Monthly Archives: February 2013

a special friend and a special recipe…

‘Respect those friends who find time for you in their busy schedule. But really love those friends who never see their schedule when you need them..’ Rishika Jain
Friendships always hold a special place in my heart. Whether they are a friendship of the past, the present or a friendship oceans apart, what’s important is to cherish and treasure those moments and experiences shared. Today, I would like to pay special tribute to a friend, fellow runner and guardian angel in so many ways… Because, when the going gets tough, she will guide me to the light, and on days when my body does not respond well to running, she will take a detour in the park to show me the flowers in bloom… And when none of this works, she will simply send her three little gems to give me a bear hug!
Below is what I wrote about this friend, to accompany her appetizing pesto chicken recipe in ‘A Squirrel in your kitchen’.
I have saved her recipe for the finale of this post. After all, sharing recipes and meals always adds an extra touch of spice to friendship!
 If there’s one word to describe this dear friend, that would be endurance! Maria completed the classic Athens Marathon with husband, Achilleas and numerous half marathons around the world, not to mention mountain biking in the trails of Akamas. Maria and Achilleas tend to take their most important decisions over food, and, a nice bottle of wine. I had witnessed a very serious conversation over an exotic meal one night, where they unanimously agreed that it was time for a second baby, as it was only fair that Alexandra had a sibling! On April 21, 2008 (my birthday), Aris and Orpheus were born! And while they certainly do keep Alexandra ‘company’, they keep mommy and daddy…. hmm.. busy. Maria’s survival tool lies in running, and as my running mate in the last 10 years, I couldn’t agree with her more! And, when the going gets tough, Maria finds her solace in the luxurious world of champagne and great wine!
Ingredients: 4 boneless chicken thighs, pesto sauce, 4 slices feta cheese
Unfold the chicken thighs and apply pesto sauce on both sides. Place a slice of feta cheese in each thigh and fold back to original shape. You may use a toothpick to hold the chicken piece folded. Place on a cooking tray and cook at 175ºC for 45 minutes to an hour.

the pleasure of taste…

QbooThe pleasure of taste may be located in the tongue, yet often it begins not there, but in memory. Through memory is how I recall and cherish tastes from my various nests and numerous travels…  Which is why you will very often hear me saying that ‘the taste of savory dishes and delectable desserts reside deep in my heart!’
The aroma of freshly baked bagels just out of the oven is undeniably one of the most tenacious memories of my wonderful years in the USA. So, when a dear friend enthusiastically announced the arrival of Qboo Bakehouse in Nicosia I instinctively treaded back that pungent memory of bagels back to Pennsylvania, New York and many other states and smiled, like… FOREVER!
Since then, Qboo is a much loved bakehouse and Saturday breakfast spot, where I take my beloved niece and nephew. Story telling about my fascinating years in the US, coupled with bagels and hot chocolate are usually the order of the day! They enjoy it immensely (as you can see in the photo) and so does their aunt!
The photo of Qboo Bakehouse above is from the photo library of Qboo.

Living the magic of TEDxNicosia

TEDxNicosia Founder and Curator, Ms. Marina Theodotou shared the following message today: ‘As another day draws to a close dear amazing TEDxers, we get closer to March 9. Know that there are over 35 people working as we speak, pro bono, directly and tirelessly to make sure this event is unforgettable, just for you! In the next few days we will be highlighting the TEDxNicosia team : they remind us every day the power of teaming, action, commitment, follow up, determination, excellence, integrity, passion, leadership and relentless attention to detail to make yet one more TEDxNicosia event a success…
I am truly honored to be part of this year’s TEDxNicosia team- an amazing team which uses passion as a main ingredient in all that they do! It has been an incredible couple of months where creativity keeps flowing, enthusiasm is in the air, adrenaline is sky high, teamwork keeps thriving and I am constantly learning from these zealous individuals, each of which excel in their fields.  I would like to thank Marina Theodotou for taking us under her wings and letting us fly high in this truly INSPIRING and MAGNIFICENT sphere of TEDxNicosia. We are all ready to Re-Think, Re-Generate and Re-Act! Hope that you are too!
the photo/image are from the photo library of TEDxNicosia

