Mediterranean Diet: 5 Dishes For All Summer to Eat Healthily

5 Mediterranean Diet to Eat
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

When we talk about the Mediterranean diet, we are not talking just about food, but also lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet takes into consideration not only the body but also the soul. What I mean by the “soul” is the stress of life and relationships.

If you check the Mediterranean Food Pyramid, you will see that the first thing that it stress is activities and socializing. It encourages you to move: not in a go-to-the-gym-and-enduring-a-gruesome-workout way but rather a walking-biking-and-having-drink-with-friends sort of way.

There is a saying where I came from: Etghada wa Temdah woo It Shaa we Etmashaa. This translates to “Eat lunch and take a nap and eat dinner and take a walk”. Have you ever visited a Mediterranean country and noticed nothing is open from 2-5pm? A short nap after lunch is a great way to relief stress and to rejuvenate the body. Additionally, a walk after dinner helps in burning the calories resulting in better sleep and weight retention.

Now, let us cover the food.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating primarily plant-based food, such as whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables. It encourages eating fish at least twice a week. It uses mostly healthy fat as olive oil, it uses herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor food.

According to a study by The New England Journal of Medicine, about 30% of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths of people with high risk of heart disease could have been prevented by switching to a Mediterranean diet.

Another study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the Mediterranean Diet may be associated with slower rates of mental decline in the elderly.

Now you know how good the Mediterranean diet is, but here is the best part: the ingredients are in-expensive, the recipes are easy, and the taste is amazing. Have a glass of wine to your health.

Here are a few delicious recipes to get you started on the road to healthy long life.

Avocado Hummus

Avocado Hummus

  • Serves 6
  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • 2 avocado
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Serrano peppers, seeded and diced
  • cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • limes
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • salt to taste

Peel and remove* the seeds from the avocado and place in a food processor. Add the garbanzo beans and the garlic. Process to a smooth paste.

Add the cilantro, the chopped Serrano peppers, the lime zest and the cilantro. Process for couple minutes.

Add the lime juice, the tahini and the salt; Process into green hummus.

Mohamarra, Red Bell Pepper and Walnut Spread

  • Serves 6
  • medium onion, chopped
  • red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • cup walnuts
  • slices whole wheat bread, two days old
  • 4 tablespoons hot red pepper paste, harrisa*
  • 4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • teaspoon ground coriander
  • teaspoon ground cumin

Place the onion, the pepper, the walnuts and the bread in a food processor. Coarsely chop.

Add the rest of the ingredients and process into coarse paste.

*harissa is red hot pepper paste.

Bulgur and Garbanzo Bean Salad

  • Serves 4-6
  • cup coarse bulgur #3
  • cup cooked garbanzo beans, drained
  • medium tomatoes, diced
  • baby cucumbers, diced
  • red onion, diced
  • cups chopped fresh mint
  • zest of two lemons
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt to taste

Place the bulgur in a bowl, cover with water and let it set for an hour. Squeeze excess water from the bulgur and place in a salad bowl.

Add all the vegetables and garbanzo beans to the bulgur.

Add the chopped mint and the lemon zest.

Whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice and the salt. Drizzle over the vegetables and toss well. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

Pasta with Tomato

Pasta with Tomato and Scallion Sauce

  • Serves 4
  • 5 medium ripe yet firm tomatoes, diced into 1/2-inch thick cubes
  • 8 scallions chopped
  • cup chopped fresh basil
  • cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • black pepper and salt to taste
  • cups short pasta
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Bring salted water to boil in the pasta pot. When the water boil, drop the pasta, stir and bring back to a boil. Boil the pasta for 7 minutes or until the pasta al-dente.

Just 1 minute before the pasta is done, heat the olive oil in a large flat saucepan and cook the vegetables for 1 minute. Drain the pasta well and add to the vegetables. Stir in the garlic, the basil, the pepper and the salt. Remove* from the heat, sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.

This pasta dish is great hot or cold.

Cauliflower and Potato Tagaine

  • Serves 6
  • 2 medium cauliflower heads
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • medium onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, silvered
  • large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 32-ounces can diced tomatoes
  • tablespoons tomato paste
  • cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste

Divide the cauliflower into medium florets. Place the florets in a bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, toss well and then place the florets on a cookie sheet and broil until golden. Remove* from the oven and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sear the cilantro. Set aside.

In a heavy pot, heat the rest of the olive oil. Saute the onion for few minutes. Add the garlic and the ground cilantro. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, 8 cups of water, Aleppo pepper and salt; bring to a boil.

Drop the diced potatoes and bring back to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat until the potatoes are almost done.

Add the cauliflower and the garbanzo beans, stir and continue to cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and remove* from the heat.

Add the cilantro and serve.

Summary

“In the end, let me just say we have no control over our genetics or our environment; however, we have control over what we put in our mouth into our body. So, what is a more enjoyable way to improve* your health than to savor the Mediterranean diet?

Buon Appetito!”

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Author

Expert Author : Sanaa Abourezk (Consumer Health Digest)

Sanaa has Bs. degree in Agriculture Engineering from Damascus University and Master Degree in Food and Nutrition from California State Polytech University, Pomona. Sanaa's true love is cooking and developing healthy gourmet recipes so she opened her popular farm to table restaurant Sanaa's in Sioux Falls, SD. The restaurant was covered by the NY Times. Sanaa was 2016 season finale on the Food Network show "Beat Bobby Flay”. She has published 4 cookbooks. You can connect with Sanaa on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.