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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Food the Mount Athos way

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.    
Keeping you updated on the latest bag. I have filled in quite a lot of squares using red wool, the cake cooling tray is a guide. Looking good so far. I'll take it to craft club in the morning and do a bit more.

That's it for another weekend. The kids are on holiday now and it's pretty quiet round here. I reckon most of them have gone away. I will be doing what I normally do, gardening, dog walking, litter picking, sewing, and of course blogging, with a bit of mucking about in between, ha ha. I hope to get away at the beginning of next month.
Toodle pip.


  1. Interesting post on those monks and their rules. Some of it makes a lot of sense, though.
    I`ll be looking up those recipes in a minute.

  2. It's always fascinating hearing about other people's lifestyles and being able to learn from them too. But 10 minutes to eat a meal - now that's a bit challenging. Sarah

  3. You can see Bob Simon do a 60 Minutes spot on the Monks and the monastery. Google Bob Simon's Pick Mt. Athos and you should come up with the full 14 minute video on bing.

    1. This is a really interesting piece done by 60 Minutes. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Sounds like an interesting diet! I'm sure that it would be healthy. Do you have a favorite recipe for lentils? I haven't found a way to fix them that my family will eat them. There is a recipe on the monks site for lentils and rice which I thought sounded ok until I came to the part about boiling the no...
    Your meal looks delicious! Love your bag design too.
    Hope you have a great week!

  5. Hi Ilona thanks for such a great post today. Your embroidery is amazing !!
    AussieCheryl : )

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this! I'm really interested in simple lifestyles and this is the most simple of all.

  7. We are in one of those fasting periods now - Great Lent leading up to Easter. No meat, no fish, no dairy and strictness about oil if you observe it carefully. Today, however, on the Russian Orthodox calendar (13 days behind everyone else) is the Annunciation (when Gabriel came to tell Mary she would have Christ) and so we can have fish and wine and oil. Everyone is excited ;) I have made Rabbi Lionel Blue's kipper pate to take to church - kippers, in a can or otherwise - marinated in lemon juice and peppercorns overnight and drained. Good on crusty bread and very cheap if you use the cans - and easy.

  8. thanks for the recipe link

  9. Thank you for that. Looks interesting and I'll have a more detailed read later. 10 minutes isn't long at all for a meal - eek! My feeling as to why they are so healthy is twofold, ie lack of stress and their food having more nutrients than a lot of food. The lack of stress being down to not having to make their own decisions, because in that way of life, all decisions have already been made for you. The stress comes from wondering if one has always made the best possible decision as to how to handle things (mind you - having said that - I HATE with a passion when anyone else tries to make one of MY decisions for me!). Re the food...then I think the knowledge is fairly widespread by now that food these days has LOADS less nutrients in it than food, say, 100 years ago. Even organic food these days is deemed to have a lot less nutrients in it than food of 100 years ago. As for conventionally-grown food several days old - EEK!

    This is the thing, I gather, that much of our food is being grown in soil that is very deficient in nutrients (even if organically-grown....though that's better) precisely because its been used and re-used and re-used etc and no-one has bothered to feed the soil itself very much. "I feed the soil and the soil feeds me" is a very good motto, I feel, for foodgrowing.

  10. Interesting that the monks lifestyle with healthy foods and no stress gives them a long and healthy life. Although not everyone could live like that.
    I heard of a man who became a monk and joined a silent order although they were allowed to speak once a year. The first year he said that there wasn't enough salt in the porridge. The second year he said there was too much salt in the porridge. The third year he announced that he was leaving. Another monk said thank god for that, he's done nothing but complain since he got here.

  11. I have looked at several of your tote bags and found the cake cooling tray was a interesting innovation to make the squares. You surely had your creative thinking cap on! My mother-in-law made something similar. She called it chicken scratches, the pattern was embroidered on gingham fabric squares and sewn together into a quilt.
    I've made a totebag out of a pillowcase and strips of material. See here for pics =


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