Year-long sunshine. Bustling streets. Unmatched hospitality. These are just a few of the things Suzy Karadsheh misses about living in Port Said, Egypt. Born and raised on Egypt’s Mediterranean shore, Suzy began a lifelong passion for fresh foods. Although you may now catch her offering a casual “y’all” in the greater Atlanta area, her love of the Mediterranean has only grown stronger.
In fact, when it comes to the Mediterranean lifestyle, you might say Suzy wrote the blog on it. As the founder of The Mediterranean Dish, Suzy has become well-versed on the topic and shares simple, wholesome recipes with a Mediterranean twist to millions of readers daily.
Suzy’s childhood is filled with memories of sun, family and fresh foods. “My fondest memories are of shopping the Souk (farmers market) with my dad,” Suzy says. “He would take me by the hand as we navigated the narrow, busy streets ... He took every opportunity to show me how to select the best produce.”
Suzy grew up in a small family of four that extended well beyond blood relatives. “The doors to my parents’ home were always open, no matter what night of the week. The table was always set. All were welcomed.” The dinner table defined Suzy’s childhood. These family feasts, usually brimming with mezze platters and seafood, are just one of the many ways living in Egypt impacted Suzy growing up. Living in a port city, a mere boat ride away from such culture-rich places as Italy, Greece and Israel, is another experience she treasures. And because her parents prioritized international travel early on, Suzy’s curiosity for world customs and cuisines only grew stronger with age. As an adult, she traveled far and wide. “My travels brought me to homes and dining tables where food was the one common language,” Suzy says.
Geared with a passion for travel, a knack for food shopping, and a love for family dinners, Suzy eventually moved to the U.S. She started college in Michigan, where she met her soon-to-be husband, Saba. They later had two daughters, and Suzy started a career in marketing and fundraising. But her husband’s work soon took her and her family from one state to another. “It was hard for me to continue to pursue full-time work,” Suzy says. “After some time at home, it was clear I needed something more.”
Saba suggested Suzy start a blog. “It was simply a place to share my passion for Mediterranean cooking and to share recipe ideas with others, while preserving them for my daughters.”
And so The Mediterranean Dish was born. It has become a celebration of healthful flavors from all over the world, and her goal remains to share wholesome recipes anyone with a busy schedule can make. The recipes on the website offer a little bit of everything, whether you’re looking to grill swordfish with a cumin spice rub, toss together an Israeli couscous salad, or bake a honey-sweetened cake topped with pistachios. If that doesn’t leave your mouth watering, the beautiful photography will.
Many readers have reached out to express how the suggestions on her blog have inspired them to lead a healthier life. Some are losing weight while others are simply feeling great.
Upon the urging of her followers, The Mediterranean Dish has even launched its own line of all-natural and organic Mediterranean spices, and Greek extra virgin olive oil from organically grown Greek Koroeniki olives.
A Mediterranean diet starts with well-balanced meals focused on grains; vegetables; dairy; and proteins from nuts, seafood and lean meats. It also uses olive oil as the main source of cooking fat. But it’s more than just a diet. It’s truly a lifestyle that stresses the importance of daily physical activity and a balanced social calendar with frequent meals in the company of family and friends. “At its very core, the Mediterranean lifestyle originated in cultures that approach life from a collectivist standpoint,” Suzy says.
Best yet, foods with a heavy Mediterranean focus have been linked to weight loss, low blood pressure and low cholesterol. In one study, adults who closely followed the Mediterranean diet were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease over a 10-year period compared to similar adults who did not closely follow the diet, according to a study to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego.
To truly follow the Mediterranean lifestyle, Suzy highlights her three main principles: Eat with the seasons; use mostly whole foods; and above all, share!
And don’t forget to indulge every once in a while. “Give me a piece of baklava (or two), and I’m the happiest of campers,” Suzy says.
Outside the Blog
At home, Suzy loves to spend time in her kitchen and whip up meals for her family and friends. “Mezze time is almost sacred. Those small plates filled with wholesome eats are designed for sharing with loved ones over a long and leisurely visit. There is absolutely no rush.”
Figuring out what to serve, whether it’s a grand leg of lamb or a simple soup, has never been an issue. That’s one of the greatest lessons her family taught her growing up: Food is meant to bring people together.
In and around cooking and blogging, Suzy still finds the time to travel. And although sightseeing is usually on the itinerary, she’d rather immerse herself in the local customs. “Nothing is more enjoyable to me than hanging out with the locals ... sitting on the rocks of Petra, out in the deserts of Jordan, and enjoying a cup of black tea with the Bedouins.”
Otherwise, she’s enjoying yoga, volunteering, or seated at the dinner table with her family. “If there is one thing we do consistently as a family, it’s eating every dinner together around the table.”