Mediterranean Diet Explained
By now, there is no doubt that you’ve heard that the Mediterranean Diet is one of the healthiest ways to eat today. It’s well-being benefits range from weight reduction to prevention of heart disease and diabetes. But simply piling your plate with really good pasta and dipping some great bread in emerald green olive oil, does not a Mediterranean Diet
make. Turns out, that although the emphasis in this eating pattern focuses on large consumption of vegetables, more fish and beans to replace meat, olive oil over butter, less sweets in favor of fruit, and whole grains instead of refined ones, there are several tenets that truly makes the Mediterranean Diet more effective beyond just the recommended foods.
Last month, I had been invited to partake in a luncheon as part of a three-day promotion and education of the tourism and cuisine of the Greek islands. Stepping into Thasos Taverna, a gorgeous, white-washed walled Greek restaurant located in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida with its wooden tables, hand-woven baskets and beautiful tiled walls, I was to receive a real-life education of Greek culinary traditions. “It’s food cooked the way my mother did”, proudly says Executive Chef and co-owner Sophia Mylona. “Eating in the Mediterranean-style goes way beyond consuming more vegetables and fruits, it’s actually a marriage of traditional recipes paired with today’s nutrition information and current trends”. And Sophia should know, not only is she a beloved chef and successful entrepreneur, but a knowledgeable nutritionist as well. She says, ” Our cuisine is not complicated. It’s all about quality ingredients and-an item never listed on the recipe-love”.
After dining on a four-course meal prepared by Executive Chef Anthinagoras Kostakos, who was flown in from the brand new Bill and Coo Suites and Lounge in Mykonos to cook for us, the true essence of the Mediterranean Diet became very apparent to me and can be summed up in four important points.
” We emphasize herbs and spices with simple preparation that lets flavor stand out”, Mylona says. For example, the salad that was served that day–juicy, ripe cherry tomatoes, with capers and thyme with a tad of rich goat cheese was straightforward and uncomplicated in its presentation and flavor. I believe sometimes we just try to too hard to make food taste good. Spending less time on the preparation of the food and more time enjoying eating is probably the most important aspects of the Mediterranean Diet.
Small Portions of Delicious Food:
One intensely flavored lamb chop was all that was served as the entree for our luncheon and all that was necessary too. Accompanied by a zesty yogurt cumin sauce, I was completely satisfied with just a single chop. This is the perfect example of how the Mediterranean Diet actually works. Although we no longer follow the government-designed food pyramid scheme in the U.S. ( we now follow something called The Plate), the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is still very much used in Europe and it’s so easy for us to follow here. All foods fit, it’s just the frequency in which you eat the foods that make the difference.
Eat with Others:
In addition to enjoying every bite at this special luncheon, it was made even more pleasant by sitting and conversing with others at the table. By its nature, this event was well attended, but it was also a perfect representation of the convivial atmosphere we should be creating around our meals. “In Greece, everyone gathers around the kitchen. It’s our way of life”, notes Mylona. Many studies have shown that eating alone adversely effects one’s health. People who eat alone in average eat 2 servings less vegetables per day than those who dine with others. Next time, make enough food and invite someone over who could benefit from the social interaction.
Move Before and After Meals:
Take a careful look at the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid again. Notice that the base of the pyramid is devoted to exercise. That’s right, food and movement go hand in hand according to the people of Mediterranean countries. Having spent a lot of time in the Greek islands, I know first-hand that exercise is built into the culture and I’m not talking about its people enrolling in a gym. For example, the Bill and Coo Suites and Lounge is located on the Aegean Sea with its exceptional opportunities for beach activities including walking for miles along the water. The Greeks as well as many other Mediterranean cultures, take advantage of their landscapes that have lots of stairs and long roads to walk before and after a meal. You don’t need to cross the ocean to mimic these behaviors, but look for opportunities whenever you can move and be active and that includes cooking up a storm surrounded by your closest family and friends!
If you are visiting the South Florida area, I highly recommend a meal at Thasos Taverna located at 3330 E Oakland Park Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308.
For the ultimate getaway and to immerse yourself in the healthy Mediterranean lifestyle, book at room at the stunning Bill and Coo Suites and Lounge on the beautiful island of Mykonos. For reservations.