Category Archives: World Culture

Grow Oregano and Thyme for Health and Environment


Oregano and Thyme are two of my favourite herbs of all time. For me they are basic, and a staple in the Greek diet. They are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, immune boosting, and provide wonderful flavor to so many different types of foods. Plus, they are bee magnets.

In Greece thyme and oregano grow everywhere. Particularly in mountainous areas – which are the best places to gather them. However, there is one small environmental factor that many people forget about these herbs.  Their flowers provide food and nourishment for the bees of Greece and anywhere else these herbs grow. The wonderful outcome of bees being fed and nourished by thyme and oregano in Greece is the creation of some of the best tasting honey you will ever eat in your lifetime!

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Response to a Senseless Act

Perspective on Las Vegas Shooting October 2017

Does the killing of innocent people who are enjoying themselves at a concert make sense?

No, it doesn’t. Nor is it right. Many lost their lives senselessly by a man who had no criminal or psychological record.  From the outside he looked like he had success in business. What would push someone like this to harm others?

We have free will. We all have the ability to make the choice between being kind to people, or doing them harm, either physically or mentally.

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Colorado Healthy Heat – Green Chilies

By Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

The Colorado Rockies are not only hot during the summer months, but they also mark the growing and harvest season of a favorite vegetable in southern Colorado, the Green Chili. Roasted they are smoky and sweet, and come in a variety of heat levels. They also pack a punch when it comes to health benefits.

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Cancer and Menopause

By Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

First Published at:  – on March 18, 2014

I attended a seminar at the most popular Herbal Shop in the Mid-West USA, Cheryl’s Herbs, that focused on Natural Support For Cancer Recovery.  I was amazed at the amount of women that were attending and were going through both some stage of menopause and either recovering from cancer or fighting cancer. Others had a friend or family member going through both menopause and cancer and wanted more information. The key link between menopause and cancer was estrogen levels in the body, and how lifestyle and diet can regulate estrogen levels to make going through cancer recovery and menopause not only more tolerable, but less stressful on the body.  The following is what I learned.

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Chickens in the Backyard Can Balance Community

By Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

Would you put a chicken coop and chickens in your backyard if your city by-laws approved it?  I recently moved to Colorado and although I knew that anyone could raise chickens in their backyard, I never thought my neighbor across the street would actually have them. The benefits: cleaner environment, healthier product, educational, and encourages community interaction – all of which, when combined promotes a balanced community lifestyle. Read on to understand why these are benefits.

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Latest Information on Global Obesity Studies 2014 – Who is Responsible?

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

ON BBC World News yesterday Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum spoke about the increase of obesity world-wide.

Their Global Obesity study showed:

  • Almost 30% of people are obese or overweight.
  • The US makes up 13% of the obese population
  • Two-thirds of obese people live in developing countries.
  • China and India represent 15% of obesity world-wide.
  • No country has cut obesity since the 1980’s

Mr. Fry suggests those in China and India are adopting western habits and moving away from their traditional cultural diet by eating at well-known fast food places, mostly because it’s a chic thing to do.  Some countries in the Middle East also have the thought of obesity as a sign that one doing well economically.   Continue reading

Chestnuts – A Winter Classic for Christmas and Health

By Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

First Published on December 23, 2013 at:

You can’t help but think of Christmas when you hear the word “chestnut,” but this little nut not only provides a little extra lean protein to your diet in the late fall and winter months, but  also boosts the immune system and has been known to be nourishing and tonic to women going through menopause.

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Greek Healthy Desserts and Snacks

Pes Alevri - store photo065

By Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

Many people think baklava, galaktobouriko, kourambiethes, kataifi, diples and karidopita are some of the most common Greek desserts. They aren’t exactly low-fat or low in sugar, and often people avoid entering Greek bakeries in Greece when on vacation to make sure they look great in their bathing suit. Believe it or not, there was a time where sugar was not easily accessible in Greece and there were desserts and snacks made that did not compromise one’s health. If you pay attention, you will find these traditional bakeries across Greece that are slowly becoming more common. My favorite healthy snack in these types of bakeries is called “Kritsinia Iliosporou” or written in Greek “Κριτσινια ηλιοσπορου,” and are a little narrow cigar-shaped multi-grain cookie that is as light as a feather and rolled in sunflower seeds.  Pites, or savory pies, are another thing you can find at these traditional bakeries, with a variety of ingredients.

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My Digital Photo Given an Honorable Mention Award

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

I entered a digital photo in the Scott Air Force Base Annual Art and Craft Show 2013, where quite a lot of talented artists work or have a spouse that work on base. I was fortunate to win an Honorable Mention Award in the Photography Category, where I also entered my photo in the show’s theme, “America the Beautiful.”  My photograph was titled Hope, Strength, and Faith in our Soldiers.”  This Art show is apparently one of the US Air Force’s best.  I am truly honored.  My digital photo was purchased by one of the attendees to the art show, another honor, but if anyone else would like to purchase it I will be making copies of it for sale.

