The Greek islands in general are for me the place on earth closest to paradise. The earth is still untouched by industry, chemicals and pesticides so natural products growing there have more health benefits as anywhere else on earth.
So it was hard to choose but for me this the top 5 of products you really have to take with you flying home after the your holidays on one of the Dodecanese islands.
Since most of the Dodecanese islands have a natural abundance of herbs growing on their rocky mountains, it is no wonder that the bees can collect a very good quality of thyme honey. Thyme is a herb very beneficial for the airways and so the honey is a natural antibiotic for a soar throat and airway infections. It has proved me helpful many times!
Hippocrates, the father of medicine used a mixture of wine and honey to treat patients with many ailments, as also he considered it extremely helpful.
Thyme honey provides health benefits thanks to its strong antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-allergenic properties.
I also used it in a stressful period to help against re-flux. One spoon of honey covered with cinnamon is the healthiest way to keep the acid in the stomach.
Except for the healthy benefits of the honey, I just love the taste and I always take some home with me from my visits to Greece since in Belgium it’s hard to find.
He who has never heard of the wonders of olive oil must have been living on another planet. Unfortunately it is generally believed that the Italian olive oil should be the best in the world. Little do most people know that Italians tend to buy Greek olives to make them into oil. Every self respecting Greek has a field with his own olive trees and every family produces their own bottles of olive oil yearly to supply themselves. It’s the best you can find and usually not for sale!
No pesticides are used and no chemicals whatsoever. Pure green healthy gold!
The island most famous for the sponge divers is Kalymnos. People on Kalymnos are tough and used to dive without equipment. They were known worldwide for their diving capacities. Since natural sponges grow on the sea bottom, the health benefits are numerous!
As a natural product, sea sponges are biodegradable, hypoallergenic and free of chemicals, artificial byproducts or toxins. They’re highly absorbent, ultra-soft and won’t absorb odors like other products. In fact, they contain enzymes that inhibit mold and bacteria growth which extends their lifetime.
Sea sponges contain minerals that are good for your skin, including: calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, zinc, and potassium.
The sponges are also environmental friendly since it’s a product of nature and if you take care of your sponge very well, you can keep it for many years. This as the opposite of the synthetic sponge you will have to replace regularly.
In addition to the natural advantages it’s highly appreciated in most bathrooms as a decoration item.
One of the best usable souvenirs to take with you are Greek herbs. They are light to carry, unbreakable in the suitcase and will bring much joy and pleasure using them in your kitchen back home.
Every Greek dish has it’s own mixture of local herbs. Before the arriving of tourism, Greeks used to cook with local ingredients, found on the islands. So local dishes were flavored by using locally found herbs and spices.
If you would like to take the challenge to produce Greek food when back home, use the secret ingredients and take some of the herb mixes with you. You won’t regret it. Every herb has it’s own health benefits, but also adds a very specific taste to some famous dish.
Greek mountain tea is growing on the mountains and can easily be found and collected everywhere. There are many different varieties of this plant (Sideritis) and I guess every island has it’s own kind.
One of my first mistakes was drinking it in the evening. That night I didn’t sleep a bit! 🙂 The leaves are curly and remind me of wild sage. The taste is very strong and I guess adding some thyme honey to the tea is not such a bad idea to take the bitterness away.
Mountain Tea is enormously popular in Greece and is brewed most often in winter to cure colds, aches, and pains. It is said to have a positive effect on almost anything that ails you. But mostly it is used to combat colds, respiratory problems, indigestion and mild anxiety. It uplifts the immune system and is valued for its antioxidants. It heals inflammations and reduces fever.
Hippocrates, the very first health observer ever, quoted its benefits for the immune and respiratory systems.
In the winter I add it almost daily to my cup of green or white tea. The tea I have in my cupboard is handpicked and sun-dried by myself.