Bring the Blue Zone to your Holiday Cooking

Winter holidays are known for the hearty and delicious meals shared among family and loved ones, but the rich dinner menu of a traditional holiday can often leave us feeling sluggish and drained. The food we eat impacts every area of our lives and at Mimi’s we are always interested in exploring the ways that food can improve the quality of our lives as well as the health of the planet. That’s why we’ve been fascinated to follow the research about the Blue Zone Diet. In this article, we’re going to explore these dietary practices and how they can improve our health, well being, and this year’s holiday meals!

Right now, you might be wondering what the Blue Zone Diet is. Blue Zones have been identified as six locations worldwide that are home to people with the longest life spans and the highest quality of life. The term was first coined in 2004, by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Explorer and journalist. He set out on a project to discover the places with the highest longevity and vitality and then figured out their common lifestyle habits shared by specific communities in Akaria,Greece, Loma Linda, CA, Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, and Nicoya, Costa Rica.

The basic guidelines of a Blue Zone Diet include reducing dairy, eggs, sugar, and meat while increasing consumption of nuts, beans, and whole grains. The average Blue Zone Diet is 95%-100% plant-based!

The Blue Zone Diet is an evidence-backed way of life that provides innumerable health benefits. This includes lower rates of dementia, reduced mid-life mortality, and fewer heart problems. Research shows that the average person’s life expectancy could increase by 10-12 years just by adopting a Blue Zones lifestyle!

The idea of overhauling your entire diet may seem overwhelming, but there are some easy ways anyone can start to incorporate some of the Blue Zone Diet practices into their daily life and traditions.

For example, consider going meatless and/or dairy-free in some of your dishes for this year’s festive dinners. There are so many ways to get creative and enjoy new dishes or whole meals that are both great tasting and great for you.

When shopping for the holidays, it is easy to overestimate how much food you need for your celebrations. And often, even if calculated correctly, you might find yourself needing to buy more of an ingredient than you actually need just to make one specific recipe.

At Mimi’s Zero Waste Market, we make it easy to buy the perfect amount of mini shells for your mac and cheese (try nutritional yeast and cashews for a vegan version!) and the exact measurement of spices for your pumpkin pie and stuffing. If you don’t live near a zero waste store, shop the bulk sections in your local grocery store first to buy in the quantities needed.

To help kickstart your creativity, here are some Blue Zone inspired recipes that you can try to keep your holidays delicious and nutritious - you may even find some new year-round favorites!

For a hearty and delicious twist, consider these options: Barley Butternut Risotto and one-pan Roasted Potatoes & Green Beans with Mustard Drizzle. Between the protein, fiber, and delicious whole grains, there is a lot to love about these dishes.

Looking for a creative side dish to serve? Try this Sweet Potato Gratin with Gruyère, using a vegan Rebel gruyere sold by our new partner at Mimi’s - Seedlings. Not only are sweet potatoes a classic Thanksgiving staple, they are also well-loved by the people of Okinawa, Japan - a Blue Zone that hosts the population of the longest-living women in the world.

The food we choose has a major impact on our body’s health and the health of our environment. The Blue Zone Diet is a great choice for anyone looking to improve their quality of life and impact on the world. Implementing some of these dishes into family gatherings, special dinners and beyond can be a great way to spread health and sustainability along with holiday joy. For more information on the Blue Zone Diet, explore the website here. Wishing a happy and delicious holiday season to you and yours!