About this time last year I spent a glorious week in Sicily, learning about the Mediterranean Diet by enjoying it first-hand. I’ve been a fan of the Mediterranean Diet principles: whole grains, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seafood, and of course – olive oil. It’s amazing how delicious fresh asparagus dressed with only pepper and fragrant olive oil can taste.
Oldways, a group dedicated to translating nutrition science into healthy and delicious foods, pioneered the concept of encouraging Americans to adopt the Mediterranean diet principles in order to improve our health. They recently published an updated Mediterranean Food Pyramid, available at http://www.oldwayspt.org/med_pyramid.html
Here are my top 5 recommendations for bringing the Mediterranean diet, and all of its health benefits, into your kitchen:
1. Make plants – fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds – the centerpiece of your meals. Start lunch with a tossed salad, adding in chickpeas and pumpkin seeds.
2. Include olives or olive oil in as many foods as possible. Toss your salad with olive oil or add olives to your favorite recipes.
3. Use nuts as part of your protein choices. Add a handful of nuts to your salad or sprinkle nuts over breakfast oatmeal.
4. Choose fish or shellfish at least twice each week. Toss pasta with tuna and olive oil or coat salmon with crushed pistacchios.
5. Flavor your foods with herbs and spices instead of salt.