Do you know that great feeling when you come back from a vacation and you don’t feel like breaking the scale in half? After indulging for almost two weeks in the best of what the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle have to offer, I was delighted when I returned home lighter than when I left!
I first discovered the Mediterranean diet about 10 years ago when I was involved in producing content both about Greece and about healthy living. The more I researched, the more I realized that two topics blend in very well. It was then when I decided to adopt this delicious yet healthy diet.
Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to more than one country where you can easily indulge in the Mediterranean diet on a daily basis. Yet no matter what new dishes I try, admittedly enjoy the Greek version the most.
What exactly is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is based on how the Cretan men ate back in the 1960s, with an emphasis on local, seasonal, and organic produce.
It is primarily based on plant-based foods, such as vegetables, legumes, fruits, and nuts. Butter is replaced with olive oil and herbs are used instead of salt to add flavor to the meals. Fish and poultry are consumed about twice a week, while red meat is only included in the meals at most two times a month. Meals are a family and friends’ affair featuring a variety dishes which are shared. Spending time in nature and getting plenty of exercises are part of the Mediterranean lifestyle.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and why doctors and nutritionists often rave about it.
It is an excellent choice for a detox
Image credit: Cris Puscas
As a diet consisting mostly of plants, the Mediterranean diet offers enzymes to aid digestion, as well as beneficial nutrients that contribute to the body’s overall health. It also considered a high alkaline diet.
All of the recipes are simple, prepared with easy to source ingredients. This gives the Mediterranean dishes their delicious taste. Just think of how easy it is to put together a Greek salad: Cut fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and bell peppers, sprinkle some olive oil, add the Kalamata olives, then just drop the feta on top and finish the dish with a dash of oregano. Simple yet oh so delish!
It improves your heart’s health
Incorporating the basics of healthy eating, the Mediterranean Diet is considered a great heart-healthy eating plan. Research shows that the traditional diet reduces the risk of heart disease and is associated with lower levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.
The diet is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) from olives or olive oil which has been found to decrease the risk of cardiac death by 30% and sudden cardiac death by as much as 45%!
It fights cancer
Image credit: Selliyal.com
The Mediterranean diet fights cancer as it integrates an abundance of vegetables which is rich in antioxidants. It has been proven to help reducing inflammation, stops cell mutation, and delays tumor growth. Additionally, many studies have shown the effectiveness of olive oil in decreasing the risk of cancer as well other major diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
It helps you lose weight
If you are looking to lose weight in a healthy way and without feeling hungry, the Mediterranean diet is definitely a diet plan you ought to try as it is one that I have personally found to be effective. Moreover, it is both a sustainable and worthwhile diet, which helps you manage the weight on the long run.
If you prefer a low-carb approach, focus on fish, poultry, vegetables, nuts, and olive oil. On the other hand, if you want to try the vegetarian way, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to have a variety of meal options.
Convinced that the Mediterranean diet is worth a try? I recommend that you start slow and make gradual changes from your current diet to the Mediterranean diet.
One of the easiest things you can do is to first swap the use of butter and all types of oils with olive oil. You can also choose whole grains instead of refined ones (for bread and pasta). Each week, substitute at least one read meat meal with a fish-based one. Instead of using mayo, opt for hummus. Be sure to also check out your neighborhood’s farmers’ market to purchase fresh organic and in season produce you can integrate to your diet on a daily basis.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cris Puscas is a contributing writer at BookDetoxRetreats.com. Passionate about Mediterranean food and countries, she could eat her weight in cheese and olives.
The religion that is predominant in Greece is orthodox Christian that is recognize with that category of “predominant” in the Greek Constitution but it is also recognized the liberty of religion. It is stimated that between 88%-98% of the population is considered orthodox.
Within the orthodox celebrations, Easter is undoubtedly one of the most important festivals in Greece, where traditional events that are typical of these dates are combined with the occasion to meet with family and friends. Although it is true that many Greeks practice fasting at these dates, these meetings place gastronomy at the center of all the festivities, as they prepare typical dishes that are only consumed during this celebration.
The first curiosity worth mentioning is that in Greece during this festivity there is a tradition of painting eggs in red color, to be used to decorate the tables of the dining room, to play games, and, of course, to consume them.
During Good Thursday, several sweet dishes are usually prepared to eat them after the midnight Mass on Holy Saturday. It is very typical, for example, to make koulourakia biscuits, made of butter, which are characterized by having a soft texture and is normally presented in a spiral form. It is also very typical to prepare the tsoureki, one of the several typical breads in Greece, which is prepared by embedding eggs in the dough. As main dish after Holy Saturday mass, the mayiritsa soup is usually prepared, made with lamb tripe, lemon and seasoned with lettuce and dill.On Easter Sunday, the Greeks start preparing a barbecue to roast lamb and prepare an immense variety of typical dishes such as the tzatziki, to enjoy with their family and friends of those dishes, dances and Greek wine.
