Mediterranean Diet

It’s been so long since I’ve written on here…I’ve missed it!  In the past few months, I had the opportunity to go to Israel and Jordan.  I saw a lot of interesting things, but being a foodie at heart and always looking for ways to improve my diet, I was especially mindful of what I was eating.  The hotels that I stayed at all offered buffet breakfasts and wow was it different from the danishes and coffee the Holiday Inn offers! haha every breakfast included a huge salad bar and olive oil and spices, hummus, and spiced yogurts instead of typical, American dressings.  Eggs were prepared scrambled, as an omelette, boiled, poached in tomato sauce…they were so delicious!  Every buffet also included fresh fruit, yogurt and honey, bran cereals, and juice.  Needless to say, it was a power-punch kind of way to start the day!

At first, I didn’t want to start my day with vegetables (I’m a Captain Crunch kind of girl), but after eating salad and boiled eggs for a few days, I couldn’t believe how much more energy I had than grabbing something sweet and processed like I do at home…and with just one small plate of salad, I stayed full for hours!  If you want to try it, give yourself a few days to get used to this new way of eating…I think you’ll learn to love it too!!

The Mediterranean Diet is similar to the American Heart Association diet suggestions.  It basically consists of the following:

  • high consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
  • olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source
  • dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten
  • eggs are consumed zero to four times a week
  • wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts

Do you want to help your heart?  Instead of filling your body with empty calories (which will spike your blood pressure), or high levels of cholesterol from saturated fats (which could put your cardiovascular health at risk), the Mediterranean Diet avoids most carbs and substitutes bad fat with monounsaturated fats.

Be aware, though, that this diet is high in salt (most of the salads had capers, olives, salt-cured cheeses, or salted fish), so if you have high blood pressure, make sure your salads fit your dietary needs.

I know you all know how to make a salad, so here are some ideas to give your salad some pizazz!

Roasted Red Peppers

Ingredients:
4 medium-sized or 3 big fresh, red bell peppers

Extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
1. Clean the peppers thoroughly with a clean towel.
2.
Arrange the whole bell peppers on a baking sheet or shallow flat baking pan. Leave two inches between bell peppers.
3.
Broil the bell peppers in the oven until they are tender. (Turn them over every ten minutes.) The baking time is about 45 minutes for very big peppers. When done the skins of the bell peppers are black, blistered and charred.
4.
Remove the bell peppers from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. To make peeling easier some people wrap the bell peppers in a plastic bag after you remove them from the oven. The retained steam makes easier to lift the skin of the bell peppers. Let them cool and peel.
5.
Cut the stem, and cut them in half from stem to base. Remove the seeds and peel them with your fingers.
6.
Cut the bell peppers in strips of about one inch width and arrange them nicely on a dish. Drizzle some olive oil over the strips.  Eat alone or on salad.

Of COURSE I had to include a hummus recipe!  We went to a restaurant that had a salad plate to start and around the salad came all these little dishes of different types of hummus.  The garlic and eggplant hummus was my favorite, but there are so many to choose from, go here and try out some different recipes yourself!

Garlic Hummus

Ingredients:
2 cups of cooked or canned chickpeas
1-3 cloves of garlic, depending on how garlicky you like it
3 Tbsp tahini
4 Tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:
Put all ingredients into a food processor and puree. Or, put all ingredients into a tall container and use your stick blender to puree them.
If you find the hummus is too thick, add some water, stirring in a tablespoon at a time until you are happy with the consistency.

Pretty simple, right?  Don’t think that just because this post includes the 4-letter D-word, the recipes will be boring and flavorless.  It’s just a different way of cooking and eating.  Enjoy it!  I promise, this diet is delicious and healthy.  Give it a try.

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One response to “Mediterranean Diet

  1. Awesome! very interesting….speaking of switching bad fat to good ones – I cooked dark green leafy vegetables and made them tasty! Dill, Kale, & Chard Sabji Recipe: http://wp.me/p1jwFi-cV Try this for health.

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