Hortopita: Greek Savory Pie with Greens, Herbs and Feta Cheese

January 29, 2013 12 Comments

Greek hortopita
Everybody knows the famous spanakopita also known as spinach pie, a combination of spinach and feta cheese. But something I like even more is a greens pie. It is one of the secrets of the Greek diet. Various greens mixed with herbs and a bit of feta (or not) tucked in layers of phyllo dough.

Within the traditional Greek diet, the consumption of greens, particularly wild greens contribute largely to the benefits of the diet. They are good sources of various antioxidants as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These greens can be consumed boiled or cooked in olive oil and accompanied with lemon juice and feta, but also in pites (pies). Pites are a fine way to eat vegetables and even more so greens. And this applies to kids as well; my kids happily will eat 2-3 pieces in one sitting. Read more »

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Avocado and Orange Salad with Olive Oil-Lemon dressing

January 21, 2013 2 Comments

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I first tasted this recipe when I was in Crete for a culinary event organized by the Cretan olive oil company Biolea. I was curious as to why they included avocado in an otherwise traditional Cretan menu. Discussing with the chef Giorgos Makris, he noted that although avocado is not part of the traditional Cretan diet, it has been cultivated in Crete for over 25 years now and they have developed ways and recipes to incorporate it with the rest of the traditional diet.

And they did it very well. Avocado, along with oranges, olive oil, lemon juice and cumin makes a very healthy, Mediterranean and flavorful salad. At first I thought it was too much to add olive oil to the already rich in (good) fat avocado. But surprisingly all the ingredients mingled well to make a fresh tasting salad. Read more »

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One Pot Greek Chicken with Kritharaki (Orzo) and Tomato

January 17, 2013 18 Comments

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This is an easy version of the classic dish Giouvetsi. It is a dish of meat (usually lamb or veal) accompanied by some sort of pasta and cooked in the oven. It was often made on Sundays, to be eaten after church. Well you might wonder, who stayed at home watching the oven? Nobody. Years ago not everybody had an oven in their home and so they prepared the meal/recipe in a large pan and took it over to their local bakery (fourno) to be cooked. I remember as a child when I was staying at my grandmother’s, my sister and I would pick up our meal from the fourno for lunch. Each customer had their last name written on their pan so that there were no mix ups and when 1 o’clock approached, our baker had our meal cooked to perfection and ready to be picked up.

Now this is a quick and easy version and not really a giouvetsi as I have basically cooked it in a pot and not in the oven, but the ingredients are same and because it is so easy, you can even make it on a weeknight. This is a comfort food, but when you really don’t have time to spend cooking a big meal in the oven, this one pot, lighter version will do the trick. Read more »

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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

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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

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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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