Embracing the Mediterranean Lifestyle

What is truly amazing about the world we live in is that each culture brings something of great value. Whereas America has become the land of the free and anyone can succeed, we substituted substance with success. If you want to put the brakes on and actually enjoy life, look to our Mediterranean friends for a great example of how work is just to make money, but life is to live!

Let's take our fast-paced ways of doing things and translate them into a life of quality and substance.

When you have downtime, what do you do? 

Nap?  Play video games?  Go online to social media?  Play catchup on house chores?  

Let's look to our beautiful Italian friends and see what they do. They create - play music, dance, paint, garden, cook...  They socialize, sitting at a cafe outdoors and chatting with the locals. They sit in the sunlight with a glass of wine and turn their face to the warmth. They have a policy of dolce far niente (pleasant idleness). 

What do you eat throughout the your day? 

Quality versus quantity is the Italian way. The French understand it too, as do the Greeks. If you want to be long-lived but also satisfied, you need quality, fat, and fresh.  You need a dessert-sized plate. You need to eat with leisure, conversing, reading, watching nature, picking at the food, savoring the flavors, with no time clock. The dessert plate and 20-minutes to eat rule for me got me to lose 40 pounds in 3 months and as long as I stick to those rules, my weight is constant.

Ditch American cheese, please!  Considering keeping on hand feta, fresh mozzarella, parmesan. They have a lot of bang for the buck. Their intense flavors work with everything.

Make some flavored butters. Use these when sauteeing meat or fish, on bread, and sandwiches. Melt a stick of butter, add things like lemon zest, pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, diced olives, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour this into a tiny tupperware container or even a shot glass or two so you have it on hand for scrambling eggs, making garlic bread, etc. Or, consider using some cute butter molds - 

If you can stop thinking of meals as a standard cafeteria or childhood home setting of hunk of meat, potatoes, bread, and an overcooked veggie, you might find a healthy way to feed your body and feel very satisfied.

Don't be afraid of fat - coconut oil, avocadoes, olive oil, butter - they are your friends. We need fat. It not only satisfies, but it rather greases the wheels. I look at it this way, take an iron skillet and wet it down. What happens? Rust? Well, try adding some oil to that water and see what happens. Oxidation is bad. Fat is satisfying. 

Think in terms of sliced meats and cheeses, meat as a seasoning instead of a bulk, more seafood, bread as only a hunk. Bring on flavors like pesto, parmesan, olives, capers, horseradish, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, feta, fresh herbs. These can make anything taste amazing. How about marinated some chicken strips in lemon and tons of pepper with some garlic? Eat a lot more produce and you can do this many ways. Salads are a perfect option and great for leftover meat. Keep some freezer rolls on hand so you can make sliders. I did some the other day with pesto, feta, and leftover salmon. For breakfast, I used the rolls with some flavored butter, feta, and hot italian sausage cooked small. 

Don't be afraid of wine. Find the one that works for you. There are some great health benefits when done in moderation. Sipping a glass slowly with your meal is a great way to take the edge off the day while not overwhelming your system. 

I was a beer person most of my life until I discovered that not all wines are chardonnay (hate the oak taste). I went on a wine tasting in Sonoita wine country and tried a variety, finding that although dessert wines are easy to drink, they weren't ones I could savor. I ended up falling in love with Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Pinot Grigio. 

Cook with wine. Sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio are  especially good for cooking with white wine. 

Italians appreciate and enjoy their coffee. Consider a French Press and make a truly homemade coffee. 

Set a priority to do nothing - no screens, no interactions, just quiet moments of peace in a garden, face to the sun, enjoying beauty. Set a priority to touch, kiss, taste, and make love. 

Turn off the timer on your life that says - eat quick, run to this and that work/event fast, check in online every few minutes. Simply act as if there are no screens, there are no clocks. Be. Stop running and start being.

Here's some great movies to spark your desire to live the lifestyle and many lessons to learn by example- 

Under the Tuscan Sun 

Based on a true-life story, a writer becomes divorced, goes on a trip to Italy and spontaneously buys a villa. Her trek to her dream of a beautiful home and a family takes many twists and turns, but when she embraces her setting and lifestyle, it becomes magic. Lesson: You create the magic in your life - you make the world you want to live in by your priorities and attitude.

Stealing Beauty

This is my dream lifestyle - a bunch of artists in Tuscany enjoying a compound focused on art, siestas, wine, grapes dangling overhead, spontaneous parties, and a life of contemplation and appreciation. Lesson: Life is a creative process driven by passion and heart. Make the escape you seek. 

Shirley Valentine

A frustrated British wife takes a chance and goes on a spontaneous trip to Greece where she finds herself again and decides to stay. Lesson: The best way to find yourself is to make a stand that you are a priority and embrace your setting.

Walking on Sunshine

An 80s soundtrack musical set in Italy, this divine film involves a sister getting married and the other sister joining her in Italy only to find the prospective groom is her own ex-boyfriend. Lesson:  To be true to yourself, you might have to drop all the society expectations and indulge in love, laughter, and life.