Lowfat Pumpkin Pie Recipe


Okay, so I’m not a chef, so let me make that clear from the get-go. Also, I have been off of refined sugars for almost 8 months now (with a few innocuous weekly cheats now and then), so my sweet tooth is significantly diminished. I say this as a caveat, because I think this pie is deliciously sweet, whereas someone who’s used to eating sugar may think my recipe is pretty bland.

Lowfat Pumpkin Pie

1-1.5 cups nut/seed milk (almond or hemp)

1 T egg white

½ tsp glucommanan powder

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups mashed pumpkin

½ c nut flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup xylitol

¼ tsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9” deep pie pan with cooking spray.
  2. Put 1st 5 ingredients in blender. Add pumpkin. Add other ingredients and blend on high for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour into pie pan and bake 60 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven. Cool. Chill. Top with Reddi Wip.

Exercise and Nonfat/Low-Carb Meals


I have been on this THM diet now for a little over a month. I lost 6 pounds right away and now, although I’m so glad I haven’t gained back anything, I have stalled again. I know how that goes in weight loss. Some weeks you lose weight in ounces and pounds; other weeks you lose centimeters and inches in various parts of your body. Thankfully, this stall in weight loss is not a failure, as I have lost a whole inch in my waist, hips, and upper arms! So, if you’re on this THM journey, don’t despair. When your weight loss stalls, measure yourself and you’ll likely be happily surprised with your progress!

Many of you have asked me about my daily workout regimen. I’m not an athlete and I get bored super easily, so I change what I do almost daily—which I now know is good for weight loss and muscle gain, since the body can never get stuck in a rut. I exercise six days a week for anywhere from 20-60 minutes doing anything from swimming laps at the local gym, taking ballet classes, doing pilates and yoga, walking, hiking, cycling, jogging, and HIIT Crossfit (the easier at-home versions without barbells). I love to talk, so if I can do any of the above with a friend (either in person or on the phone), it makes the time pass more quickly so I don’t get bored.

Honestly, the nonfat, low-carb meals are the least fun of weight loss foods, so I tend to avoid them. However, let me remind me of Pearl and Serene’s definition of a “Fuel Pull” meal: Fuel Pull refers to your body’s ability to pull fuel from stored fat. The meals are low in both fats and carbohydrates. Those meals, combined with exercise, push my body to the next level and help me to shed more unwanted fat and ounces (if not a full pound). And, truth be told, “Fuel Pull” snacks are some of the easiest to throw together and eat quickly, since the prep work is minimal and largely mindless.

When I have a busy day ahead, I often pack for meals on the go—great for those all-day shopping trips or long commutes. My on-the-go go-to “Fuel Pull” meal plan is often as follows:

Breakfast: “Fuel Pull” chocolate glucommanan smoothie

Snack: handful of nuts and some celery sticks

Lunch: Wasa crackers spread with Laughing Cow or Weight Watchers cheese, topped with turkey breast, lettuce and slices of tomato or cucumber. Sometimes I add slices of avocado too—but don’t go over ½ an avocado in one meal.

Snack: glass container of nonfat Greek yogurt, xylitol, cocoa powder, and strawberries (stored in a cooler)

Dinner: skim mozzarella cheese wrapped in a slice of turkey breast with any type of easy-to-eat “FP” vegetable (cucumber spears, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, etc.), and either more avocado or some low-fat, low sugar, low carb mayonnaise.

Dessert: If I have some “FP” cake or brownie made up ahead of time I’ll take that with me, but otherwise I eat another of my strawberry yogurt blends. The cocoa powder helps to satisfy my chocolate cravings.

Looking back over my food diary, no matter how busy I have been or how much I have eaten on my “FP” days, I have never failed to lose between .5 and 1 pound –even when I mixed things up and ate a non-“Fuel Pull” meal somewhere in there. I can’t complain about that!

The Low-Carb/Nonfat Foods Chart

Black & White Lexi's awesome beach cartwheel - 2

Below are lists of forbidden and allowed Low-Carb/Nonfat meals.

Remember that, although these foods are filling, energizing, and weight loss promoting, you still need to eat slowly and mindfully and exercise portion control. You must keep starchy carbohydrates to fewer than 45 grams per meal.

Forbidden Low-Carb/Nonfat Meals

Allowed Low-Carb/Nonfat Meals

Allowed Low-Carb/Nonfat Meals

Beverages & Dairy

  • No cream, goat’s milk or coconut milk
  • Never any sweet wines or high-carb beers


  • No egg yolks

Oils & Nuts

  • No more than 1 tsp of oil, butter, nut butter, or any other type of fat with any meal/snack

  • wine, red or white, dry only (in moderation)
  • beer, low carb, light only (in moderation)


  • all vegetables, except potatoes
  • sweet potatoes (Keep to one medium sweet potato per E meal.)
  • carrots, both raw and cooked


  • all fruits in small quantities e.g.,1 apple, 1 orange, 1 slice of cantaloupe (high glycemic)
  • Fruits like bananas and watermelon should be kept to a minimum.
  • all berries in liberal quantities
  • all-fruit jellies with no added sweeteners


  • egg whites only—no yolks (carton egg whites and Egg Beaters also acceptable)


  • brown rice—¾ cup cooked serving
  • quinoa—¾ cup cooked serving
  • oatmeal—up to 1¼ cooked cup serving
  • teff
  • Trim Health Pancakes and Trim Healthy Pan Bread (See recipe in book)
  • homemade whole grain bread, sourdough, or dark rye—2 piece servings
  • store-bought sprouted bread – 2 piece servings
  • popcorn—4-5 cups of popped kernels*

Specialty Items

  • plan-approved whey protein or protein powder, e.g., Jay Robb and Swanson Premium Brand
  • unsweetened almond, flax or hemp milk
  • Glucomannan powder
  • Joseph’s pita bread or other all natural, healthy, low-carb bread
  • Dreamfields pasta or other low-carb pasta
  • konjac noodles


  • stevia—NuStevia Pure White Stevia Extract Powder, Truvia, or KAL and Swanson stevia drops
  • xylitol and erythritol
  • fat Free Reddi Wip (for use with desserts)

  • low or non-fat plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • low or non-fat plain kefir
  • low or non-fat cottage cheese
  • part skim ricotta cheese
  • skim mozzarella cheese (small amounts only)
  • reduced fat hard cheeses (small amounts only)
  • light Laughing Cow or Weight Watchers cheese wedges
  • low-fat sour cream
  • Ghee
  • Smart Balance or Earth Balance (in moderation)


Lean Meats

  • chicken breast
  • tuna packed in water
  • salmon (fillets or canned)
  • all other fish (not fried)
  • leaner cuts of bison, venison and grass fed beef
  • turkey breast
  • lean ground turkey or chicken (96%-99% lean)
  • lean deli meats (hormone- and antibiotic-free)



  • All beans and legumes including lentils and split peas—up to 1½ cooked cup cooked servings


  • Nut butters (1 tsp. servings)
  • Nuts (very small handful servings, basically a sprinkle size)
  • Defatted peanut flour (We recommend Protein Plus Peanut Flour and Byrd Mill Peanut Flour Dark 12%—1 Tbs. serving for use in desserts, sauces, and to stuff celery.)