chickpea and spinach stew… a soul warmer

My parents came back from visiting my grandmother the other day and brought me a gorgeous bunch of wild spinach from grandma’s vegetable garden in the village. ‘This calls for a chickpea and spinach stew!’ I thought, and within minutes it was just me and my casserole, preparing this incredibly tasty recipe, with Luna sniffing around and wagging her tail. A wonderful mélange of aromas filled my kitchen and an hour later, I was devouring this mouth-watering dish made of fresh ingredients and lots of love! Of course, any soul warmer calls for sharing, so here’s the recipe:
Soak your chickpeas in water overnight. In a pressure cooker put the chickpeas (200g), 2 carrots (grated), 1 onion (chopped) and a garlic clove (smashed). Add water to cover your ingredients, adding an extra cup to top it over. Shut the pressure cooker and when it reaches pressure, lower the burner to a simmer for 7 minutes. Turn off and leave on the burner for another 8 minutes. Remove from burner and allow to cool down for about 10 minutes. Release the pressure and open the lid, adding the spinach (cut in big pieces). You may need to add some more water. Allow spinach to cook (without the cover on the cooker), stirring occasionally. When spinach is cooked, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and salt to taste. Enjoy!
PS: this afternoon I am off for some carob leave hunting! I am preparing a pork dish cooked on carob leaves this weekend for a special group of dear friends, with whom I shared great memories while working at a resort with thousands of carob and olive trees.

One billion rising

onebillion ‘Myrto, can you tell us what the purpose of today’s event was?’ my friend Anna asked her 9-year old daughter.
‘Some women are not treated right and they have to be treated with respect,’ was Myrto’s instant and matter-of-factly response. I was stunned by the power of her words, the determination of her voice, but above all, the spark in her eyes.
Myrto was alluding to the ‘One Billion Rising’ event, which was held at the Mall of Nicosia, Cyprus on February 14, V-Day’s 15th anniversary.  A global incentive to have one billion women and men strike, dance, rise up and demand an end to violence against women, the Cyprus event was organized by The Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies.
The mission? Getting the world to unite voices and demand an end to violence against women through:
‘A global strike…an invitation to dance..a call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends. An act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers. A refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given. A new time and a new way of being’
We danced in unison, and, paying close attention to Myrto’s tenacious comments, I am confident that ‘One billion rising’ got people to ponder and reflect too. After all, together, we can create miracles!
The photos were taken at yesterday’s Nicosia event. Amongst these phenomenal women is my dear friend Anna Koukkides-Procopiou, President of AIPFE (Women of Europe)- a friend who never ceases to amaze me with her will power, determination, wit, humor, but above all, her zest for a meaningful life. Myrto has already inherited many of these attributes and I am sure that one day she will ‘shake’ the world!

a special tribute to Kris Carr

KrisCarrIn March 2008 I was on the plane when I came across a truly inspiring article about Kris Carr. For those who do not know her, she was diagnosed with a very rare and incurable stage IV cancer.
‘This sparked a deep desire in me to stop holding back and start living like I mean it! I wanted to feel better, love harder and enjoy my life more fully. So I hit the road on a deep healing pilgrimage and have never looked back. Nearly ten years later, my life is truly, madly magical–even with cancer. ‘ Kris  says.
Kris is a wellness activist and has been a TRUE inspiration since the day she walked into my life. I read her blog daily and I introduce her work to friends and family who ‘walk’ upon the arduous path of cancer. I have read her wonderful book ‘Crazy, Sexy Cancer tips’ and loved her documentary while her ‘Crazy Sexy Diet’ and ‘Crazy Sexy Kitchen’ are also in my Wellness  Collection. Today I would like to pay tribute to this awesome lady as she celebrates 10 years of transformation since that wake up call into WELLNESS and simply say THANK YOU! Below is her blog post from this week as she celebrates 10 years of THRIVING. Happy Birthday Kris from my little Mediterranean corner!!
What I learned transformed my life forever – now it can transform yours. My journey has ignited a global wellness revolution that’s resonated with thousands of health, spiritual wealth and happiness seekers. Ten years ago, this week, I was given exactly ten years to live. Stage IV cancer, no cure, no treatment, no options. Thankfully my expiration date was inaccurate. Like many people diagnosed with cancer, my life drastically changed that day. A decade later I can honestly say that cancer changed my life for the brighter and better. In this blog, I’ve reflected on ten tips that helped me and can help you too (whether you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic poop pickle or not). You’ve heard me say many of these things before, but they bear repeating. As I meditate on the impact that illness has had on my life, I realize I’m a better, more grateful woman today because of cancer. I was asleep at the wheel before cancer shook me awake. And though there’s still no cure (yup, rare diseases don’t get much attention), I continue to live harmoniously with cancer. Once every year and a half I get scanned (hmmm, I think I have one coming up this summer, I forget), otherwise I just live my life. It’s not always easy, but it is my life, and I love it. For me, cancer isn’t a death sentence, at least not today. My disease is the slow-moving-could-get-aggressive-one-day variety. It’s weird and unknown. Above all, cancer is a spiritual practice that teaches me about faith and resilience. You can learn these skills too. You don’t need cancer to wake you up like I did.
I hope some of these tips resonate with you. And remember, when the going gets tough, take a really deep breath and … read my blog