Salt and the Mediterranean Diet

February 13, 2014 2 Comments

salt and pepper

For many people particularly those with high blood pressure (hypertension), salt is a sensitive issue. The component of salt we worry about is sodium which makes up 40% of salt, the other 60% is Chloride. Now sodium is an essential nutrient for humans, we need it for many functions in our body. Most of us already consume more sodium than needed. Where does that sodium come from? Read more »

5 Ways to Instantly Make Your Pizza Healthier

January 30, 2014 2 Comments

Pizza healthy

Pizza is commonly considered junk food or fast food, something you should avoid generally. However, when we look at the popular and original pizzas from Italy what we see is basically dough (with no added fat ) with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese sometimes extra tomatoes and basil.

The pizza we often order otherwise is really some sort of westernized version of the real thing. For example in Chicago where I grew up we have this deep dish version which is literally a pie like crust filled with melted cheese and tomato sauce (and sometimes topped with sausage). It is delicious, but Mediterranean diet it is not. Read more »

Whole Wheat Cheese Filled Cretan Pita – Sfakiani Pita

January 23, 2014 1 Comment

sfakiani pita

I have to say these little pies or pites are delicious. They are one of the most popular dishes in Crete. Sfakia is a remote and mountainous area in Crete where this dish originates from. Basically they are pieces of dough that have cheese in them, but the cheese is not a filling, but rather integrated in the dough through kneading.

The cheese used is a fresh cheese, some recipes suggest anthotiro others fresh mitzithra (which is what I used here) and others a local Cretan cheese known as pihtogalo.  A substitute would be ricotta cheese, if you are not able to find the above cheeses. In Peloponissos we have a different type “pita” that has feta cheese instead of a soft sweet cheese. Read more »

Lemon Garlic Shrimp with a Touch of Ouzo

January 20, 2014 2 Comments

Lemon garlic ouzo shrimp

I like having frozen shrimp on hand, it cooks quickly and with the addition, of simple basic Greek staples you have a complete meal. Combine with some carbs such as pasta, rice or orzo and you have a nice meal. Add a salad or some cooked vegetables and you are set.

Greeks often combine shrimp with feta (as I did here) but it also goes well with ouzo. For this recipe I added the olive oil and lemon (ladolemono) plus garlic and dill. Read more »

Greek Style Baked Macaroni and (Feta) Cheese

January 9, 2014 7 Comments

Greek macaroni and feta cheese

Pasta is such an easy meal to make with little effort. Many times dinner for us is a bowl of plain pasta with a drizzle of olive oil, grated cheese and a salad on the side. When I was growing up in the states I never experienced the famous American comfort food macaroni and cheese. My mom never made it, instead we usually had pasta with tomato sauce or with meat.

Of course, I was jealous of the other kids who got to eat this Kraft macaroni and cheese thing so recently, I decided to try it out for myself and see what all the fuss is about. I bought the ready made packaged stuff, as I had read that many people loved that type. I have to admit, it did not do much for me. Read more »

Fluffy Lemon Greek New Year’s Cake Made with Olive Oil -Vasilopita-

December 31, 2013 8 Comments

Vasilopita

I usually make my mom’s recipe for Vasilopita New Year’s Day (or Eve). In case you are not familiar with this tradition, Greeks make a cake with a coin hidden in it, that is cut on New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve. Each person present is provided a piece, and he or she that has the coin in their piece is promised good luck for the rest of the year. You can check this post for another Vasilopita recipe and a little bit more about the tradition.

This year I wanted to make a lemon flavored Vasilopita (instead of orange) with olive oil instead of butter. Read more »

Apple-Raisin Phyllo Strudel

December 18, 2013 2 Comments

phyllo apple strudel

I’ve mentioned this before, but phyllo is so versatile and you should always have some in your kitchen. Here in Greece we actually have fresh phyllo (not frozen) available at the super market which makes it even easier to make your own Greek pies such as spanakopita. I do like to use it for sweets as well, in the place of a regular crust. It has no fat (although I noticed that in the US many brands have added fat in them) and only contain flour and cornstarch, providing a lighter version. Even when you brush your oil in between layers, you have control of how much you use and what kind of fat you add. Read more »

Top Doctors Recommend Mediterranean Diet Against Dementia to the British Health Secretary

December 13, 2013 2 Comments

caprese salad

A letter signed by top physicians was addressed to Jeremy Hunt, the British Health Secretary right before the G8 meetings planned on the topic of Dementia, explaining why the Mediterranean diet may be the best solution for protection against this chronic disease.

The letter explains that they believe that “there has been insufficient emphasis on the role of diet and lifestyle – factors which have been shown to be associated with a dramatically reduced risk of developing dementia. In particular, a Mediterranean-style diet is pre-eminent in preventing and slowing the progression of Dementia.” Read more »

Juicy Roasted Greek Meatballs – Keftedakia

December 11, 2013 Leave a Comment

keftedakia Greek meatballs

For someone who prefers mostly vegetable based dishes, there is one red meat dish that I will always say yes to: Keftethakia. Bite-size (or a little bit larger) meatballs made from ground beef or usually ground pork or sheep or a mixture, along with all those tasty Greek herbs (especially fresh mint as both my grandmothers used) and then fried in olive oil, today it is mostly beef.

The meat was ground at home if you were lucky enough to have a meat grinder. There was plenty of stale bread added, along with a few eggs which stretched the meat to feed a lot more people. Read more »