Say 'opa' to a better you with a Mediterranean-flavored lifestyle
(BPT) - The Mediterranean lifestyle of eating healthy foods and getting good exercise has won accolades for improving the heart health of millions of Americans, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But for many, adopting a healthier lifestyle can be a huge challenge, especially with everyone's unique body shape, personalities, likes and dislikes. A program that works for one person, may not work for you. The good news is many healthy activities found in a Mediterranean lifestyle can help you say "opa" - a Greek exclamation of joy - to a better you.
Chelsie Hightower, the Emmy-nominated professional dancer from the hit show "Dancing with the Stars," has put together some healthy lifestyle tips with a Mediterranean flair:
* "Make healthy meal choices. I try to stick to a Mediterranean influenced diet that is rich in olive oil, vegetables, fruit, fish and dairy. I enjoy finding recipes online and then trying them at home. Old London has some great recipes on its Facebook page."
* "Give yourself a break. We all need to recharge our batteries every once in a while. If you can't take a vacation, plan a day or a weekend at home when you can have a little 'me time' to just relax and do whatever makes you happy."
* "Reach for healthy snacks. I keep smart snack options on hand to keep my energy up between meals like a handful of almonds, some Greek yogurt and honey or a few Old London Melba Snacks with hummus."
* "Go dancing. In Greece, dancing is a large part of any celebration or gathering. I love going dancing with friends; not only do we have a great time but I also get a workout."
* "Healthy living equals happiness. You don't have to wait for a special occasion to plan a get-together. Invite friends and family over just because. Ask guests to bring a dish, or set out appetizers like olives, cheese and Melba Toast for everyone to enjoy. I've found being happy is a big step to staying healthy."
To help you say "opa" to a better you, Old London is offering a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Greek Islands for a first-hand experience of the Mediterranean life. Visit www.facebook.com/OldLondonFoods for rules and how to enter.
To give you a start on blending a bit of Mediterranean life into your own lifestyle, award winning pastry Chef Johnny Iuzzini, has created a delicious, Mediterranean-inspired recipe that will interest your sweet tooth.
Mediterranean Cafe Mocha Bars by Johnny Iuzzini
Total time: 1 hour
Makes 8 inch tray
1 box Old London Whole Wheat or Sesame Melba Toast
1 package mini marshmallows
2 ounces 100 percent baking chocolate, squares or chips
10 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate, squares or chips
8 ounces butter
1 tablespoon instant ground espresso
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Caramel sauce and vanilla Greek frozen yogurt (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Melt together baking chocolate, bittersweet baking chocolate, butter and espresso in a bowl over a pot of gently simmering water.
Combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a metal bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer and heat over simmering water until it is warm to the touch. Whip on high using an electric mixer with whisk attachment until pale (approximately 3 to 4 minutes). Add melted chocolate to the egg mixture. Fold in sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Finish with chocolate chips.
Place half the brownie mixture into a buttered, floured, and parchment lined 8-inch cake pan. Lay a layer Melba Toast across the whole surface in one even layer. Next, scatter a layer of mini marshmallows evenly across the toast layer. Cover the marshmallows with the rest of the brownie mixture and bake at 325 F for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Use a toothpick to check if done.
Once cool, cut into squares and add a scoop of vanilla Greek frozen yogurt or caramel sauce if desired.