On a recent trip to America, Despina Mavridou, dietitian-nutritionist, had the chance to come across our kourabie. On the occasion of this random encounter, she decided to share some of its nutritional secrets with us.
Handmade Kourabie Chrisanthidis, from N. Karvali: Something more than a simple… sweet
On my last trip to America, as I waited in line to reach the checkout at a well-known department store, my gaze fell on the side shelves. I was very happy to find out that in front of me were the handmade kourabie Chrisanthidis! Seeing the Greek traditional dessert with which I grew up on the other side of the Atlantic was a surprise for me; at the same time, I felt very proud, as the Mediterranean and especially the Greek diet is the model and the basis on which many studies about its health benefits have been conducted.
Looking for the roots of this traditional sweet you end up in the beautiful city of Kavala and of course, where else? In the handmade kourabie Chrisanthidis. You can feel this combination of taste, history and tradition from the first bite.
As a Dietitian - Nutritionist I believe that proper and balanced nutrition is the touchstone for protecting and maintaining our health. So it is clear that the secret lies in the variety and the right combination of foods and not in the restriction.
So, the "Metron Ariston" by Kleovoulos, which means "Everything in moderation", should be the basis not only in life but also in our diet.
It is therefore important that everyone's diet consists of healthy and nutritious choices. So, when a client asks me to include something sweet in his diet, I am suggesting the kourabie!
What are the reasons that a dietician could suggest the kourabie?
My answer is "many"!
- Although kourabie is prepared in large quantities, it is a handmade dessert and that is why it does not belong to the processed foods that fill us with synthetic trans fatty acids that are harmful to the body. This ranks it very high in the food pyramid of "sweet preferences".
- The base from which the kourabie is made is pure butter. The benefits of consuming pure butter are numerous. First, it is rich in antioxidants, including vitamins A and E as well as selenium which inhibit the production of free radicals. Pure butter is one of the most easily absorbed sources of Vitamin A, known as the beauty vitamin, as it promotes the health of the skin, nails and hair. Butter has the ability of not causing the accumulation of fat in the body, as the fatty acids it contains are immediately used for energy production and are not stored. It is a source of good cholesterol, which repairs free radical damage that occurs in the body as well as it enhances the development of the nervous system in children. The trans fatty acids contained in a kourabie consist of small and medium chain fatty acids, which strengthen the immune system. Also, the CLAs (conjugated linoleic acids) are a protection against cancer. Finally, it is a good source of Vitamin K2, a fat-soluble vitamin that helps in maintaining healthy teeth and bones.
- In addition to butter, kourabie contains almonds. Almonds have been described as "superfood of the Greek land" as they are a powerful antioxidant food, containing calcium, vitamin E and fiber. The form of calcium contained in almonds is immediately and fully absorbed by the body. In addition, they are the best source of vitamin E in comparison to other nuts, a vitamin necessary for better cardiovascular health. Fiber, in addition to the beneficial properties in the proper functioning of the intestine, creates a feeling of satiety, resulting in a portion of kourabie to satisfy our desire for sweets.
- Nevertheless, something that is inextricably linked to the word "sweet" is sugar. In this particular case though, we have the advantage of removing the excess sugar powder on top before consuming a kourabie, thus getting rid of some calories.
Even the variations in taste and ingredients contributed to my choice, because they are carefully selected and beneficial for the body.
One of them is the Chrisanthidis kourabie bites with Chios mastic. Chios mastic is well known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory action. In addition, it is soothing for the stomach.
Side tip: Leaves a light aftertaste which fights bad breath.
With all these in mind, we realize that kourabie should not be considered just as a "Christmas sweet". On the contrary, it is an ideal choice all year round. It is no coincidence that in America, as well as in Central Europe and other countries, kourabie is chosen regardless of the season.
Despina (Debbie) A. Mavridou is a dietitian-nutritionist (B.Sc.) and owner of Eat with D community, based in Kavala.