Condiments & Baking Items

  • Reduced fat mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Horseradish sauce
  • All vinegars
  • Hot sauce
  • Reduced fat dressings (Keep fat grams to 4 or less and sugar low.)
  • Soy sauce/Braggs Liquid Aminos/Tamari
  • Chicken or beef broth or stock (free range)
  • Spices and seasonings (without fillers and sugars)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Cold pressed oils (1-2 teaspoon servings)


Go-To Weight Loss Snacks

These are a few of my “go to” sweet and savory snacks for  weight loss cycle.

Savory Healthy Fat, Low Carb Snacks

  • Sliced mushrooms sautéed in butter or coconut oil, sprinkled with garlic salt
  • Hard-boiled or deviled eggs with zero-carb mayonnaise
  • Grilled steak strips
  • Stuffed mushrooms – mushroom stems, coconut flour, parmesan or Romano cheese, garlic, parsley, & black pepper fried in coconut oil, placed in mushroom caps and baked at 400 degrees for 25 minutes
  • Salad with grilled chicken or beef, artichoke hearts, balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • Deep-fried zucchini fritters dipped in egg and sprouted grain bread crumbs and parmesan cheese
  • Stir-fried vegetables in coconut oil, sprinkled with garlic salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese

Sweet Healthy Fat, Low Carb Snacks

  • THM Skinny chocolate
  • THM macaroons
  • THM meringues

Savory Nonfat, Low Carb Snacks

  • Skim milk mozzarella cheese and avocado with Wasa crackers or sweet potato chips
  • Grilled or baked chicken strips with Greek yogurt dressing, lettuce, tomatoes and fermented dill relish or sauerkraut in a sprouted grain tortilla
  • Salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • Mozzarella cheese quesadilla with sprouted tortilla
  • Sweet potato and vegetable chips with string cheese (Make sure your chips don’t contain corn, wheat or sugar. Get the purest kind possible.)

Sweet Nonfat, Low Carb Snacks

  • Greek yogurt with berries and approved sweetener
  • Sprouted grain bread and just a thin layer of Earth Balance or coconut butter with maybe a sprinkling of xylitol and cinnamon or some all-fruit jam; add flax meal for added nutrition
  • Chocolate glucomannan pudding
  • Apple with almond butter

THM “Fuel Pull” Tuna Wraps Recipe


If you’re used to reading my blog, you’ll know I am a long-time fan of probiotic-rich foods. For Trim Healthy Mama “Fuel Pull” days I like to make tuna sandwiches wrapped in lettuce. Here’s my simple recipe:

THM Fuel Pull Tuna Wraps


1 can of tuna (or salmon)

1 tsp.  light mayonnaise (optional)

2 T nonfat Greek yogurt

1 tsp kefir, plain

2 T “real” probiotic-rich sauerkraut (homemade or from a whole foods, health food store/section)

1 T “real” probiotic-rich dill pickle relish (from a whole foods or health food store/section)

Seasoning to taste (sea salt, pepper, Italian, etc.)

1 large lettuce leaf


Mix all and spread in a lettuce leaf. Add strips of red bell pepper, a little nonfat mozzarella cheese, sunflower seeds or some additional sauerkraut, if you’d like. Wrap in the lettuce leaf and eat.

Note: I also like making creamy, ranch-style “E” salad dressings with all of the above except the tuna and lettuce leaf.

Comparison of THM “S” Foods to other Diets

Nourishing Traditions book photo

In comparing the “Trim, Healthy Mama” (THM) diet to other diets out there,  I find that the “Satisfying S” foods are similar in many ways to the healthy fats and proteins of the following diets: GAPS, Paleo, Nourishing Traditions, The Maker’s Diet, and The Schwarzbein Principle.

The biggest difference is that THM would not allow certain starchy carbohydrates to be eaten with the fats–at least, as long as you’re trying to lose weight. For the same reason, THM authors advise never eating fruits or fruit-like vegetables with your “S” meals if weight loss is your goal. That means tomatoes are not allowed. Also, they advise not eating nuts or avocados in “Deep S” weight loss meals, so almond flour, peanut flour, and substituting avocados for butter or oil are out. After you lose the weight and want to maintain, you’re free to add in “S Helpers” like tomatoes, almond flour, peanut flour and even grains with your “S” meals.

One thing I have noticed is that it’s easy to find low-carb “E” and “Fuel Pull” recipes on the internet, but “S” and “Deep S” recipes are more of a challenge–mainly because fats–even healthy ones–are still seen by many as unhealthy.

Here are a few examples of “S” recipes and substitutes:

  1. Pesto pasta with meatballs smothered in cheeses, but the pasta has to be made of zucchini or spaghetti squash or maybe  glucomannan “miracle” noodles or kelp noodles (I cheat and use pine nuts as S Helpers in my pesto.)
  2. Deep-fried donuts dipped in powdered Truvia or xylitol and maybe a sprinkling of cinnamon or cocoa powder, but the donuts would have to be made of something low-carbohydrate and non-nut, like coconut flour, flax meal and psyllium husks.
  3. Ice cream made with cream cheese, THM skinny chocolate chunks, THM-approved sweetener, and maybe some butter or coconut butter. Mix, freeze and eat as ice cream. (I haven’t tried this yet, so if it’s bad, I’ll remove it from the list; if they’re good, I’ll leave it.)

*Note: I know that raw nuts and seeds are promoted as being super healthy–and they usually are–but the high phytate levels therein can cause kidney problems, so sometimes roasted is better–or just eliminating nuts and seeds and substituting other ingredients. You can pre-soak seeds and nuts in water and a little yogurt, but it’s such a bother, I don’t do it anymore.

My THM Diet Progress


The THM diet is truly amazing. Out of curiosity I looked back over my past years’ records posted to SparkPeople.com. Just as I thought—on the days I ate THM-style meals, I lost weight and almost every one of those meals happened to be a “Deep E” meal. I tried some high healthy fat meals, but they were all mixed with carbs, so it’s no wonder I never lost weight. At least I finally know the reason behind all that gaining, losing and stalling!

Now that I have discovered the key to THM’s meal cycling plan, I am enjoying “S” meals filled with satisfying, healthy fats. Bring on the yummy, fatty, healthy oils and let me live off the “fat of the land!” I’m feeling more full and less hungry. My cravings are much lower with “S” meals. (The glucomannan recipes are a big help.)

