If there’s a global ambassador for Greek cuisine it’s Tonia Buxton. The presenter and producer of the Discovery Channel’s award winning My Greek Kitchen and author of Tonia’s Greek Kitchen has a massive global following. As a consultant for The Real Greek restaurant in London, Tonia also gets to influence the popular chain’s menu. Sunshine Foodie asked Tonia (who is also a qualified nutritionist) for her advice on health issues and what to order when eating out.
Anxiety, depression, stress ‘It’s important to eat food that is as ‘clean’ as possible, which means avoiding cuisines with any heavy, greasy sauces. To boost the mind we need fresh healthy foods rich in antioxidants and it’s best to avoid meat which is heavy. Vegan Greek dishes are ideal. Try aubergines with a tomato and garlic sauce, couscous with pomegranate, lentils and beetroot salads.’
Cholesterol ‘Okra is incredible. Studies show it lowers bad cholesterol so choose this from a Greek restaurant’s menu. For pudding you can have Greek yogurt with karidaki walnut sweet.’
Diabetes ‘Avoid anything with white flour like pasta, and anything sugary. Opt for protein and vegetables.’
Dairy intolerance ‘Because of the Greek Orthodox calendar and all the fasting days, Greek cuisine has a phenomenal choice of vegan dishes so this is perfect for eating out if you have dairy and/or egg intolerance. Try fasolada baked beans, black-eye beans with spinach, or lentils with rice.’
Gluten intolerance ‘Greek cuisine has wonderful filling dips like hummus with you can have crudités. Even if you’re not gluten intolerant it’s a good idea as this stops you getting stuffed with pitta bread before the main course.’
IBS ‘IBS is aggravated by stress and psychological problems so you may find eating out easier when you’re on holiday. There are many soothing foods to choose in Greek cuisine like aubergine dishes.’
Ulcers ‘Recent studies have shown that chewing real mastic gum known as mastihi (the natural resin from trees grown only on the Aegean island of Chios) can shrink ulcers. Look out for Greek desserts flavoured with healthy mastihi .’
Weight loss ‘The fact is most women do not have a size 8 frame. I really believe it’s important that we find our own equilibrium instead of aspiring to a body that isn’t right for us. I do like to enjoy my food and I love wine and cocktails. If I’ve had a week of events involving lots of food and alcohol, then I’ll have some salmon and steamed broccoli at home. If I’ve had a particularly indulgent few days then I’ll have a day of simple home-made vegetable soup and apples.’
Tonia’s new book Eat Greek for a Week is out in June
Coming soon on Sunshine Foodie is an interview with Tonia on cooking for families.