Showing posts with label Mediterranean diet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mediterranean diet. Show all posts

Friday, May 13, 2022

Living a Mediterranean Lifestyle

There really is a 'Mediterranean Lifestyle' and it has taken me until now to realize that we really are  living it!

Sailing under the Mediterranean Sun

Now, I am not sure I would have believed that lifestyles could be so different until we moved to Greece from our home in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, but I can assure you that our lifestyle here is a far different one than it was there. 

 Hydra Island - a place to relax

The Mediterranean lifestyle has been described as one in which we 'more consciously take our time' with all things; one in which we never complete all tasks at once. We find that being retired fits that same description and lends itself well to this new expat lifestyle in the Mediterranean region.  

As many of you know from my earlier writings, the seeds of living a Mediterranean lifestyle were planted way back when I first saw the 1964 Walt Disney movie, 'The Moon-Spinners' which was set in Greece.

Back then I only dared hope to visit Greece one day, I certainly never dreamed of living a Mediterranean lifestyle! That would have been simply beyond imagination.  

Now that we are living it, one of the nicest things about it is that everyone lives it somewhat differently. There are no set rules and guidelines. Yet, while researching this post, I laughed out loud when I found that someone has actually written a how-to-do-it- guide titled, 'Mediterranean Lifestyle for Dummies'.

Really? Do we need guidelines?

Now, really! You  don't need someone telling you how live your life once you've been inspired to strike out and live a bit differently.  I've found that a far better source guidance, at least a source of inspiration, is The Mediterranean Lifestyle Magazine, TML,  for short, as it is filled with travel, culinary and lifestyle inspiration to make you feel like you are here even if you aren't. (Being totally transparent: I do contribute articles to the publication, but I was reading it long before I was writing for them).

In fact, I think the editors, Elena and Melisa Koyunseven, have pretty much summed up our life in Greece with their Seven Principles of the Mediterranean Lifestyle: 

TML 7 principles of the Mediterranean Lifestyle

1. Eat healthily

Roadside fruit stand in early March

With an abundance of olive oil, fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables at our fingertips, literally year-round, it is easy to eat healthily in Greece.  

Fresh fruit and vegetables combine in this salad

One misconception about Greek eating is that we have a diet rich in seafood. We don't. Fish is scarce and can be costly.  Friends dining at a new taverna in the village had one member of their party order the 'fish of the day' for her meal without asking about weight or price. They were flabbergasted when the waiter brought a 2.3 kilo, or 5 pound fish on a platter and the cost for that fish was 200 euros!

Our friend, Captain Antonis and The Scout 

Thankfully we live in a fishing village and have other restaurant choices for less expensive fish, but still don't order it often. We seldom cook it at home.  Recently though we received a generous gift of an Amberjack Tuna from one of our fisherman friends, Captain Antonis.  And that made a most tasty meal.

2. Spend time with family and friends

The Scout with two of our four fur-kids

As expats we've made numerous new friends and have created a fur-family at our Stone House on the Hill. And we find time spent with family and friends is simply happiness on earth.

Friends gather for Easter dinner

Seldom does a week go by that we haven't joined friends for dinner, drinks or coffee somewhere in the village.  It seems easier - more spontaneous than in our other world - to get together, and once together we may spend hours together.  Life is less structured, less formal and moves at a much slower pace here so no need to rush through meals or get-togethers.

3. Find More Time to Relax

Princess demonstrates relaxation techniques

Again we turn to our four-footed family members as role-models in relaxation.  We follow suit as a day without a nap -- or at least an hour or two lazing around reading a book -- is almost unheard of  in this lifestyle. And we never fail to pause and enjoy our surroundings - after all, that is why we moved here!

Pausing to enjoy our surroundings

4.  Laugh often

Selfies on a walk home from the village - instant laughter

This is such an easy principle and expat life is conducive to laughing: at ourselves and our bloopers, at the difficulties of understanding a different culture, for so many reasons, and sometimes just because we are having such a good time!

Expat stories always good for laughter

5. Enjoy Life and the Simple Things in Life

These two are village harbor icons 

A morning stroll to the village, an errand that turns into an outing, watching day-to-day routines in the village ~ all add up to simple pleasures and make for a most enjoyable life.

Finding a small fresco tucked away in a church wall

6. Be Productive

Springtime trimming burn in the olive grove

Growing olives has definitely kept us productive - but we also participate in a number of volunteer activities that help the community, keep us involved in local life and assure that we are leading a somewhat productive existence here - perhaps, even more so than we were doing in our other life.

American expats impromptu beach cleanup

7. Stay physically active

Olive harvest day - off to the press to become oil

The rural lifestyle here offers endless opportunities for hiking, walking, biking, swimming and other outdoor activities. Also working in the garden and the grove definitely keeps us physically active. Olive harvest is a workout - don't ever let anyone tell you differently!

Hikes on the kalderimi - great exercise!

We often say we feel younger, maybe even more alive living where we do and being a part of this rural slice of the Greek Peloponnese.  The Mediterranean lifestyle agrees with us ~ 

How about you? Are you living the Mediterranean lifestyle where you live? How would you describe your lifestyle? Tell us in the comments below or send us an email. 

As always, thanks for being with us today and hope to see you back again soon.  And to our new subscribers, many thanks for signing up - it is great to have you with us!

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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Mediterranean Diet ~ A Taste of Greece

Okay, time to fess up. . .our time in Greece has seemed an almost non-stop Food Festival.

