As an Italian-Greek American married to a Greek American husband who loves to eat, I’m often found in the kitchen cooking delicious Mediterranean meals and testing recipes for my videos, blog, a book in progress, our date nights and my “Well Being for the Body and Soul” TV and video segments. Awhile back, my husband helped me discover that I also had Greek roots through 23andMe.com genetic testing. This explained why I am so intrigued and find a lot of joy in researching and experiencing the Mediterranean culture, lifestyle, cuisine and recipes. (See "Cooking Classes" under "Food" for informational about my "Mediterranean Date-Night Cooking Classes")
Back in 1995, I discovered I had a wheat-gluten intolerance. As a food lover, I was feeling down until I began adapting recipes, many of them from the Mediterranean Diet. I found I was able to create visually beautiful and delicious dishes that are super healthy, gluten-free and low glycemic index. The Mediterranean Diet is mainly plant-based and low on the meats and sweets, but it can also be easily adapted for vegetarian, vegans, paleo and most dietary needs. It offers a nice variety of vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and grains, herbs, spices and healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil. Whenever possible, eat organic to keep the accumulation of toxins, heavy metals and pesticides out of your body.
For more inspiration, check out my culinary-travel documentaries and online videos I’ve hosted and directed from my visits to destination cooking classes, working agro-tourism farms, farmers markets, ethnic grandmothers and other places I’ve traveled. My passion for learning, celebrating and sharing the longevity-enhancing Mediterranean Diet a big part of my lifestyle back home.
I’ve realized that positive times at the table while eating healthy and delicious food can definitely contribute to the wellbeing of one’s relationships. This has been part of my happy and healthy marriage to my husband. Since 2005, when we first became engaged, my husband and I have had weekly date nights. Date Nights are something we look forward to. We also found that the Mediterranean Diet contributed to helping him during a health challenge. When I was single I created my own a weekly date night that consisted of doing something inspiring and cooking or eating a good meal out with myself. That’s a lot of delicious date nights! If you’d like to receive a free Date Night Scheduler with tips, contact me and put the words “Date Night Scheduler” in your subject heading.
Each week, my husband and I take turns planning our weekly date nights. I’m blessed that he’s been inspired by me to cook too! The guidelines are that the person whose week it is makes dinner. For us it is often Mediterranean. They also choose an arts and entertainment activity for the evening. We occasionally budget for a night out to a favorite Mediterranean restaurant . One couple I talked to had their date night once their kids went to bed. Another couple had a weekly lunch date. Whatever works for your schedule is best. If you have children you can also schedule a family meal night in addition to your date night. It can be bonding to have everyone, including children, cook together or just as a couple. Make extra for the week too!
A very memorable and romantic Mediterranean dining experience was when I was in Greece directing and hosting my #1 New York Times’ About.com culinary travel documentary A Greek Islands Destination Cooking Class. It took place at a top gourmet, Slow-Food Greek restaurant in Santorini, overlooking the Aegean Sea. I was also married in Santorini in a village wedding.
In my latest Greek culinary-travel documentary, called Crete: Under the Grecian Sun, I enjoyed several other table memories including savoring food at long farm tables. This documentary explores the Cretan villagers farm-to-table cuisine and lifestyle. The research for the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle that began on the Greek island of Crete after World War II and later took place in Southern Italy, proved that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest and longevity producing lifestyles in the world.
Crete: Under the Grecian Sun is a Los Angeles Taste Award nominee and was the Official Opening-Night Selection at the London Greek Film Festival. To view the trailer and learn more about these culinary documentaries that highlight the romance, beauty, health/lifestyle and travel of the Mediterranean here are the links: Crete: Under the Grecian Sun and A Greek Islands Destination Cooking Class. They are free to watch on TV, computers or phones for Amazon Prime subscribers, $1.99 for non-subscribers. Currently they are streaming on Amazon Prime in the USA, UK, Germany/Austria and Japan and will expand to more countries. Try Amazon Prime for FREE! Both documentaries are also available Worldwide on Vimeo.com. Both documentaries are available on DVD on Amazon.com (select countries) and worldwide.
The healthy Mediterranean way of living and eating combined with the principles I wrote about in my women’s wellness book for nurturing the body, mind and soul have helped me and many other look and feel like their radiant selves.
In addition to savoring times at the table, whether solo or with others, being physically active is also key to longevity. Research has shown that napping (popular in the Mediterranean) or meditating reduces stress and contributes to longevity, as well. The Mediterranean Diet has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases and increasing brainpower. Here is another blog post that I like on including the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and physical activity into your own life: https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/diet-nutrition/ultimate-guide-mediterranean-diet-improving-brain-power/
My Grecian Goddess Greek Village Salad that was inspired by the salad we shared on our first dates causing love at first Mediterranean bite!
Recipe for A Grecian Goddess Greek Village Salad: Ingredients: 3-4 tomatoes quartered * 6 oz feta cheese in cubes 1 medium sized cucumber sliced and quartered 1 sliced red onion (optional) 2 medium sized red peppers sliced 1/2 cup-1 cup Kalamata olives 3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil sprinkle of dried, ground oregano, squeeze of 1/2 lemon and/or 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, depending on sweetness of lemons Sea Salt to taste
Mix bite size sliced ingredients, olives and toss with olive oil, oregano, lemon to taste. Add feta cheese on top and serve. Optional ingredients include: apple cider vinegar to taste depending on sweetness of lemon. Spinach, or arugula, or baby romaine. You can also add garbanzo beans or avocado. I highly recommend using organic produce whenever possible. Be creative and have fun!
* For vegan option – do not include cheese or use cheese substitute
I send you Goddess Blessings for your own romantic and healthy Mediterranean meals, date nights and gatherings! Click here for extra tips on creating a romantic atmosphere for your date night meals. Write me and let me know about your own Mediterranean culinary nights. If you would like wellbeing tips you might enjoy reading my uplifting book Diary of A Modern Day Goddess, which the Los Angeles Times called Lighthearted Enlightenment and has inspired and uplifted many women. It is a guide for nurturing your body, mind and soul – and offers inspiration, tips and essays often with humor and a recipe or two. Sign up for my newsletter to receive quarterly tips, recipes and information on upcoming books, films and videos. When you sign up for my e-newsletter you will receive an e-bonus of recipes using fruits and veggies that can help you look and feel like a goddess. Also subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you will know when I’ve posted my most recent video. I’m also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @CynthiaDaddona.