Centuries Old Mediterranean Diet | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

As the economy has turned considerably sour, there has been some serious thinking going on in people’s minds and many have really shifted their thinking about what is really important and what matters to them.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

As a designer I have seen lot of kitchens being remodeled and rooms around the kitchen, family room, great room, dining room and even wine cellar to assure more comfort while we are staying at home. I have noticed that people are not eating out as much, but cooking and eating at home, making a meal together has become a social activity and planting food in the backyard to get more natural healthy food seems a new necessity.  Suddenly family, friends and times we share have taken center stage in people’s life.

I read that at the Harokopio University in Greece, researchers examined 50 published studies and more than half a million people who went under test and found that those who followed a traditional Mediterranean diet had a less risk of developing the metabolic syndrome which is the combination of conditions that increases the chances of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Mediterranean diet is made of all those foods the industry of “loosing weight” tells us not to eat: carbohydrate in general, grains, sugar, chocolates, wines, even fruit and so on. Have they realized that our body needs all the elements of the nutrition, oils, fat, carbohydrate, cheese, meat, salt, sugar and so on?
The key of the Mediterranean diet is quantity and portions, not elimination of one or more nutrients.

For example 2 oz. of pasta per person once a week, as I mentioned in both of my books, is not a tragedy, but a huge plate of pasta with all the condiments, the toppings and the cheese is. Butter, another example. Anything cooked in butter tastes luscious, but if we substitute it with olive oil, even when making cakes and sweets, we get the antioxidant from the olives and the monounsaturated fat, which is very good for the heart. On that note, eat olives as much as you can, any time of the day and all types, use olive oil on your skin anytime you can, you will see that your skin will turn soft and supple very soon. My grandfather used olive oil on his hair, they turned white, but he had a voluminous and thick hair until the last moment.

In the Mediterranean diet all meals end with fruit and not with sweets. If there is no more room in the stomach for a piece of fruit at the end of the meal, then it would be best to eat it before the meal. Fruit plays a major role in detoxifying the system, supplying a great deal of energy for activities of everyday life and especially when people are in the process of loosing weight.

The consumption of food variety in the Mediterranean diet evolves in the following fashion:
A. Daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, and low-fat dairy products, meaning all the cheeses containing water, such as fresh mozzarella sold in water, fresh ricotta, robiola, taleggio and chèvre cheeses, just to mention a few;
B. Weekly consumption of fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes;
C. Red meat intake is kept to a minimum, a couple of times a week;
D. A moderate daily consumption of wine or other alcoholic beverages, always with meals.

Do not overlook all the legumes, they contain all the proteins the meat has without the animal fat. In my second book ©Sins Of A Queen I touch on this subject:
“All beans contain oligosaccharides sugar (simple sugar found in carbohydrate) that the human body cannot process. The lining of the small intestine cannot break down and absorbed the large molecule of oligosaccharides, because the body does not produce the enzyme that breaks them down. Many people have problems when eating beans. Adding a hand full of bay leaves to the beans during cooking helps the digestion immensely”.

In my first book “ ©Come Mia Nonna – A Return To Simplicity, I talk about the value of some overlooked vegetables:
“Spring onions are energetic.
Celery is diuretic. It is also good dipped in red wine.
Chicory, or dandelion is diuretic, tonic, a cleansing and a laxative.
Artichoke reinforces the liver and prevents diseases of the liver.
Fennel is much used in pharmaceutical industry as an aromatic substance and is a good source of water.
Lettuce is calming.
Radishes is stimulating, modest in nourishing value, but rich in vitamin C.
No wonder we eat so much of all this! “

Eat and drink purple things anytime you can. Red wine, concord grapes, blueberries, eggplant, purple cabbage, purple cauliflower. That deep rich color come from polyphenols-compounds (antioxidant), which reduce heart disease risk and may even protect against Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research.

Our ancestors did not know sodas. Skip soda, even the diet type. Scientists recently found that the caramel color added to cola drinks might double the risk of metabolic syndrome (combination of conditions that increase your chances of heart disease, stroke and diabetes), just by drinking one or more regular or diet sodas every day. Furthermore, the sweet fizzy flavor of sodas sends a message to the brain that sweet stuff is good and conditions it to crave more sugary foods, which can lead to weight gain.
If you need a boost of energy during the day, eat fruit.

Drink water, 
an essential element for all healthy body functions. Please don’t drink water stored in plastic bottles, but choose filtered water through activated charcoal, which removes the impurities and leaves the water-soluble minerals.
In the Mediterranean diet, at the end of the meal, we drink warm water,  warm tea or coffee and even warm liqueurs. The warm liquids help dissolve oils and fat ingested during eating, while cold water will solidify the oils in the food leaving those particles attached to the walls of the intestines. Not good at all.

Eating five small meals a day is less stressing on the digestive system. It is easier to process small amount of food instead of large meals; smaller amounts of food deliver a steady stream of nutrients, blood sugar, and energy to our body throughout the day. Eating this way also reduces the risk of heart disease.

It takes 21 to 30 days of repetitive behavior to form a new pattern in the brain. Once the pattern is formed, it becomes an automatic behavioral response. While developing new healthy habits, the good habits will replace bad ones. Stay on track with healthier food, adopt the Mediterranean food to reduce the risk of obesity and cholesterol, eat everything in moderation, have a glass of Pinot with your meal every day and don’t worry about anything else. Above all laugh anytime you can, start to love your body and put your wellbeing, happiness self confidence in the center of your life. Ciao,

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Author of two regional Italian cuisine books. They are both about the Mediterranean diet, both available on the Books page here in this site.
Come Mia Nonna–A Return to Simplicity
Sins Of A Queen – Italian Appetizers and Desserts

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe.  She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos.


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