Here is a video resuming all the traditions during Easter in Greece:
Bread is an indispensable part of the universal culture of civilizations and today’s society. In fact in many diets, as in the Mediterranean, it is considered as a basic element. The Mediterranean Diet Foundation, a foundation that promotes the values of it, includes in its Decalogue a premise on the importance of bread and food from cereals, arguing that they should be part of the daily diet. “Its consumption is indispensable for its composition rich in carbohydrates. They provide us with an important part of energy needed for our daily activities, “says the institution.
In this food of simple appearance and composition, the cereals used for its preparation play an essential role, as well as the kneading processes, the culinary traditions of each country, each culture or each religion. The presence or absence of ingredients and their external appearance make that a homemade bread is a culinary art.
As to its origin, it is considered that Greece was the civilization that perfected the system of elaboration of the bread that previously had defined the Egyptians. Especially at large scales, as they introduced a series of procedures that allowed the processing of large quantities and the appearance of the baker’s figure as a profession.
In Greece there are over 70 types of bread that make up their culinary culture. Many of these breads have a fascinating history related to Greek mythology in that the breads, were a symbol of offering to the gods.
Within all existing breads in Greece, pita bread stands out as the most common of them all. But it should also be noted the Bobota breads, which is a Greek bread that was originally made by people with less economic resources because in the making of this bread simple ingredients are used. Bobota bread is usually very brittle, but can be made in any texture, such as sturdy bread or with a consistency similar to polenta.
On the other handthe Psomi Horiatiko, is a dense and crusty Greek bread that has been made in wood furnaces for centuries and is very popular in rural Greece. The texture of this bread is perfect to taste it with olive oil and sauces. It is made by mixing different types of flours. Some cooks prefer to use sourdough instead of yeast in the recipe.
Skorthopsomo and Tyropsomo breads are other types of simple but very tasty Greek breads and are usually served with meals. The Skorthopsomo is a bread made with fresh garlic.
Lagana bread or clean bread Monday is only made the first Monday of Lent, according to the Eastern Orthodox churches, which are common in Greece. Bread is leavened bread, that is fermented with yeast, simple and usually enjoyed with seafood.
Finally, the pita bread, which you can taste at the Greek Taverna and Greek Village, is a round bread that when cut in half, contains a pocket and is commonly used to make sandwiches. The pocket is formed by water vapor during the cooking process. In Greece, pita gyros are made by adding tomatoes, onions, meat and tzatziki to the pita. If for some reason our restaurants have become famous on the island of Gran Canaria is for having one of the best breads of pitas. Usually it is part of all the appetizers (mezze as it is said in Greek) accompanying it of hummus or tzatzki although if you eat it without anything it is also a delight.
Greece is considered as a big player in olive oils and table olives, ranking in the first positions of world production of both products. In fact, the olive cultivation takes place in 50 of the 54 municipalities of the country, being the zone of greater production the Peloponnese and Crete (also known as the island of the olive trees).
Among all the varieties of table olives produced by Greece one of them stands out, the Kalamata olives, known around the world, are increasingly used by chefs and cooks to make their dishes. These olives can be consumed at any of our Greek restaurants in Playa del Inglés (Greek Village) and Playa de San Agustín (Greek Taverna), both in the south of Gran Canaria.
The name of this variety of Greek olive is due to the region of the same name, located to the south of the Peloponnese, that is where it is more extended its cultivation.
This olive is characterized by its fleshiness, by the contrast between its sweet and salty taste, and its almond shape. Another characteristic that differentiates this olive from others is its colour. When its collected, this olive is purple, however, it adopts different shades according to the packaging process applied to it, in brine, oil or wine vinegar.
The intense taste of this olive variety makes it an ideal snack, but it is also used in a wide variety of dishes, mainly in salads, pastas or rice, adding flavour and colour to these recipes.
Apart from the great gastronomic qualities of the Kalamata olive we must add the properties on the organism that the olives have in themselves, since they help to regulate the levels of cholesterol in our organism, they contribute high amounts of vitamin E and they are a rich source of calcium and other minerals that are beneficial for our health.
We inlcude a video explaining how to marinade the Kalamata olives
The Canary Islands is not only internationally known for its good climate and tourist destination, it is also recognized for being one of the regions with the greatest marine biodiversity on the planet, since under its waters coexist around 700 species of fish and about 1,500 species of molluscs.
The archipelago has been able to materialize this biodiversity industrially, always in a sustainable way, with an industrial fishing sector and a fishing fleet that at the moment is composed of more than 800 fishing boats, where you can differentiate two types of fleet, on the one hand, the trawler-freezer fleet, which is the most important in terms of economy, and is dedicated to the capture of cephalopods (octopus, squid and cuttlefish), as well as sardines, sea bass or “Samas”. These boats have a high technological level, developing their work in waters of Morocco mainly. On the other hand, there is the artisanal and coastal fleet, made in the Canary Islands with small and old boats, and with traditional fishing art that are environmentally friendly, a value that the local inhabitant appreciates.
From the point of view of infrastructure of the sector, the fishing fleet of the Canary Islands and the lovers of the sport fishing, has 58 fishing ports where is remarkable the importance of the ports of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
In addition, the Canaries is one of the autonomous communities that fish most consumes in Spain, because the Canary gastronomy, like many other archipelagos, is based mainly on the products of the sea.
The fish of the Canary Islands are characterized by being of great quality, being the main protagonist the “Vieja”, that is a parrot fish of long body, with rounded tail and great scales and one in the form of “peak of parrot”. Such species, can be consumed and cooked in various ways such as boiled, fried or opened from the back after being sundried. It also can be cooked fish pies with onions and to make pickles. It’s white flesh and softness has an unusual taste, with a great protein value.
Another fish that is very appreciated by the Canary gastronomy is the “Sama”, that can reach up to five kg and can be baked in stewpot or filleted. Just like the “Cherne”, which is the main ingredient of one of the most popular dishes of traditional Canarian gastronomy: the “Sancocho”, that combines the desalted “Cherne” with potato and sweet potato, accompanied by a green or red mojo and “gofio” (toasted wheat flour).
Also noteworthy are the species that are taking root in the Canaries through aquaculture, such as the goldfish, sea bass and sole. The consumption grows year after year due to the protein properties of these species and their taste.
In our restaurant, you can enjoy these and other species fished by the artisanal fleet, depending on the availability of species at any time, since we keep them fresh without going through freezing processes.
The Angus beef is considered one of the best meats in the world along with others like the Waygu from Kobe.
The origins of the Aberdeen-Angus variety are situated in the wild, native cattle without horns of northern Scotland. The name comes precisely from the counties of Aberdeenshire and Angusshire where this ox came up without horns. They were really two different oxen and with different names, but later they would cross the varieties and they still found some remain traces and it is considered the Black Meg like the cow founding of this variety.
This breed is characterized by its resistance and can be raised in areas of changing climates, making this strain can be brought up in various regions of the planet, in addition to achieving a high genetic variability allowing it to adapt to the characteristics and needs of each herdowner.
The cattle can be black or reddish and one of its most significant characteristics is that they do not have horns. They are raised in freedom, in extensive pastures during the first year or a year and a half, and then they are fed with cereals and especially with corn, which allows the animal to gain volume and depth, but always in a balanced and harmonious way with smooth shapes, rounded contours, easy finishing and without excessive accumulation of fat, as well as good muscle mass.
All these characteristics generate that this breed produces a high quality veined meat for its tenderness, juiciness and exquisite flavour and consequently to be considered one of the best meats of greater international prestige.
In our restaurant you can enjoy this meat in the Greek style, book your table through our web form or by calling us.
One of the authentic cultural elements of any region is gastronomy. The distinctive character of the “taste of the kitchen” is often related to the quality characteristics of its society, all the time it “reveals” information relating to its cultural history and the economy.
It is precisely the Greeks, who establish the basis of gastronomy as we know it today, since it is in this civilization that the important figure emerges the cook who elaborates sophisticated dishes, unusual and novel, in short, a new way of understanding the kitchen and living in society in banquets, travel and wars. Also, appears the first book of recipes, elaborated by Arquettetate in the year 330 before Christ.
It is in Greece that the kitchen begins to be refined and out of the porridge and oats, and it is in the Agora where Greek social life unfolds and where sellers of all kinds come: bakers with infinity of different breads and cakes covered with dry fruits and honey; Improvised kitchens with boiling pots of “black stew” prepared with different meats, vinegar, spices and blood that were much appreciated; The meat rolls with wheat wrapped in fig leaves and cooked in chicken broth; Birds from Persia and preserved in olive oil, salt and spices; Olives in brine; Lemons that nobody ate and that used to freshen the clothes and an huge range of products that laid the bases of varied Mediterranean cuisine, that were more elaborated and with rich in ingredients.
Dozens of scientific studies have shown the positive effect of a balanced Greek diet on the health, beauty and longevity of people. In addition, the nutritional culture of the Greeks has traditionally added an extroverted social dimension to the table, combining gustatory satisfaction with recreation and communication, and maintaining to this day some nuances of the ancient festivals.
In contrast to what many people believe about Greek cuisine, you will discover that “moussaka”, “souvlaki” and “choriatiki” (Greek salad) are not the only Greek dishes. Greek cuisine consists of a large variety of dishes that can fully satisfy the gastronomic tastes of both vegetarians and meat lovers.
The preparation of food on the other hand has its own sacred rules. Good amateur cooks are highly respected in their social circle, while a good housewife in Greece mainly means a good cook. And a good cook can spend days preparing a meal for his friends.
Greek cuisine is based on four pillars: fresh ingredients of good quality, correct use of aromas (herbs) and spices, the famous Greek olive oil and its simplicity.
A deeply rooted social custom is when the Greeks share a meal with their friends at home, in a restaurant or in a tavern. The Greek word “symposium” – a word as old as Greece itself – literally means “to drink with friends”. The atmosphere in a common Greek restaurant or tavern is relaxing, simple and informal.
Come to enjoy an unforgettable culinary experience that will make you feel that you are in the very same Greece but in an incomparable place like the south of Gran Canaria.