I have never enjoyed any diet more than this one, because it is so successful! Another discovery: I’m losing more weight more rapidly when I eat about 2 “Deep S” meals and 1 “Deep E” (refuel) meal per day…and I stall or gain weight every single time I “cheat” with the slightest bit of starchy carbohydrate eaten with a fat. Lessons learned. Everyone is different, of course, so you might not want or need the same combinations of foods, but experiment and see what works for you! You have a good chance of really figuring out what works and what doesn’t with the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan.

THM “Crossover” Foods


 “Crossover” meals are like “S Helper” meals in that they are weight maintenance meals; not weight loss meals. They don’t allow for weight loss, but they are designed to keep you from gaining back weight you’ve already lost.

Crossover meals are important. Serene and Pearl claim that their “S” and “E” meal plans work so well that even when you reach your desired weight you may keep losing weight unless you incorporate some Crossover meals. (Boy, how I would love to have that problem! Maybe someday soon I’ll be writing about that?) Crossovers are protein-based, but incorporate a balance of E and S foods.

“Crossover” meals give you more food variety, yet are designed to ensure that your blood sugar never spikes too high and that your body will not burn your own body fat. Serene and Pearl write in their book, “Your body will first burn the glucose from the starch in the meal, then it will burn the fat contained in the meal.” There is no weight loss involved in a Crossover meal.

One thing you need to remember is that every one of the THM meals is protein-based. In fact, the authors warn, “Continue to adhere to the good advice to not eat more than two pieces of bread at a time, no matter what stage of this plan you are on.” They also explain that, even once you reach your goal weight, you can never eat a carb-centered meal and expect to maintain your weight.

I have not yet purposely attempted a “Crossover” meal on the THM diet, they reflect the way I’ve been eating all my life—and what kept me from losing weight for so many years. In looking back over my meals these past few weeks of trying the THM weight loss plan, I see that I accidentally ate Crossover meals on certain days of this THM diet and that explains why I did not lose weight on those days. (Great discovery and so easy to get back on track!)

Crossovers are basically healthy, clean meals, but they contain that weight stalling combination of fats and carbs that the THM diet so carefully separates. In case you forgot, I’ll reiterate here: You cannot eat a fat with a starchy carb and lose weight. I now look at fat-carb combinations as deadly and I will only (purposely) try Crossovers once I have reached my goal weight (which is only 9 pounds away now).

Examples of “Crossover” Meals


E & S Foods

E Foods

S Foods

Meal Example 1:

Beef and Vege Stir Fry

Leafy green salad

Vegetables, quinoa or rice

Cheddar cheese, creamy dressing, beef, coconut oil

Meal Example 2:

Turkey Sandwich


Sprouted bread, turkey breast, tomato slices, nuts

Butter, cheese

Snack Example 3:



Apple, peanut butter

Cheddar cheese


Example 4:

Corn chips


Whole grain corn chips, salsa, beans

Cheese, sour cream, full-fat Greek yogurt

Meal Example 5:

Baked Sweet Potato


Baked sweet potato, chili beans

Cheddar cheese, sour cream, ground beef


THM “S Helper” Foods

quinoa photo (quinoa)

I’ll tell you about “S Helper” foods, but first a few personal notes….

I am about three weeks into the Trim Healthy Mama diet and, although I’ve had a couple of errors (and I know why, as noted in former blogs), my progress continues to be steady overall and I’m completely amazed! It’s slow at only .1-.3 pounds per day, but after being stalled and unable to budge the scale for so long, I’m happy with any progress at all!

People have asked me if adding workouts have helped me to lose weight. The answer is no. I have been doing about the same level of exercise for the past several years and haven’t altered my plan during my THM regimen. I get bored easily, so I change things up a lot. Some days I walk, hike or jog (or a combination of all three) for 30-60 minutes, some days I do a short 10-20 minute HIIT Crossfit-style workout, sometimes I take a one-hour ballet class, and sometimes I’ll swim laps for 30-60 minutes. I work out 5-6 days per week. Despite all that exercise, I worked super hard on dieting years and saw very little progress until I started on the THM food cycling plan.

I followed the THM weight loss cycle for about three weeks before attempting to experiment with “S Helpers.” I’m finding that I’m most consistently losing the most weight and keeping it off when I stick to more “Deep S” days. This is surprising to me, because the foods are so rich, creamy, and delicious with all the chocolates and puddings, creamy sauces, coconut milk smoothies, etc. All the foods are filling, yet the numbers on the scale keep going down! It’s nothing short of miraculous! In fact, I thank God every day, because it has been a huge frustration in my life to try all the “right” ways of eating that seem to work for everyone else but me. Now I finally know that–at least for me–eating the right foods in the right combination is the key to weight loss and weight maintenance.

About “S Helpers”

In their THM book, Serene and Pearl explain that S Helpers are carefully selected, THM-approved carbohydrates and healthy starches added to “S” meal plans. They do not recommend them until you’ve gotten good at following the THM weight loss plans for at least two months. Well, I guess I’ve cheated a little in this regard, because I tried some “S Helper” meals before I reached the two month point. I agree with the THM authors that adding “S Helper” carbohydrates to “S” or “Deep S” meals will slow your weight loss. That’s definitely what happened to me. However, I also agree that this is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as the loss is steady and consistent.

Here is a List of Approved “S Helper” Foods:

  1. 1 piece of sprouted Trader Joe’s, or Ezekiel bread, or 1 thin slice of homemade sourdough bread, or ½ piece of homemade regular whole wheat bread
  2. 1 medium Trim Healthy Pancake or Pan Bread
  3. ¼ -½ cup of cooked quinoa (it’s more gentle on blood sugar than most other grains)
  4. ¼ cup (no more) of cooked brown rice or other starchy grain (it’s harder on blood sugar)
  5. ¼ -½ cup of cooked oatmeal
  6. 1 extra small serving of fruit, such as ½ apple, ½ orange, or 1 mandarin
  7. ¼ -½ cup of cooked beans (you can use a more liberal and generous ½ cup serving of chana dahl)

Note: My “S Helper” was a handful of sweet potato chips. Serene and Pearl don’t even list sweet potatoes as S Helpers, but I was able to add a few and still continue to lose weight.

THM “Deep E” or “Refuel” Foods Chart

E image

“E” stands for “Energizing.” “E” meals are protein-centered meals that have a medium amount of carbohydrates, but have less fat. They utilize glucose as their chief fuel. The result is weight loss.

When you are working to lose weight, you want to eat what Serene and Pearl call “Refuel” foods, along with the “S” and “Fuel Pull” meals. What is confusing to me in the book is that “Refuel” foods are actually “Deep E” foods, so that’s what I call them.

“Deep E” foods are those foods restricted to the initial 2-week weight loss cycle for those just starting out on the THM diet. The purpose of these two weeks is to detoxify your body and get you accustomed to this new way of eating. It’s kind of like a practice run before getting into the THM lifestyle.

