How to Live Life Well in 2018…WWB Features 4 Inspiring Books Filled with Inspiration, Wisdom & Tips

Dec 31, 2017 by

WWBPicks2017

WWB Library of Wellness Culture

 

title

 

It’s New Year’s Eve, and baby it’s cold outside here on the East Coast of the United States! It seems like the perfect day to recommend 4 wise books that will be sure to warm you from the inside out and inspire your New Year. Here are a few points of interest about the books selected for you.

  • Three of the books have been selected as World Wise Beauty ‘Book Wise’ Picks in 2017 and you can find links to the Q&A with Authors below.
  • One of the books ‘The Little Book Of ‘Lykke’ was just released this week and the author also wrote the International Best Seller ‘The Little Book of Hygge’. Don’t know these fun Danish terms? Learn more via my book highlights below…
  • All of the books focus on wellness lifestyle and culture and inspire us to cultivate a healthy positive mindset while providing us with real tips on adopting their approach to happiness, personal fulfillment and well-being.
  • One of the books is about a Japanese approach to longevity and happiness. The authors are not natives of Japan but one of them has lived there for over 10 years and has really embraced the ‘Ikigai’ mindset. We can too!

Enjoy the overview below and order these books as soon as you can, so you can relax by the fire, or under a warm throw on a comfy chair, with a good book full of wellness wisdom and inspiration. While each book is short in length, they are filled with meaningful ideas and tips you will want to apply in 2018. Happy New year and may it be full of Ikigai, Lagom, Lykke and Hygge! Live Life Well…

 

TrulyHerselfSignature22-300x75

 

 

 

 

IkigaiBookCover

The title of the book Ikigai is a Japanese word whose meaning translates roughly to a reason for being, encompassing joy, a sense of purpose and meaning and a feeling of well-being.  Recently the book was selected as WWB’s Fall Book Wise pick. You can find the Q&A with author of the book here and learn more how he has embraced the ‘Ikigai’ mindset living in Japan.

WWB’s Fav Section: Finding Flow in Everything You Do–How to turn work and free time into spaces for growth. In a world that has us crazy with multi-tasking, we can learn a lot about focus and becoming completely absorbed with one task. Don’t you love that wonderful feeling when you have lost track of time and you are completely committed to where you are and what you are doing. Let’s go with the flow in 2018…

 

LAGOMBookCover

The title of this book Lagom, is a Swedish word meaning “just the right amount”. The Lexin Swedish-English dictionary defines lagom as “enough, sufficient, adequate, just right”. Lagom is also widely translated as “in moderation”, “in balance”, “perfect-simple”, and “suitable” (in matter of amounts). I think this mindset maybe the most challenging for Americans as we tend to strive for ‘more’ and this is strongly embedded in our psyche! With the environmental crisis we are facing world wide, hopefully we will embrace a Lagom state of mind sooner than later. What if enough was enough? Good questions to ponder in the New Year. Of note there are several books with LAgom in the title, but this particular book I found to be the most insightful and grounded. The author is not Swedish but she’s a travel writer and photographer, and enjoys exploring various cultures through food, tradition, and lifestyle. Of note, she’s an award-winning writer, speaker, and photographer represented by National Geographic Creative. You can find her award winning photographs throughout the book! My Q&A featuring her book is here to learn more about her worldly perspective and love of Swedish lifestyle.

WWB Fav Section: Nature and Sustainability! We Americans could use MORE of this wisdom! Don’t you think? What I love about the Swedish approach to home and living is the art of bringing nature indoors but also their appreciation for nature all around them. The Swedish interdependent mindset’ is one we can all aspire to.

 

HyggeBookCover

 

The title of this book is based on a Danish word ‘Hygge’ meaning a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture). I like how the author simply says it’s ‘cocoa by candlelight.’ Love it! Don’t you want more “Hygge’ in your life? That hot cocoa metaphor is easy to conjure and can be experienced in your real life easily. Especially this week in New Jersey! You can find my feature on the book here and also learn more about the author’s research at the Happiness Research Institute.

WWB Fav Section: What’s Love Got to Do With it? Oxytocin! That’s what. Also called the ‘cuddle hormone’  oxytocin is a natural neurohormone produced by our bodies when we experience a feeling of love, warmth and security. It requires a hug, cuddling or just general physical closeness. The amazing thing is you can release Oxytocin just by petting and cuddling with your pet!  However we achieve some cuddling, we all need more of it flowing through our bodies for our health and wellness!

