We live in crazy dietary times. In my experience as a cook and cooking teacher, I never cease to be amazed by two things: how extreme has the neurosis about food and eating become and how little most people actually know about cooking and eating well.
The Ikaria Diet idea was born in the summer of 2021 on Ikaria, of course, the Blue-Zone Greek island where people forget to die, as the venerable New York Times wrote a few years ago. The island is renowned for the longevity of its inhabitants. Their secret to long, happy, healthy lives has a lot to do with their mostly plant-based diet, deep sense of community and camaraderie, and general relaxed, stress-averse attitude toward most things in life. Ikarians live in the moment.
Ikaria also happens to be the island where I have family roots and run a cooking school every summer from my home. In 2021, I had two guests from Montana who stood in bewilderment by the kitchen counter on the third day or so of the class, confessing that they not only ate meat three times a day back home but also never imagined that plant-based cooking, which is mostly – but not all – of what we do during our week together on the island could be so satisfying and varied.
It was a eureka moment for me. What I take naturally to be the “right” way to cook and eat, almost all plant-based with occasional (totally guilt-free) meals that include some meat, fish or dairy, was to them an absolute revelation.
My DNA as a daughter of Ikaria has also blessed me with a naturally relaxed attitude toward most things in life, especially, though, about food. Indeed “relax” is the key word in this whole manifesto. Food equals pleasure and cooking is the vehicle for delivering that. The Ikaria Diet offers people delicious food that’s mostly plant-based and easy to make anywhere.
The Ikaria Diet is also a reaction to the extremes, divisiveness and fear that we have allowed – yes, that’s our choice--to pervade every part of our modern lives. Food is about nourishment of body, mind and spirit. It’s about pleasure and giving and is not a source of stress or guilt unless we make it that.
The Ikaria Diet is about how to be good to your body without being mean to your mind!
It’s a loose and loving roadmap for how to make and enjoy food that happens to be almost all plant-based and always natural, but with wiggle room, for a little indulgence to satisfy our inner…Montanans!
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