The Ikaria Way

Greece Travel Secrets reviews the Greek cookbook, The Ikaria Way by Diane Kochilas, containing 100 delicious plant-based recipes.

Front and back covers of Greek cookbook The Ikaria Way

We recently reviewed the excellent cookbook Ikaria by Meni Valle, and some recipes from that book have become keepers for us, part of our regular 'go-to' recipes. And now along comes The Ikaria Way by Diane Kochilas, who is actually from Ikaria originally. I guess everyone just wants to know the secret of why the island of Ikaria is one of the world's Blue Zones, where people live for much longer than average.

the-ikaria-way-front-cover-detail.webp

One reason is certainly that they eat a amore plant-based diet than other people (even in Greece), and in The Ikaria Way the author collects 100 plant-based recipes inspired by Ikaria, which she calls 'the Greek island of longevity'. The New York Times called it the island where 'people forget to die.'

The Ikaria Way is far more than just a cookbook, though. It's a guide to healthier eating, and if you have specific health issues it's a guide to what kinds of food you should be eating to try to help heal your body.

Bowl of Chickpeas and RiceBowl of Chickpeas and Rice

The first chapter alone is worth buying the book for: 'A pantry inspired by Ikaria'. In it the author goes through the kinds of things you'll find in most Ikaria kitchens, telling you a little bit about them, where they originated, what you can do with them, and, most importantly, what health benefits they have. For example, adding more beans and pulses to your diet is known to increase longevity, while chickpeas in particular have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Garlic Is Good for You

Cloves of garlic

Garlic is in almost all the recipes in this book, which is good as its healthful properties have been known since the days of the ancient Greeks. Athletes used to consume it to enhance their performance during the Ancient Olympic Games. Greek soldiers used to have a garlic-filled diet, especially before going into battle. I suppose if you ate enough of it, your enemy wouldn't want to come near you anyway. 

There are whole sections dealing with dried herbs, fresh herbs, nuts (rich in vitamins and healthy fats), olives and olive oil, and the benefits of sea salt over processed table salt, which has most of its nutrients removed.

Naturally there are entries for the two ingredients which make up the best breakfast in the world: Greek yogurt and honey. Both of these are excellent for your health, and honey is far batter for you as a sweetener than sugar.

Garlicky Red Lentil Soup Dish from cookbook The Ikaria WayGarlicky Red Lentil Soup Dish from The Ikaria Way

The Ikaria's Way Recipes

Reading about the ingredients certainly makes you keen to try some of the recipes which then follow. They're divided into seven categories: meze, salads, soups, bean dishes, grain dishes, plant-based main courses, and drinks, including a herbal tea and some tasty-sounding smoothies. Naturally everything is accompanied by some equally tasty photography, both of the island and the dishes.

Longevity Greens Rice Dish from Cookbook The Ikaria WayLongevity Greens Rice Dish from The Ikaria Way

Sprouts and Mushrooms

One recipe we'll definitely be trying is Pan Shaken Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms. Caramelised Brussels sprouts are one of our favourite tastes, and we usually roast them in the oven till they're crunchy and almost black on the outside. The thought of doing them in the pan with mushrooms, olive oil, garlic, a strip of orange zest, some star anise, thyme, and a little dry white wine has us salivating already. Mushrooms are also very good for you and are known to have anti-cancerous properties. 

the-ikaria-way-back-cover-detail.webp

Another meze idea that sounds good is Roasted Carrots with Honey, Olives and Garlic. The flavours here are enhanced with thyme again (herbs are such an important part of Greek cooking), and some dry white wine. Yes, there are some wineries on Ikaria but the author says you could use a dry sauvignon blanc instead.

Other recipes that caught our eye included Pasta with Mushrooms and Chestnuts and definitely Garlicky Red Lentil Soup. Garlic and lentils? I feel healthier just for reading the recipe! This Ikaria cookbook is certainly one we'll be using.

Buying The Ikaria Way

If you've read so far you know we really like this book, and if you want to check it out more you'll find it on Amazon.

the-ikaria-way-front-cover-full.webp

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