 

LykkeBookCover

Hot off the press! Last but not least, this book was just released here in the United States this week. Lykke is a Danish word for happiness and what better way to explore the concept of happiness than with the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (the capital of Happiness!) Here’s the thing, the really really good thing, Meik Wiking believes we all have the ability to achieve happiness. His research allows him to talk to people from all over the world and he believes WE HUMANS have a lot in common no matter where we are from. He has found the common denominator of happiness and whether we are in New Jersey, Copenhagen or India, we get happy about very similar things. Reading this book you will arm chair travel with the CEO of Happiness around the world and discover what truly makes us happy!

There are so many good tips sprinkled throughout this book, like simply start doing little random acts of kindness. I just did this today. My neighbor is away, and I brushed all the snow off her car and pulled her wipers up! I worried by the the time she got home, with the deep freeze we are facing this week, she might not be able to get into her car. I was doing my car, so why not do hers? Random Acts of Kindness starts right in your own neighborhood! Shhh don’t tell her. It was random!

WWB Fav Section: Decouple Well-Being and Wealth. Need I say more? Okay I will. Money does not buy happiness. Especially in Denmark! What seems to work well in Denmark,  is enjoying a good quality of life does not have to cost a lot of money. In fact the Danes are not alone, there are other cultures he highlights in the book who know how to be happy without being wealthy. Here is another cultural mindset example. In America we are told we will be happier if we make more money and buy more new things.  But what the author’s world wide research finds is happiness is linked with experiences not things. You will find so much wisdom in this ‘Little Book of Lykke’. A very world wise and worthwhile read sure to inspire your resolution to truly be happy in 2018!

 

 

read more

WWB’s ‘Book Wise’ Fall 2017 Surprise: Two Inspiring Books Explore Cultural Ideals and Values for a Life of Happiness & Wellness. Special Q&A with Two International Bestselling Authors…

Nov 2, 2017 by

WWB BOOK WISE FALL 17 (2)

Book Wise Category: Non-Fiction/Wellness Wisdom & Inspiration

 

 

Lola-Akinmade-Akerstrom-SMALL

Author Profile: LOLA A. Akerstrom, Author of ‘LAGOM’, The Swedish Secret of Living Well

Having lived on three different continents — Africa, North America, and now Europe — for extended periods of time, Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström is drawn to the complexities and nuances of culture and how they manifest themselves within relationships.

She holds a master’s degree in Information Systems from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Lola worked as a consultant and programmer for over a decade before following her dreams of becoming a travel writer and photographer, exploring various cultures through food, tradition, and lifestyle.

Today, she’s an award-winning writer, speaker, and photographer represented by National Geographic Creative. She regularly contributes to high profile publications such as AFAR, the BBC, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, Travel + Leisure and National Geographic Traveller, to name a few –
She has received photography and writing awards, including recognition from the Society of American Travel Writers and North American Travel Journalists Association. In addition, Lola is the editor of Slow Travel Stockholm, an online magazine dedicated to exploring Sweden’s capital city in depth.

Author Insight: “For me travel is about being an open minded sponge.”

 

HGAuthor Profile

Héctor García  author of ‘Ikigai’ the Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, is a citizen of Japan, where he has lived for over a decade, and of Spain, where he was born. A former software engineer, he worked at CERN in Switzerland before moving to Japan, where he developed voice recognition software and the technology needed for Silicon Valley startups to enter the Japanese market. He is the creator of the popular blog kirainet.com and also the author of A Geek in Japan, a #1 bestseller in Japan.

Author Insight: “I enjoy more creating things than consuming them, I’m a dreamer.”

 

 

Laura Connolly, Founder of WWB Opening (aka Lauroly)- It is only when we read books like yours, that we realize how important ‘ideals, values and rituals’ are to a happy society, when they are baked into the culture. Culture is a way of life and a collective mindset. What I enjoyed about both your books, is you manage to distill the little rituals and habits that any person in any culture can adopt. We hope so anyway! The challenge for a big melting pot like the United States, is we have so many cultures within one country, and the only common one we all seem to relate to is our love for success and independence. Starting from this premise, how does a country like the USA adopt ‘wellness mindsets’ like yours when our philosophical pillars are so different? ‘Independence’ as a way of life is very different from an ‘interdependent’ socially connected way of life. How will your prescriptions for happiness and wellness translate to a place like the United States?

