I offered up my New Year’s Resolutions recently and one of them is to try a vegetarian diet. So far so good. But only because I bought two fabulous cookbooks from Revive Cafe in Auckland. I haven’t been to Revive, which is described as a health haven, but I read the cookbooks have easy to follow and delicious recipes.

Each cookbook is normally NZ$39.99 but were on special for $29.99 so I pounced. I’ve never seen such idiot proof recipes. Minimal ingredients; maximum taste.

So far, I’ve whipped up Indian potato and chickpea wraps; honey and soy tofu steaks; Bircher muesli for breakfast; and blueberry and cashew cheesecake. And you know what? I don’t really miss the taste of meat or fat or sugar. I’m sleeping a bit better and seem to have a lot of energy. Mind you, I always have a lot of energy so I’m not sure if I need more.

El Hubs is struggling a bit because he has a super-sweet tooth. Especially after dinner, he likes to scoff something sweet whether it be ice-cream, chocolate or cake. Don’t get me wrong, we’re both not bad eaters. We don’t do Maccas or KFC or much in the way of processed foods. But we both have a sweet tooth and I could exist on ice-cream, chocolate and crisps. But I know better and really limit myself. I don’t eat red meat, I don’t smoke or drink – so these are my redeeming qualities.

But I’ve become uncomfortable with humans eating animals and I don’t like all the anti-biotics and other nasties being pumped into cows and chickens these days. I doubt a diet of veges, fruits, nuts and pulses will do me any harm. I need to look into Free Trade chocolate and see if that’s allowed on a vegetarian eating regime. I do like my chocolate!

Actually, what I should be doing is moving to the Island of (Almost) Eternal Life. This is the island of Ikaria, Greece where it’s the norm for people to live to 100 years or over. The typical diet is breakfast of tea made with wild herbs and bread with local honey, plus olives and cheese. The main meal of the day is lunch, which is vegetables with pulses or beans, plus wine and bread, followed by a siesta. The light evening meal is similar to breakfast. Apparently, horta is a key feature of the Ikarian diet. Horta is the generic name for wild plants such as dandelion, wild sorrel, chicory and fennel picked from the hillsides and tossed into salads or boiled and dressed with olive oil and lemon.

Another key factor in the Ikarian regime is the steep hillsides on the island. To get anywhere, people have to walk up steep slopes. One woman, who will turn 100 years old in March this year, says “‘Every year I do more, not less“.  I think this is really key. Western society likes to pigeon-hole you – retire at 65 years and think about entering a rest home pretty soon thereafter. And if you’re over 45 years? Well, you’re no longer young, hip, groovy, funky – whatever the word is these days – and organisations start to target you in any restructure.

I think this ageism is all rubbish and try to ignore it as much as possible. You are old when you give up. Until then, you should keep up with movement and exercise, learn new things, laugh and eat as naturally as you can.

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Indian potato and chickpea wraps.

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Bircher muesli.

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Honey and soy tofu steaks – with roasted potato and pumpkin. Garnished with shallots, white and black sesame seeds.

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Blueberry and cashew cheesecake. No sugar; no dairy.

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