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Recipes from areas where people live longer

May 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Grains, produce, olive oil, fish and small amounts of meats are the basics of the Mediterranean diet. It is one that's been extensively studied and found to promote a healthy heart and brain.

But beyond the Mediterranean diet there are a handful of places around the globe called "blue zones." Due to lifestyle and diet, people in these zones live past 100 years old.

"The Blue Zone Diet is really mainly vegetarian, very small amount of meat," said Zov Karamardian, owner of four restaurants in Orange County. "What they eat mostly is whole foods."

Karamardian's menus are peppered with Blue Zone plate specials, starting with Sardinia.

"(It is) very simple, peasantry food," Karamardian said. "It has fresh mint, it has peppers, tomatoes, olive oil and basically red onions."

  • From Greece, a barley salad of zucchini, onions, sun dried tomatoes, fresh mint, parsley, sliced onions and lemon juice.

  • From Okinawa, Japan, grilled fish is served quite simply with tomatoes, limes, lemon, salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil.

  • From the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, trout is a favorite fish. Karamardian stuffs it with walnuts, cilantro, jalapenos, garlic stuffed with almonds, and it is all ground up and baked.

  • From Loma Linda, California Karamardian prepares a beet and tomato salad laced with olive oil, as the area is known for its locally grown produce.

The areas are all identified as "blue zones." Along with diet, Karamardian says the secret to longevity is a healthy social and physical environment.

"I learned that, in order to be able to live a long life, you have to be stress free," Karamardian said. "You have to drink a glass of wine a day. You have to have faith, especially in Loma Linda, it is very faith-oriented. Most of these people have purpose in life."

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