It is well documented that the Mediterranean diet can be beneficial in the prevention and even in the management of several chronic diseases. However, many people believe that the Mediterranean diet is not necessarily a weight loss diet. Well, in fact there have been several studies that show that it may help with weight management, and with this new study we are finding out that it may even affect body fat percentage.
Body weight does not show you how much body fat you have. Body fat and particularly upper body fat is associated with several health issues. In many cases, a person can have a normal body weight but a high body fat percentage. Read more »
I have mentioned in the past that the Mediterranean diet is a good diet not only for prevention of diabetes but also for someone who has diabetes. Some years ago it was all about low-fat and carbohydrate counting for diabetic patients. That’s what we were taught in college. And that was what everybody believed. Even here in Greece, it was said that diabetes is a rich man’s disease because the diet had to be high protein, in other words rich in meat, and meat was expensive.
Fortunately science has been pointing to the humble Mediterranean diet as a good choice for diabetes. Even though not low fat, it appears to have better results for type 2 diabetes. An older, yet significant study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that the Mediterranean diet was able to prevent the need for drugs in newly diagnosed individuals. In other words if you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and follow a Mediterranean diet you might not need to take medications. The study compared the Mediterranean diet with a typical low fat diet and found that it was much more effective in controlling diabetes but also for weight loss. Read more »
I was excited to hear that the restaurant at the state of the art, Acropolis museum located steps away from the Parthenon in Athens, has started serving a real Greek breakfast every Saturday and Sunday.
As I have mentioned in another post, a Greek breakfast is hard to find and even harder to identify. Although you will find several hotels offering Greek breakfast items, they are scattered among other western breakfast items, making it a bit difficult to find and choose them. In addition to that, there is no one Greek breakfast as each area of Greece has different breakfast foods.
The good news is that the restaurant at the Acropolis museum offers a good variety of Greek traditional breakfast items. It is worth a visit to try the galatopita (milk pie), tiganites (Greek pancakes) with tahini and petimezi (grape molasses), trahana (pellet shaped pasta made with milk) with feta cheese and the omelet with the famous graviera cheese from the island of Naxos, as well as the siglino (smoked pork) from Mani. Read more »
Chocolate is not a common ingredient in Greek traditional recipes because it did not really exist in those parts. You could get a chocolate bar as a treat and only zaharoplastia (bakery/patisserie) offered chocolate cakes or sweets. Nowadays everyone uses chocolate and it is even being added to traditional dessert recipes such as baklava and melomakarona. Personally I think that ruins the dessert. Does juicy syrupy baklava really need chocolate? What’s the point? Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate, but please don’t dip melomakarona in it.
Having said that, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate some healthier ingredients in chocolate based desserts that usually contain butter. And here we have it: Brownies made with olive oil and Greek yogurt. I basically replaced the butter with olive oil and Greek yogurt. Not only does this cut down drastically on any saturated fat from the butter, but these brownies contain about half the fat of a regular brownie because I replaced half the fat with yogurt. I also used slightly less sugar instead of 1 cup, I used 3/4 of a cup. Read more »
This is something we have known for years: Don’t eat large meals late in the day. Traditionally in Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Spain the main meal is consumed between 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. You can read more about when we eat here: “When Greek Eat”. After that we had a little nap and an evening meal consisted of something light such as yogurt and fruit or bread, cheese and olives. According to a new Spanish study that followed 420 Spaniards who were on a weight loss diet, those who ate their main (largest) meal before 3 p.m. lost more weight (5 pounds more) compared to those that ate that meal after 3 p.m. Read more »
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 »
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 »