Mediterranean Diets are a growing trend in today’s culture. Famously known for their emphasis on olive oil and allotment of red wine, there are also many health benefits to following such a diet.
Mediterranean diets are based on high consumption of olive oil, fruits and vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and healthy grains. They also emphasize seafood and fish, with limited consumption of red meat. As a result, these diets have been scientifically proven to yield lower rates of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
These diets stemmed from areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, so if your heritage stems from Southern Europe or North Africa you may already be familiar with some of the dishes.
Whether you are curious and looking to explore a different food culture, or you have a family history of heart disease and believe this diet may be beneficial for you, here are two recipes that are easy and flavorful. Once you fall in love with a Mediterranean inspired diet, you will have one more reason to buy that plane ticket to further explore these beautiful countries and their famous foods!
Tabouleh can be served as a salad, with pita bread or chips, or used as a stuffing for peppers or grape leaves. Pair with hummus or tzatiki for additional delight.
1/2 cup quinoa (makes 3 servings, cooked)
1 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large cucumber, cut into small pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 cup chopped parsley
10 leaves of fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste
- Add 1 cup of water to quinoa and bring to boil on the stove. Let boil for 10 minutes and stir occasionally.
- In a small bowl, combine the minced garlic, olive oil, and squeezed lemon juice and stir. Set aside until later.
- Add the cucumber, tomato, onion, green pepper, parsley and mint into a food processor. If using the Nutribullet, “pulse” three times.
- Combine the quinoa, dressing, and vegetable and herb mixture into a large bowl and mix together.
Notes: This salad is also served cold, which makes it perfect for a snack or dinner on long days. Store it in an insulated lunch bag and you do not have to worry about finding a microwave during your break at work or in class!
And for the main course…
2. Homemade Clam Sauce with Spaghetti and Shrimp
This is a Mediterranean diet inspired meal that emphasizes the use of whole grains, olive oil, vegetables and seafood. Pairs great with a glass of red wine.
8 ounces of whole-wheat spaghetti pasta, dry (makes 4 cups of cooked pasta)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1/4 onion, chopped
1/4 green pepper, chopped
1/4 yellow pepper, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup white cooking wine
1/4 cup water
2 cans chopped clams, drained
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Optional Protein: 3 cups fresh or frozen shrimp, thawed (if needed), rinsed with tails removed. If you purchase shrimp that you must peel, be sure to remove the vein that runs along the shrimp.
- Remove shrimp from freezer to thaw and set aside.
- Bring medium pot of salted water to boil. Add spaghetti when water is boiling and cover. Cook spaghetti according to instructions on box. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium fry pan, add olive oil, butter, garlic, and onion. Sautee until fragrant.
- Transfer ingredients to a small sauce pan. Add in white wine, clams, lemon juice, and water. Set aside on medium heat.
- Add the green pepper, yellow pepper and grape tomato into the medium fry pan with olive oil. Cook until vegetables are tender and set aside on low.
- In a separate pan, cook shrimp with olive oil and garlic. When shrimp develop a white hew, turn off heat.
- Combine pasta, vegetables, and shrimp into the same pan and pour sauce over the mixture.
- Garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese.
Notes: Pasta can be substituted for gluten-free if dietary restrictions apply.
The best part about both of these recipes is that both pasta and quinoa are cost-effective grains that can be spread a long way, making these perfect dishes for families and dinner parties. They also both use similar ingredients, especially the vegetables, making it an easy trip to the market.
Be right back, planning my trip to Athens, Greece.
Photo Credit: @thetripconsultant