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Jan 28, 2008

Cooking healthy meals

Food lovers will find a great deal of insight into the world of Greek cuisine when they tune into Discovery Travel & Living’s My Greek Kitchen (Astro Channel 707) tonight as Tonia Buxton, 39, whips up sumptuous meals inspired by the country’s rich culture in this 15-part series.

From beautiful coastal islands to bustling cities around Greece and Cyprus, host Buxton and her family go out and about to local markets, tavernas and homes, discovering the secrets of Greek gastronomy. Throughout the series, Buxton will show viewers not only how to cook a complete and healthy meal for the family and also how to effectively put together a party.

Buxton is a Classical History major who also enjoys sports, having taken part in triathlons and body-building events. Having an in-depth knowledge on health, nutrition and alternative theories, Buxton is not just a fitness expert, but a lifestyle guru as well.

She is also a proud mother of three who has written a book about post-pregnancy maintenance, and she continues to write lifestyle articles regularly for newspapers.

Her interest in food is something she attributes to her own Greek culture, said Buxton during a tele-conference interview.

"When you’re Greek and you come from a Greek culture, it’s all about food. We would always have big family gatherings and there would always be lots and lots of food around. So from a really young age, I would be cooking and I would be learning. My mother and my grandmother were excellent cooks. So when it comes to cooking icons, I think my mother has to be the number one for me."

Greek cuisine is considered to be among the healthiest in the world. "What makes it so healthy, actually, is that the Greeks use olive oil. It’s been proven because they did a study in Crete in the 60s for a decade and there was no heart disease in Crete at all. It turned out that they only use extra virgin olive oil in all of their foods and cooking.

"The one thing that the Greeks eat is whatever is seasonal. That makes a big difference to your diet. You’re literally eating foods that come off the land. All of that put together makes a healthy diet."

The idea of My Greek Kitchen came out of a discussion Buxton had with her husband about how Greek food has never been highlighted on television before.

"If you ask someone about Greek food, they’ll say a couple of things like kabas, and that’ll be it. I really wanted to show people the type of foods that you would get if you have a friend that’s Greek."

As a fitness enthusiast, Buxton said that the biggest myth about eating healthy is that you need to cut down on food.

"Actually, to eat healthy and to get all the nutrients that you need throughout the day, you have to eat a lot, but it’s about eating the right stuff. You should never have to be hungry when you’re eating healthy."

Greek cooking has yet to take off in the Asian region unlike Italian and Spanish foods.

When asked about this, Buxton said: "It hasn’t come over yet. That’s the only reason. The only reason that you like Italian and Spanish more than Greek is because we haven’t come over and show you the real stuff.

"The ancient Greeks were the first to write down recipes. The ancient Greeks were the first to actually start mixing flavours together. Then the Romans, the Italians, came and nicked all our ideas, so Italian food is Greek food anyway; they just stole it all."

Buxton had a great time shooting for the first season of My Greek Kitchen and is currently working on the second season.

My Greek Kitchen will be aired on Discovery Travel & Living Channel (Astro Channel 707) tonight at 8p

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