New Year’s resolutions often revolve around plans for improving one’s health either through giving up bad habits or trying to lose weight. The downside is that many people give up on their resolutions because the goals they set are not realistic. When it comes to losing weight, it might be better to focus on getting healthy through making some simple changes in our diet and including regular exercise in our daily routine. The Greek diet has long been touted for its health benefits, but how many of us truly follow it? Thankfully, there are many cookbooks available to help keep us on the path to healthy eating which is one of the key steps to shedding those extra pounds.
It’s All Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos, the three time Emmy-nominated TV host and journalist, is one such cookbook which highlights the delicious and healthy traditional Greek recipes that have been passed down in her family for generations. Written with Peter Capozzi and featuring a foreword by Dr. Michael Ozner and beautiful photos by Jon Falcone, the book was originally published in 2014 and is now available in an updated edition with 15 new recipes.
In the book, Greek-American Matenopoulos, perhaps best-known as one of the first cohosts of ABC’s The View, reflects on “philotimo and the Greek art of living, loving, laughing and eating well” and noted that the book began with the simple idea of writing a cookbook with her mother and including all the family recipes. Her pride in her Greek heritage and her dedication to family is clear throughout the book. She writes, “To Greeks, food is not just food. It represents love. It represents family.”
The book includes all the classic Greek recipes from appetizers like fried calamari, zucchini fritters, taramosalata, and grilled octopus, to sauces, salads, savory phyllo pies, soups and stews, vegetarian main dishes like gemista, gigantes, and revithia, as well as meat and poultry main dishes like pork in white wine sauce, soutzoukakia, and lemon and oregano chicken.
The traditional desserts, including baklava, karithopita, kataifi, rizogalo, koulourakia, and galaktoboureko are also among the recipes in the book which also features useful cooking tips and a guide to some of the most common Greek ingredients as well as insights into the way Greeks typically eat, moderation being the key. Matenopoulos points out that traditionally the largest meal of the day in Greece is eaten in the afternoon, followed by a siesta, and the evening meal is usually a small supper. “By not retiring for the night with an overly full stomach, Greeks tend to sleep easier and more restfully,” she writes.
Desserts usually don’t follow large meals, but are served in small portions with a midday Greek coffee, for example, Matenopoulos notes, adding that seasonal fruit is usually served for “dessert.”
Matenopoulos’ book is also recommended by some well-known Greek-American celebrities- actresses Nia Vardalos, Melina Kanakaredes, and Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis whose blurbs are also in the book.
Matenopoulos dedicated the book to her father Nikolaos who passed away in 2012 and noted that a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the book “will be donated directly to the ALS Association with the hope of finding a cure.”
It’s All Greek to Me: Transform Your Health the Mediterranean Way with My Family’s Century-Old Recipes by Debbie Matenopoulos is available online and in bookstores.