“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”PLATO
Join us for our Farm Holidays in Syros, Greece
Eating from our organic garden
At The Good Life Greece we have been cultivating the naturally clay soil making it more friable for salad vegetables. Depending on the season, we have good crops of French beans, broad beans, local beans, various peppers and chillies, lettuces, rocket (grows wild everywhere) various tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, cabbages, potatoes, cauliflower and range of herbs, including so much basil we have to bottle fresh pesto weekly.
We love it when children staying with us pick their lunch from the garden. The look on a child’s face when they pull up a carrot makes it all worth-while. And when children start to eat vegetables - doubly so. There are also figs in mid summer, grapes in September but lemons and oranges vary according to their varietal. Our local greengrocer is a market gardener, and his produce is also organic, he can deliver to your door.
Our chickens usually lay, and if they are off, a farmer nearby delivers equally golden yoked fresh organic eggs. Our local butcher only sells his own beasts, so when we barbecue he tells us what meat to have, he decides if the beef needs to be hung longer, if the lamb is just right. Who needs choice when the issue is quality. Organic isn’t a marketing tool on Syros, it is simply the way it is.
Healthy, holistic island life
National Geographic produced a list of ‘blue zones’ in the world where people live up to 15% longer than average. They included Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda in California, Sardinia and the Greek islands. Analysis of these groups of people showed three main things in common:
Eating a plant based diet normally grown by themselves or locally grown in season.
Daily, low level exercise like gardening, walking, climbing.
Community involvement, socializing, laughing.
Ikaria and Crete were both subject to intensive longevity and diet studies by the University of Athens resulting in figures showing islanders 10 times more likely to live till 90 or 100 years. Figures for dementia, heart disease, cancer and depression were 30 – 40% lower and people were found to enjoy wine, exercise, sex and social engagement into their late nineties.
On Greek islands like Syros, people are in many ways isolated from mainstream pre-occupations. Incomes tend to be low developing a pride in self -sufficiency. Most families have year round vegetable gardens, make their own wine and olive oil. This means cooking fresh food in season, looking forward to the flavours of the month, savouring fresh strawberries as a treat rather than eating them all year round.
Food is also still found wild on Syros, as on all small islands. Nutritionally dense edible greens like borage, purslane, wild asparagus, nettles, fiddlehead fern, thin wild asparagus, pennyroyal as well as wild sage, thyme, rosemary, capers and so many more - all free on the hillsides and hedgerows. Herbs play a huge role in island life. If you are seen drinking green tea, a Syriani will ask after your health. Sage tea with honey is a local anti-biotic. Chamomile grows wild and is given for insomnia, oregano tea for stomach problems.
8 ways to include the Greek Diet
Yoghurt is a basic of the Mediterranean diet. Fresh Greek yoghurt has twice as much protein as commercial yoghurt, and is high in bone-building calcium and stomach-soothing probiotics. Syrianis traditionally eat yoghurt with fruits and local honey for breakfast. We add crushed fresh almonds in season, or muesli oats. The perfect breakfast is fresh figs sliced on to yoghurt.
Olives and olive oil are essential. If you watch islanders eating they pour fresh oil and lemon juice on all their food. The Mediterranean Diet Study noted that the average Greek islander drinks a litre of fresh oil a week. They also cook in oil, but green oil is a far more powerful anti-oxidant.
We make our own olives at harvest time, and they are divine, large meaty black olives eaten with local Graviera cheese and fresh bread for lunch.
Beans and lentils are a staple. From chickpeas to a range of white beans and lentils. Many are from the north of Greece where the dried white beans are so fresh they cook in minutes and mash into cream. If you soak or simmer any dried bean in the morning, you have lunch ready. Just add oil, lemon, onions, feta, tomato’s, walnuts or anything at all really.
Spinach and dark Greens are always on the menu as ‘Horta’. You can pick wild rocket and spinach in the fields, use the leaves from beetroot or buy the local dark greens – steam off lightly and pour on oil and lemon. Possibly the best of the main foods to improve your immune system.
Raw vegetables, or nearly raw - the Greeks don’t separate vegetables, they all get steamed together or grated together: broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, courgette, beetroot, potatoes etc whatever is in season. Serve with oil, salt and lemon juice while still warm. A meal in itself.
Fish, fish, fish and salmon - there isn’t the choice there used to be as the Mediterranean has been fished heavily. Squid and octopus is still plentiful and salmon comes in from Norway. But our local fishermen come in to Finikas Bay with a catch most days. Watch from your Good Life patio and you will see them coming in late evening and early morning – time for a walk!