Lola: You can tell a lot by a culture based on how it handles stress. I often say that some cultures prioritize fighting stress first so they can be productive while some other cultures try to be productive while working through stress. Sweden (and many Scandinavian countries) fall in the former category while the US falls in the latter category. And what are the sources of stress in our lives? Getting adequate food, shelter, money, healthcare, education, etc, as well as other physiological needs. What happens is, cultural mindsets that prioritize fighting stress first will put structures in place to create as much harmony, order, fair access and organization as possible first, while cultures that fight through stress can create more ingenuity and competitiveness to deal with stress. Both mindsets have their pros and cons. However, Sweden (and other Scandinavian countries) have been consistently ranking in the Top 10 for high quality of life, overall happiness, work-life balance, and other social indices for decades. So there is something we can clearly learn and adopt on some level from their cultural mindsets. This is why it was important for me to tackle the “why” of the lagom mindset on a deeper level in my book, not just “what” a lagom mindset superficially does (i.e., fika recipes, eat cinnamon buns, declutter, etc). A lagom mindset is all about balance and anything that tips that scale heavily to one side or the other (not too much, not too little) can be considered a form of stress so the mindset continually re-calibrates itself (just right) by trimming excess and unnecessary things – be they physical, relationships, or tasks.

Hector: I like to thing in terms of individualism(independence) vs collectivistic mindset. As you say U.S culture is very individualistic and that leads everyone to be always in a mindset of continuous competitiveness. Japan is a very collectivist society, there is competition but at group levels. If you try to be individualistic here and stand upon the group you will most probably fail here. You have to be much more careful and mindful about others by default just by being here embedded in the culture. So, how do you implement a wellness mindset in a place like the United States? I believe it all starts with having an awareness of things. It seems easy but is not. One way to gain awareness is by asking ourselves WHY are we doing certain things. Many times we will realize that we are just doing things to show off or to gain the approval of others (for example checking smartphone first time in the morning is a reaction of wanting to know if we have the approval of others on Facebook, Instagram etc.). Once we have the awareness that we are being driven by a very “independent” mindset the next step is to start finding what we really want to do in life, our IKIGAI. This is also not easy, but one of the first steps is to start by eliminating bad habits from your life. A simple one is to not check your smartphone during the first 2 hours of the day. When you start eliminating bad habits, you will naturally tend to start doing more of the things that you really like and love. Your life will start shifting naturally to your IKIGAI--your reason for living.

Lauroly Q- One of the things I found when reading your books, is both cultures value ‘simplicity’ and ‘nature’. It seems in your cultures, you do not separate the home from nature. In other words, your ‘interdependent’ mentality extends to nature as well. Share with us, how this leads to happiness in the home and the community in your culture…

Lola: Indeed. The Swedish love for nature is rather intrinsic and has been cultivated since youth (as early as kindergarten). Kids are bundled up under layers of clothes and left to play for hours outside regardless of weather (barring full blizzards). Many schools follow an active outdoor program. Babies sleep in strollers outdoors. There are several government policies in place (including Allemansrätten – every man’s right) that allows you to fully enjoy nature, camp. pick berries/mushrooms and use any public land as freely as possible. So Swedes see nature as their home and are proactive in terms of cleaning and taking care of it, just like our physical homes.

Hector: Simplicity is key in Japan. When I arrived here with my European mindset I found Japanese shinto shrines so simple that I was not impressed at all (I was used to European cathedrals and churches). But with time I came to appreciate more and more the beauty of Japanese shinto shrines precisely because of how simple they are. I learned that simple does not mean easy. We humans tend to get attached to all kinds of objects or possessions. Training our minds and souls to be happy with as less as possible is not easy, but once done we will feel freedom in our souls. I will use the same analogy with nature. Japanese shinto shrines are almost always surrounded by nature, even when found in cities, the shrines are filled with trees that cover them in green. Japanese know that nature is not part of life, they understand that nature is life.

Lauroly Q- Daily rituals are a big part of both cultures. Which rituals do you think are driven by the cultural values of your country? Can you connect the value with the ritual? Which ones do you think can translate and work in any culture?

