how to make Ikarian soufiko

Posted on July 31st, 2012

As I mentioned a few days back, I came to Ikaria to look at food. Specifically the food the locals here have eaten for eons which might give an insight into why they live so damn long and well.

Athina and her mother Katina cooking Soufiko

I travelled around the island with the National Geographic team for a week chatting to old ladies who still cook like it’s 1856, and their first responses were:

  • fresh vegetables
  • olive oil

In all the food flotsam that gets flung about, I doubt few can dispute the value of these two ingredients. The thing is, here, they’re eating in abundance. Truly.

In Ikaria, it’s the norm to eat straight from the garden. Many, if not most, restaurants have gardens nearby and their menu features whatever they brought in early that morning. At Thea’s Inn, Thea’s husband goes off early to milk the goats and pick the vegetables. He’s back by 10am. Around which time, Thea’s cousin (second? third?) arrives with fish, some honey, herbs…it’s a procession I watch every morning as I drink my warm goat’s milk (Thea sets some aside for me before making the cheese for the following day). Thea and Athina, the other cook, then make the feta and the dishes for the day.

(PS I’ll share a little more on their meat consumption later…for now know, lots of vegetables are core.)

This is not just custom. Or the only option. It’s also a way of life that Ikarians are adamant is the only way to go. I’ve spoken (via translators) to a lot of oldies. They are vocal and passionate about eating fresh, to the point of Read more

Why am I in Ikaria? And a chat with Dan Buettner…

Posted on July 30th, 2012

It’s a fun story behind how I wound up here in Ikaria, a small island all the way over to the east of Cyclades which has been formally freed from the Turks for exactly 100 years this week (I have the commemorative T-shirt to show for it).

I’m also here for a very fun reason. Here’s a little video I just did in which I interview Dan Buettner, a National Geographic adventurer (such things do exist) and author of the New York Times bestseller The Blue Zones, which kinda explains things. We’re sitting in Thea’s Inn, at sunset, in Nas, Ikaria. And, no, it couldn’t be more idyllic. (PS, I know I stumbled at the beginning, but finding video editors in Ikaria is a bit of an issue!)

YouTube Preview Image

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing some insights and recipes and ideas from what I’ve learned from being here.

But to give you a little background, I’ll first share how things came about. It’s nice serendipity. Or miraio, which is what the Greeks call it.

About ten years ago, Dan set about exploring the regions of the world where people live the longest. These regions are called Blue Zones. Dan narrowed things down to five such zones, one of which is Okinawa in Japan, another is Icaria.

The population of Ikaria is only 8000 people; there are more than 90 people over the age of 100.

That’s not the half of it. The oldies also look 20 years younger than their years and get about on motor scooters, Read more

A Friday giveaway! 15 sweet Pure Harvest hampers

Posted on July 27th, 2012

Anyone who’s been on this blog for a bit knows I advocate using rice malt syrup as a sweetener in many of my sugar-free recipes. I use Pure Harvest, which is available in most health food stores and some supermarkets. Not tried it? Well…today’s your lucky Friday. Pure Harvest are giving away:

15 x rice malt syrup hampers valued at $40 each

chocolate peanut butter hot cocoa,
photography by Marija Ivkovic

The fifteen hampers will each include:

  • three jars of rice malt syrup
  • almond milk
  • oat milk
  • rice milk
  • soy milk
  • sesame rice cake thins
  • linseed and sesame corn cake thins

Once stocked up, you’ll be able to make up one of my favourite I Quit Sugar Cookbook recipes – like this lush chocolate peanut butter hot cocoa above, which just screams Cosy Night In On the Couch.

A few quick things you should probably know about Pure Harvest: it’s an Australian company; it makes and sells organic and natural foods; and it makes the most readily available rice malt syrup in the country. Read more