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Gyros and More gets healthy, Mediterranean-style

Among the diet fads that have come and gone is the Mediterranean diet, which operates under the theory that olive oil and reasonable portions are the way to go.

But Lilly Sarkizi, the manager at Gyros and More in Turlock, says it's no fad, just a way of living she's experienced firsthand that works.

"I've lost 30 pounds eating this way," said Sarkizi, whose brother Sargis owns the 3½-year-old eatery in the Monte Vista Crossings shopping center. "We wanted to introduce more healthy food. And when people eat here, they come back."

As the name implies, gyros, flatbread sandwiches of vegetables, beef and/or lamb and a creamy sauce, constitute a big part of the restaurant's offerings.

But other Mediterranean dishes, such as kebabs, dolma and falafel, also are on the menu. And most dishes can be ordered alone or as part of a combination plate with items such as french fries, salad or hummus.

Certain ingredients, eaten regularly, have proven health benefits, Lilly Sarkizi said. The saffron in the restaurant's rice, for example, helps lower cholesterol, while the herb sumgh, a staple in Mediterranean dishes, aids with digestion.

"And we limit the salt," she said. "I make the recipes every day, so why do I need salt as a preservative?"

The Sarkizis, natives of Greece, feel that food with natural ingredients, freshly prepared, is what a sensible, hungry diner would want.

The way Lilly Sarkizi said she prepares Gyros and More's popular soup reflects that, she said. "Any kind of vegetable you want that's good for you, I put it in the soup," she said. "You want to eat it the homemade way."

Restaurant: Gyros and More

Location: 3160 Countryside Drive, Turlock; 668-7200

Hours: Sunday through Saturday,

11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Price ranges and house specialties: Classic gyro (lamb and beef, tomatoes, onions, tomatoes, cucumber sauce and pita bread), $5.50, or $7.95 as part of a combination plate; kebabs (beef, chicken and combination), $9.95 to $12.95; salads, $6.95

Egra appetizer, with eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, peppers and Mediterranean spice, $4.50; dolma appetizer, with grape or cabbage leaf cooked with ground meat, herbs and rice, $4.50; falafel sandwiches, $5.50

Bar: Wine and beer, and cocktails made with ku, a Korean liquor similar to vodka

Reservations: Encouraged for large groups

Payments: Cash, major credit cards

For children: Chicken and fish plates