The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating a plant-based diet including: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts; replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado oil; using herbs and spices instead of salt; limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month, and eating fish such as salmon, halibut, sardines, and tuna at least twice a week. It is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world.
I hope you enjoy some of the following recipes. Please share your favorite Mediterranean recipe. I’d love to try it!
Pour on the olive oil
Olives and avocados, and other foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, have a positive effect on blood glucose, cholesterol, triglyceride and insulin levels.
Olive oil is great on everything. It has been shown to help increase HDL “good” cholesterol while it lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol. Further, olive oil helps reduce cardiovascular risk and provides vitamin E, an important antioxidant.
Tomatoes are a rich source of beta-carotene and the powerful antioxidant lycopene, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of prostate cancer in numerous studies.
A 1995 Italian study researched the effects of nutrient-derived antioxidants on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation. The study found that olive oil constituents effectively inhibit (LDL) oxidation, suggesting that the intake of such antioxidants plays a role in the lower incidence of coronary heart disease in the Mediterranean countries, where olive oil and other high-antioxidant foods are a major part of the diet.Creole Fish
One of my favorite summertime meals is Nicoise salad. Grill a salmon fillet (I like to have leftovers), and add it to a bed of salad greens. Add whatever veggies taste good to you and/or in your fridge: Cook them first: beets, green beans, potatoes, etc. Top with dressing, toasted pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Halibut or salmon
- 12 ounces of halibut or salmon fillet
- 1 15-ounce can no-salt, organic stewed tomatoes, or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped green pepper
- 2 Tbs fresh basil
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- 2 Tbs fresh parsley
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350
- Put washed fish fillet inside a baking dish that has been greased with olive oil.
- Sauté onion, green pepper and tomatoes in 2 Tbs. olive oil.
- Blend veggies with the herbs and place on top of the fish.
- Bake covered for 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked.
- Season with lemon juice, and salt and pepper if desired.
Avocado Enjoy a few slices of avocado in your tossed salad, or mix some chopped avocado into your favorite salsa.
Curried Lentils -serves 4. (from whfoods.com)
- 1 cup brown or green lentils, washed
- 4 cups + 1 Tbs vegetable broth
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 medium celery stalks, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 cups finely chopped kale
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
- 3 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Rinse lentils in strainer and sort through, removing debris.
- Chop onions and garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to bring out their hidden health benefits.
- Heat 1 Tbs broth in medium soup pot.
- Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until translucent.
- Add garlic, carrots, and celery.
- Continue to sauté for another couple of minutes.
- Add curry powder and mix to bring out its flavor.
- Add rinsed and drained lentils, 4 cups broth and tomatoes.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered until lentils and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add kale and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Spinach salad with orange and walnuts —serves 4.
- 12 ounces spinach, washed, trimmed and dried (1 bunch)
- 2 navel oranges
- 1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Mix soy sauce and walnuts and roast for 15 minutes at 350°F or until golden.
- Peel oranges and slice crosswise in 1/4 inch slices, and then cut in fourths.
- Mix spinach greens, torn into smaller pieces, oranges and walnuts.
- Mix salad dressing in the blender. Toss dressing and spinach mixture together and serve.
Watermelon salad with feta and mint (serves 8-10)
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
- One-8 pound seedless watermelon, scooped into balls or cut into chunks
- ½ pound feta cheese, crumbled (2 cups)
- 1 small sweet onion, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
- In a large bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, salt, Tabasco and pepper.
- Add the watermelon, feta, olives and onion and toss gently with the watermelon.
- Garnish with the mint and serve.
Avocado and Bean Burrito—serves 2
(from The Ultra-Metabolism Cookbook by Mark Hyman, M.D.) Great for a delicious, quick lunch.