Lola: One of the most notable rituals is the daily act of observing fika – which is breaking several times a day (3-4 times even) to enjoy coffee and a sweet treat with colleagues, friends, or family. While on the surface it may seem like just a sweet tradition, it is a form of re-centering to keep that internal lagom scale balanced. Working too much is an antithesis of lagom. Work-life balance is collectively pushed within the Swedish psyche through lagom. Partaking in fika is an act of re-calibration, so you can carry on processing the day from a point of balance and harmony. The tradition of fika is firmly rooted in lagom.

Hector: One big daily ritual in Japan is to bath in hot water. It is done most of the times before going to bed. It has been shown lately that both hot water baths and saunas 3-4 times per week have many benefits to our health. This is just one of the most common rituals, but Japan in general is a ritualistic culture, in which “micro-rituals” embed the life of everyone. For example, before starting any business meeting there is always the same business card interchange ritual with very precise manners that sets the mood of the meeting. It is not about specific rituals that will change your life, it is more about using rituals or micro-rituals to do things daily without having to be stressed to make decisions or be stressed about doing something. Rituals automate many things in our lives and help us to focus on what is important.

Lauroly Closing- I am so honored to share both your books as ‘Book Wise’ picks at World Wise Beauty. Both books are inspiring and together create a healthy cultural cocktail we can all enjoy and digest. I would suggest including each of them in a loved ones stocking for Christmas. Or each can be given on days of Hanukkah!  Here is to a lovely holiday season full of wellness ideals like slowing down and spending time with family and friends. we have to find a way to make this more of a daily experience in our lives.

Lola Closing: Thanks so much Laura. The beauty of observing how other cultures work and what they do exceptionally well is that we can pick and choose which elements of their mindset we can adopt to make our own lives richer in many ways. Lagom doesn’t hold all the answers in life but what it does hold is the mental key to free us from overt and needless consumerism by paring down what we truly need to be focusing on, buying, or maintaining in our lives.

Hector Closing: Totally agree Laura. We have to slowly shift our awareness from always trying to stand out, be successful and compare ourselves to others to being more present to our friends and family. The more we listen to the people we love, the more they will start also listening back and forgetting a little bit about getting more likes on their social networks. We humans, we are social beings, let’s be together in our lives and not alone and “individualistic”. In a way it can also be something to make us better, since the more love we give the more supported we will feel by the people around us, and the more love we feel, the healthier we will be and the longer we will live. This is what we discovered when visiting Ogimi, the village of the longest living in the world to write our book about IKIGAI. They live in very close communities in which they all support each other. Thank you for featuring us!

read more

World Wise Beauty Selects the Beautifully Illustrated ‘This Phenomenal Life’ for the Summer Book Wise Pick on the Eve of the Solar Eclipse

Aug 21, 2017 by

phenom-cover11-5_2BOOK WISE Summer 2017 Pick: This Phenomenal Life –the amazing ways we are connected with our Universe’

CATEGORY: Non-Fiction Nature/Science/Art

CULTURE SPOTLIGHT: The Entire Universe

AUTHOR: Misha Maynerick Blaise

Publishers Weekly Review: “Whimsically hip illustrations elucidate wild science-based facts, from the unexpected intimacy we have with fungi on a daily basis, to the similar ways that humans and birds learn to communicate. Powerful evidence of our interconnection with nature combined with beautiful artwork will inspire the reader to look at the world in a whole new way.”

WWB Note: Inspiring, informative and will tickle your mind and spirit!

 
On the eve of the Solar Eclipse, I thought it was perfect timing to announce the Summer ‘Book Wise’ pick. Tomorrow we will view an amazing ‘show in the sky’ and perhaps it will remind us how awesome this universe is, and how we are connected to everything around us. The ‘Book Wise’ Summer selection is an exploration and celebration of this very idea. The title says it all, and the illustrative content is stimulating and delightful. It’s the perfect book to take camping or to the beach, when you are relaxed, and can really contemplate with the author how phenomenal this world really is. The Solar Eclipse couldn’t have come at better time. Perhaps it’s time we all snap out of our self-absorption and unify around one important mission. Let’s save this planet and leave it for many more generations to enjoy and appreciate. The author’s introduction is wonderful and I will share an excerpt below with you. Hopefully it will inspire you to read this book and share it with friends far and wide. A great mission needs a great many friends! Enjoy the Solar Eclipse and find comfort in the fact that millions of us (of multiple ethnicities and political stripes)  across this country will be looking up at the Sun and the Moon together. Now that’s pretty phenomenal! 🙂

TrulyHerselfSignature22-300x75

 

 

