“Food shared with love satisfies the palate, brings connection to one another and delivers joy to the heart."

Yia Yias (Greek grandmothers) and Horta (Greek Greens)

Watch this video filmed in Santa Barbara and Crete that includes how to make my award-winning horta recipe!

Eating a consistent amount of greens – raw and lightly cooked or steamed can help you live a longer life! I now realize this is what contributed to the longevity of my Mediterranean relatives. Greens are a staple of the Mediterranean diet, one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. My Grandfather Benny (originally from Southern Italy and former Greek colony) ate a green salad fresh from his garden and bowls of steamed spinach splashed lavishly with olive oil as often as possible and lived to be 97 years old.

Grandfather Daddona by Dianne Daddona.

My husband’s Greek Yai Yai (grandmother) Jean loved talking about and eating her horta. She lived to be 101 years old. Her sisters eat horta as well and are now in their 90’s. I was thrilled to make my classical horta recipe and my other horta recipe with a twist for Jean and my mother-in-law Helen months before Jean passed away. My father-in-law who doesn’t like eating greens, even enjoyed eating his greens.

Cynthia smiling after talking horta with a Cretan Yia Yia (Grandmother)

Cynthia smiling after talking horta with a Cretan Yia Yia (Grandmother)

And when I was in Crete I was blessed to be invited into a kitchen of a fish taverna to visit a Cretan Yai Yai with her tray of horta (greens.) My husband Jim (CelebrateGreece.com) and I (RomancingTheTable.com) were delighted when the Pan-Cretan Association of America (through the Greek Trade Office and the Greek National Tourist Organization) invited us on a press trip to Crete during the summer where we had the chance to enjoy, the beauty, romance, history and cuisine of the island.

Filming a segment about the Mediterranean Diet & Lifestyle at Kosta Mare Palace Resort & Spa

Filming a video about the Mediterranean Diet & Lifestyle at Kosta Mare Palace Resort & Spa

Watch a video of me as Goddess AphFoodite™ in Crete talking about Romance & the healthy Mediterranean diet & lifestyle.

What joy I had was when I found out that my greens recipe was selected as 1st place in the 2nd Annual Mediterranean Diet Recipe Contest sponsored by Oldways, a culinary think tank advocating a return to healthy, traditional old ways of eating. Their letter said: “Congratulations. We thoroughly enjoyed making and tasting your Greek Horta recipe!” I gave my greens recipes with some twists of spices and the option of adding feta to a friend of mine who made them at home and she loved them and so did her children.

I am especially thrilled that there was a Greens recipe selected since it celebrates my passion for showing others how eating from the Mediterranean diet can be healthy while also tasting delicious. Most of all I was inspired to create RomancingTheTable.com after visiting the Mediterranean and seeing how they savor times at the table.

UPDATE: This month Oldways is sponsoring Mediterranean Month and we are eating our greens as usual but a bit more this month. Here is a post I wrote about how we are celebrating Med. Month at our house during our date nights.

The Mediterranean diet includes an abundance of food from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, nuts. There is also an emphasis on fish and replacing butter for extra virgin olive oil, a heart-healthy fat. Meat and dairy are eaten in small amounts. There is also a vegetarian meatless Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. Research that began on the Greek Island of Crete after WWII confirmed that the Mediterranean Diet is one of the healthiest cuisines in the world that contributes to longevity. Research then expanded to Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean. Of course exercise and the enjoyment of sharing food around the table contributes to one’s well being as well.

Whenever possible eat seasonally fresh and locally grown food which maximize the health-promoting nutrients, minerals and antioxidants of the foods. I am a big advocate of eating organic and local whenever possible since it supports the farmers, the environment and a healthy and pesticide free body! As an American Greek Italian married to an American Greek who loves to eat food of his heritage — we eat the Mediterranean diet on a consistent basis. Since we live in California, our menu is often an organic California-Mediterranean menu. We like to eat the way our grandmothers and grandfathers ate back in their native land – which would be naturally organic and seasonal. You can often find organic produce at your a local farmers market or CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) program in your area that offers a weekly subscription to a farm’s harvest by checking out localharvest.org.

Cynthia is the author Diary of A Modern Day Goddess® – a guide to creating a life that nurtures your body, mind and soul. She also hosts ModernDayGoddess.com and Romancing the Table® website/vblog which celebrates life, love and food. For recipes, photos, podcasts and videos go to her Romancing the Table.com. To see a clip or order A Greek Island Destination Cooking Class (DVD/video) that Cynthia hosted in Santorini, Greece go to www.RomancingTheTable.com or www.CelebrateGreece.com   She is also working Crete: Under The Grecian Sun – A Romantic Eco-Culinary Travel Documentary that she is the host/producer of and was filmed in Crete.  If you have any questions or culinary food memories she can be contacted via cynthia@moderndaygoddess.com

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