Deep E (Refuel) Foods for Days 6, 7, 13 & 14 of Weight Loss Cycle

Forbidden Deep E Foods

Allowed Deep E Foods

Allowed Deep E Foods

  • No cream or coconut milk in coffee


  • No kefir
  • No goat’s milk


  • No egg yolks

Oils & Nuts

  • No more than 1 tsp fat with any meal/snack



  • Almond, hemp or flax milk
  • Black coffee
  • Tea
  • THM earth milk

Vegetables & Fruits

  • Any vegetables (except potatoes)
  • Sweet potatoes!
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Any fruit in moderation (except bananas)
  • 100% fruit jam/jelly

Grains & Legumes

  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • THM pancakes*
  • THM pan bread*
  • Sprouted breads
  • Sprouted wraps
  • Chana dahl = dried lentils, peas or beans



  • Low fat and minimal, but not nonfat
  • No more than 1 tsp fat with any meal/snack
  • 1 tsp nuts/seeds/nut butter/meal


  • Chicken breast
  • Fish
  • Cottage cheese
  • 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • Egg whites


  • Meringues*
  • Slick trick puddings*
  • Smoothies*


*Recipes from the THM book

THM “Fuel Pull” Foods Chart

smoothie photo

A Fuel Pull (“FP”) day is low in carbohydrates and low in fats. Consequently, they are naturally low calories days. They utilize the body’s own body fat for fuel since they do not contain a primary dietary fuel.

The FP meals are intended for days 4, 5, 11 and 12 of the initial THM weight loss cycle and for any days that you want to push weight loss into a higher gear. However, Serene and Pearl caution readers not to eat Fuel Pull meals for more than two solid days in a row.

Fuel Pull Foods Chart

Forbidden Foods Allowed Foods Allowed Foods

  • No cream, fatty milk, or coconut milk

Fruits & Vegetables

  • No fruit, except berries
  • No potatoes
  • No sweet potatoes
  • No bananas

Grains & Legumes

  • No processed grains
  • No high-glycemic grains
  • No legumes, except for de-fatted peanut flour

  • 0% Greek yogurt
  • 1% Cottage cheese
  • Carton egg whites or Egg Beaters
  • Whey protein (Swanson Premium or Jay Robb)
  • Nonfat cream cheese
  • Laughing Cow or Weight Watchers light cheese wedges


  • Almond, flax milk or hemp milk, unsweetened
  • Fat Stripping Frappa (recipe in book)
  • Glucommannan smoothie
  • Coffee – black or with nut/seed milk
  • Any FP smoothie with berries or cocoa powder and glucomannan powder


  • Avocado (in moderation)
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots (one small raw per meal)
  • Cauliflower (for making “Fotato Soup” – in book)
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Leafy Greens
  • Red bell pepper
  • Sauerkraut –the “real” kind
  • Tomatoes


  • Berries
  • All-fruit jams


  • Fat free Reddi Wip
  • Glucomannan powder for making puddings and smoothies
  • Muffin in a bowl (recipe in book)

  • Chicken breast (3 oz)
  • Chicken sausage
  • Fat free chicken broth (base to most Fuel Pull sauces and soups)
  • Fat free chicken soup
  • Grilled tilapia
  • Lean steak strips (3 oz)
  • Lean turkey or chicken breast
  • Light Progresso soups
  • Salmon burger
  • Tuna
  • Turkey pepperoni
  • Turkey bacon


  • Mayonnaise, low calorie, low carb

Grains (or grain substitutes)

  • Oats (allowed after the initial 2-week weight loss cycle is complete)
  • Oat fiber –not oat bran (from Netrition.com)
  • Wasa crackers
  • Coconut flour
  • GG crisp bread crackers
  • Shirataki, Miracle or Konjac Noodles
  • Kelp noodles
  • Protein-Plus Peanut Flour, defatted (from Netrition.com)
  • Wasa Crackers
  • GG Crisp bread crackers
  • Joseph’s pitas & crackers
  • Psyllium husk powder


  • Avocado (in moderation)
  • Nuts & seeds (in moderation)
  • Use oils very sparingly, such as in a spray form for cooking.


THM Creamy Mocha Smoothie Recipe (FP, E or S)

smoothie photo

A friend and I like to swap THM recipes, so today I’d like to share one of my favorites. It’s not original. It’s merely my adaptation from the THM book, but it’s delicious and, due to the glucomannan powder, very filling.

Creamy Mocha Smoothie (FP, E or S)

1 cup almond milk (FP or E) or coconut milk (S)

1/3 cup Greek yogurt or nonfat cottage cheese (FP or E) or lowfat cottage cheese (S)

1 scoop of protein powder—egg whites (FP or E) or whey (S)

1 tsp vanilla

~1/8 tsp sea salt

½ tsp glucomannan powder

2 T xylitol

1/8 cup cocoa powder

1 T flax meal

¼ tsp. any super green powder (i.e. spirulina or chlorella)

6 coffee ice cubes


1)      Blend all but the ice.

2)      Let rest 20 seconds to let the glucomannan gel.

3)      Add coffee cubes.

4)      Blend.

5)      Serve.

THM Diet: Starchy vs. Non-starchy Vegetables


I did it again! I was following the THM diet and doing so well, enjoying a lovely “Deep S” day. It’s fall right now, so I decided to make a crust-free pumpkin pie with egg whites, xylitol sweetener, and coconut milk. It was divine! But I didn’t lose any weight that day. What had happened? With a little research, I discovered that pumpkins are high in starch. I had “E’d” myself on an “S” day.

On one hand, I could be discouraged, because my weight loss was held up for a day. On the other hand, I’m so, so grateful to finally know what causes weight gains and weight loss plateaus. I ate some good, healthy “Deep S,” fat-rich coconut milk with a starchy pumpkin. It’s one of THM’s most basic weight loss principles: Eating starchy carbs and with any fat prevents weight loss!

I have to remind myself again: no bread with butter, no bananas and peanut butter, no cake and ice cream, no macaroni and cheese. I can make healthy THM versions of all these foods, but if I eat them together and I’ll pack on the pounds.

To make things easier for me (and for you), I copied down the following charts of starchy and non-starchy vegetables so there will be no more confusion.

List of Non-Starchy Vegetables[i] for Deep S and Fuel Pull Days

  • Amaranth or Chinese spinach
  • Artichoke
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Baby corn
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beans (green, wax, Italian)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chayote
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
  • Hearts of palm
  • Jicama
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Pea pods
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)
  • Sprouts
  • Squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, spaghetti, zucchini)
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Turnips
  • Water chestnuts
  • Yard-long beans

List of Starchy Vegetables[ii] for Deep E (Refuel) Days

  • Beans (dried)
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash, winter
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Yams
  • Parsnips
  • Plantain
  • Taro

THM “Deep S” Foods Chart

S image

You cannot mix fat with starchy, sweet carbs or you will gain weight! I am learning the hard way that Serene and Pearl know what they’re talking about. I need to stick with their tried and true plan. No more fruits or fruit-like vegetables or and starchy vegetables on a “Deep S” day!

