The Mediterranean diet has been called the “healthiest” diet of all, and my brother, Craig, a physician, sites research to his patients quite often as the most highly recommended diet. As a Nutritionist, I have studied a lot about it too, but when I was in Italy last month, I became a true believer. I traveled for seven full days in Italy eating six and eight course meals for lunch and dinner served with wine. I also didn’t exercise the entire week (very unlike me). When I came home and realized I actually lost weight, I was stumped. I thought about what ingredients comprised those extravagant meals, and I realized how pure all the food was. This shot was taken on my trip touring the beautiful land of the Le Marche Region of Italy.
Some Key Components of the Mediterranean Diet Include:
1. Plenty of exercise
2. Eating primarily plant based foods
3. Replacing butter with olive and canola oils
4. Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
5. Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month. Eat more vegetables.
6. Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week.
7. Drinking red wine in moderation.
8. Eat fruit for dessert
9. Eat small portions of high-quality foods.
10. Eat yogurt and cheese as your main dairy products.
11. This diet conveys the importance of enjoying meals with friends and family.
Top Foods on The Mediterranean Diet
-Fish and Seafood
-Olive oil or canola oil
-Fruits and Vegetables
Rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, fish oil and even red wine, this diet is lower in saturated fat and has been said to reduce risks of cancers, heart disease and more.
Other Great Attributes about a Mediterranean diet:
1) A diet rich in fruits, grains, nuts, can reduce risk of obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and alzheimers.
2) This diet is high in fiber which is great for decreased risk of diabetes and stomach issues.
3) This diet is filled with a good supply of mono-unsaturated fats found in fish, avocados, olive and canola oil which can help fight disease from the cellular level.
4) This is a diet people can stick to and actually enjoy.
Here is a healthy, simple salad recipe which has a few of my favorite ingredients: basil, mint, dried cranberries, almonds and Israeli couscous. Israeli couscous is a small, round semolina pasta which is very versatile, and kids love it. It works great in this combination served over romaine lettuce leaves drizzled with balsamic vinegar, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Feel free to substitute dried cherries for the cranberries, pine nuts or walnuts for the almonds and any of your favorite lettuces or spinach for the romaine. Here’s to a healthy fresh start to the New Year!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
11/2 cups Israeli couscous (or any small pasta)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. Bring broth and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to a boil; pour over couscous; bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes until still firm to the bite.
2. In a large bowl, toss the cooked couscous with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, garlic, zest and pepper; let cool.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil.
4. Toss romaine lettuce with fresh herbs, dried cherries, and almonds, tossing gently to combine. Top with couscous and drizzle with balsamic dressing.