Last week saw our first Longevity Kitchen pop up event. A heart-warming evening in which so many longevity boxes were ticked. We started our pop-up journey with Ikaria, one of the Blue Zone areas in which residents have higher than average chances of living healthily and actively into their 90’s.
So, these are some key factors which enable longevity which we discussed during the evening:
• Creating an environment of little or no stress
• Maintaining a home vegetable garden
• Eating a plant-based diet (not vegan but based on plants)
• Drinking wine with your friends and family (this was a popular theme)
· A prime factor is community based living, there is much less social isolation in these areas.
All dishes were typically Greek with the leaning on plant-based rather than ‘clean’.
The menu was rich in vegetables including a slow roasted carrot dip, a spicy beetroot blend and the classic Tzatziki with abundant amounts of dill and parsley. We are aiming for our food to be flavoured with herbs and spices rather than fat and salt as in a typically processed dish. Beans and legumes feature highly in the Blue Zones; our plant-based proteins reflected this. The vegetarian Moussaka main being rich in lentils and served alongside a light salad featuring goats milk feta. Our oil of choice is of course olive oil which is a key component of Ikarian cuisine, a fact which is reflected by their low incidence of cardiovascular disease. Our dessert, a fine Dark Chocolate and Apricot tart is designed for moderation; but a little slice of something devilish should be enjoyed with a guilt free sense of abandon. As mentioned, this is relaxed Longevity style not ‘clean’ eating; the latter being admirable but it often comes with feelings of obsession which does not fit our ‘downshifting’, stress free picture.
The community spirit truly shone through. And this is one of the main driving factors which led us to put this evening together. In the UK we tend to keep ourselves to ourselves, particularly in a dining environment. This event was about letting go of that trait, chatting to the person next to you or sharing a dish with someone you may know nothing about. Let’s expand our networks and take time to get to know others. So next time you walk down the street there are more familiar faces to smile at!