 

 

phenom-bahai6_orig

 

Author Excerpt: ” Few can deny the majesty of a starry sky when gazed upon far from the light pollution of a city, or the thrill of exploring a dense forest miles away from a dreary strip mall. Getting out into nature expands our perspective and revitalizes our spirits. For those of us who live in urban settings, it can sometimes feel like the wilderness is a world away. But the reality is in every moment of every day, no matter where you are, you are deeply connected to the wild, mysterious processes of the universe.”
read more

WWB Announces the Spring 2017 ‘Book Wise’ Pick in the Non-Fiction Category and it’s a Contemporary Throwback Worthwhile Revisiting…

May 12, 2017 by

BeautyandtheSoul3

 

BOOK WISE Spring 2017 Pick: Beauty and the Soul–The Extraordinary Power of Everyday Beauty to Heal Your Life

 

CATEGORY: Wellness/Spiritual/Non-Fiction

 

THROW BACK SELECTION: Book was published in 2009

 

CULTURE SPOTLIGHT: Author From Italy, content is universal

 

AUTHOR: Piero Ferrucci is a psychotherapist and a philosopher. He graduated from the University of Torino in 1970. He was trained by Roberto Assagioli, the founder of psychosynthesis, and has written several books including the bestseller The Power of Kindness in 2007.

 

 

WWB OF NOTE:  I wish I had introduced this book earlier in WWB’s history, because it looks at beauty the way I always intended to do with World Wise Beauty, from the inside out and wholistically. This is a beautiful and thoughtful book about appreciating beauty of all  kinds and discovering the healing capacity of beauty not only for ourselves, but for the planet. It’s simple ambition would be to have us all ‘stop and smell the roses’ so we can be fully present and in the moment. On a deeper level, the book offers ways to counteract the ugliness of life with beauty manifesting in all it’s life forms ~Lauroly, Founder of World Wise Beauty

              Author Excerpt: Chapter –Love of Life

‘In a story from the Jewish tradition, the human soul before birth roams about the universe, collects a great deal of knowledge, sees much beauty, and thus is endowed with great wisdom. But just as birth is drawing near, the angel of death approaches and with his sword touches the soul on the forehead. At that moment, when the soul incarnates into the mass of nerves, organs, and muscles which make up what we are, the drama takes place: The baby being born forgets all it knows. Yet an inkling remains, a vague feeling of what is lost. This, the story tells us is why human beings are born crying, and why they seek, everywhere and all their lives, in confusion and desperation a beauty they feel they have lost. Is there really a soul before birth? I cannot say. And I do not know if we have a past life on other planes or in other worlds. But what interests me here is the experience of this life and this world. The Jewish myth seems to allude to a feeling many, perhaps all of us have; the impression of not belonging to this world. The feeling that makes us wonder ‘What am I doing here?”. Like the alien from the film ‘ The Man Who Fell from Earth” , who came to our planet from a faraway star and landed in an amusement park, we find the world around us strange, and bizarre, and sometimes absurd. And perhaps like him, we feel homesick for a cleaner, simpler, brighter world. Luckily we can see the opposite of what the Jewish story tells is also true when we observe children…’
read more

Healthy Epicurean Q&A: WWB ICON Maria Benardis is back to Visit with a Greekalicious Newly Released Cookbook ‘My Greek Family Table’

May 5, 2017 by

MariaBGreekTable

 

If you haven’t heard yet, the Mediterranean Diet is the only diet in the world with extensive scientific research behind it’s claims. What does it claim? It claims to help with weight loss, a decreased risk for heart disease, diabetes, depression, and dementia! In other words Western diseases and conditions. There is no one militant Mediterranean diet to follow like many trendy diets offer, simply because there are many eating patterns spread across many cultures living in the Mediterranean region of the world. This makes it the best flexitarian diet in the world too. One we can all get on board with because of it’s flexibility. But there is a key common foundation of the Mediterranean Diet. It is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. It generally features fish and poultry—lean sources of protein—over red meat, which contains more saturated fat. Red wine is consumed regularly but in moderate amounts. And oh yeah, let’s not forget, they generally lead an active lifestyle, and I don’t mean Spinning classes at the Gym!

