Rich people’s diet or what to do to live long
The ancient Greeks not only created European philosophy and literature, but also dietetics and cuisine. Until the 5th century BC, their diet was simple and quite modest, but from the time of Pericles, much more importance began to be attached to diet. At that time the cook held a very important position in society, and the conviction that food had a huge impact on health and well-being became the motivation to compose meals carefully.
Simple meals and little meat are the way to health
Today, most of the products you can buy in shops have a whole range of ingredients, including – preservatives, colourings and flavourings. When you prepare a meal, you usually use a lot of components, including sauces, spice mixes and ‘extra’ additives. Think about it: if you didn’t add a fatty sauce to your dinner or mayonnaise to your salad, you would save on calories.
The food of the ancients was not as complicated as modern food. Greek women prepared their meals based on one or a few fresh products. Meat was eaten rarely, plant products and fish were on the tables every day. Overcooked barley with spices or scones were among the most popular dishes. Richer people could afford fish. They were baked on a fire or a hot cooker, seasoned beforehand with cumin and rue. Sometimes simplicity in cooking turns out to be much better than culinary variations.
The Greek diet – the diet of the gods
Vegetables and fruit – treasures of nature
Both fruit and vegetables were integral to the cuisine of the ancient Greeks. Grapes, figs, dried dates, almonds and nuts were often eaten for breakfast, together with bread and honey. Fresh fruits and nuts provide energy thanks to their sugar content, so it’s a good idea to eat them first thing in the morning.
The Greeks enjoyed brassica and pulses. Lentils, beans and broad beans not only contain a lot of protein and fibre, but also satisfy hunger for a long time. They were cooked until tender, spices (basil, dill, savory, lovage) and oil were added and served with bread.
A must: olive oil
Olive oil was used frequently and in large quantities, not only in cooking. It was also used as a cosmetic, perfume base and cleaning agent. Today, it is well known that extra-virgin olive oil is a valuable ingredient in our daily diet. It contains Omega-3 acids, which are good for the heart, brain and skin.
Pieces of bread were dipped in olive oil, as well as vegetables. It was also added to meat. No feast could be complete without this healthy addition, and even everyday meals were hard to imagine without oil.
Wine to improve digestion
Wine was drunk daily but always diluted with water, so the drink did not have a high alcohol content. This had a very beneficial effect on digestion. Small amounts of dry wine, drunk daily, help the metabolism and thus prevent weight gain. The tradition of drinking light alcohol with dinner is still alive among southern Europeans. French, Italians or Spaniards cannot imagine an evening meal without a glass of wine. It is worth noting that it has a beneficial effect not only on digestion, but also on the cardiovascular system.
Cheese and eggs for strengthening
The ancients did not avoid dairy products. Cheese-making techniques were already known in ancient times! The Greek cuisine, although based on bread, vegetables and oil, also contained a lot of products rich in protein. Eggs and cheese were a valuable source of energy for work. Protein was beneficial for muscle building and immunity. If we are to follow the example of the ancients, let’s remember to include dairy products and eggs in our daily diet. They help burn fat and also nourish our brains.
Antique cereals – your better choice
Instead of wheat, reach for the so-called “ancient cereals”. These include barley, farro, kamut, millet, amaranth and spelt. These cereals will certainly not put on extra weight. However, they will give you strength and energy for the whole day. Cereals were present on plates of Greeks every day, because they were healthy, filling and relatively cheap. You can follow their example and prepare groats with vegetables and oil or make tasty pancakes with spelt flakes and beans. Cereals for breakfast will be a much better choice than toast with jam or pancakes with Nutella.