If you are looking for a holiday destination that can offer healthy, nutritious food rather than the traditional touristy fast food joints, then look no further than the beautiful Greek island of Kefalonia. The largest Ionian island, Kefalonia differs from its sister islands Crete, Corfu and Zante in that it is more lush, green and tropical, with palms and jungle like forests nestled along the coastline as far as the eye can see. What this means is that the soil is very fertile, offering a huge variety of fresh, local and natural produce. From the brightest lemons to the ripest avocados, pomegranates and figs bursting with nutrients, you can find healthy foods in abundance here.
During my holiday in Kefalonia this August, I ate out every day, trying many different restaurants and taverns across Kefalonia. The food is out of this world, with so much choice on the menu that the poor waiter will be clock watching while you make your menu decision - or maybe that is just me being indecisive!
My top tips are as follows. If you love seafood like I do, to try the fresh fish on the menu. Fresh seafood such as Sea Bass, Sea Bream, Swordfish and Tuna is abundant in protein, minerals and omega 3, so great for your skin and hair and for your energy levels. Greek food is quite meat heavy, with staple dishes such as Moussaka, slow cooked lamb and chicken souvlaki on nearly every menu. By all means enjoy these dishes occasionally if you eat meat, however try to balance this with healthy vegetarian or seafood based starters - of which there are a huge selection. A Kefalonian greek salad is fresh, tasty and colourful - not like the typical greek salads you get in London with only some sprinkles of feta cheese and sad looking iceberg lettuce. This Greek salad is full of the ripest tomatoes you will ever see, a huge slab of fresh feta cheese, refreshing cucumber, spicy red onions and drizzles of healthy extra virgin olive oil - a big YES for your skin and health.
Don't shy away from the bruschetta - this sourdough bread is toasted to perfection and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, served with roasted oregano and vine ripened tomatoes - a perfect light lunch. The Greeks are avid lovers of cheese - which I adore - and I firmly believe in eating everything in moderation rather than denying yourself cheese because it is fatty. In Greece, you learn to live in abundance, it offers such a vibrant, rich and healthy lifestyle that you find yourself settling into the slower paced way of life after only a few days. The Kefalonian cheese is often made from solely sheeps milk, including cheeses such as Anevato - a soft, grainy white cheese, mildly salty, a tiny bit sour, rich in protein and very fresh, and Kopanisti, a super spicy cream cheese that is great on bread. The feta is everywhere here, and is made from sheeps milk, which although often higher in fat than cows cheese, is rich in the omega-3 fatty acid linoleic acid which helps lower cholesterol. Sheeps cheese is also rich in protein, and easier to digest than cows cheese, which may also contain traces of hormones which are used to increase the cow's milk production.
Combine this incredibly healthy, fresh diet with a little daily yoga on your hotel balconi or patio, and you will come home feeling rejuvenated, energised, with a healthy glow in your eyes and skin. I practised yoga every other day during my holiday, and that was the only exercise I did - apart from walking and a few times swimming in the warm turquoise sea. If you want to try out some yoga classes, there are many to offer, including some retreats - and watch this space as I might have a plan or two for some future yoga retreats in Kefalonia...I can't wait to go back to this beautiful island. If you've visited, please comment and share your experiences below.