Deep S

So, let me explain what a “Deep S” day is and hopefully make it easier for you with my two columns of forbidden and allowed “Deep S” foods below. (I apologize that the columnar lines of the chart do not always show up in wordpress.)

“S” stands for “Satisfying.” The high (healthy) fat content in these meals makes you feel full and satisfied so you’re not hungry. (Adding just a little bit of glucommanan powder to each meal helps a lot too.) “S” meals are high in fat, high in protein, and low in carbohydrates. The only carbohydrates allowed on “S” days are leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables.

Deep S Foods

Forbidden Deep S Foods

Allowed Deep S Foods

Fruits & Vegetables

  • No fruit of any kind, not even berries
  • No tomatoes in any form
  • No starchy vegetables
  • No sweet potatoes
  • No potatoes

Grains & Legumes

  • No grains (except for Wasa crackers)
  • No beans (except for green ones)

Oils & Nuts

  • No nuts
  • No seeds
  • No avocado
  • No peanut butter


  • No yogurt of any kind!



  • Almond milk
  • Flax milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Coffee with cream or coconut milk

Vegetables & Fruits

  • No fruit, except for a little lemon or lime juice
  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Leafy greens
  • Very few onions
  • Mushrooms


  • Coconut oil and butter
  • Olive oil
  • Oily salad dressings
  • Butter & cream

Proteins (Dairy, Meats)

  • All meats (especially salmon)
  • Eggs (whole, omega 3 eggs)
  • Small amounts of cheese (cottage, ricotta, goat, cream, cheddar, etc.)
  • No yogurt!


  • Skinny Chocolate*
  • Tummy tuck ice cream*
  • Meringues*
  • Slick trick puddings*
  • Whey smoothies*

*Recipes from the THM book

THM Shopping List

smoothie photo

In the THM diet book, Serene Allison and her sister Pearl Barrett have shopping lists available, but they’re not organized the way I would like. I wanted a list organized into weight loss categories and I did not want any foods on those lists that were for weight maintenance rather than weight loss.

So, below is my shopping list, categorized according to general locations in the grocery store and labeled “S” for Satisfying, “E” for Energizing or Refuel, and “FP” for Fuel Pull: (If any foods are in all three categories, I just wrote “ALL.”) Please bear in mind that the labels are important in your diet. Do not eat an E food with an S food, unless you see and S and an E together or the word ALL. As Serene and Pearl say, you might be eating an E meal and accidentally S yourself or vice versa. This can ruin your weight loss efforts for the day. But isn’t it great to finally know why you gain weight or can’t lose it? It’s better than years of not knowing and always wondering what you’re doing wrong. And you can get back on track right away or the very next day!

Dry Goods  Coffee, black – ALLTea – ALLBeans/legumes – E

Sprouted grain bread – E

Nuts and seeds – E, FP

Nut butters – E, FP

Chicken broth – ALL

Brown rice – E

100% fruit jam – E, FP


ProduceLeafy greens – SMushrooms – S

Tomatoes – E

Sweet potatoes – E, FP

All vegetables but potatoes – E

Berries – E, FP

All fruit in moderation but bananas – E

Avocado – FP

Lemons and limes in moderation – ALL

Dairy/DeliCoconut butter – SButter – S

Goat cheese – ALL

Eggs, whole omega 3 – S

Cheese, in moderation – S

Egg whites – S, E

Ricotta cheese – S

Cottage cheese regular – S

Cottage cheese, nonfat – S, E

Yogurt, plain, Greek nonfat – E

Laughing Cow or Weight Watcher’s cheese – ALL

Turkey bacon – ALL

Turkey pepperoni – ALL


Health Foods & BulkDried, unsweet coconut – SWhey protein powder – S

Hemp protein powder – S

Sprouted grain flour – E (optional)

Quinoa – E

Glucommanan powder – ALL

Fat free Reddi Wip – ALL

Glucommanan “Miracle” noodles – ALL

Defatted Peanut Flour – E, FP

Psyllium husk powder – ALL

Bragg’s liquid aminos – ALL

Kelp noodles – ALL

Any of the following sugar free sweeteners: xylitol powder, liquid stevia, stevia powder, Truvia or eyrithritol – ALL*

Almond flour – E, FP

Maca powder – ALL (optional)

Chia seeds – ALL (optional)

Goji berries – ALL (optional)

Vegetable glycerin – ALL (optional)

Canned/BakingPlain almond, hemp or flax milk – ALLCoconut oil – S

Extra virgin olive oil – S

Oil, any healthy – S

Cocoa powder – ALL

Pumpkin, whole canned –E

Cinnamon – ALL

Pumpkin pie spice – ALL

Ginger – ALL

Sea salt – ALL

Pepper – ALL


Grains, Breads, PastasWasa crackers – E, FPDreamfields Pasta – E

Sprouted wraps – E

Sprouted grain bread – E


MeatsAll nitrate- free meats – SGrass fed beef – S

Salmon – S

Chicken breast – ALL

Tilapia – ALL

Lean fish – ALL

CannedCoconut milk, full fat – SCoconut milk, nonfat – E, FP

Coconut cream – S

Tomato sauce – E

100% fruit jam/jelly – E

*I use xylitol or Truvia for sweetener.

I hope this makes understanding the book easier for you.

Please note that I will continue to add to or modify this list if I have forgotten anything or made a mistake somewhere. If anyone notices an error, please let me know so I can rectify it. Thanks!

Weight Loss Cycle

As I mentioned before, I did not find the THM book especially easy to read. For one thing, it is not organized the way I would want. I look forward to the new edition to their book coming out in 2014, which should clear up all questions.

Someone wrote in and told me the following, which might be helpful if she’s correct (and I’m not even super clear on it): “One of your largest errors is saying the Fuel Cycle is for the initial two weeks for those starting the THM lifestyle. That fuel cycle should ONLY be used after following (free styling) for at least 3 months and then only with the other qualifers explained in the book. Many of us never need to use the more restrictive fuel cycle.”

The authors recommend leaving a three-hour gap between an S meal and an E meal; any closer together and the opposite foods will clash in your body and stall your weight loss progress. They also recommend S desserts after an S meal and E desserts after an E meal. Fuel pull meals can be eaten close to any meal.


