How Does the Spartan Diet Differ From Other Diets? 

The Spartan Diet is different from other diets in scope, purpose, detail, emphasis, limitations and approach. Here's how.

The Spartan Diet is versatile, adaptable and can be tailored to your individual needs to meet your own nutritional requirements, environment and circumstances. Most diets are weight loss diets. Others seek physical health or disease prevention or management eliminating major important food groups like grains and fruit or putting emphasis on extra consumption of particular types of foods or nutrients. Still other diets focus on morality or religious observance. 

The Spartan Diet is the only diet whose purpose and mission are to optimize the totality of the self. What do you really want out of life? And how can diet and lifestyle help you achieve it? We love asking those questions of Spartan Dieters — and we enjoy watching the answers change as people find out what's possible. 

The Spartan Diet is also a lot more detailed than others. Rather than simply listing the food categories you should eat, I tell you where to find them, how to choose them, when to buy them, how to store them and which kitchen gear you should use to prepare them and how to figure out how much to eat. The Spartan Diet goes into minute detail about how to transform food for optimal bioavailability. Not all grains are created equal, for example. There are many grains, other than modern wheat, that add important nutrients essential to long term health including vitamins, mineral and fiber. Beyond that, it’s about the right preparation. For example, soaking grains before consumption is part of the necessary preparation to eliminate anti-nutrients as well as break down compounds that can prevent the absorption of nutrients by the body. I’ll explore in depth why grains get a bad reputation and why they’re a vital part of any diet for optimal health. 

The Spartan Diet also helps you foster the mindset necessary for healthy living. It's easy enough for a diet to tell you what to eat. But where do you get the motivation to stick with it? The Spartan Diet helps you develop something better than motivation and better than inspiration — the mental strength and the daily habits that lead to optimum health and healthy living. 

The Spartan Diet is the only diet governed by and based on what provides and how to attain maximum health above and beyond all other considerations. The Spartan diet emphasizes balance, moderation, variety and seasonality and above all, quality. Some diets are defined by their limitations. For example, a vegetarian diet allows no animal flesh. A vegan diet goes further, not allowing animal derived foods including eggs, dairy and  honey. A raw-food diet allows no foods heated to above a certain temperature, say, 118 degrees Fahrenheit. While all of these diets can be healthful, the limitations are not governed by health. The limitations are decided in advance, and do not change as our understanding of health changes — often even at the expense of one’s own health. The Spartan Diet is defined in part by limitations, too, but these are not based on dogmatic beliefs, outdated data or bad pseudo science; they’re based on solid scientific research and proven ancient wisdom. For example, many food types are categorically non-Spartan Diet foods. Industrial foods (we’ll tell you in detail what that means in the next chapter), inferior refined oils, domesticated animal meat, farmed fish and others. The Spartan Diet limitations are based on health above all other considerations. A vegan diet allows both healthy and unhealthy foods. French fries can be vegan, for example. On a vegan Spartan diet you would choose to make and eat, for example, oven roasted organic potatoes instead. Or better yet, you would understand that a variety of oven roasted organic vegetables such as cauliflower, butternut squash, parsnip, carrots, red onions, sweet potatoes and heirloom purple potatoes with olive oil, fresh herbs and garlic would be far more interesting, delicious and nutritious. And to go even further, for optimal nutrition, I would suggest adding some homemade beans and quinoa to complement the meal for complete protein. 

In short, The Spartan Diet is unlike any “diet” out there. It’s about life-transformation through embracing the best, most delicious and healthiest diet possible, and living a lifestyle for total health.

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Recipe: Oaxacan White Bean Soupstew

This week's recipe is inspired by the food culture of Oaxaca, Mexico, where some of Mexico's finest mezcal, pulque, coffee, cacao, cheese and corn are produced. Oaxaca is a food paradise. (If you'd like to truly experience the food culture of Oaxaca, join my Oaxaca Experience!)

As a citizen of the world, the world is my home. I love each and every place Mike and I have had the privilege of living during these past 15 years of exploring this planet as gastronomads. And Oaxaca (where we are living now) is one of our favorites. 

The house where we’re living is a charming and traditional Oaxacan style casa in the picturesque Barrio Jalatlaco, with all its colorful houses and cobblestone streets. We’ve been enjoying a beautiful garden and patio, which we can see from every room. The house has a beautiful traditional-style Mexican kitchen.

Having a community of wonderful friends in this magical place makes life in Oaxaca not only incredibly joyful but also meaningful. A dear friend arranged for us to be able to stay at this beautiful house. And now that friend of our friend has also become a wonderful friend who’s shown us so much kindness and generosity with his time. And that’s the kind of hospitality that Oaxaquenos are known for.

Deeply influenced by Zapotec and Mixtec indigenous cultures, historically, Oaxacan cuisine represents the heart and soul of Mexican gastronomy. 

Cooking in Oaxaca is an adventure, with such a diversity of amazing foods and ingredients that are native to the region.

Meandering through one of the many Mexican mercados (daily farmer's market) in Oaxaca is a feast for all the senses and a profoundly inspiring culinary adventure. The incredible variety of fresh produce and freshly prepared foods as well as the liveliness of the market is something I find deeply uplifting. No walking activity, other than hiking in nature, restores my soul and fills me with more joy than aimlessly wandering through farmer's markets here and, really, anywhere in the world. 

But there's something unique about Oaxacan mercados, especially the ones in small villages far from the historic center, where many of the vendors are indigenous people who travel from their villages in the mountains to sell the foods they cultivate themselves. Their main language in this region of Oaxaca is Zapotec and sometimes they don't speak much Spanish. 

Everything these women and men sell they grow themselves using traditional farming methods that don't involve pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Their produce is freshly harvested and different in appearance and quality to the conventional produce that large stalls in the market often carry. 

Indigenous farmers are easy to spot. They're dressed in clothes specific to their group and village and often they set up a small table or sit on the floor with baskets full of their goods somewhere around the perimeter of the mercado. It's common for them to sell good quality produce, including herbs, beans, vegetables, seasonal fruit, avocados and fresh chili peppers that happen to look very different from their conventional counterparts. These are heirloom varieties native to this land and which the farmers describe as criollo varieties.

Our newest friend, the owner of the lovely house where we’re staying, went on a trip far into the Northern Sierras in Oaxaca recently. He brought us some amazing ancient salt that’s been traditionally collected in that region manually from deep inside the Earth. The salt itself was formed some 10,000 years ago. (And that’s the salt I used in this week’s recipe.) He also brought us a wonderfully aromatic wild oregano from that same region, which apparently grows like weeds around there. I was over the moon receiving such unique and lovely gifts and adding them to the Oaxacan White Bean Soupstew.

Make this recipe and let the spirit of Oaxaca wash over you as you enjoy it with loved ones.

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