In recent years much has been said about the benefits of the healthy
Food in Zante, Zaklynthos in teh Greek islands is prepared using cold-pressed olive oil, consistently
fresh produce, and plenty of herbs. Tghese natural ingresients in teh
preparation of food in Zante has gained the Zante Mediterranean Diet a
reputation for being both healthy and delicious.
The island of Zante is
rich in olive groves and the local people cultivate their own olive oil, olives, honey
and even many fruits and vegetables.
During you holiday in Zakynthos, make sure you sample some of the
fine local examples of Mediterranean food at its very best!
The food in Zakynthos consists of traditional Mediterranean
components – fruits, herbs, honey, garlic, vegetables, yoghurt and
cheese. Most of these delicious ingredients are actually produced on the
island and the more traditional taverns will ensure that they source
local products. Use your holiday in Zakynthos to indulge in delicious
organic produce & wholesome recipes native to the island.
In Zakynthos, not only is food a way of life, but the loving manner in
which food is gathered, prepared and served at the table is equally as
important. When eating with local Zakynthians, you enjoy delicious
organic food at a leisurely pace, with laughter, hearty conversation and
song. Meals are about celebration in Zakynthos - not deprivation.
The natural menu of the Zakynthian people is determined by the seasons.
It has nothing to do with boring diets or bans on eating certain types
of foods. With a healthy attitude towards food, and an active, balanced
lifestyle, you can forget the word diet.
Authentic cuisine in Zakynthos is prepared to stimulate the senses, with
all the pungency of mountain herbs. Bay, oregano, rosemary, basil,
parsley, thyme, mint, sage, lemon and garlic are just a handful of
aromatic ingredients used in the preparation of food in Zakynthos.
Basic to the Zakynthian kitchen are raw local fruits, quality cold
pressed olive oil, fresh vegetables and herbs, along with wild greens,
cereals and nuts. Organic seeds, such as sunflower, pine, pumpkin and
sesame, complement a selection of nutritious pulses and beans.
Meals include fresh fish, seafood, organic chicken and lean meat.
Tasty organic honey, thick yoghurt and cheeses, especially sheep and
goats’ milk feta, are frequently used. Delicious sauces made from
tomatoes, olive oil, egg and lemon, are often served with main dishes to
help savour the flavour of Zakynthian food at it’s best.
OLIVE OIL – The Heart and Soul of the Zakynthian Table
The benefits of olive oil, first mentioned by Hippocrates, the father
of medicine, have been recognized by the people of the Mediterranean for
centuries. In ancient times olive oil was not used as a food –
aristocrats, courtesans and priestesses used it for cosmetic skin care,
and as oil for igniting luxurious lamps.
In Zakynthos cultivation of the olive grove for an annual harvest of
organic olive oil is an essential part of family life. Most food is
prepared using each families very own olive oil. On average each person
is estimated to consume 23 liters of olive oil a year here!
Interesting Facts about Olive oil:
• Lowers harmful cholesterol
• Contains antioxidants that discourage artery clogging and chronic
• Is rich in Vitamins A, B1, B2, iron, phosphorus, trace elements and
• Has a high concentration of Vitamin E which contributes to fertility,
maintains sexual potency and youth, and is beneficial to the heart
• Contains Oleuropein - the substance that gives it a tangy taste, also
known to reduce high blood pressure
• Protects digestive membranes, and aids digestion
• Guards against cholesterol deposits on artery walls, and blood clots
TOMATOES – Perfect for Topping Up your Tan!
Tomatoes, another staple food of Zakynthos, comprised nearly entirely
of water, are rich in nutrients and low in calories. Daily doses of
tomatoes can reduce the risk of lung, prostrate and stomach cancer by up
to 40%. This little red wonder fruit contains traces of selenium,
effective in protecting against cancer, potassium, helpful for the
functioning of the heart, and magnesium, which helps muscular cramping.
Nutrients such as copper, iron and manganese, are also found in
tomatoes. High in Vitamin C, tomatoes help strengthen your body’s
defenses. Two thirds of your daily requirement of Vitamin C can be met
by eating 2 tomatoes daily.
