Eating in a healthy manner is easy in Turkey as there is reliable access to fresh fruit, vegetables and meat products. There are many alternatives to shopping in a grocery store or supermarket for your supplies: choose a market or a small fruit and vegetable vendor, the local butcher or the local bakery. (There is a longer post about food shopping in Turkey using Fethiye as the example.) Many of these small shops are much more common and easier to find than a supermarket. And you are rewarded with excellent quality food.
One of the fruits that is very healthy and common in Turkey is the pomegranate. Many pomegranates are grown in the region near Fethiye and they were widely available throughout Turkey.
I have only discovered pomegranates in the last year or so. Whenever I saw them in the market at home I would shy away from them as I was not sure what to do with them. Trust me, that was a mistake.
They are easy to use and they have a unique taste. After each market visit in Turkey we would pass by a series of food and drink vendors. We made a habit of sitting down for a freshly squeezed pomegranate and orange juice. What a fabulous combination those two fruits make.
We encountered pomegranate and orange juice again out in the middle of nowhere on our hike in Cappadocia which made us realise how widespread and common these fruits are in Turkey and inspired the Pomegranate Orange Juice recipe,
Pomegranates are widely considered to be a super food and may provide benefits helping to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and for men lower the risk of prostate cancer. Certainly no ill effects have been found and pomegranates taste great. It seems like a really gourmet treat to eat fresh pomegranate. Pomegranates can also be a healthy addition to desserts, salads and dips.
Yogurt is a mainstay within this region. Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria all have outstanding yogurt and claim it as their own creation. I am not sure who has the best yogurt or where it started but I can tell you the yogurt products in Turkey are excellent.
Yogurt is also a great health food, with the bacteria found naturally in yogurt contains probiotics excellent for helping to maintain healthy gut bacteria which is essential for your health. When travelling, eating yogurt is a great way to stay healthy helping both to maintain your own gut bacteria but also to ward off any “unfriendly” bacteria you may encounter.
A few things to keep in mind when buying yogurt: Plain, full fat yogurt is best or make your own for a healthy alternative. (Once you get the hang of it you will wonder why you haven’t always made your own.)
Yogurt in Turkey is thick, creamy and cheap to buy but very high in quality. Labna (filtered yogurt that is thicker again) is also common. Kefir and Ayran (a salty yogurt drink) are also common, and yogurt is used extensively in all types of recipes including, soups, dips and sauces. More about yogurt in Turkey can be found in our Yogurt Soup recipe. There is also a higher incidence of goat and sheep-based yogurts to choose from, reputedly healthier than cow’s yogurt.
Another star in Turkey is the honey and honeycomb. The honey in Turkey is just superb. Driving around Fehtiye we observed many honey bee farms. And eating fresh honeycomb was another delight! For more about honeycomb, read our post, Istanbul off the beaten path.
All markets have vendors selling their own honey in a variety of glass containers. It is unusual in Turkey to buy branded honey from a supermarket. I like that as I am convinced it has to be healthier for you as it has less processing and never enters the industrial food production system.
Nuts are another mainstay in Turkey. Pine nuts, peanuts, walnuts and pistachios are all grown within Turkey. For this recipe we are using walnut, purchased fresh from the market.
Nuts are a beneficial source of antioxidants which can help reduce cancer risk, heart disease and improve brain health and reduce the effects of aging. Nuts are often called superfoods and walnuts are usually cited as being incredibly healthy. So if you have no adverse effects to nuts, including them in your diet in moderation can be quite healthy.
So this recipe is one of my favorites because:
- It is quick and easy to make (only 4 ingredients!!)
- It is healthy with every individual ingredient providing healthy benefits
- It is delicious
- It can be used as a starter for brunch
- Or a great dessert.