Nicoya, Costa Rica The Blue Zone Diet helps me feel full and energized

Nicoya, Costa Rica The Blue Zone Diet helps me feel full and energized

Julia Pugachevsky

  • Nicoya, Costa Rica is one of the world’s five blue zones, where people live longer than average.
  • Nicoyans do not eat much meat and consume more whole foods such as beans, squash, and corn.
  • For a week, I ate like a Costa Rican SuperAger, making dishes like gallo pinto and rosquillas.

Nicoya, Costa Rica She is one of the world Five “blue zones” Where residents live longer than average. Some Nicoyan residents live into their 90s and 100s, and there is still a 100-year-old man riding horses and herding cattle in one village. A new documentary from Netflix About the secrets of the world’s blue zones.

One possible secret to the longevity of the Nicoyans is their diet, which is based on their food Focus heavily on beans as a superfood. Nicoyans also don’t eat a lot of meat, which is encouraging: I’m a wildlife lover and follow a vegetarian diet 80% of the time, but I always worry that I still don’t get enough protein.

When I heard that a whole-food, vegetable-focused diet may be linked to longevity, it made me want to try eating like a Costa Rican SuperAger. Of course, I won’t be able to know whether or not that would actually help me live longer, but more energy would be a good thing. Because I live in Brooklyn and can’t harvest my own food like many Nicoyans do, I had to make do with two dishes and a snack. Here’s how it went.

The recipes were delicious and easy to put together.

Cook peppers and onions as the base for gallo pinto.
Julia Pugachevsky

The first meal I made was a Costa Rican rice and bean dish called gallo pinto, which is traditionally served at breakfast but I’ve had other meals as well.

It was super easy to put together: all I needed to do was chop some onions and bell peppers, cook the rice, and mix the beans and spices. After about an hour of work, I had three complete Tupperware containers with a delicious bottom.

He challenged the idea that food has to be complicated or expensive to be healthy and delicious.

The ingredients were versatile, so I never got bored.

Customize gallo pinto (rice and beans) with eggs, avocado and lots of hot sauce.
Julia Pugachevsky

I would customize it with fried eggs (which Nicoyans use as a side dish), avocado, salsa, and hot sauce—whatever I had in mind and kept in the fridge. He made breakfast, a meal I usually eat out of sheer necessity, actually an enjoyable experience: eating delicious beans was more exciting than my usual blueberry oatmeal.

Most importantly, the gallo pinto was filling. After running 10 miles in the morning, I ate a plate full of all the fixings and was surprised at how full I felt for the rest of the day.

I felt full longer, even while exercising.

Prepare a large amount of Three Sisters stew.
Julia Pugachevsky

The Netflix series said the Nicoyans eat squash, beans, and corn — also known as the “Three Sisters” in indigenous cultures. Not only do these three crops feed each other when grown together, but they also form a complete protein – without the cholesterol found in meat.

The show didn’t mention a specific Costa Rican recipe, so I found a simple stew consisting of butternut squash, pinto beans, and corn. It was an easy one-pot meal that I made in bulk and ate all week.

I’ve discovered a new plant-based source of protein.

A bowl of Three Sisters stew.
Julia Pugachevsky

At first, I was skeptical that this soup would fill me up without rice or couscous. But eating it alone for lunch was enough to fuel me through the day.

When I went to a weightlifting class later, I was truly surprised by how much energy I had without drinking any protein powder — something I’d always drank otherwise.

Homemade snacks limit sugar intake.

Fresh baked rosquilla for easy snacks.
Julia Pugachevsky

Reducing added sugars is one of the best things you can do to improve longevity, but for me it’s one of the hardest. Emotionally, I need a nighttime reward after every meal, often a chocolate chip cookie (main reward) and a handful of leftover chocolate chips (second reward), plus ice cream (added reward) if I’m walking with a friend.

At the show, I caught a glimpse of the rosquillas, which I can best describe as a cross between a crumpet and a brownie. There are many variations throughout Spain and Central America, but the recipe I followed used masica (cornmeal) and cheese.

It took effort to make my own desserts but it was worth it.

Making rosquillas de queso.
Julia Pugachevsky

Since sugar was optional, I omitted it entirely, opting for a delicious snack instead. I ate sweets all day, but I didn’t feel the expected sugar crash and subsequent grogginess that I usually feel.

Although making these takes more effort than opening a bag of potato chips, I didn’t feel the creeping anxiety that usually accompanies my nose while diving into highly processed foods. Plus, when I was already full from my main meals, the voice in my head crying for a cupcake became a little quieter.

The recipe stated that making rosquilla is a great group activity. Maybe next time I’ll invite friends and try another Nicoyan secret to longevity: make room for more entertainment.

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