The bright shiny red color in tomatoes is produced by the carotene ‘lycopine’.
Carotenes eliminate toxic free radicals in your body, enhance immune
function, and fight cancer cells. They also contribute to a clear
complexion and a deep quick tan. ‘Lycopine’ is only released when a
tomato is heated and added to a fat such as olive oil. For a rich deep
tan include a daily portion of cooked tomato sauce with your main meal,
along with fresh tomatoes in your Zakynthian salad.
Interesting Facts about tomatoes:
• Rich in folic acid, which helps restore and rebuild damaged cells
• High in Vitamin E, increasing fertility and contributing to a healthy
• Rich in chromium - ideal for those with diabetes in helping to break
• Full of beta-carotene, which along with Vitamin E and C, fight toxic
free radicals in your body
• Loaded with flavanoids in the outer layer of the fruit, as are grapes.
If you peel tomatoes and grapes you lose this benefit, so always eat
Garlic – Natures Wonder Bulb
Onion and garlic in the Zakynthian diet often go hand in hand. These
miracle bulbs are like a natural aspirin – a preventative means against
heart attacks and strokes. Garlic helps maintain great health and
longevity. With antispasmodic and antibacterial properties, garlic
serves as a remedy for numerous ailments. A natural antibiotic, garlic
prevents the growth of unhealthy bacteria, providing a weapon against
infections, fungus, parasites and viruses.
Heating causes garlic to lose antibacterial properties. ‘Allicin, the
antibacterial substance which gives garlic a strong aroma, is released
only when garlic is chopped. Many of the health-giving benefits of
garlic are lost through cooking. To maintain optimum goodness when
heating, cut the garlic and leave it at room temperature for at least
ten minutes. This helps to preserve the allicin, ensuring the health
giving benefits of the garlic bulb. Eating raw parsley helps to avoid
bad garlic breath. The chlorophyll in parsley neutralizes the strong
odour of garlic.
Interesting Facts about Garlic:
• Reduces bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood
• Inflates the arteries, reducing high blood pressure
• Two cloves of garlic a day are enough to reap health benefits
• Is renowned for thinning the blood, reducing cholesterol levels and
regenerating damaged liver cells – great for a hangover!
• Half a teaspoon of raw garlic, soaked in honey, taken on the hour, is
also great medicine for coughs, colds and bronchitis
Yoghurt – for Vitality, Strength & Healing
Organic yoghurt strengthens and heals. Cultured mainly from sheep and
goats milk in Zakynthos, yoghurt is thickened through the fermentation
of cultured microorganisms.
Delicious eaten plain, with fruit, salads, or with cucumber and garlic
in ‘Tzatziki’, yoghurt is also an aphrodisiac when served with walnuts
and honey. Yoghurt contains the microbe ‘Lactobacillus Bulgaricus’,
which neutralizes toxins in the intestines. When active bacteria in live
yoghurt, including Lactobacillus, are released into your digestive
system, they serve as a natural antibiotic, but without the harmful side
effects of pharmaceutical antibiotics.
Yoghurt kills off harmful bacteria and strengthens your immune system.
The benefit of yoghurt to your health depends on the type and quality of
bacteria in the yoghurt. Colonies of ‘acidophilus’ are highly
beneficial. When purchasing yoghurt, always check that it contains live
cultures. If live cultures have been eliminated due to pasteurization,
yoghurt loses many beneficial properties.
Interesting Facts about Yoghurt:
• As a fermented dairy product is more easily digestible than raw
milk, due to the reduced levels of lactose, milk sugar, and the
breakdown of proteins for lactobacillus
• Helps reduce cholesterol, increasing good cholesterol
• Whole fat yoghurt is better than reduced fat varieties. Skimmed
yoghurt loses many vital substances, including prostaglandins, which
protect the stomach
• If you are suffering with sunburn, apply a thick covering of yoghurt
on the skin to help reduce pain and redness
HONEY - The Nectar of Eternal Youth and Vitality
Such is the value of honey that in Ancient Greece it was considered
sacred, and offered in sacrifice as a ‘Gift to the Gods’.
