St. Nick’s Opa! Fest in Troy is the largest on-going Greek festival in the metro Detroit area. This is one of my favorites. My friend, blogger, cookbook author, and Chef, Peter Minaki of Kalofagas has given cooking demonstrations at this festival for the last few years.
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.
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!
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.
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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.