Today we focus on Greece and talk with Maria Benardis. She has published three cook books titled “My Greek Family Table” now released here in in USA/Canada this month and previously released in Australia in 2009 by Penguin Books which won the Gourmand World Cook Book Award 2009 – Best Mediterranean Cook Book in Australia and “Cooking and Eating Wisdom for Better Health’ published by Balboa Press.  She also has an ebook titled “A Greekalicious Feast”. Founder of Greekalicious she has offered cooking instructions and coaching at many venues both in Australia and the USA. These include the Intuitive Well in Sydney, Australia, The Brooklyn Kitchen, NYC, The Natural Gourmet Institute, NYC and Haven’s Kitchen, NYC. I am so honored to have her back, as some of you you might remember I named her WWB ICON in 2014.  A true World Wise Beauty dedicated to advancing wellness culture. Learn more about Maria and her beautiful journey to wellness through cooking below…

TrulyHerselfSignature22-300x75

 

 

 

Welcome Back Maria! I am so happy to feature another of your wonderful cookbooks! More than just a cookbook, this is really a personal memoir and tribute to your Greek heritage and family. Through your memories and stories we really get a sense of the Greek culture and how important food is to the people of Greece. You are truly a World Wise Beauty having lived on 3 continents. I bring this up because your book is  also a story of immigration. You shared so many touching parts of your childhood in the book. I can imagine through empathy what it was like for you as a child to suddenly have to move to another part of the world and all by yourself on a plane. I will let you tell our readers why you moved from Australia back to Greece as a young child.

Maria Benardis: When I was 3 ½ years old, my younger sister and I went to live on the island of Psara, Greece. My mother was very ill with cancer and my father sent us to live there with his mother, Katina. We didn’t know it at the time, but our mother succumbed to cancer shortly after we left. If I board a plane today and happen to see children traveling unaccompanied, my mind travels back to that first flight to Greece with my sister. Even though it was such a traumatic time, I can’t help but smile at the memory now.

Lauroly Q- What a heart-breaking experience Maria and so glad you can smile now for those two brave little girls on their journey. Despite the turmoil and displacement you were in some ways blessed to live with your Grandmother and had the opportunity to soak up the beautiful culture of Greece. I love how you created your own private sanctuary growing your own herbs and vegetables as a young girl. Tell us about your little Garden on the island of Psara, Greece…

Maria Benardis: I loved to go on walking expeditions around the island. One day, while on one of my regular walks, I stumbled across a small enclosed, deserted area, with just a few weeds growing. I decided that it was now going to be mine and that I would create my own magical fruit and vegetable garden. I decided not to tell anybody about it, especially my grandmother. To create my garden, I took some of the herbs and vegetables my grandmother grew and planted them there. I grew all sorts of things: small tomatoes, thyme, oregano, wild greens, zucchini, chamomile leaves, and native flowers. It was an extremely colorful and happy garden and it became my favorite place on the island—somewhere I could escape to, to dream and be free. I derived great joy from watching my plants grow.

Lauroly Q- Your upbringing is so foreign to many Americans who grew up with packaged meat, and processed food sources. Only those who lived on farms can relate and understand your experience. Yet this may be what’s missing today–a real connection to our food sources. While living with your grandmother you had chores every morning that included feeding the chickens, collecting the eggs, milking the goat, and picking the herbs and vegetables. Sounds so simple, yet it’s hard work! You ate mainly seafood and vegetables, which seems to be the mainstay of the Mediterranean diet. You referred to meat as a rare luxury in the book. Tell us more about this and how your Greek family viewed eating animal meat…

Maria Benardis: Animal meat was considered sacred and before any animal was sacrificed for our enjoyment our island priest would bless it. We ate meat on special occasions only such as Easter, Christmas, when someone got married on the island, birthdays etc. In Greek Orthodox culture, many people may not know that we have meatless Wednesday’s and Friday’s amongst other days in the religious calendar in any case. Additionally, we closely aligned our eating habits to those of our ancient Ancestors. As many would know in Ancient Greece many were vegetarians, vegans and fruitarians.

As outlined in my other book/eBook “Cooking & Eating Wisdom for Better Health.” “In ancient Greece many people avoided animal flesh altogether. They believed that by eating the flesh of animals that had been slaughtered they would be ingesting pain and that this was detrimental to ones health. Plutarch ( Greek biographer and essayist) tells us: ‘Man is by nature not a carnivorous animal’. ‘It is not natural to mankind to feed on flesh, we first of all demonstrate from the very shape and figure of the body. For the human body no way resembles those that were born for ravenousness’. ‘Shall we reckon a soul to be a small expense.’ ‘Animal food is injurious: it clogs and confuses the mind’ and the ‘mind weak and feeble’. It operates unfavourably on character’. ‘If we must eat flesh let it be with sorrow and pity; not tormenting and abusing the poor animal before taking its life. Animals have senses’.”“Who knows the bodies of animals may contain the souls of deceased men.”

