Old Sicily

Healing Foods : Eat Your Way to a Happy Body

I have fond memories of my nana working in her garden and chewing on herbs, mostly mint and parsley. I never understood why, but as an adult, I am pretty sure that she was trying to aid digestion. Herbs are healing foods.

She always doctored herself, never visited a medical practitioner, and lived until 90. Back in the early 1970s, that was old. Pharmaceutical drugs had no place in her home.

What was her magic formula? Very simple…she ate like a Sicilian! In her homeland, she was accustomed to living off of the land. What did the Sicilians eat that kept Nana is such great shape? Healing foods.

1. Plant-based food

The thyroid regulates your metabolism. This gland affects practically everything in your body: breathing, heart rate, body weight, nervous system, muscles, and cholesterol just to name a few. In other words, be extremely good to your thyroid. You need it to be working pristinely.

What helps to regulate your thyroid? Greens!!! Foods from the farm are plant-based: fresh greens (mustard greens, collard greens, broccoli, arugula, spinach, and kale).

Greens provide iodine, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These foods fight disease and protect the organs in our bodies.

2. Organic protein

Protein-rich organic foods stabilize blood sugar, thus increasing energy levels. What else did Nana have on her Sicilian farm? Chickens, eggs, and fish from the local fish market were among the foods she ate daily. Beans and nuts were plentiful in her part of the country as well.

I can picture the tiny Sicilian child, running through the beds of organic, fresh foods. She loved greens and often ate them raw.   I saw her as an adult, picking green beans and eating directly from the plant, so my image of her is not far from the truth.

3. Healthy oil

Fresh extra-virgin olive oil had its place in every Sicilian home in Nana’s Sicily or in my New Hampshire kitchen. Olive oil has strong antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Our family puts olive oil on everything: cooked or raw greens, beans, baked foods, and the list goes on. I remember sometimes Dot would cut a loaf of Italian bread lengthwise, put olive oil and garlic on it, and broiled until crispy. It was so yummy. A little bit of Romano cheese might have been on the top, but the olive oil was the predominant flavor.

4. Mushrooms

mushrooomsIf you love mushrooms, they grow wild in Sicily. Some varieties are the white button, shitake, portabella, and cremini. At least one clinical trial has demonstrated that lentinan, an element in mushrooms, has prolonged the life of patients with advanced colorectal and stomach cancer. Recent studies have shown that shitake mushrooms specifically decreased tumor growth due to lentinan. I love these statistics.

Of course, you have to make sure that you don’t mistake a poison one for a healthy mushroom. I can still hear my mother’s voice saying, “Never eat a mushroom unless I give it to you”. She knew that I was an adventurous eater, and she did not want to have one less child. Appearance, location, season, and growing conditions all combine to grow a safe mushroom.

This article gives you important information about identifying mushrooms. Read article.

5. Unrefined Sugar Substitutes

My grandmother never ate sugar. She was accustomed to honey as a sweetener. Figs and dates are also sweetening agents that she enjoyed.

6. Fruits

Nana loved all kinds of fruits. Of course, she grew up with peach, cherry, orange and lemon trees in her back yard. Strawberries grew wild. There was also the revered grape which adults and children alike enjoyed in the form of fruit or wine.

7. Herbs

My great-grandparent’s garden was abundant with healing foods (herbs). Everything was totally organic. Herbs do many things for health including the balance of thyroid and hormones. These plants also cleanse the liver. Some even have a part in relieving asthma: mint, Tumeric, and garlic.

Today’s recipe is green beans. They are easy to cook and delicious when prepared just the right way.

Green Beans Almandine Get Recipe

Final Thought

Research has discovered the food phenomenon. Not only does it nourish you each day; it also lessens symptoms, prevents disease, and alleviates discomfort from daily ailments.

The greatest advantage is that most of the time, remedies are right in your cupboard, refrigerator, or garden.

Important: Be sure you consult a physician if you are unsure about how your body reacts to certain remedies and how certain medications interact with certain herbs.

This video shows you the easiest way to cook greens, an essential part to healing your body or keeping it healthy.



  1. A plant-based diet is often touted as the healthiest approach to eating, and its benefits extend way beyond weight loss. I have also heard about some compelling research examining plant-based diets and their role in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s – Is this true ?

    • Hi, Satz. Thanks for stopping by. Plant-based foods are beneficial to the brain and may help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.

      To be honest, now that I think about it, my nana had all her wits about her when she passed at 90. There might be something in that.

      I appreciate the comment. Feel free to peruse the website and subscribe if you like.


  2. As a fitness and nutrition coach the importance of whole food nutrition is key. I’m going to share this with my clients. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *