Let’s Eat Like the Greeks!

The magic of the island, its people and its food settles within us.

The magic of the island, its people and its food settles within us.

Let’s Eat Like the Greeks!

No, not geeks, GREEKS!

Do you even know what geeks eat?  I had to research this topic myself.  The Urban dictionary defines Geek food as:

“Food that, stereotypically, computer geeks, specifically programmers, eat. The food falls into three categories: high in calories, easy to make, and high in caffeine. The idea of geek food comes from programmers staying late into the night, well, programming. In order to waste no time, they need sustenance that can be made quickly and can give them a caffeine boost. Some typical foods include hot pockets, ramen, Jolt cola, take-out Chinese and various chips.”

There is no doubt that I am NOT a dietician, nor do I consider myself an authority on how to eat healthy.  I can tell you, however, that the GEEK DIET is not for us if we want to eat heart healthy.  I think we should try the GREEK Diet!  You know what I mean – the Mediterranean diet.

Has your New Year’s resolution of losing weight and eating healthy failed or lost the strong commitment component?  Are you tired of winter and cold and darkness and in need of a refreshing and uplifting initiative?

Let’s eat and think GREEK!

Let’s eat Mediterranean!

Let’s celebrate life, love and food.  Let’s enjoy the wholesomeness and nourishment of our food – the color, the freshness and the full flavor.

Let’s visit the “marketplace”, not the store, to see what is in season.

Pour the red wine, grill the fresh fish and listen to the sweet music of the Greek bouzouki (I will make my music the piano instrumentals by Lorie Line, please!)  Let our minds and appetites and thoughts flourish.  And oh, let’s not forget the dark chocolate!

Life will be simple and we will pretend we are in the land of Mykonos, Greece – with its sandy beaches and iconic windmills and its maze of twisting streets for us to stroll.

We will eat in shaded courtyards and balconies with lush flowers while the bright sunlight warms us.

We will tour (And get more walking in… we need those 10,000 steps each day!) the largely uninhabited island of Delos – the birthplace of Apollo, appropriately the god of sunlight, music and beauty.

Doesn’t that sound romantic and exotic and adventuresome?

Are we ready to “eat Greek?”

The Mediterranean Diet is heart healthy.  The diet is more plant based with whole grains.  The Greeks base their meals on fresh and therefore seasonal fruits and vegetables.  We will switch from our American meat based meals to a Greek focus on whole grains and vegetables, avoiding the saturated fats that are a “BIG NO” on a heart healthy diet.  No more processed foods.  No more chicken nuggets (Oh dear, my grandsons will be SO unhappy!) or cake mixes or potato chips.  Food preparation is now about natural and wholesome ingredients, rich in antioxidants.

The Mediterranean diet the Greek follow has been linked to lower rates of cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and—most recently—heart disease. And although we can’t adopt all aspects of the Greek-island lifestyle, we can incorporate some of the eating patterns and dietary traditions practiced there. The best part? Eating like a Greek is not only healthy; it’s also delicious.

Medscape reported a key element in relation to the Mediterranean diet and a healthy heart.

“A Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts may cut the risk of cardiovascular events by as much as 30% in subjects at high risk of developing heart disease, as compared with people advised to eat a reduced-fat diet.”

Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Marc Gillinov commented regarding the outcome of the study.

“This randomized controlled trial is by far the best in class when it comes to dietary studies. We should take its results seriously: if you have risk factors for cardiovascular disease–and the majority of adult Americans do–your best bet is to follow a Mediterranean diet.”

This study, led by was led by Dr. Ramón Estruch, simplified the Mediterranean diet and outcomes in this statement:

“People should know that the Mediterranean diet is a diet healthier than others and should know the key components of this food pattern. The plan should be to increase the intake of the key foods (vegetables, fruit, nuts, fish, legumes, extra virgin olive oil, and red wine in moderation), also increase the intake of white meat, and decrease the intake of red and processed meat, soda drinks, whole dairy products, commercial bakery goods, and sweets and pastries.”

Mediterranean diet menus and recipes abound the internet.  Keeping it simple will keep you on track.  A few healthy Mediterranean tips include:

~  Eat fresh salads sprinkled with nuts, berries and fresh or dried fruits.  (I love Craisins!)

~  Choose whole grains rather than grains which have refined or processed.

~  Eat fish and poultry as your main sources of protein along with nuts.  Walnuts and almonds are excellent choices.  1 ounce of nuts = 1 serving – that is about 14 walnuts or 23 almonds, in case you are keeping track!

~ Limit red meat.

~ ♥ Fill your plate with vegetables!

~ Enjoy small amounts of Greek yogurt or cheese. Add them as dressings or toppings to salads.

~  Choose olive oil for your main fat source.

~ Limit unhealthy saturated and Trans fats!

~  Eat fruit for your desert.
It is time to make another New Year’s resolution and commit to the year of 2014 as a healthy Greek! (Nope, again, it is not Geek!  You really don’t want those potato chips or that Chinese take-out, do you!?)

“I resolve to eat like a Greek, to listen to music that makes my heart sing, to laugh every day, eat dark chocolate as needed, to sleep and dream of the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean, to make dinner an event, to breathe more deeply while I take my daily stroll, and spend more time with the people I love.”

Pour yourself a glass of red wine and preview a couple of simple recipes.  Snack on some Wasa Crispbread crackers and your favorite hummus, along with fresh fruit.

Chickpea Salad

RINSE chickpeas in a colander.

1 can Chickpeas

COMBINE
2 teaspoons Olive Oil
¼ cup Chopped Onion
1/4  cup chopped green pepper
Sliced black or green Olives, as desired
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ Tablespoon white vinegar

Serve mixture over 2 cups romaine lettuce leaves.

Chicken Kabobs

Slice 4 ounces raw chicken breast into small chunks to skewer on a kabob stick.
Marinate at least 30 minutes to overnight in 1/4 cup fat-free Italian dressing or fat-free dressing of your choice.  I prefer Panera’s fat-free Raspberry Vinagrette.  They also make a great fat-free Poppy seed dressing.  (You can purchase them at Target.)

Slice remainder of white onion and green pepper from lunch into chunks; set out 10 grape tomatoes. Alternate pieces of marinated chicken, onion, pepper, and cherry tomatoes on skewers and grill or bake.

Serve with one 6-inch whole-wheat pita pocket, toasted.  Spread the pita with hummus. OR
Serve on a bed of chopped lettuce or cabbage.

Drizzle warm marinade over kabob and salad.

Please share some of your Mediterranean recipes with us.

And, as always, please take care of your heart. 

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7 Comments on “Let’s Eat Like the Greeks!

  1. I am eating like a GREEK… not a GEEK!!!! I now realize HOW IMPORTANT GOOD food is. I eat to LIVE, NOT LIVE TO EAT! I used to live to eat all the acidic, sugary foods, which I LOVED…now it is NOT something I want to put into my body!!!! Thanks for this very I.important post…great FOOD FOR THOUGHT!!!! Love, Theresa

    • You are so right, Carolyn! When I wrote the post, I was thinking I must need a vacation and Greece sounds perfect! Thank you for responding.

  2. Pingback: Kolokythokeftedes with Baked Goats Cheese | Being Mrs Gardom

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