Today’s guest post came about after I mentioned National Shrimp Day on Facebook the other day. Rachel Greenstein, communications manager for Oldways, emailed me with a very clever, eye catching subject line: Forget Shrimp Day – the entire month is Mediterranean Diet Month!
Well played, Rachel. Well played.
After a brief back and forth about whether Rachel was implying she wanted to guest post by giving me an email shout-out and I hoped that she would, she spoke with Georgia Orcutt, program manager for Oldways and the Mediterranean Food Alliance, and Georgia agreed to write a post for (a)Musing Foodie about the Mediterranean Diet.
Here’s more about her:
Georgia Orcutt is a program manager for Oldways, a non-profit organization whose initiatives include the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, the Whole Grains Council, and the Latino Nutrition Coalition. She has spent several decades as a writer and editor for Yankee Magazine and other publications, and is the author of numerous cookbooks including Cooking USA (Chronicle Books) and How to Feed A Teenage Boy (Ten Speed Press).
Olive oil, avocados, leafy greens, beans, whole grains … if these foods are in your diet, hooray!
You are well on your way to following the Mediterranean Diet.
The appeal of the Med Diet (as it’s often called) is that it is more than a diet; it’s a lifestyle approach to healthy eating.
It features fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, beans, nuts and peanuts, and whole grains as well as other ingredients such as olive oil and wine that have been shown to promote good health.
The beauty of this approach is that it is as much about enjoying time with friends and family as it is about eating delicious foods.
The Mediterranean Diet has been around for generations and the health benefits are many.
Studies show that people who eat a Mediterranean Diet have lower rates of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Even better, following the Mediterranean Diet may help you live longer—so eat up!
To help bring the easy, healthy and delicious Mediterranean Diet into your daily life, try these eight simple tips to get started:
1. Stock your pantry.
Keep it full of versatile Med ingredients so you always have foods like olive oil, canned tomatoes, tuna, rice, pasta and other whole grains on hand.
It’s amazing how many easy Mediterranean meals you can make from a well-stocked pantry, when there’s no time to shop.
2. Use a blender to make Med-style smoothies.
These can be for breakfast or as fuel for afternoon snacks by combining yogurt with your favorite fruit.
Frozen fruits (including berries) are especially good because they eliminate the need for any ice.
3. When it’s sandwich time, match better breads with better spreads.
Start with crusty whole grain breads and rolls or pita pockets—tastier and healthier than standard white bread—and then spread with hummus, mustard, pesto or another flavorful Med spread.
Add foods such as tuna, sliced turkey or chicken, lettuce, sprouts, shredded raw carrots, thin slices of cheese and sliced apples.
4. Keep frozen shrimp in your home freezer.
Shrimp cooks quickly, making it an easy addition to one-pot sautés and pasta dishes.
5. Use meat as a flavoring instead of a main component in a meal.
Add small strips of sirloin to a sauté that features lots of vegetables, or add a small amount of diced prosciutto to a dish of pasta.
6. Eat a vegetarian meal one night each week.
When that feels comfortable, try two nights per week … and then more!
7. Keep snacks simple.
For instance, top pita bread with a slice of tomato and a few tablespoons of grated cheese and broil for a minute to create a healthy mini-pizza.
Marinate olives in olive oil, lemon zest, coriander seeds and cumin seeds and enjoy as a tasty snack.
Or, fill celery stalks with hummus or different nut butters.
8. Brown bag it to work.
Toss some leftover whole grains into a thermos of soup or vegetable stew before you screw on the lid to make your lunch even healthier.
Fill a whole-grain pita pouch with Greek salad and put the dressing in a separate container; add the dressing just before eating to keep the sandwich from getting soggy.
Keep whole grain bread in the freezer and make a sandwich using frozen bread and hummus, sprouts, leafy greens, sliced peppers, turkey, chicken, or smoked salmon.
By lunchtime the thawed bread will taste fresh.
While it’s true that all foods fit in the Mediterranean Diet, portion size and balance are still key. A good reference is the Oldways Mediterranean Pyramid which was updated recently by a panel of leading nutrition scientists from around the world.
As you adopt the Mediterranean Diet, you’ll open your taste buds to a whole new world of flavors, while improving your health.
For more information, please visit Oldways.