CULTURE

Planning the right diet for the family

Getting fit and staying that way might be on a lot of people’s minds when it comes to the summer season lying ahead, but a healthy dietary lifestyle is a long-term investment for feeling – and looking – good. To aid those who want to know more about achieving such a dietary balance – in true Greek style – Evangelos Zoubaneas and Manolis Manolarakis came up with «Ti Kalo tha Magirepsis Simera, Mama?» (What Are You Cooking Today, Mum?), published by Ellinika Gramata editions in 2002. In collaboration with the scientific team of dietitians and nutritionists of the Diatrofi network, the book is a guide to the family’s daily nutrition, where besides offering recipes, it also features guidelines for planning meals on a weekly basis, including the right portions for every member of the family (this is not aimed at weight loss, but rather at achieving healthy, long-term eating habits). Don’t expect yet another cookbook; this is a friendly guide which goes against the current wave of «steamed» dishes and fat-free diets, one which takes the family back to the table of traditional Greek dishes – though this time prepared with a little bit less olive oil, butter or heavy gravy. It’s common knowledge that whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, a healthy diet includes meat and poultry, as well as pulses, rice, starch, vegetables, cooked vegetables and fish. In the book, the authors point to how much of each food category corresponds to different age groups. There are also useful tips, such as the need for drinking plenty of water and the importance of breakfast for energy, but also lesser-known facts such as the idea that one ought to chew each mouthful at least 15 times with a three- to four-second break until the next one. In the recipe department, readers will find familiar dishes such as artichokes a la polita, dolmades, moussaka and pasta variations, while in the dessert department, nutritional balance is all about jello with yogurt, apple-pie cake, yogurt cheesecake and baked apples. Dietitians and nutritionists Zoubaneas and Manolarakis graduated from the Thessaloniki Technical College’s Nutrition Department, before becoming consultants for Nutricare. They went on to contribute material to magazines and specialized publications, while Zoubaneas also began making frequent appearances on television. Together, they founded Diatrofi (Nutrition) a scientific team offering dietary planning, in collaboration with specialists around Greece. The authors’ joint writing effort may well prove enlightening to Greek families looking for a nutrionally balanced lifestyle. It does leave a little bit to be desired in the style department, however. Cleary, the book’s emphasis is not on up-to-the minute layout and the visual material is far from inviting – a pity, considering the subject. In «Ti Kalo tha Magirepsis Simera, Mama?» Evangelos Zoubaneas and Manolis Manolarakis suggest the following recipe for fasolakia, or green beans. Ingredients 200gm green beans, topped and tailed 1 small potato (about 100gm) 1 courgette (about 150gm) 1 ripe tomato (about 300gm) 1 medium onion (about 100gm) 1/2 cup parsley pepper salt 4 tbsp olive oil Chop the tomato or put it through the blender. Chop the onion. Slice the courgette lengthwise. Cut the potato into three or four pieces and chop the parsley. Put the tomato, half the oil, half a cup of water, and the rest of the vegetables into a saucepan. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and cook over a strong flame. When the saucepan lid begins to get hot, reduce the heat to a minimum and cook for 40 minutes. Add the rest of the oil and bring to the boil just long enough for the oil to flavor the food. Then remove from the heat. When the oil is heated only briefly, it retains all its vitamins. This is a very tasty dish, but the beans retain their vitamins, and instead of swimming in oil they are drenched in the delicious, aromatic juice of fresh tomato. Serve with a little cheese. For a low-fat but nutritionally complete meal, serve with 100gm cottage cheese or unsalted mizythra. This recipe may be used to cook classic Greek oil-based dishes with far fewer calories but full of flavor. Try cooking peas, mixed frozen vegetables, eggplant or artichokes by the same method. (Serves four.)