I've found a little booklet tucked away in a cupboard for the last few years, it was a freebie given away in a national newspaper. Normally I would throw such things in the recycling box, but I kept this one to read again at a later date. It's only a little booklet, 16 pages, but it is ever so interesting. It's all about the Monks of Mount Athos, and how their simple life helps to keep them so healthy. The sub title is, 'Lifestyle secrets of the world's healthiest people'.
It's not only their diet which keeps them healthy, but also the lack of stress in their lives. Studies have revealed that the Mount Athos monks are among the healthiest people on earth. Physically and mentally they are extraordinarily disease free. Records show that heart disease, cardiac arrests, and strokes are virtually nonexistent. There is also an astonishing absence of Alzheimer's disease. 2,000 monks were subjected to repeated tests over a five year period. European neurologists were startled to discover a 'zero incidence' of the disease.
There isn't much in this little book about what they actually eat, but it has some simple rules that the monks live by. 200 days of the year are abstention days, on these days they only eat one meal, usually at sunset. Dairy products, wine and olive oil are forbidden on these days, that leaves fruit, veg, bread, and lots of lentils. On non fast days they eat two meals with wine. The portions are small. They say too much food is like too much sleep, and is bad for the body and the mind. All the vegetables and fruit are grown in the monastery garden, and are entirely seasonal. They don't eat meat at all, though have a little fish. They alternate between one day is a water based cooking day, and the next day is oil based. The monks believe that by abstaining from oily foods they not only purge their system but give their stomachs a rest.
It's an interesting concept, if you want to know more about the lifestyle of the monks gooooglie Mount Athos. I've found a few recipes for you on this web site.
I have made up my own recipe, as I usually do. So tonight I had this gut busting, highly nutritious concoction of healthy nosh, but I broke two rules. By the monks standards there was far too much of it, and I mixed water cooking with oil cooking. I should have boiled the eggs. It took me an hour to demolish this plateful, whereas they are only allowed 10 minutes to eat their meals, then they have to stop. Steam some veg, broccoli, green beans, baby sweetcorn, curly kale, and spinach. Scramble two eggs. Serve on a bed of wholemeal rice, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. All good stuff in there.