New flavors. New dishes. New settings. Far too many temptations. Our houseguests usually ask at some point during their visits, 'Do you ever eat at home?' as we race them from one eatery to another trying to show all of our favorites in a short span of time.

We do eat at home, but with so many good eats at affordable -- often ridiculously inexpensive -- prices, we've found ourselves eating out often and soaking up the spirit of dining here.

An array of mezes are offered BEFORE the main course at this taverna
That time honored ritual of eating - not the grab-a-bite-and-be-on-our-way kind-- but that which  makes dining an event is still very real in Greece. A 2015 article in The Atlantic magazine examining the rituals of eating could have been written about dining in Greece:

'How food is experienced has everything to do with the decor, 
with the rituals surrounding the meal, with the company, 
and with the experience.'

Dinner out in the village - good food and good friends 

Going out to dinner -- or even out to lunch here -- can span several hours of savoring tastes, soaking in the atmosphere, and engaging in conversation with your dining companions or even folks you know who might be passing by your street side table.

Summer nights in the village the road closes to accommodate taverna diner

The Mediterranean Diet - Greek-style

The Mediterranean Diet
In general the diet consists of fruits and vegetables, 
beans and nuts,
healthy grains,
olive oil
small amounts of meat and dairy
and . . .red wine!

The 'Mediterranean Diet' is one inspired by the eating habits of Greece, Southern Italy and Spain in the 1940's and 1950's. Those fresh, healthy foods that made up the diet then remain a centerpiece of Greek eats today.

If you've traveled in Greece you know that the flavors and menu offerings vary by region. So while the food items may appear to be the same, the regional influences: spices, preparation and cooking make each dining experience different. Take, for example, our trip to the island of Spetses that I told you about last week. It is only 4.5 hours from our home, and basic menu items appear to be 'like home', but the preparation made the flavors delightfully different.

A typical order of fish
Fish, (which most people seem to think we eat all the time) is a key part of a Mediterranean diet. So, true confession: we seldom eat fish in Greece. Its presentation and cost doesn't appeal. It is usually served whole, and grilled looking much like the one in the photo above. It is sold by the kilo (1 kilo is 2.2.pounds) price, so a whole fish could cost 55 to 60 euros. You could eat several full meals without fish for the price of a single fish.

Marinated anchovies, mussels in mustard sauce, Spetses-style fish, dessert

However, we did eat seafood in Spetses: the presentation, the variety, the flavors and prices all appealed. The collage above shows a selection of foods served to us during our stay on this small Saronic island. The white anchovies (no bones) were marinated in lemon sauce and olive oil, the mussels in a mustard sauce make my mouth-water just writing the words, the Spetses-style fish was a white fish smothered in a red sauce, almost a stew of vegetables, and far more interesting than a whole fish on a plate. The complimentary dessert was a baked apple, scoop of ice cream and philo dough bites.

A pitcher of our fresh-pressed olive oil
So aside from not eating fish regularly you would think that living and dining in the Land of the Mediterranean Diet would keep us fit, trim and healthy, wouldn't you?

Not quite! In February we faced the fact that it wasn't the camera angles, it wasn't the clothes shrinking, it wasn't our bathroom scales or the doctor's office blood tests being out-of-whack: we were having a wee bit too much of a Food Festival. Yes, too much of a good thing can be, too much. And we admit we weren't really eating that healthy version of a Mediterranean diet. After all, those yummy oregano-flavored potato chips, just don't fit the diet's intent. . .

The Ancient Greeks nailed it: In all Things Moderation

So we set out to change our eating: we gave up foods made with refined sugar and flour (pastas and breads and baked goods) and cut back on carbs (potatoes, potato chips and crackers) and passed on the desserts, with a fruit plate being an exception. We refreshed our Mediterranean diets by mixing in a bit of the Keto diet and the Glycemic Load diet philosophies.

You might say we are following the advice of Ancient Greeks who sang the praises of moderation.

Mushrooms stuffed with cheese, green salad 

'Observe due measure, moderation is best in all things,' 
              -- Greek poet Hesiod.

Mediterranean salad with Balsamic dressing and Greek cheese

'We should pursue and practice moderation.'
-- Plato, philosopher.

Grill plate with tomatoes, not potatoes
'Moderation, the noblest gift of Heaven'
--Euripides, Greek playwright.

A meze of fava beans topped with roasted tomatoes, capers,garlic and olive oil

We still drink those 'miso kilos' (pitchers) of Greek wine and we still dine out often. We indulge in a bite-sized piece of dark chocolate regularly. We've found that switching potatoes to tomatoes is quite easy and passing up bread isn't a sacrifice. We've substituted cucumber and zucchini slices for crackers and potato chips at home. We've not sworn off any food completely, allowing guilt-free indulgences every so often. We don't consider ourselves 'dieting'.  Yet, we've each lost 12 pounds.

Kali Orexi

Kali Orexi, means literally, 'good appetite' but is often the wish offered to diners as food is served in Greece, meaning 'have a good meal'.  

A meze dinner is our favorite kind of meal

And having a good meal  isn't hard to do in Greece even when you've modified your eating habits! The photo above shows a recent dinner at a restaurant in Stoupa, our neighboring village. From the top left,tomato balls and a yogurt dip, Mani sausage (orange flavored) with horta (greens instead of potatoes), sautéed mushroom, and oven-baked garbanzo beans with a cheese topping.

With a wish that many of you get a chance to taste the real flavors of Greece one day while sitting at a harbor-side taverna or a sleek 5-star restaurant, we'll sign off for this week. We thank you for the time you spent with us today and look forward to being back next week when we will be back to talking travel.

Linking this week with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday


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