Cooking to Cure: Olive this salad…and you will, too


Skye Connors

Rainbow Mediterranean Salad. Photo by Skye Connors.

It’s no secret that the foods we eat affect our physical and mental health. “Eat Better, Feel Better” is practically my motto. Philosopher Hippocrates said it best: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

What if I told you that changing your diet could not only make you feel better, but also make you live longer?

The prospect of aging has never been a particularly joyful thought for me, especially because of the wrinkles. But, there is so much more to aging than appearance. Increased emotion regulation, understanding of identity, and most significantly, positivity are all outcomes of getting older. Not to mention, the money, rest, and relaxation that come with a solid 401k.

Aging is a natural process that begins the moment you are born. It occurs within all organisms. Except for the jellyfish Turritopsis dohrniia species that can “reverse” its aging process and revert back to its juvenile form, essentially making it immortal.

Nevertheless, for humans, aging is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t control how fast or how well you age. Certain foods can slow down the aging process and help you look and feel younger.

Here are the twelve best foods to promote healthy aging:

  1. Tomatoes: These juicy fruits are high in lycopene, according to Healthline. They are also a powerful antioxidant that protects against sun damage and skin aging.
  2. Olives and olive oil: This heart-healthy oil is rich in polyphenols and monounsaturated fats, which prevent age-related diseases and keep your skin looking young. Olives are also a good source of oleic acid, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
  3. Avocado: This green fruit is packed with healthy fats that keep your skin moisturized and prevent wrinkles.
  4. Leafy greens: Spinach, romaine and kale are packed with vitamins and minerals that promote bone health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  5. Whole grains: Brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat bread provide sustained energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, like manganese and selenium, which have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease, according to MayoClinic.
  6. Herbs: Parsley, mint and ginger not only add flavor, but they are also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s. 
  7. Bell peppers: These colorful vegetables are a premium source of fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and a variety of anti-inflammatory properties, which can protect you from sun damage, pollution, and environmental toxins. 
  8. Blueberries: These little berries are high in antioxidants that can protect your skin from sun damage and pollution and have been shown to improve cognitive function, as well as reduce the risk of cancer, according to Real Simple.
  9. Nuts: Raw walnuts, almonds and peanuts are all rich in healthy fats, protein and antioxidants that improve skin elasticity, skin tone and prevent skin damage.
  10. Sweet Potato: This root vegetable contains high levels of beta-carotene, which restores skin elasticity and promotes cell turnover, and also protects your skin from harmful free radicals. 
  11. Oranges: These juicy fruits are known for their high vitamin C content, which is essential for collagen production and skin health.
  12. Beans and legumes: Filled with phytonutrients, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, these superfoods promote blood sugar stability, reduce cancer risk, help with weight management, and more.

Whole, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins are the building blocks of a healthy diet. They contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that fight inflammation and protect our bodies from damage. In addition, they provide us with sustained energy, which helps us to feel alert and focused throughout the day.

The secret to longevity is not rocket science. It’s a delicious diet.

And, to prove it, I’ve crafted a healthy recipe full of ingredients that promote longevity, heart health, and skin health. For a heartier version, use brown rice. For a light lunch salad, opt for romaine.

Rainbow Mediterranean Salad (serves 4)


  • 2 cups of cooked brown rice, or 4 cups of romaine lettuce 
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, chopped
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 grilled or roasted chicken breast, sliced (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, combine the brown rice (or lettuce), red onion, bell peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives. 
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the feta cheese, parsley, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. 
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. 
  4. Divide the salad among four plates and top with the sliced chicken, if using.

Bon appetit!