Trim Healthy Mama (THM) Weight Loss Progress – Day 16

Trim Healthy Mama THM Book Photo

When I went to see my doctor back in early March, I weighed 140 pounds and had been stuck there for a year. No matter what diet I tried, no matter how much I exercised, I could not bust through that plateau and get “unstuck.” My doctor told me to stop eating all sugar and all white, refined grains. I was about 80% there, so following her instructions was not hard to do. I started doing Crossfit workouts in June. From March through mid-August I followed Tosca Reno’s “Clean Eating” diet and lost weight slowly, incrementally.  Finally, I reached 135 pounds and stayed there. Stuck again. I was frustrated. Yes, I was glad I had lost weight, but I hated that I still had a roll of fat around my waistline, even though I was doing everything right—still working out (and hard), still eating healthy and clean. I stayed stuck until…

In mid-September a friend of mine told me about the “Trim Healthy Mama” (THM) diet. She and a number of THM groupies from Grenada Community Berean Church have been following the diet and losing weight like crazy. When my friend Anne described what people were eating on THM, I told her I was already eating all those same foods. True, but was I eating them in this specific order or in these specific combinations? No. It sounded strange, but since so many friends were losing weight, I decided to try it.

I am now a full-blown THM advocate! I have, at long last, busted through that stupid weight loss plateau and have lost 4.7 pounds in 16 days. Now, some of you may think that is not a lot of weight over that period of time, but it is for me. After being stuck for so long, this is amazing, miraculous progress for me. Every day that I weigh myself (and I do so every day), I’m losing about .3 pounds per day and I see it on the scale.

Enough about how great the diet is; let me explain a little about what it is. The book, “Trim Healthy Mama,” by sisters Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett, is available online in either hard copy or ebook form. To be honest, the book is not easy to follow. In fact, in places, it’s downright confusing. I’m a visual learner and I need charts, graphs, lists, and color coding to help me organize just about anything. The confusion really came when trying to distinguish which foods to eat to lose weight and which foods to eat to maintain weight. It took me a few days of drawing up charts and lists and “practicing” the diet, including making several mistakes, before I could really begin the diet. I wasn’t frustrated, however, because even on those pre-diet practice days, I began losing weight!

The diet encourages eating high (healthy) fats, low carbs, and high proteins, but not on the same day or in the same meal. In fact, to lose weight, THM recommends a 14-day cycle of eating the following types of foods in the following order:

Day 1: “Deep S” (stands for “satisfying”) = high fats, moderate proteins, and no carbohydrates, except for non-starchy vegetables

Day 2: “Deep S”

Day 3: “Deep S”

Day 4: Fuel Pull (refers to your body’s ability to pull fuel from stored fat) = high protein, low fat, low carb

Day 5: Fuel Pull

Day 6: Refuel (a “Deep E,” day, which stands for “energizing”) = high protein, moderate carbs, low fat

Day 7: Refuel

Repeat Days 1-7 for days 8-14.

There are a number of rules on the THM diet:

1)      NEVER EAT MUCH (IF ANY) FAT WITH A CARB. (That means no bread with butter, no grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches, no bananas and peanut butter, no PB&J sandwiches)

The book explains a little of the science behind the fat-carb theory, but I don’t pretend to fully understand it. All I know is that this principle alone has helped me to lose weight.

2)      Bananas and potatoes are forbidden during the weight loss cycles, but are allowed occasionally in weight maintenance.

3)      For weight loss, never eat nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, avocado, tomatoes, or fruit on a high fat “Deep S” day.

Another important point you’ll notice right away about the THM diet is that it’s not only low carb, it’s low-glycemic. In other words, the diet ensures that your blood sugar remains stable. There’s no sugar and there are no refined grains or flours on this diet. Sprouted grains, however, are allowed and encouraged on days 6, 7, 13, and 14 of the weight loss cycle. Those are also the days that most fruits are allowed. Believe me, after doing without grains and fruit for five days, you’ll be excited about eating them again.

Another thing you’ll notice about the THM diet is that there is no weighing, no measuring, and no calorie counting. I know other diets make this claim too, but this is truly the only one that has worked for me. I just eat the foods on the plan until I feel full and I lose weight.

Key Ingredients

I’ll write a shopping list blog in a future post regarding the ingredients you’ll need for the THM diet, but one of the key weight loss ingredients you’ll want to buy right away is glucomannan powder. It’s a natural thickener made from the konjac root. Not only does it thicken puddings and smoothies; it expands in your stomach and makes you feel fuller faster so that you don’t to overeat. I buy the powder in a bottle of capsules, break open the capsules, and stir them into my foods. Make sure you buy capsules and not tablets, unless you feel like grinding up the tablets in a coffee grinder.

Traditional Dutch Foods – Fava Beans

fava beans

Tyrosine is the precursor to dopamine, the “feel good” hormone that both curbs food cravings and lowers appetite. Tyrosine-rich foods include:

  1. Algae
  2. Almonds
  3. Apples
  4. Beer
  5. Chicken
  6. Chocolate
  7. Duck
  8. Edamame
  9. Fava beans
  10. Mustard greens
  11. Oats
  12. Ricotta cheese
  13. Salmon
  14. Sunflower seeds
  15. Wheat germ

Looking over the Dutch diet, I find it curious that several items on the dopamine list match up with a few traditional Dutch foods: beer, chocolate (mainly in the form of chocolate sprinkles called “Hagelslag” on their toast), and fava beans.

I’m most curious about the fava beans in the Dutch diet, since they are incorporated into a number of Dutch recipes. They curb the appetite, keeping one thin, and they make people happy. Aren’t the Dutch known for being thin and happy? (And tall too, of course, but I’ve written about that in another earlier article.) So, in researching Dutch fava bean recipes, I have located the following:

Dutch Fava Bean Recipe  (from heredutchhere.net)

6-8 pounds of unshelled fava beans

12-15 strips of bacon

3 large potatoes

1 fried or boiled egg (optional)


  1. Remove beans from pods; the fingernail-shaped connector piece (‘interface’) often stays with the pod, remove it if not;
  2. Prepare bacon (I heat up ready-to-serve, fully-cooked on a low fire in frying pan for 12-15 minutes, put on paper towels, discard fat);
  3. Wash beans a few times, then put in a pan and cover with water; bring to a boil, then add 2 oz. (¼ cup, 50 ml) milk and cook for 12 minutes (don’t let it boil over);
  4. Drain water, add bacon to fava beans and mix.
  5. Serve with boiled poatoes: peel, wash, put in a pan, fill with an inch of water, bring to a boil; potatoes should cook for 17 minutes, drain, then leave on low fire for two minutes;
  6. Add a fried or boiled egg (optional)
  7. When you start cooking the beans and potatoes at the same time, they’ll be ready about together.

Dutch Sweet Potato Caraway Fava Bean Soup (from dutchfood.about.com)

  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 4 (orange) sweet potatoes
  • 1 (lamb) stock cube
  • 1 cup shelled fava beans/broad beans (100 g)
  • 5.30 oz soft goat’s cheese/chevre (150 g)
  • Argan oil
  • Salt & pepper


Finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat some olive oil in a large soup pot over a low heat, and fry the onions and garlic for about 10 minutes.

In a pestle and mortar, crush 1 tbsp caraway seeds, and add to the onion mix. Meanwhile, peel and dice the sweet potatoes and add to the pot, along with 3 pints of water (1.5 l) and the stock cube. Turn up the heat a bit and simmer the soup for 15 minutes (or until the sweet potato is tender). Now puree using a stick blender (or decant into a food processor or blender).

