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Ikarian Longevity Stew

When I asked Dr. Antonia Trichopoulou, a Mediterranean diet expert, how I could get the small American city of Albert Lea, Minnesota—famous for meatpacking—to eat more vegetables, I knew I had come to the right person. We were sitting at Thea’s Guesthouse, in front of one of her amazing spreads of Ikarian cuisine. Dr. Trichopoulou paused for a moment and then gestured to the food and said, “Feed them.”

I had my marching orders, so I searched for a recipe that people would like. Several months later, I invited the entire city of Albert Lea to dinner. More than 2,200 people showed up as chefs demonstrated how to make this Ikarian stew in two enormous boiling cauldrons. For these people, vegetables were typically the orange flecks you see in Hamburger Helper. I was nervous to serve them a 100 percent plant-based meal. Less than an hour later, the two pots were completely empty and the city had taken its first step to changing its diet for the better.

After just one year, participants added an estimated 2.9 years to their average life span, while health care claims for city workers dropped 49 percent. This city experiment was the pilot for what is now Blue Zones Project, which has expanded to 47 communities across the United States.

Here’s the exact recipe, which also happens to be one of our reader favorites.

Cook Time:
80 minutes

Ikarian Longevity Stew Recipe


1 cup dried black-eyed peas (or 8-ounce can, drained)
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 large, firm ripe tomato, finely chopped
2 teaspoons tomato paste, diluted in 1⁄4 cup water
2 bay leaves
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
Salt (optional)


If using dried black-eyed peas: Cover with water and bring to a boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for an hour.
Drain and rinse. (If using canned black-eyed peas, skip this step.)
In a large pot, heat half the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion, garlic, and fennel, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 12 minutes.
Add the black-eyed peas and toss to coat with oil.
Add the tomato, tomato paste, and enough water to cover the beans by about an inch.
Add the bay leaves.
Bring pot to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the black-eyed peas are about halfway cooked (if using dried peas).
Check after 40 minutes, but it may take over an hour.
If using canned, skip to next step after 10 minutes.
Add the chopped dill and season with salt to taste.
Continue cooking until the black-eyed peas are tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and pick out and discard the bay leaves.
Pour in remaining olive oil, stir, and serve.

100 Recipes to Live to 100 THE BLUE ZONES KITCHEN

The Blue Zones Kitchen fuses scientific reporting, National Geographic photography and 100 recipes that may help you live to 100. The Blue Zones’ food tradition is going the way of the dodo bird, thanks to the encroachment of the American Food Culture.

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From #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, National Geographic Fellow & Founder of Blue Zones, Dan Buettner

The Blue Zones: Secrets for Living Longer

Lessons From the Healthiest Places on Earth