My eating habits went off the rails when I moved to Canada back in the early 80’s. Growing up in London in a Greek/Cypriot household meant eating mostly beans, lentils, grains, fruits and vegetables. Of course, there was always olive oil and full-fat plain yoghurt. This style of eating, labeled the Mediterranean Diet now, has been sanctioned by some and damned by others as is the norm when it comes to the most confusing world of nutrition research.
Meat was a luxury, too expensive to eat on a regular basis for a large family with 5 kids. Apparently the same was said about lettuce. Let me explain. My dad was the salad maker in the house and pretty much every day we ate salad with our evening meal. This salad consisted of very thinly diced green cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery and cilantro. The dressing was olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Growing up in London and having British friends, I noticed that their salads were made with lettuce, well maybe a leaf or two not quite enough to call it a salad but you get the idea. I was curious, so I asked my dad why he didn’t use lettuce in the salad he made for us. He said in his thick Greek accent, “too expensive for big salad” .
I left it at that but continued the tradition and have since been delighted to learn about the incredible health benefits of the under appreciated cabbage. I have expanded my repertoire since then and included all varieties of cabbage prepared in numerous and delicious ways. Just for the record, I also use lettuce when I make a salad.
Which brings me back to how my diet went off the rails when I moved to Canada. Believe it or not finding olive oil was next to impossible. I was used to my parents buying it in huge jugs or lugging these giant containers of olive oil on the plane when we returned from family visits in Cyprus. All I could find was a tiny bottle in some obscure section of the grocery store and as for plain yoghurt, that was a lost cause.
Dried beans were also hard to find, canned just wasn’t going to do, the sodium content was through the roof so I settled on dried lentils as they were more readily available. (More about my love affair with beans later).
As it goes with most things, I adapted to the changes and found myself eating more fast foods that were quite alien to me, which was burgers, pizza and fried chicken. Portions seemed so much bigger and fast food restaurants appeared to be on every corner and being young and broke I fell into a dangerous pattern.
Thankfully this was short lived, I rebelled and went back to my old ways of cooking. The kind I learned at home in the family kitchen in London and Cyprus. I realized that real, good food is simple; it does not contain preservatives, colourings, fillers or additives.
My decision to pursue studies in Natural Nutrition and its impact on human health was born out of my passion for food and my own personal experiences of the power of healthy eating.
Now, my goal is to share my knowledge with others, about how to make the most of beautiful, simple foods and reap all the tremendous benefits they provide to the body, mind and soul.