Blanch the fava beans in salted boiling water for 1 minute and then rinse in cold water. Now peel the seeds from their opaque skins: simply press with your thumb and forefinger and they’ll pop right out.

Serve soup with the twice-shelled fava beans, some crumbled goat’s cheese (chevre) and a drizzle of Argan oil. Sprinkle some caraway seeds on top, along with salt & pepper, to taste. Delicious with crunchy bread.

Can Moving to a Blue Zone Cure Disease?

Dan Buettner is the author of the book, The Blue Zones and founder of Blue Zones, a longevity research foundation established to identify populations throughout the world who suffer low rates of disease and live well into their nineties and perhaps one-hundreds.

So far, Mr. Beuttner and his team have identified five communities they have labeled “Blue Zones,” areas where people are healthy, happy, and live long lives. As of today, these communities are:

  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California (in a Seventh-Day Adventist community)
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Sardinia, Italy[i][ii]

If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably read the New York Times story by Dan Beuttner titled, The Island Where People Forget to Die. It’s a fascinating account of a man named Moraitis who was born in Ikaria, Greece and moved to New York in 1943. Thirty-three years later he was diagnosed with lung cancer and given nine months to live. He was in his mid-sixties. He decided to forego popular cancer treatments and return to his island of Ikaria to die in peace. Over the course of six months, he gradually regained his strength and ambition. He reconnected with his faith, friends, family, culture, and relaxed island lifestyle. He kept on living for years and at ninety-seven years of age he was cancer free. The article doesn’t say exactly when he became cancer free, but from the sound of things, his health was being restored and cancer was being eradicated from his body within months of living in Ikaria.[iii]

I have been following these Blue Zone stories on Dr. Oz’s show and website, bluezones.com, sommunity.sw.org, and other sites on the internet. The Blue Zone goal appears to be to identify specific attributes of healthy, happiness and longevity in certain population in order that others throughout the world can learn from, copy, and attain those populations and become just as healthy and happy.

This is a worthy goal. To copy the diets and lifestyles is very possibly beneficial to many people—at least, that’s what we hope. But is this sufficient? There are many factors involved in the health of a Blue Zone. It’s not just diet, not just lifestyle; there’s when people eat, how relaxed people are when they eat, portion sizes, conversations occurring during meals, climate, weather, being outdoors, how much sunshine people get on their skin…. I could go on and on.

Has anyone already moved to a blue zone and cured his or her disease? If so, I’d like to read about it or follow someone’s online blog journey to healing in a Blue Zone. I mean, for those suffering from serious diseases, is it enough to merely copy the diets and lifestyles of Blue Zone peoples and remain living in one’s same city or town? It’s the best most of us can do, I know, but don’t you think it might be prudent to conduct a grand experiment with volunteers who are willing to move to various Blue Zone, immerse themselves in the five distinct cultures, and possibly experience a higher than average chance of healing?

Of course, there are questions to be answered regarding such an experiment (not the least of which is cost), but I’ll save those questions for a future blog and leave you to mull over the idea for a while. I, for one, would love to move to a Blue Zone for several months to see if various health problems and issues lessened. I can dream, can’t I? And you have to admit it does sound fun! And I’m serious about those who have either lived in Blue Zones or who are living in them now. Wouldn’t it be great to hear how those people are faring health-wise?

Blue Zone – The Traditional Society of Ikaria, Greece

The people of Ikaria, Greece live more traditionally than much of the rest of the world. What contributes to the Ikarians’ longevity and considerably low incidence of heart disease, dementia, and other diseases?


Ikarians do not eat unless they’re sitting down, relaxing, and spending time in conversation with one another.

  1. Vegetables and Beans: The Ikarian diet is largely plant-based, rich in vegetables and beans (like garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils) and low in meat. Seasonal vegetables are natural, unprocessed, and largely organic, free of pesticides and herbicides. Vegetables include wild mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, wild greens, pumpkins, squashes, and taro root.
  2. Wild Greens: Ikarians grow almost everything they eat and they eat a lot of wild greens. They eat a lot of fennel, dandelion greens, and horta (something like spinach), and anything their gardens produce seasonally.
  3. Nuts: Plentiful nuts on the island of Ikaria include almonds, walnuts, and chestnuts.
  4. Fruit in Season: Ikarians eat a lot of kalamata olives, stone fruits, apples, pears, oranges, grapes, figs, and blackberries in season.
  5. Low Sugar: Sugar is primarily added to morning coffee and is largely absent anywhere else in their diet.
  6. Olive Oil: Ikarians drizzle olive oil over almost everything they eat. They consume most of their olive oil unheated.
  7. Raw Goat’s Milk: Goat’s milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk and high in tryptophan, which reduces stress hormones and lowers the risk of heart disease. You could argue that goat’s milk is healthy, but I believe it’s not just that; it’s the fact that Ikarians drink raw goat’s milk. Remember, whenever milk of any kind is pasteurized, the beneficial probiotic, lactobacillus acidophilus, is destroyed. This probiotic helps to synthesize B vitamins in the colon and build healthy bacteria in the gut. The reason yogurt in most developed countries (like the U.S., Canada, and most of Europe) contains probiotics is because they were added back into the pasteurized yogurt after those probiotics were removed. Goat’s milk, goat cheeses, and goat yogurt in Ikaria, Greece is not pasteurized.
  8. Herbs and Herbal Teas: Ikarians drink a lot of herbal teas. These teas contain compounds that lower blood pressure, lower the risk of heart attacks, and lower the risk of dementia. One of the most popular teas is leriadis, a mountain herb tea drunk in the evenings. There are also teas made from wild marjoram, artemisia, sage, a type of mint called fliskouni, rosemary, and dandelion leaves with lemon. Many Ikarian teas contain mild diuretics. Other common herbs include fennel, savory, oregano, chamomile, and sage.
  9. Wine: Would you believe the Ikarian diet includes a little wine at every meal, even breakfast? They usually drink between two and four glasses of wine per day.
  10. Honey: Raw, unpasteurized honey is a staple in the Ikarian diet and is viewed as a general tonic. They start their day with a spoonful, use it to cure hangovers, take it to treat influenza, and apply it topically to heal wounds. Pine honey is unique to the island.
  11. Fish and Meat: Fish is eaten approximately twice a week. Other meats (usually goat or pork with lard) are eaten only about five times per month.


Typical Breakfast: A typical day might begin with a spoonful of honey. It is seen as a tonic. After that comes a breakfast of one optional glass of wine, goat’s milk or goat yogurt, sage tea or coffee, honey, and heavy naturally-soured sourdough bread made with whole grains.

Typical Lunch: A late afternoon lunch is usually a large meal consisting of perhaps another glass of wine, some kalamata olives, wild greens, plenty of potatoes, beans, or lentils, more heavy sourdough bread, and perhaps some hummus.

