enable app, but if you have multiple SmartCast devices, the app is an easy way to control them all from one place.  It’s also Bluetooth-enabled, and if you’re a Google Home user, you can even control the sound bar with your voice.  There are a lot of options here, but don’t be overwhelmed.  There are real, printed instructions for setting up everything.

If you’re looking for new speakers for your home entertainment system, I think you’ll really like the VIZIO SmartCast Wireless Sound Bar System.  With tons of great features and superb sound quality for just $249.99, it has to be one of the very best values out there for sound bars.  Check it out at Vizio.com.