Greek Ikarian Diet for Long Life

Here’s my brief run down on a current, very popular topic: How a Greek Ikarian diet can help you be healthier and live longer. I Googled “Greek Ikarian diet”, and got over 35,000 results.  There have been a lot of articles about the “Mediterranean diet” for some time, but now because of a new book by Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones,  it is getting a lot of buzz. Particularly because of the longevity of the population on the Greek island of Ikaria in the Aegean Sea.

Map of Ikaria

So, for those of us who aren’t so fortunate to live in this paradise, we can at least try to eat like the Ikarian people do. That means eating more leafy greens, beans and lentils, cooking with olive oil, avoiding processed foods, and over-eating. We should eat meat less frequently and in much smaller portions. Eat the smallest meal of the day in the late afternoon or evening. Here’s the best part: Drink alcohol moderately and regularly, 1-2 glasses a day!Ikarian home outdoor dining

I have been a big fan of Chef Diane Kochilas for quite some time. I have made and shared her recipes on this blog. Some day I’d like to attend her vacation cooking school on the island of Ikaria.

In 2012 at TEDx Athens,  she talked about how to eat like a Greek, the nutrition of the Ikarian diet, and how all of this could be used to renew Greece’s place in the global community. It’s one of my favorite TED Talks.

Enjoy the video, and kali orexi!

Vegan Diet, Lent and Fasting

Many people follow a Vegan diet now, and groceries and markets have a lot of Vegan products to offer these days. Vegans are vegetarian, but they also do not eat eggs, dairy products and honey.  A Vegan diet is similar to the diet many Greek Orthodox follow during the Lenten season.

Greek Orthodox Lent began on Monday, March 2nd this year. That is 5 weeks before Holy Week, the week before Orthodox Easter on April 12th. Many Greek Orthodox who follow a strict fast during Lent abstain from meat, fish and dairy products. On some certain days of Lent, fish, shellfish, wine, and olive oil may be eaten.

I have decided to give up red meat, sweets, and sugar for Lent. The most difficult part has been avoiding sweets and sugar.  Sugar is hidden in almost all ready-to-eat prepared foods. So the best way to abstain from sugar is to make all your meals homemade.

My recipe for Lentil Soup can be adapted for strict fasting (don’t use olive oil) and Vegan diets. I also found this Greek Rice Pilaf with Leeks and Saffron recipe from Chef Diane Kochilas’ site. I am definitely going to try it.

Vegan Diet Lent Fasting banner 2015

 

Chef Diane Kochilas’ Greek Feta & Red Pepper Dip

Greek Feta & Roasted Pepper Spread

Tonight I roasted some peppers and made Diane Kochilas’ Greek Feta & Red Pepper Dip. Chef Diane is an internationally-known cookbook author, food writer, culinary teacher and consultant. She has written 18 books on Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.

Roasted Peppers 1

Roasting peppers is easy. I did it on my grill. Just let them get blackened on all sides.

Roasted Peppers 2

It will take several minutes on each side.

Cover Roasted Peppers

Once they are blackened put them in a bowl and cover them tightly with foil or cling wrap. Let them sit in their steam for 5 – 10 minutes.

Greek Feta, lemon, oregano & tabasco

While the peppers are steaming, get together the ingredients to be combined in a small food processor. 6 oz. of feta, lemon, oregano, hot sauce and extra virgin olive oil.

Roasted Peppers steamed 10 min

The peppers need to cool and then peel off the blackened skin. It should come off easily.

Skin peeled roasted peppers

Slice the peppers so you can lay them flat and remove the seeds.

Blend feta, peppers, lemon, EVOO

Blend the feta, 1 red pepper, lemon, oregano, hot sauce and extra virgin olive oil until smooth. The dip is great with pita bread or pita chips. Let me know if you like it.

Roasted Peppers & olives

I also made a salad with the rest of the roasted peppers by slicing them in long strips and adding a minced large garlic clove, sliced large olives and extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!

Chef Diane Kochilas' Greek Feta & Red Pepper Dip
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizers / Spreads & Dips
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Roasted red pepper and feta cheese dip
Ingredients
  • Roasted red pepper
  • 6 oz. of feta cheese
  • juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • ½ tsp hot sauce or to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Roast red pepper
  2. Once blackened put in a bowl
  3. Cover tightly with foil or cling wrap 5 – 10 minutes
  4. Blend feta, red pepper, lemon, oregano and hot sauce in processor
  5. Add extra virgin olive oil until smooth
Notes
See photos from my blog post for more details