- 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
- 2 Tbs. yellow onion, chopped
- ½ medium avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
- 2 Tbs. chopped cilantro
- 4 Tbs. chunky tomato salsa
- ½ cup nonfat refried beans
- 2 corn tortillas
- Mix the lettuce, onion, avocado, cilantro and salsa in a medium bowl until the vegetables are evenly coated.
- Smear half of the beans on each tortilla, fill with veggie mixture, and wrap burrito style.
Italian pesto—Use on broiled chicken, fish, pasta or bread
- 1 large bunch basil, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Place basil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese in a blender or food processor.
- Blend until thoroughly chopped and mixed.
- Continue processing while gradually adding olive and flax oils.
- Blend until smooth. Use within two days. Makes about 1 cup.
- 1 cup cooked kidney beans
- 1 cup cooked garbanzos
- 1 cup cooked, cooled green beans
- ¾ cup lemon and oil dressing (recipe follows)
- ¼ cup chopped celery
- ½ cup chopped green pepper
- ½ cup chopped red pepper
- 1 Tbs. chopped parsley or cilantro
- Toss all the ingredients together.
- Marinate in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally to coat the beans. Makes 3 cups.
Lemon and oil dressing (basic dressing and marinade)
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ to ½ tsp salt
- fresh pepper
Mix the ingredients together. Makes 1/3 cup.
Hummus (pronounced hum´-es) is a dip/spread that is made from chickpeas, which are considered one of the oldest foods, dating back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Italy.Today, hummus is one of the most popular foods to emerge from the Mediterranean and Middle East region.
In addition to pureed chickpeas, hummus is an exotic blend of sesame tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and spices including garlic, the most important. You can experiment and add others such as roasted red peppers, scallion and dill. Hummus is traditionally served with pita bread, crackers or fresh cut veggies. It can also be used as a spread on sandwiches. Hummus contains no saturated fat or cholesterol and is high in protein and fiber.
- 1 16 oz can of organic chickpeas or garbanzo beans
- 1/4-cup liquid from can of chickpeas
- juice of one or two lemons – to taste
- 1/4 cup—1/2-cup tahini
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4—1/2-teaspoon salt – to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons parsley or chives
- paprika—gives it color and doesn’t take away from taste
- Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can.
- Rinse the beans and combine with rest of ingredients in blender or food processor.
- Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas.
- Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.
- Place in serving bowl or dish, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus.
- Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley and paprika.
- Serve with pita bread, crackers, and/or carrot and celery sticks, red peppers, or whatever you like.
Ricotta, feta and spinach spread (4 servings)
- 1 pound ricotta cheese
- ¼ pound feta
- 1 cup spinach (frozen is ok)
- ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- ½ cup onion, sautéed in olive oil
- 1 Tbs. rosemary
- ¼ tsp. black pepper.
Blend together and eat with raw veggies or healthy crackers
- Hummus and/or Baba Ganoosh with celery and carrot sticks, Bell pepper slices, or any other veggies that appeal to you.
- Turkey slices wrapped around raw veggies (Buy roasted turkey slices, available at most deli counters, as opposed to turkey preserved with nitrates.)
- Avocados contain healthy fats. Eat ¼ to ½ an avocado by scooping out with a spoon, or mash it up, add your favorite herbs/spices, and use as a dip for veggies or healthy chips.
- Sliced apple with almond butter, peanut butter, or tahini
- Hard boiled eggs or deviled eggs
- Small handful of nuts—almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, with an apple
- Whole milk yoghurt and fruit
- Bean tacos or tortillas, stuffed with tomatoes, greens, avocado, shredded carrots, Bell pepper, salsa
- Chicken drumsticks
- A scoop of tuna salad topped with sunflower seeds, chopped tomato, celery, fresh basil
- ½ cup of whole milk cottage cheese with berries, or fruit of your choice, or ½ chopped raw veggies
- Bake a sweet potato or yam the night before. Cut in half and top with 1 Tbs. cashews, almonds or pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup whole milk yoghurt or coconut milk yoghurt, cinnamon