Delicious, variable and used widely across Greece because of their lauded health benefits, these seasonal ingredients will help restart your system.
Spring is the season for renewal, revival and regeneration of your mind, body and soul! Here we guide you to the five best seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables that are traditionally used in Greece – some of them since antiquity – for results-oriented springtime detoxification after the long, cold winter.
Garlic – Skordo
One of the most used ingredients in the Greek kitchen, garlic is an efficient anti-microbial agent that has 39 different anti-fungal, bacterial, viral and parasitic components. For thousands of years, garlic has been used as a natural detoxifier, as it assists in boosting the body’s natural production of an antioxidant called glutathione, a key agent for healthy liver and kidney function and detoxification. Selenium-rich garlic also has strong antioxidant quality that protects the organism from oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the liver.
Spring detox tip: If you can stomach it, get immediate detox results by boiling 3-4 cloves of garlic for 10 minutes, cooling, adding honey and lemon and sipping it as a tea.
Lemons – Lemonia
According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the citric acid in lemons helps protect liver function and prevent stress-related (oxidative) damage. Squeezing plenty of vitamin C-rich lemon on your foods and into drinks also helps regulate blood pressure and fight off inflammation. The cheering and zingy Mediterranean staple is enjoyed in Greece both fresh, on seafood or fish, grilled or stewed meat and salads or boiled greens, and as a sweet in the form of jam or glyko koutaliou.
Spring detox tip: Drinking water with lemon slices in it first thing in the morning is also thought to help regulate the gut, improve mental quality and help flush toxins out of the body.
Artichokes – Anginares
Not only a great detoxifying agent but also helpful in weight loss, artichokes have been shown to stimulate liver function and enhance the production of bile, which boosts metabolic rate. Delicious cooked ‘a la polita’ with potatoes, peas, dill and olive oil, grilled, or steamed and added to a salad, this springtime veggie is not only loaded with vitamins and minerals but also thought to help regulate blood pressure.
Spring detox tip: Prepare artichoke water, which can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days and has a diuretic and vitamin-rich effect. Clean and boil artichokes and boil them for 25 minutes. Let cool, sieve the water and store in bottles or a jug.
TOMATOES – DOMATES
In their raw form, tomatoes help reduce oxidative stress in the body, keep the gut active and balanced, and provide the organism with vitamin C. When cooked, this hugely variable ingredient that stars in so many Greek ladera recipes, hearty meat stews and pasta dishes, has a high lycopene content, making it a delicious guard against various cancers and heart disease.
Spring detox tip: Make your own paste or ketchup using ripe tomatoes, honey and organic seasonings; just one teaspoon of this per day promises to boost the detox process.
Wild Dandelion Greens – Horta
A plate of boiled horta (wild dandelion greens) can do a lot more for your health than you may imagine, as can drinking the liquid they have been boiled in with a squeeze of lemon added. These highly nutritious greens are rich in iron, calcium and other vitamins and minerals as well as fibre and antioxidants. They’re thought to have a notable anti-inflammatory effect and protect against diabetes, hypertension and cancers while also having a diuretic quality, which helps flush toxins out of the liver.
Spring detox tip: Combine various wild greens to make a delicious, light and egg-free pie using high quality filo pastry, a sprinkling of trachana and feta cheese.