Greek Nutritionists Should Promote the Greek Diet

December 5, 2013 4 Comments

greek salad

I have been writing about my experiences when making my yearly visit to the Food and Nutrition Conference organized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (former American Dietetic Association) but what about what is going on right here in Greece?

Today is the first day of the yearly congress of the Hellenic Dietetic Association. Once again I am reminded of the disconnect that exists between the Mediterranean diet and Greeks and in particular nutrition and food professionals. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of Greece’s most popular chefs known for her Greek food also hosts a show that is called Oreo cookeing, with Oreo as a sponsor. How can this be?

At this nutrition congress there are a number of sessions related to the Greek diet but if we look at all the sponsors I only found one that produces something Greek: the Greek coffee company Loumidis. Read more »

Greek Lemon Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

December 4, 2013 13 Comments

Greek Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

I do not know one Greek person who does not like this dish. It is comforting, delicious and reliable. It was a typical Sunday noon dish and along with a salad and some cheese it makes up a complete meal, fit for company.

Today, chicken may seem a “lesser” dish to offer to guests, but that was not always the case years ago in Greece. Chickens were not so easy to come by, you either had your own hencoop which you occasionally “sacrificed” a chicken for a meal, but that was not very often as they would rather keep the chickens for their eggs. You also could find some live chickens at the open market, but they were not cheap as there were simply not many of them. There were no commercial chicken houses. And after you bought the chicken or took it from your backyard you had to deal with whole other process of preparing it for cooking… So not really an easy dish in the old days. Read more »

Roasted Orange Sweet Potatoes with Olive Oil

November 26, 2013 Leave a Comment

Olive Oil Roasted Potatoes

When I was growing up in the US, Thanksgiving was one more reason to have a trapezi. Trapezi literally means table in Greek and it means to invite people over for a nice meal. So during Thanksgiving my mom would make things like corn or sometimes a small amount of yams and then most likely Greek style chicken and potatoes or on some occasions stuffed turkey with a Greek style stuffing. We did not really have things like casseroles or cranberry sauce. In Greek cuisine you do not often see a combination of sweet and savory, so a sweet potato dish with brown sugar or maple syrup would not be very welcome particularly for the older generation Greeks.  Read more »

Are we Practicing What we Preach? Study Shows Young People not Following the Mediterranean Diet.

November 22, 2013 8 Comments

goody's

That is what a recent Spanish study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is showing. According to the researchers, the elderly (over 62) were more likely to follow a Mediterranean style diet. Now it needs to be noted that this study was conducted in Spain, so in other words, a country that has the Mediterranean diet as its traditional diet. Previous studies have also shown that generally the older generations have a higher compliance to the diet. This comes as no surprise as there are several reasons the older generations continue to follow this pattern of eating: habit, tradition and way of of life to name a few. They grew up on this diet.

But this got me thinking: How do you get young people who live in the Mediterranean (such as Greece) to follow this diet? Here in Greece, everybody talks about how great the Mediterranean-Greek-Cretan diet is, Nutritionists, Chefs, TV Cooks all use buzzwords such as “healthy”, “Mediterranean”, “Greek”, but then they give us recipes and dishes that are not healthy or mediterranean or Greek. Read more »

Sweet Potato Pistachio Olive Oil Biscotti

November 18, 2013 1 Comment

sweet potato biscotti

The season for sweet potatoes is finally here! We usually just prepare them roasted in the oven, but I had a bit left and wanted to make some sort of easy sweet thing, to enjoy over the weekend. Well I found this interesting recipe on the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission website. It is biscotti made with sweet potatoes. I thought this is a nice way to use sweet potato and it really transforms the starchy biscotti into something a bit more nutritious. With a few changes this recipe became a bit more Mediterranean. The Greek version of biscotti are called paximadakia (small paximadia), sometimes they are sweet and sometimes not, and many times they are made with olive oil, which is what I used here instead of butter. Read more »

The Secret (of the Mediterranean Diet) is in the Sauce

November 15, 2013 1 Comment

Cretan zucchini and garlic

Yes, really, it is. Tomato is one of the most important components of the Mediterranean diet, mainly because it is part of the sauce that accompanies most vegetables (and meats) in the Greek cuisine. The famous lathera which is basically vegetables cooked with a tomato forming a sauce or the kokkinista which is the same thing although it usually refers to meats cooked with tomato sauce. The sauce is made with tomato, olive oil, onion and sometimes garlic, oregano or spices.

A similar sauce is the the sofrito and the Spanish version in particular, resembles the Greek one. It also contains tomato, olive oil, garlic and onions but also peppers and is prepared the same way: lightly sautéing the ingredients in a pan and then slowly simmering with tomato. Read more »

Feta and Greek Yogurt Pita Appetizer

November 10, 2013 2 Comments

feta pita appetizers

I had a bought a bunch of pitas, not the type you use for a souvlaki but the other type, which here in Greece are called “Arabic” pitas, to distinguish them from the Greek style ones, and had some leftovers that were going to dry out if I did not use them soon. The solution? A quick appetizer for that evening.

The recipe is simple and light and easy. No, it is not topped with tons of cheese. Basically you use double the amount of Greek yogurt and add only a bit of cheese. Pita (or pita bread) has very little fat and works well as a vehicle to add some protein, and whole-wheat ones are even heartier. Read more »

Mediterranean Diet Inspired Products at the World’s Largest Food and Nutrition Conference-FNCE

November 7, 2013 8 Comments

hummus

Once again I attended the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo organized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (former American Dietetic Association). This is the world’s largest food and nutrition conference with 8000 attendees mostly Registered Dietitians and other nutrition professionals. Currently living in Greece, this conference is important for me as I can see nutrition trends in the U.S., but also see if and how the Mediterranean diet or parts of it are communicated to American nutrition professionals.

The conference is composed of various educational sessions as well as the exposition. Attendees have the opportunity to attend a variety of sessions based on their specialty or interests: international, clinical nutrition, culinary, public policy etc. I attended several sessions and some that are related to the Mediterranean diet. Although I did not clearly see any session that was devoted to the Mediterranean diet, which to be honest I thought there would be, considering all the attention the Predimed Study received (Spanish study that showed that a Mediterranean diet may be more protective than a low fat diet). Read more »

Greek Chicken Cooked in Tomato-Kotopoulo Kokkinisto

October 28, 2013 5 Comments

Greek Chicken-Kotopoulo Kokkinisto

So I’m back! Every time this year I attend the Food and Nutrition Conference organized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (former American Dietetic Association). As I am the President of the International Affiliate (American Overseas Dietetic Association), I attend the conference and participate in several of the activities there. I’ll be sharing my experiences in the next post, but for now I need talk about one of my favorite Greek meat recipes: Kotopoulo Kokkinisto. While I look forward to visiting the U.S., after a few days I do miss the tastes of Greece, and one of them is the kokkinista dishes. Kokkinisto, refers to the method of cooking in tomato sauce. Read more »