Typical Snack: A sunset snack with friends for Ikarians is a cup of herbal tea and one glass of wine.

Typical Dinner: Dinners consist primarily of only whole grain sourdough bread, goat’s milk, and a glass of wine. If they add anything else to this meal, it is merely some fish twice a week, or a bit of goat or pork five times a month. After a dinner with friends, a dance to traditional Greek music is not uncommon.

Video Montage of Ikaria, Greece: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekcGMimmIZs


Lifestyle and Exercise

  1. Walking and Hiking: Ikaria, Greece is a mountainous region. The people spend a lot of time outdoors. Many are goatherds. Ikarians walk or hike the hilly island daily. Even people well into their nineties hike up and down mountains without a second thought.
  2. Daily Naps: Ikarians take a daily thirty-minute nap every day. Some say napping reduces the risk of heart attack and stress, and makes people look younger. Since one study indicates that men between the ages of 65 and 100 have sex regularly and with “good duration” and “achievement,” I suspect Ikarians’ daily naps offer health benefits beyond rejuvenating sleep.
  3. Sleep and Daily Schedule: Ikarians wake up naturally, without alarm clocks. Because they tend to stay up late, they usually wake up late. Many Ikarians will work in their gardens for awhile before and/or after breakfast. Shops might open for business at 11:00 AM, close at 3:00 PM while workers head home for lunch and a nap. Sunset is a time for visiting with friends and neighbors. Ikarians may or may not return to work after their social outing. Many Ikarians reopen their shops as late as 9:00 PM and work until long after midnight.
  4. Life Purpose: Ikarians may not get to work early in the morning, but their work gives them purpose and meaning in their lives clear into their hundreds. They do not believe in retirement. There is evidence that a clear definition of your life adds to one’s life expectancy.
  5. Relaxed Sense of Time: Ikarians do not wear watches. Being fashionably late is an accepted part of their culture. No one feels the least bit guilty about state of continuous relaxation. Consequently, they have less stress and fewer wrinkles.
  6. Community, Communalism and Communism: Ikarians have a strong community and tight-knit family and neighborly support. Everyone knows everyone else’s business and they like it that way. Everyone has a sense of belonging and acceptance. Such strong social connections have been shown to lower depression and body weight. They spend a lot of time together in groups of all sizes, singing and dancing, going to church, and celebrating numerous religious festivals. In fact, from May to October, they host between two and four Greek Orthodox festivals per week. Partying is an integral part of their lifestyle. A few pagan, Greek mythology-based festivals are celebrated, as well. Communal sharing is also part of their lifestyle. They pool their money to buy food and wine for parties, and any money left over is given to the poor. Some of this mentality may stem from the Greek Civil War in the 1940s when many political radicals and communists were exiled to Ikaria. Even today, a surprising number of Ikarians vote for the Communist Party.
  7. Family: Family is important to Ikarians. Sometimes three generations will live in one house, but even if they don’t all live together, grandparents tend to spend time with grandchildren on a daily basis. This type of social arrangement improves the health and well-being of both younger and older generations.
  8. Hot Springs: There are famous hot springs located on the island of Ikarus. Just how many locals actually immerse themselves in the spring’s healing waters I do not know.
  9. Clean Air and Sea: Ikarians attribute their health and longevity to the clean air and the sea all around them. However, other Greeks on surrounding islands breathe the same clean air and are surrounded by the same sea, yet they do not have the same levels of health and longevity as Ikarians.
  10. Gardening: Every Ikarian spends time outdoors in the sunshine each day, tending their gardens. It’s an Ikarian tradition. Everyone does it.

In conclusion, it is extremely difficult to look at the Greek diet and lifestyle and pinpoint precisely what features attribute directly to the health and longevity of the Ikarian people. Some have concluded that the above lists are a complete recipe for success. Removal of any one element could result in failure, but of course, no one really knows for sure.

Ikarian Recipes

Ikarian recipes are hard to find on the internet, but I’ll continue to add more as I find them. I think I need to visit Ikaria to collect recipes. If you know of any, please feel free to post a recipe in a comment.

Taro and Kidney Bean Stew

Serves 6


½ pound kidney beans, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf, cracked
½ cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
2 large red onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large taro root, peeled and cut into ½-inch thick half moons. Cut it down the middle lengthwise then slice.
½ cup chopped canned tomatoes or 1 tablespoon of sundried, tomato paste
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice, verjuice, or a little red wine vinegar to taste


  1. Drain the beans and place in a large pot with enough water to cover by two inches. Bring to a boil, skim any foam off the top, add the bay leaf, lower the heat and continue cooking for about 35 minutes.
  2. While the beans are cooking, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy nonstick skillet and sauté the onions and garlic until soft and lightly colored, about 8 minutes over medium heat.
  3. Add the taro root slices and sauté for a few minutes, stirring. Local cooks do this to rid the taro of its mucousy texture. Set aside.
  4. Add the taro, onions and garlic to the simmering beans.
  5. Pour in another 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and simmer for about 1 hour until the stew is densely textured and the taro and beans soft.
  6. Stir in the parsley and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper and either lemon juice, verjuice, or red wine vinegar.

(From http://zesterdaily.com/recipe/greek-longevity-cuisine/ )

Taro Root Salad with Skordalia

 Serves 6 to 8


1 large taro root, peeled
1 red onion, halved and chopped
1 celery stalk, trimmed and chopped
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or dill
½ cup olive or more, as needed
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice or red wine vinegar, to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Peel the taro root and place in a pot with ample cold water (to cover by 2 inches). Salt the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the taro for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until fork tender.
  2. Remove with a slotted spoon and stand upright on a cutting board. Cut away the muddy remains of the taro’s peel and discard. Cut the taro in half lengthwise and then into chunks about 1½ inches in size. Place in a large serving bowl.
  3. Add the onion, celery, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss carefully.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature, with classic Greek skordalia (recipe follows).

(From http://zesterdaily.com/recipe/greek-longevity-cuisine/ )

Skordalia (Garlicky Bread Dip)


4 to 5 2-inch thick slices of sourdough country-style bread,
crusts removed
5 to 7 garlic cloves, peeled
½ to 1 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
¼  to ⅓  cup red wine vinegar
Salt to taste


  1. Dampen the bread under the tap and squeeze out the excess moisture.
  2. Place half the garlic and half the bread in a large mortar. Using the pestle, start pounding the mixture, adding salt and olive oil in small amounts, then more bread and garlic, and, again, salt, then olive oil and vinegar, alternating between each in slow, steady streams, until the mixture emulsifies and is a textured paste.

(From http://zesterdaily.com/recipe/greek-longevity-cuisine/ )

More Greek recipes can be found Diane Kochilas’ cooking website at dianekochilas.com. Not all recipes are necessarily Ikarian, however.