Eat Yourself Slim

by Jennifer Gay

Athens News

WANT to shed those extra winter inches but can't bear the idea of living off celery sticks and wholewheat crackers for the foreseeable future? Elisabeth Havlicek-Kastanaki, author of Lose Weight on the Mediterranean Diet, says that the best way to reach your ideal weight is to avoid anything that's advertised, stick to fresh, seasonal produce and stop snacking.

After a breakfast of fresh fruit, she recommends a lunch menu that starts with a raw salad dressed with cold-pressed olive oil (natural fats, she says, have a healing effect on a disturbed metabolism and can help weight loss), followed by a serving of either cooked vegetables, a potato, rice or pasta dish, or - twice or three times a week - a platter with free-range fish or meat. The lighter the evening meal the better; she suggests a light sandwich, vegetable soup or boiled vegetables. Or, even better, skip dinner altogether.
Salad with spinach or rocket

250gr spinach or rocket
2 tbs cold-pressed walnut oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs water
1 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs mustard
1 tsp thyme
1 clove garlic
1 tbs walnut halves
2 tbs crumbled feta
2 tbs croutons from whole-grain bread
2 tbs fruit (apple, pear, mango, pomegranate) cubed


1. Clean spinach or rocket and rinse well under running water. Drain in colander.

2. Prepare dressing: combine walnut oil, vinegar, water, syrup, mustard, and thyme. Heat gently in a shallow saucepan.

3. Chop spinach and blanch in pan. Turn dressed salad into bowl, garnish with walnut halves, cheese, croutons, and fruit.

Okra with rice

300gr basmati rice
500gr okra
150gr cider vinegar
1 onion
3 large tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
or 1 can chopped stewed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
5 tbs olive oil
1 bunch parsley
1 level tsp honey


1. Rinse rice in warm water. Place in pot with ample water. Bring to boil, cover, lower heat, and let cook for about 35 minutes or until soft.

2. Gently trim okra, including end of stems, being careful not to lose juice.

3. Place okra in a bowl. Add vinegar and enough water to cover; let stand for about 30 minutes.

4. Saute onion in olive oil. Stir in tomatoes, garlic, salt, and pepper. Strain okra, reserving liquid; add vegetables to pan.

5. Pour some of the vinegar-water into the pan.

6. Cook for about 40 minutes without stirring; there should be enough liquid to prevent okra from sticking.

7. When okra are tender, remove from heat. Gently stir in parsley, 3 tablespoons olive oil, honey, and rice.

Pasta with mushrooms

500gr organic whole-wheat pasta
1 tbs cold-pressed olive oil
2 spring onions, finely chopped
80gr mushrooms, washed and sliced
salt and pepper
2 tbs wine
1 tbs parsley, finely chopped


1. Cook pasta.

2. Saute onions and mushrooms in olive oil; season with salt and pepper, then add wine.

3. Let sauce simmer for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add parsley.

This week at your local laiki...

VELVETY-SKINNED apricots (Prunus armeniaca, verikoka) are to be found at the laiki these days. These golden-orange fruits are grown throughout the Mediterranean, though they originate from Central Asia to China. Apricots are a rich source of beta carotenes which the body converts into vitamin A, essential for immunity, skin, and vision. Nutritionists say that fresh and dried apricots are great for anyone with infections or skin problems. Apparently, they also contain a wide range of protective plant chemicals which help in the prevention of many different types of cancer.

Apricots are also very good for the treatment and prevention of constipation due to their high fibre content. They're also rich in potassium which helps reduce blood pressure, encourages elimination of salt and consequently reduces fluid retention. And if you need any more convincing that they're good for you, apricots are also a rich source of iron.

As a quick snack, apricots are perfect - surprisingly filling, nourishing and a source of instant and slow-release energy. They are a great ingredient for shakes and smoothies, and fresh apricots make a delicious juice - use ripe, succulent fruits, remove the stones, put them in a blender and puree. Add ice cubes, sparkling mineral water and voila, you have a refreshing drink. For a touch of luxury, add sparkling wine or champagne.

Buy this book at 30% off!

This week's recipes are taken from Lose Weight on the Mediterranean Diet, by Elisabeth Havlicek-Kastanaki and published by Ellinika Grammata. You can now purchase this book for 11.20 euros, down from its usual price of 16 euros. This 30 percent discount is offered exclusively through the Athens News.

You can pick up your reduced price copy in person from Ellinika Grammata bookshop (9 Christou Lada St, Athens). Or email your order to, or fax it to 210-333-3971. Include your name and address, the name of the book and the fact that you are taking advantage of this special offer. DO NOT include payment or a credit card number. A courier will deliver the book and collect payment in cash. There is a 4.50 euros delivery charge. For more information call Vassilis Tsonoglou at 210-333-3970.

Wines of the week

"GREECE is a great place for wine-lovers - so many new and exciting wines are released literally every month," says Konstantinos Lazarakis, Master of Wine. Here he selects his top five newcomers for you to try.

Tempranillo (Tempranillo), Pavlidis Estate, Kavala

Aristocracy (Sauvignon Blanc blend), Papaioannou Estate, Nemea

Pirorago (Kotsifali - Syrah - Cabernet Sauvignon), Creta Olympias, Crete

Santorini Assyrtiko Reserve (Assyrtiko), Santo Wines, Santorini

Veriki Grain Rose (a blend of French varieties), Domaine Hatzimichalis, Atalanti

(Posting Date 17 July 2006)

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