All posts tagged: healthblog

Roka (Arugula Salad)

Roka (arugula) is one of the most underestimated leafy greens, despite packing lots of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It’s numerous health benefits are well known. Arugula is native to the Mediterranean and is definitely a green that should be added to more plates worldwide. The Greeks eat plenty of arugula as a “Roka Salata” and is traditionally served as just roka, topped with thin slices of local cheese and dressing. To add more essence to the salad, it is common to add walnuts, pine nuts and sundried or fresh tomatoes to the mixing bowl. This is a common salad throughout Greece. Because the strong peppery taste of arugula can be a turn off to some, simply add romaine lettuce to the salad to temper the arugula. I make mine solely with arugula, and just add extra toppings like walnuts for extra crunch, and tomatoes for a juicy bite. The best thing about the Roka Salad is that it takes no time at all to put together, and still stands out on a dinner table. The …

Psari Plaki (Baked Fish)

Seafood rules the tables of Greece. With so many islands and close mainland coastal waters, the Greeks have a bounty of choices to bake, fry, grill, or boil. It’s understandable, in a country of such passionate cooks, that everyone has a preference, and the different types of seafood often require different types of preparation. Sardines are best fried, octopus tastes great off the grill, and a boiled fish soup always hits the spot when cool winds blow in off the Aegean. Lucky for us, seafood reigns as all important in the Mediterranean diet all over the world. My personal favorite at home, when I have fresh cod or any other firm white fish: PSARI PLAKI. Baked fish never had it so good. Before taking a further bite out of this recipe, let’s break down the name. Psari simply means fish, while plaki refers to a dish baked in the oven with olive oil and vegetables. Onions, garlic, leeks, and celery are sliced and sautéed, then diced tomatoes are added to round out the flavors, creating …

Greek Coffee

Long before all the drive through coffee stands and the Grande caramel macchiato, there was elliniko kafe (Greek coffee). Made by boiling coffee grounds in a copper or brass briki (coffee pot) until the perfect kaimaki (foam) forms, Greek coffee is then poured into a white demitasse (small cup). It’s simple as that. The next step is to sip slowly, until you reach the bottom of the cup where the coffee grounds have settled. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your Greek coffee for hours on end at the nearest kafeneio (coffee house) with friends or in the comfort of your own home. Greek coffee is best served with a glass of cold water, and some sweet Greek cookies, such as koulourakia to dunk with. What you need: Demitasse Water Greek Coffee Briki Sugar (optional) Directions: 1. To measure, fill your demitasse cup up with cold water and pour into the briki or small pot. 2. Add 1 heaping teaspoon of Greek coffee into the briki. Add the appropriate amount of sugar for the type of …

Skordalia (Garlic Dip)

Nothing will keep your friends, family, and even strangers at an arms length away (or further) from you than taking just one bite of skordalia (garlic dip). Any bites after that and you can guarantee to be quarantined. No wonder it’s my favorite dip. I’m a people person, but a no touchy-touchy in my personal space type of people person. So, I like to keep some skordalia handy. Skordalia is a dip defined by the skorda (garlic). And we’re talking lots of garlic. Traditionally, skordalia is puréed with potatoes as the base, but it can also be made with bread, nuts, or both to add a little more texture. The potato version has a smooth consistency and is basically like super garlicky mashed potatoes. My version of skordalia foregoes the potatoes and uses bread and walnuts as the base. It’s a method I’ve always preferred. For one, you cut the cooking time it takes to boil and mash the potatoes. And two, it’s all about the garlic anyway. Did I mention there’s a lot of …

Tyrokafteri (Spicy cheese dip)

It doesn’t matter where I eat, my eyes always race down the menu for any mention of something spicy. Spicy curry? Yes please, with a side of naan. Buffalo chicken wings? My hands and face will definitely be a hot mess after but I’ll take a basket full of those. Bahn mi sandwich and a bowl of pho? Neither typically packs enough heat for my liking—until a side of jalapenos and hot sauce fix my dilemma. Whatever the menu offers, if it says spicy or has the potential for spice, nine times out of ten I’ll order it. Finding something spicy to eat at a Greek taverna isn’t easy. The decision is pretty much made for you because there are few items on a standard Greek menu that have my kind of kick. One is spetzofai a delicious pepper and sausage dish. Another is TYROKAFTERI (tee-roh-kaf-teh-REE) basically meaning “hot cheese.” And no, it’s not literal hot cheese like the popular saganaki, the pan-seared cheese that is brought to tableside all aflame. This hot cheese makes …

