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Holiday of a Lifetime in Zante
In recent years much has been said about the benefits of the healthy Mediterranean diet!

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.

 

traditional mediterranean diet zante zakynthos greek islands

THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET IN ZANTE

Traditional Mediterranean DietGreat Tavernas & restaurantsLocal produceZante RaisinsZante WineZante Olive OilZante Honey

zante food includes lots of fresh fish, salad and fruit

Traditional CostumesTraditional MarketsCelebrations and ComemorationsTraditional Music and DancePottery and Ceramics HandcraftsTraditional Mediterranean Diet Great Tavernas Traditional Villages in Zakynthos Traditional Theatre

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 diseases
• Is rich in Vitamins A, B1, B2, iron, phosphorus, trace elements and mineral salts
• 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 sex life
• Rich in chromium - ideal for those with diabetes in helping to break down sugar
• 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 them unpeeled

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 day.

Interesting Facts about honey:

• Contains enzymes which stimulate your metabolism, and minerals and trace elements which rebuild bones and tissues, and regulate acidity in the stomach
• Kills harmful bacteria and viruses and aids circulation, heart and nerves
• 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 and dried.

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 milk.

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 male deodorant.

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.

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