Hot Dish: Blue Is the New Green
Photos by Dorothea Hunter Sönne
UPDATE (Sept. 19, 2015): We circled back to Whole Foods after the initial Blue Zones cooking class, and the store’s marketing director, Amy Spahr, says it was a “huge success.” The Naples healthy-eats emporium has already scheduled three more Blue Zones-themed classes for the coming months. Each will be $10, and guests should preregister at customer service.
Oct. 7, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Italian Treats: Sardinia Minestrone, Pesto-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, Raw Peach Tarts
Nov. 4, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Cowboy Caviar, Curried Cauliflower Soup, Vegetarian Lasagna
Dec. 2, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Kale-Artichoke Dip, Spinach and Cranberry Stuffed Salmon, Lemon-Kissed Blondie Bites
At the crossroads of healthy and delicious rests a new designation in town: the seal of approval by NCH’s Blue Zones Project. From restaurants to cooking classes, the "Live longer, better!" concept is taking off faster than a 777 from RSW, and organizers hope we'll be going blue for the long haul, which is basically a variant of being green. The idea is rooted in research on how we can make changes to increase our health and happiness and, therefore, longevity—walking more, having a sense of purpose and, from a dining perspective, drinking moderate amounts of wine and eating lots of veggies (cultures with the most centenarians usually eat meat only five times a month!).
But before you blanch at the thought of a plant-based diet, the Southwest Florida movement is putting an emphasis on wellness and taste. The first local eatery to be named a Blue Zones restaurant is the Cider Press Cafe (pictured below right), our pick as one of the 10 Best New Restaurants of 2015. As you swing by places like Food & Thought, you'll increasingly catch individual items tagged Blue Zones-approved, such as the homemade hummus sandwich with falafel chips (pictured). And Whole Foods is gearing up to host its first-ever Blue Zones-themed cooking class Sept. 9 ($10; preregister at the customer service desk) with the intention of adding more; from 6:30-7:30 p.m., guests will learn to make edamame and corn salsa, chickpea tacos and honey-baked apples, all from The Blue Zones Solution.
Pretty soon we'll have to rewire our brains with a new meaning for "feeling blue."