Fanouropita (St. Fanourios Cake)

There are hundreds of saints in the Greek Orthodox Church that can be called upon for special purposes or during times of need. The three Hierarchs, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Gregory the Theologian, are called upon for help in studies. I wish I had known that during my anatomy classes. Believers pray to St. Nicholas of Myra for safe travels. Instead of using Advil for a headache, they ask the Holy New Martyr Demas to intercede. There are saints we pray to for help in finding a job, getting pregnant, having a safe childbirth, and there are saints to help when we are in distress. Have you lost something and need help finding it? There’s a saint for that too. Saint Fanourious (from the Greek word fanerono meaning “to reveal”) intercedes to help us find lost possessions and to reveal life paths and goals. Like all Orthodox saints, Saint Fanourios has his own commemoration date each year. On August 27th, his name day, cooks bake a special cake in his honor …

Greek Chicken and Potatoes (Kota me Patates)

Motherhood: A lifetime of answering the question “what’s for dinner?” Or at least that’s my mom’s definition. I never realized how often my mom was questioned about what we would be eating until I started getting into cooking myself. Then, those same texts and calls came at me: “what’s for dinner?” In my house, the answer to that question more often than not is Greek chicken and potatoes (kota me patates). It’s a great fall back meal of ours and should be yours too. For starters, it’s a one-pot dish with easy prep work and cooking time is not unbearable. Second, it’s a filling meal that goes a long way, so you only need to add a Greek salad or any other favorite side dish of yours to go along with it. And finally (which should be reason enough to make this dish) is the satisfaction of seeing the faces of loved ones when you serve those perfect golden potatoes and crispy seasoned chicken. So what are you waiting for? There’s no reason to get …

Greek Orzo Salad

There’s nothing more refreshing than the Greek village salad: crisp cucumbers, tasty tomatoes, colorful peppers, chopped onions, and Kalamata olives, all drizzled with olive oil, then topped with oregano and feta cheese. With the same ingredients (and any add-ons you desire), you can make that same salad a little more filling by adding orzo (manestra) to the mix. The Greek orzo salad becomes a memorable and flavorful meal. It’s easy to make. Just chop the vegetables smaller than you would for a regular Greek village salad, boil the orzo, then season, dress and toss. And go colorful with the vegetables because this dish can look like an artistic masterpiece with the right combinations. For example, I add cherry and golden tomatoes along with red, yellow, and orange mini peppers to create extra pops of color that are not only appealing to the eye, but the palette as well. Play around with what you like and make a Greek orzo salad masterpiece of your own. Just be sure to make plenty of it, because trust me—it will …

Spetzofai

Greek cuisine is a lot of things—healthy, fresh, flavorful, and unforgettable. Basically, the only thing Greek cuisine typically isn’t is spicy. Well, all except for my beloved Spetzofai. Spetzofai shouts with flavor, the colorful peppers and thick sausage making nice with the sausage. The spicy meter level depends on you and the peppers you choose. My personal spetzofai spicy meter is a solid ten, while my family’s is a five on a good day. So we settle on keeping this dish at a mild seven. Spetzofai includes a variety of red, yellow, green, and orange bell peppers for color, making it one of the prettiest dishes in all of Greek cooking. I add jalapeños (or even habaneros) for extra heat. You can leave out the spicy peppers if hot isn’t your thing, or add more if you dare. As for the sausage, just pick the variety you like. Stick to a single favorite or try a variety of sausages mixed together so that each bite offers a new surprise. Make sure to use one giant pan …

My Big Fat Greek Exit

You’ve known me as “My Big Fat Greek Fanny” for over a year now, and I have appreciated all of the amazing support on my blog, Instagram, and Facebook (mostly from my Yiayia, the Facebook queen). I started “My Big Fat Greek Fanny” with the purpose of teaching people—especially Greeks—how to live a healthier and more balanced life in and out of the kitchen. I’ve shared many of my favorite Greek recipes, discussed the benefits of walking and other fitness tips, and I have even gotten personal about my life with an open letter about the importance of philautia (self-love). Now it’s time the “fanny” moved on. I promise it’s not you—it’s me. I’m Eleni Saltas. I’m a Greek girl with a flair for life, food, and fitness, and I want to fully embody that under my own name rather than a spin off of someone else’s effort. Follow along as I share even more Greek recipes, provide sustainable fitness tips and programs suitable for anyone, and begin a new writing series intended for women …