This week Olympus Cheese were out and about enjoying some delicious food at Brisbane’s Greek Club, as part of the Mediterranean Health Expo. The event was run by our friends Lisa Peterson and Desi Carlos who are Two Greek Girls Cooking. Apart from being, as the name suggests, both Greek, the very clever ladies are also qualified Nutritionists and Dietitians. We tell you all about this event, and give you a sneak peek into the finer points of the Mediterranean diet, and how it can work for you.
The Mediterranean Health Expo was promoting healthy living and healthy food in a Mediterranean context. Desi and Lisa ran three sessions with invited guests (including yours truly!) and some other fabulous local producers. They also had some health experts talk about different aspects of Mediterranean food and health. So what’s so good about this diet?
7 great reasons to follow a Mediterranean diet
- Flavour. If you are looking to lose weight, or simply to be healthy, there’s nothing more uninspiring than bland and tasteless food. With Mediterranean food, flavour is at the forefront.
- Colour. The colours are vibrant and varied. From the red of the tomatoes, the yellow of lemon, the green of the spinach and watercress, the purple of eggplant or artichoke, the black of olives, the creamy white of cheese, to the gorgeous browns and pinks of our seafood.
- Easy. This diet sits well with our easy Australian lifestyle. Think salads jam-packed with ingredients that are simply thrown in and tossed together with some olive oil and maybe a squeeze of lemon. Or fish on the BBQ, fresh prawns, and plenty of eggs, legumes and lean protein. It’s also easy to follow because it’s not prescriptive. There’s dairy, grains, red meat, and also wine to be enjoyed (albeit in moderation!)
- Clean. Adding to our last reason – the ingredients are uncomplicated, and the flavours come from vegetables, herbs, fruits and oils rather than out of a packet.
- Slow. Mediterranean eating isn’t about rushing around, picking up convenience foods. It’s about enjoying what you’re eating and who you’re eating it with, and being able to track where your food comes from. The emphasis is on fresh food sourced locally.
- It’s a Lifestyle. The concept of the Mediterranean diet is not a new one. Mediterranean people have been eating this way for aeons. It is only more recently, that experts have confirmed the health benefits. As Two Greek Girls say, to eat this way is not a trend, it’s a lifestyle.
- Health. Last but not least, this diet is good for you in so many ways, as we learnt during the expo. Many of the produce and oils are packed full of antioxidants, and all the good stuff you need to keep a healthy heart, low blood sugar and prevent cancer.
How is dairy incorporated?
The first session of the Mediterranean Health Expo saw Desiree chatting with the audience about the importance dairy plays in a healthy diet. Dairy is a really great way to get plenty of calcium in your diet. Dairy also contains lots of protein and phosphorous. However, it is important to choose your dairy with care. It can be easy, as with many foods, to ‘accidentally’ eat additives with your so-called healthy dairy options.
The Mediterranean diet loves its fetta, ricotta and halloumi. Fermented cheese like fetta also contains probiotics. But keeping the salt content lower is advisable. Choosing cheese which has gone through as little processing as possible will mean it has been soaked in salty brine for less time.
If your cheese is sourced from local cheesemakers, most times it is a purer form, containing no preservatives. However, checking the ingredients label is always the best way to know for sure.
Greek Yoghurt is a Mediterranean staple, a is a great source of probiotics which can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. The important point about yoghurt, is that it should contain no thickeners, no preservatives, and have no added sugar. However, if you read our label, you will see a little sugar. This is because the first 4.7g/100g of sugar in any dairy is lactose. But that’s where the sugar story should end!
How can I learn more about this diet?
There was so much to learn on the day and we came away inspired! Two Greek Girls will be running a larger expo next year, and if you are interested in Mediterranean food, and how it can benefit your health, we encourage you to keep an eye out for it. The girls have also published a book Mediterranean Eating containing over 60 recipes, and a host of tips on living long and well, and even planning meals.
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