- Nicoya, Costa Rica is one of the five Blue Zones in the world, 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, preparing dishes like gallo pinto and rosquillas.
Nicoya, Costa Rica is one of the world five “blue zones” where residents live longer than average. Some Nicoyans live to be 90 and 100 years old, and a 100-year-old man still rides horses and herds cattle on a new netflix documentary about the secrets of the Blue Zones of the world.
One of the possible secrets of the longevity of Nicoyans is their diet, which is based Largely beans as a superfood.. Nicoyans don’t eat much meat either, which I found encouraging: I’m a pescetarian and eat a plant-based diet 80% of the time, but I’m always worried about not getting enough protein.
Hearing that a more plant-focused, whole-food diet may be linked to longevity made me want to try eating like a Costa Rican SuperAger. Of course, I can’t say if it will really help me live longer, but a little more energy would be nice. Since I live in Brooklyn and can’t grow my own food like many Nicoyans do, I had to make do with preparing two dishes and a snack. That’s how it was.
The first meal I made was a Costa Rican rice and bean dish called gallo pinto, which is traditionally served for breakfast, but which I also ate at other meals.
It was incredibly easy to make: I just needed to chop some onion and bell peppers, cook the rice, and mix in the beans and spices. After about an hour of work, she had three Tupperwares filled with delicious base.
He challenged the idea that food must be complicated or expensive to be healthy and delicious.
I would customize it with fried eggs (which Nicoyans use as a side dish), avocado, salsa and hot sauce, whatever I wanted and had in the refrigerator. It made breakfast, the meal I normally make out of necessity, actually an enjoyable experience: eating tasty beans was more exciting than my usual oatmeal with blueberries.
The most important thing is that gallo pinto was filling up. After running 10 miles in the morning, I devoured a large plate with all the fixings and was surprised at how satiated I felt for the rest of the day.
The Netflix series mentioned that Nicoyans eat squash, beans and corn, also known as the “three sisters” by indigenous cultures. These three crops not only nourish 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 squash, pinto beans, and corn. It was an easy one-pot meal that I made in bulk and ate all week.
At first, I was skeptical that this stew would fill me up without rice or couscous. But eating it alone for lunch was enough to fuel me for the entire day.
When I later went to my weight lifting class, I was legitimately surprised at how much energy I had without drinking protein powder, something I otherwise always drink.
Reducing added sugars is one of the best things you can do to improve longevity, but it’s one of the hardest for me. Emotionally, I need a little treat after every meal, and that’s usually a chocolate chip cookie (main treat) and a handful of leftover chocolate chips (second treat), plus maybe ice cream (bonus treat) if I’m out for a walk. with a friend.
On the show, I caught a quick glimpse of the donuts, which I could best describe as a cross between mini donuts and crunchy cookies. There are many variations throughout Spain and Central America, but the recipe I followed used maseca (corn flour) and cheese.
Since sugar was optional, I omitted it completely and opted for a salty snack. I ate the treats throughout the day, but I didn’t feel the expected sugar crash and subsequent grogginess that I normally feel.
While they took more effort to make than opening a bag of chips, I didn’t feel the growing worry that usually accompanies my immersion in highly processed foods. Plus, when I was satisfied with my main meals, the voice in my head asking for a pastry became a little quieter.
The recipe mentioned that making donuts is a great group activity. Maybe next time invite friends and try another secret of Nicoyan longevity: leaving room for more free time.