Description of Photo:  The Saint Louis Gateway Arch resembles the image of a rainbow symbolizing hope. Its metal structure is a symbol of strength.  The American flag in front and centered under the Arch symbolizes the unity of all states and how each state contributes to that strength.  A member of the National Guard is parachuting through the Arch with the colors of the United States, symbolizing the faith we have in our military to get the nation through every crossroad (smoke from plane in the form of an X) the country may face.




Kolokithokeftedes – Pumpkin Patties/Fritter Recipe – My Mom’s Recipe

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

I rarely eat anything fried. But two or three times a year I do make exceptions. Once a year, right after Halloween, my family and I take our jack-o-lantern and make it into one of our favorite Greek appetizers, kolokithokeftedes, otherwise known in English as pumpkin patties or pumpkin fritters. It’s not healthy to eat fried food every day, but every once-in-a-while frying something in olive oil, canola oil, or other healthy oils will not kill you. It’s all about balance. The ingredients in these pumpkin patties are all healthy and fresh, and that is the key. Pumpkin is a cancer fighter, olive oil is loaded with omega-3-fatty acids, and the herbs and spices in these each have their own nutritional and medicinal benefits.

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Quinoa Burger Recipe – Greek Style

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

This is an extremely healthy high protein, low-fat burger with some favorite Greek flavors to change-up your menu.  Even better, they are filling and it’s easy to make! If you like Greek keftedes you will love these – similar flavor and less fat.


  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 medium-large carrot, cut in big chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 15 ounces great northern beans, drained and rinsed  (I prefer Reduced Sodium)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin (If you can find roasted ground cumin it is preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon (or less) sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

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New Twist on Helping People get out of Debt

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

Today the television program CBS Sunday Morning had a news clip on a collection agency that actually helps people get out of debt.  Yes, you read correctly, helps a person in debt get out of debt!  Finally, a new idea, service to others, and making a bad situation better for all involved.

In the CBS story, the owner,  Bill Bartman, of CFS II Debt Collection Agency,  talked about how the old mentality of hounding debtors to get money they don’t have doesn’t work. I think we’ve all heard someone’s story about a collections agency being nasty to a friend in the past, but this company has taken on a new approach, ‘let’s help the client find ways to make money to pay back the debt.’ Yup! This agency helps the individual in debt find a job, fix their resume, remind them about when their first job interview is, and literally works with them to get out of debt. Continue reading

Eating the Right Greek Yogurt During Menopause

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

First published on  October 2012

Yogurt is a popular food to eat for maintaining strong healthy bones.  The popularity of Greek yogurt over the last five years has skyrocketed, but unfortunately some companies claiming to sell traditional Greek strained yogurt in fact are serving a product that does not align with the way pure traditional Greek strained yogurt is actually made. Being Greek, this begins to become insulting, especially growing up with the real thing, knowing the proper flavor and ingredients.  Some of these yogurts are not making people healthy, but are contributing to their health issues.  Don’t assume because a label says it’s a “Greek” yogurt that it’s healthy.  Make sure you read the ingredients of your yogurt before purchasing; otherwise you will be buying a product that will in fact agitate and worsen your menopausal symptoms.  For some, even a pure traditional Greek strained yogurt on its own can actually increase hot flash symptoms.   Continue reading

George Stroumboulopoulos – From Music to Consciousness

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

Outspoken and open to the world, George Stroumboulopoulos is Canada’s bridge between its youth and its older, structured adult world.  His young peers love him because he listens to them, speaks their language, and explains things to them on a level they can relate to, while adults love him because he asks the difficult questions.

Before I interviewed George I wasn’t sure what to expect, after speaking with him  I was so impressed with his intelligence and humor that I’ve had a crush on him ever since. He doesn’t mince his words and is truly honest about all topics of social interest. What you see on TV is the real thing, and better yet he lacks the arrogance that other TV personalities have.  He is a person that inspires his audience to change and get involved in issues that matter to them.

I can quote him on so many things and topics, but one of my favorites is when I asked him about the advice he would give to his young peers and fans, he answered with a response that could be applied to anyone at any age, and that is, “Be what you want to be.  Live on your own terms, otherwise you will be fake.  If everybody did what their parents wanted them to be, then everyone would be a doctor or lawyer, and we wouldn’t have artists.”  He also suggested they read the book “Travels with Charley,” which is an amazing non-fiction road trip featuring celebrated author, John Steinbeck.

Having a balanced healthy life includes being honest with yourself, asking difficult questions, and as George said, “be what you want to be. Live on your own terms, otherwise you will be fake.”  Keeping up with the Jones’ is more stressful than living on your own terms. Trying to always impress friends and family will take it’s toll on your health, especially if you put their needs ahead of yours all the time.

George Strouboulopoulos had great input on how to live life that we can all follow.  He is currently still hosting the Hour on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and started a show on CNN through the summer season of 2013 on Friday nights. Hopefully CNN will keep him on longer so the world can be inspired.  If you want to read more from my interview with him click on the link below.

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Petition to force large food corporations to list ALL their ingredients

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

There is a deception going on in the food corporation world, where marketing and packaging of food products tend to not list if genetically modified food is part of the ingredients on the package. We as the public do not know what these ingredients can do in the long term to our bodies, there has not been long-term research done.

Sign the Environment Working Groups Petition if you want to know if your food is genetically modified or has ingredients that have been genetically modified.

Follow this link and add your information:



Responsibility in Business Leads to an Environmentally Friendly Society

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

I met Polly Mazaris, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Baxter Group Ltd. in Melbourne, Australia in 2005, who taught me that drive and determination to do what is right for the environment, despite all odds, can slowly change the minds of some of the most stubborn business people. Her company is one of the most economically and environmentally efficient and accessible waste management operators in the South Eastern metropolitan area of Melbourne, Australia.

Polly was one of the few women working in this industry back in 1990 when she started, and even worse, environmental considerations by most landfill owners was not taking place.  Her insistence of best practice guidelines took some time to be accepted, but she never backed down and stood behind the ethics of keeping the environment clean, and preventing any waste entering water sources. Fifteen years later she won Southern Australia’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs of the Year Award in 2005 for Services Including Financial, Business and Property, and was also a finalist for their national award.

She told me that her most valuable lesson in business is, “to stand up for your values, and be honorable and ready to accept responsibility.”

Part of living a balanced life is respecting your environment, whether it be at home, work, or your surrounding community. We all have the ability to do the right thing one small step at a time, whether it is picking up the garbage at the local park, or following your community’s recycling program properly. I think we are all guilty of putting something in our regular garbage bin instead of our recycle bin.  Small steps to doing the right thing for our environment leads to greater changes and a cleaner environment for the generations after us, as well as creating a healthy balanced world.

To learn more about Polly Mazaris and how she operates her company and life, read my article below.

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Costa Gavras – Stimulating Minds Through Film

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview the director and screenwriter of the classic movie Z, Costa Gavras, before the Canadian premiere of his movie The Axe a few years ago. He is one of my all-time favorite movie directors and screenwriters because of his ability to make his audience question authority and think about various political, social, and ethical situations. He is truly a humanitarian at heart. In my interview with him he made a beautiful statement, that to me exemplifies how art should bring balance to one’s life, he said, “the role of art in society is to question life and let the audience decide.”

Art, in all its forms, has more power when it makes you think about what is going on around you, or the ethics and humanity of things that happened in the past, helping society make wiser decisions for our future.

Choosing your favorite forms of art can truly keep you in balance if you choose wisely.

Here is my interview with Costa Gavras.

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Angelos Bratis – Dutch Desire

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

I love fashion. Sometimes just looking at pretty things like a clothing or accessories can perk up your mood.  Here is an article I wrote in 2006 on a Greek-Dutch designer who premiered at New York’s Fashion Week and gives some great advice to keep your wardrobe simple and not overly indulgent.  You don’t need a lot of clothing in your closet, you just need a few right pieces to get you to a lot of places.

A balanced lifestyle also means you don’t have a need to own a lot of material things, and don’t look for a lot of material things to feel good about yourself. Feeling good about yourself comes from within you, but usually comes after a number of life challenges. The key is to find your inner strength. Your exterior is just icing on the cake.

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Baked Okra with a Feta and Olive Appetizer – Family Recipe

Recipe by Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

This vegetarian meal is a very popular dish in Greece, particularly during a religious fast and through the summer season.  It’s easy to make and I’ve provided a family recipe that was published a few years back in Metohos Magazine.  I find that most Greek dishes cooked in a tomato sauce taste even better with a side of feta and Kalamata olives.

Okra are EXTREMELY low in fat, high in fiber, and VERY low in cholesterol. A 255g portion (without the tomato sauce) has 71 Calories, 1g of fat, and 5g of protein.  It consist of 52% Vitamin C, 24% Calcium, 17% Vitamin A, and 9% Iron.

Enjoy another one of my family recipes!

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Spaghetti with Octopus – The Zarokostas Family Recipe

Recipe by Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

This family recipe was published in a Canadian multicultural magazine a few years back.  This is one of my favorite family recipes for a number of reasons. I am a seafood fanatic, and also have many memories of my family visits to Greece as a child watching my father and brother swim out into the Mediterranean sea with their spear guns searching for octopus, then once caught, watching them soften their tough tentacles by literally smashing them against sea rocks in our southern Greek town of Leonidion. When I hear the word “octopus” I instantly smell the sea and am transported to Greece.

An 85g serving size of octopus is a great source of protein providing 25g, and 139 calories.  It is low in saturated fat.  Octopus is high in iron at 45%, contains 11% Vitamin C, 9% calcium and 5% Vitamin A.  It is a little high in sodium and cholesterol, so if those are issues in your diet please beware.  Octopus is also a great source of Niacin, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc, Vitamin B12, Copper and Selenium.

Enjoy this very favorite family recipe of mine!

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