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.
How about a simple and healthy bean soup recipe while the weather is still cold? I found this plain bean mixture at Fresh Market, but you can find bean mixes at all local grocery stores. I don’t use the seasoning packets that come with them, just the recipe below. Just look for a 1-pound bag, and this recipe will be a breeze. It’s so hearty, easy and flavorful. The hardest part is that you have to soak the beans overnight. Stay warm and enjoy!
Bean Vegetable Soup
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage can be added to this.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Yield: 8 cups
1 pound bean soup mix
6 cups water
4 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup diced carrot
3/4 cup diced celery
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Soak the bean mix overnight in plenty of water; rinse and drain.
2 Add beans to water and bring to a boil; simmer 1 hour.
3. If adding sausage, saute sausage in a large saute pan until browned. Add sausage and remaining ingredients; simmer 2 hours. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan before serving, if desired.