Villa San Ignacio | Hotel near San Jose and Alajuela | Costa Rica

Blue Zone secrets to share

Portrait of a man from Guanacaste. Photo by Zoraida Díaz

THE BLUE ZONES KITCHEN: 100 Recipes to live to 100

The latest book by longevity expert Dan Buettner is titled “The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to live to 100”. Over the last decade, he has published 5 books on the secrets to a long life. Along with Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, Buettner explored areas in the world where populations enjoy longer, healthier lives. This cookbook features 100 vegetarian-friendly recipes from five of the world’s blue zones. Each recipe is based on easy to source ingredients and simple instructions. The best pay off, they are also delicious. Learning the recipes, however, are not just about food. Each segment reveals some of the best secrets to live a long healthy life. In order to share these curated, vegetarian recipes, Buettner observed food prepared in the kitchens of Sardinia, Okinawa, Ikaria, Loma Linda and Nicoya, Costa Rica. Those hours spent in kitchens and years exploring Blue Zones led to key insights he shares in this cookbook.

“These people live longer because their surroundings nudge them into right behaviors”

In his introduction, Dan Buettner claims that long life does not require vitamin supplements, a gym membership or the latest “hocus-pocus antiaging serum”. A long heathy life is much more deep-rooted in the local traditions and culture. Drawing from a Blue Zone close to home, a typical Nicoyan / Costa Rican lifestyle only a few years ago did not include a motorbike, smart phone and electric blender. The “right behavior” leading to long life was partly an economic factor. Walking was required to gather food or socialize in person. Home-grown vegetables required a bit of low impact exercise. Available fruits, beans & grains, were also staples. Their vegetarian-friendly diet was a major “right behavior” that contributed to living a healthy 100 years.

Making Tortillas

Making tortillas in Nicoya required a walk to the market for corn, a bit of effort to grind the corn and also stock the fire. Corn dough (nixtamal, corn masa mixed with wood ash) requires kneading, pinching and flattening into pancakes. Using wood ash is a tradition dating back 8000 years; ash adds nutritional value by breaking down the corn, releasing the niacin and freeing amino acids so they can be easily absorbed.

Local fruit market in Costa Rica

The original Blue Zones have traditionally cultivated vegetables in their own backyard gardens and walked to markets for fruits, beans and grains. Meals were prepared without blenders or food processors. A meal in Nicoya was enjoyed with family. Eating, something we all do, involved three components of healthy lifestyle: natural low impact movement; vegetarian-friendly meals; and, social engagement…eating with family and friends.

Applying the Blue Zone Secrets

We believe the best way to rate a cookbook is to test a few recipes. Pandora’s Chef Yerar started out with five selections from the Nicoya region. With his Costa Rican background, Yerar’s challenge was to avoid temptation to follow his previous recipes – mainly to keep the meat out of the picadillo and the fish out of the ceviche. Here is a sneak preview to Pandora’s vegetarian-friendly menu: Ceviche Palmito, a delicious refreshing vegan ceviche. We look forward to sharing our new five-star, Blue Zone vegetarian plates with you on our reopening on Jan 2, 2021.

Ceviche Palmito – Pandora Restaurant