Honey in Zakynthos is organic and full of flavour. Aromatic herbs,
wildflowers, and pines, provide ideal nectar for the honey bees.
Beekeepers in Zakynthos collect different types of honey. Thyme blossom
honey has a light flavor, ranging in color from white to dark yellow.
Pine forest honey is deep brown in color - not as sweet, and has fewer
calories. Certain substances in honey are sensitive to heat.
Organic Zakynthian honey is not heated to more than 50 degrees
Celsius, preserving nutrients and amazing benefits for your health. For
a balanced diet use honey in moderation as a sweetener in beverages,
desserts and sauces – you need no more than one tablespoon of honey a
Interesting Facts about honey:
• Contains enzymes which stimulate your metabolism, and minerals and
trace elements which rebuild bones and tissues, and regulate acidity in
• Kills harmful bacteria and viruses and aids circulation, heart and
• Is a great stress reliever, sedating the nervous system
• Comprising over 180 organic substances, honey provides instant
nourishment and energy
The Wild Herbs of Zakynthos
Fragrant wild oregano, thyme and lemon balm grow in abundance in the
fields around Zakynthos. Many other herbs, both wild and cultivated, are
used in traditional Zakynthian cuisine. Most Greek meals prepared in
Zakynthos include a generous handful of Mediterranean herbs, both green
Thyme, which is a low woody shrub with small dark green leaves, is found
on the hillsides around the island of Zakynthos, and is covered in tiny
mauve flowers between May and July. In ancient religious ceremonies both
the perfume and antiseptic properties of thyme were of great value. In
Zakynthos the most common pots of honey are thyme honey. Zante thyme
honey is still used in many homes for treating minor wounds.
Fennel, which grows to about 150cm in height, has long stems with
yellow greenish feathery leaves, and is used widely in the preparation
of foods in Zakynthos. Bright yellow Fennel flowers bloom from June to
July, in fertile soils around Zakynthos. Over the centuries fennel has
been associated with inducing courage, increasing the flow of mother's
Mint, with shiny green leaves, and small lilac flowers, appears
during the months of May and June, found growing abundantly in semi
shade. In ancient times the smell of Mint was associated with strength.
Men used mint by rubbing the leaves on their bodies - possibly the first
Rosemary, with leaves that are green and greyish underneath, with tiny
blue flowers, grows in light loose soils, often found around coastal
areas around Zakynthos. Greek mythology suggests that Rosemary herb was
a gift to mankind from Aphrodite. Its Latin name translates to "dew of
the sea". Rosemary is used as a disinfectant, medicine and for culinary
purposes in Zakynthos. Rosemary is also renowned for stimulating the
memory - ancient scholars would wear rosemary behind their ears to
improve memory when studying and sitting exams.
Sage, which grows to around 150cm in height in Zakynthos, has soft
velvety green grey leaves. Pale pink and purple Sage flowers bloom from
March to May, in rocky areas around Zakynthos. Sage is well known to be
useful in for ensuring a long life, and also for strengthening memory,
reversing baldness and rejuvenating grey hair! Sage tea is popular in
Zakynthos and is sipped to ease coughs and colds.
Oregano, which has small leaves and pale pink flowers, grows to around
60cm in height, in loose stony ground around the island of Zante. A
medicinal herb, Oregano is a vital and well-used herbal ingredient in
many tasty Greek dishes. Oregano contains high levels of antioxidants.
Lemon Balm, which has oval lemon-scented leaves, has small white
flowers which appear between June and September in shady areas around
Zakynthos. Bees are attracted to this plant - no surprise considering
its family name 'Melissa' is the Greek word for ‘bee’. In antiquity
Lemon Balm was often referred to as the ‘elixir of life’. Physicians in
days gone by prescribed Lemon Balm an as an anti-depressant, due to its
calming and uplifting properties. Considered to be sacred, Lemon Balm
was used in the worship of the goddess Artemis.