Lauroly Q- Thank you for sharing great wisdom we all need to revisit. There are so many interesting stories like “The Grape Leaf Lady’ weaved throughout the book, but we can’t forget the wonderful delicious recipes! I think I mentioned in our last interview together that Greek food is one of my favorite cuisines. I was fortunate to visit Greece more than once, and I have wonderful memories of eating. I think it was the simplicity of the food that worked for me and the aromatic herbs and spices. I remember going to a Greek restaurant outside the city of Athens and there was no menu! They just brought out various dishes of food to the table, as if we were family. They mainly served fish and vegetable dishes and it was all so delicious! What herbs and spices are commonly used in Greek cooking? I love how you call them healing ingredients as many spices are. Food really can be medicine don’t you think?

Maria Benardis: There are many spices and herbs still used in Greek cookery that were used by my ancient Greek ancestors. I cover their medicinal properties observed by them and now at the back of my book and throughout “My Greek Family Table”. They include basil comes from the Greek basilius, meaning “king” or “royal.” the king of herbs and the crowning herb in Greek cuisine. The father of medicine, Hippocrates, regarded basil as beneficial to the heart and prescribed it for the treatment of constipation and for the prevention of vomiting. Other include mint, dill, cilantro, Bay Leaf, Marjoram, Oregano ( is derived from two Greek words: oros (mountain) and ganos (joy) (i.e, “joy of the mountain”)), parsley, Rosemary, and Thyme. Laura, you are absolutely right Food is Medicine and in the wise words of Hippocrates “Let Medicine be thy food and food thy medicine”. I was ill for many years with cysts that were going to turn into cancer and the doctors were not able to help me. I turned to food and mind medicine and healed myself.
MBPicMyGreekFamilyTable

Photograph from ‘My Greek Family Table’ Book

 

Lauroly Q-My favorite part of the book ‘My Greek Family Table’ is where you talk about returning to Greece after living in Australia for a long time. It was on that trip you discovered your calling and true love of Greek food. Can you share a little bit of that story?

Maria Benardis: Yes, I have the whole story in my book. Briefly in August 2004 I went on a life-changing trip to Greece. It was my first visit back there since leaving Psara all those years before. While there, I visited Kalamata and many of the beautiful islands. However, it was on the island of Mykonos that my life changed forever, when I visited the small church of Saint Fanourios. It was there that my decision to pursue my passion for food was sealed and my destiny set on a new course. Saint Fanourios is a very small church on one of the main winding streets in Mykonos. Beautifully whitewashed, the church proudly hangs the Greek flag hangs proudly outside. It had an inviting look about it and I felt compelled to go in and light a candle. The church was adorned with beautiful icons painted with vibrant colors and finished off with gold and silver. In the corner there were many candles that had being lit that day by people who had passed by. I felt a peace in my soul that I had not experienced before, and the sweet fragrance of the holy basil heightened my sense of tranquility. Suddenly I experienced an epiphany and saw all that was about to happen in my life pass before me. I realized it was time for me to reinvent my life, and in that church I saw a new path set out for me to follow. I decided then and there that I was going to dedicate myself to bringing Greek food and culture to the rest of the world.

Lauroly Closing- Thank you so much for joining us Maria, I could ask you so many other questions, but I think your book is really special. Everyone needs to read your story while turning the beautifully photographed pages of your Greekalicious dishes and classic Greek tables. They will not only find delicious Greek recipes, but perhaps a fresh perspective on their own relationship with food. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, and love of your Greek culture and heritage. Mission accomplished Maria! Greece will live on in you and now in us.

Maria Benardis Closing: Thank you for interviewing me and for your time. In closing I would like to end with some words I have in “My Greek Family Table” in the acknowledgments section. This book is for all the Greeks (and I believe we all have a bit of Greek within us all) over the world. You are all so fortunate to be part of a civilization that has contributed many things, such as democracy, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, theater, arts, healing therapies, and most importantly of all gastronomy; forgotten by the world but now time to be remembered.

 

read more
%d bloggers like this: