Weight Watchers Diet as healthy as the Mediterranean Diet? Really? That’s what U.S. News says.

January 11, 2013 1 Comment

usnewsI wrote about this very issue last year as well and here we are again. For the past 3 years US News ranks several diets with the help of several nutrition and health experts. They rate diets in a variety of categories. Since this blog is about the Mediterranean diet I’ll talk about that: For best diet overall the Mediterranean diet came in 3rd place along with Weight Watchers and the Mayo Clinic diet. The Mediterranean diet came in 4th for best heart healthy diet and 8th for diabetes.

I was surprised once again to see these rankings. Obviously this is not a research paper that requires strong methodology, even so, the article is flawed and provides incorrect information. Read more »

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Is the Mediterranean Diet just too expensive for Europe? I think not.

January 9, 2013 7 Comments

farmers market

I have been reading lately several articles showing that due to the recession all over Europe, the Mediterranean diet is under threat. More specifically it was noted that individuals (from Mediterranean countries) with the lowest incomes had the least adherence to the Mediterranean diet, arguing that the poorest, are more likely to get prepackaged or junk food, often cheaper than the fresh foods of the Mediterranean tradition. OK, first of all prepackaged and junk food is not cheaper then fresh food used in the Mediterranean diet, and secondly, is it a matter of price or education level? We know from past research that low socioeconomic classes have higher rates of obesity and less healthy diets. The researchers here did actually say that educational level plays a huge role but that low income is also a reason. Perhaps blaming the financial crisis for the decline of the Mediterranean diet makes for a more catchy story from a journalistic point of view, because even today, at least here in Greece, fresh food is cheaper than packaged processed food.

The real reasons why the poor are choosing junk food over Mediterranean fresh food Read more »

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Study Says Tomatoes May Protect From Depression

January 3, 2013 2 Comments

freshtomatoes

As you can already tell by the name of my blog, I think tomatoes are not only a necessary part of the Mediterranean cuisine but also a super food. Apart from the being a source of vitamin C and antioxidants that may protect from certain forms of cancer it may even make us feel less depressed.

A study by Japanese and Chinese researchers published  in the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that Japanese individuals over 70 years of age who ate tomatoes two to six times a week were 46% less likely to report mild or severe symptoms of depression compared with those who ate tomatoes less than once a week. No such association was found for other vegetables. Read more »

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Greek Inspired Warm Bite-Size Carrot and Feta Cheese Appetizers

January 2, 2013 2 Comments

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This little recipe came about a few days ago. My parents came over and I had nothing in terms of vegetables to make a somewhat warm healthy appetizer, except carrots. Now carrots are great, they are an excellent source of beta carotene, antioxidants and fiber and have few calories, but you rarely come across them as an appetizer, with the exception of having them raw with dip. So with just carrots in the fridge I thought of making small bite-size patties similar to the Greek recipe for zucchini patties (kolokithokeftethes).

I kept these light and basically combined shredded carrots with some herbs and cumin and a touch of feta. Also eggs and bread crumbs to keep it all together. I tried these baked in a mini muffin pan but I also made a batch sautéed in a bit of olive oil, (see photo below). Both were gone within minutes, and the kids loved them, although I have to admit that the lightly fried ones had a better texture. Read more »

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Vasilopita –The Greek Lucky New Year’s Cake- A Lighter Version

December 30, 2012 5 Comments

vasilopita

New year’s eve is approaching and apart from the food and drink, the Vasilopita is the center of attention. The vasilopita is a new year’s cake that has a coin hidden in it and is cut at midnight. It is traditional for each family to have their own vasilopita and a piece is cut for each family member. If the coin is in your piece you supposedly have good luck for the rest of the year. Sometimes the vasilopita is cut the next day and businesses as well as associations and ministries all have vasilopites that they cut during the first few weeks of the year.

The vasilopita is a moist cake made with ingredients everyone has at home: sugar, flour, eggs, milk and orange. There is another more bread-like version made with yeast, which is a bit, more time consuming, but in our family we make and like the cake version. Now obviously this is not a particularly healthy recipe, what with the butter, but you usually enjoy only one small piece and if you have leftovers you can enjoy it over the next few days with coffee or tea. Read more »

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Α Festive Winter Mediterranean Salad

December 22, 2012 Leave a Comment

Festive cabbage salad

When you go to a traditional tavern in Greece you often see on the menu salata epohis meaning seasonal salad, in other words salad that is made with seasonal vegetables. In the winter that salad is cabbage and carrot (lahano-karoto).

Everything is shredded very much like coleslaw, but the dressing is not mayonnaise based but as expected olive oil based. Typically this salad is served with an olive oil-lemon (or vinegar) dressing with an almost equal amount of each with a ratio of about 4:3 (olive oil to lemon juice or vinegar). It may be served with some black olives Kalamon for decoration.

Obviously this salad is super-healthy and filling. Cabbage belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family along with cauliflower and broccoli. These vegetables are rich in certain compounds that appear to have anticancer effects, although it is still not clear to what extent. As with most vegetables, cabbage has very few calories, one cup has a mere 27 calories and it is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and folate. Read more »

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Seven Easy Ways to Give Your Holiday Dinners a Taste of Greece

December 17, 2012 6 Comments

fruitandveggies

With just a few small changes to your celebratory dinners you can add a taste of the Greek-Mediterranean diet but also the health benefits of this diet, without changing your menu all that much.

1. Serve Mediterranean Dips. Instead of heavy cheese dips rich in saturated fats start with some equally delicious Mediterranean dips. The yogurt based garlic dip tzatziki, the creamy split pea fava and the tasty fish roe dip taramosalata make ideal choices. All three of these easy recipes are rich in antioxidants and the good fats and they can be made the day before. Accompany them with some thin breadsticks and if you can find them, barley rusks (paximadi).

2. Cook with Olive Oil and Greek Yogurt. Use olive oil and Greek style yogurt for your cooking. When making mashed (regular or sweet) potatoes use olive oil and Greek style yogurt instead of butter and cream. It will make for a lighter side dish but also a healthier one without sacrificing taste. Olive oil also can be used for roasting and cooking as well. An easy and tasteful way to serve seasonal vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli is by simply placing them in a pan, adding olive oil and garlic and roasting them for 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Read more »

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