Food for Life: The Mediterranean Diet

Fad diets are all the rage, each promising a slimmed down bod by whatever means necessary. The Mediterranean diet draws inspiration from the coastal regions of some of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Unlike other fad diets such as the Keto diet, the Mediterranean diet doesn’t eliminate any one food group. Instead, it offers substitutions and minor alterations to foods eaten on a daily basis. The diet recommends switching to whole-grain breads, rice and pastas – which are all lower in trans fat compared to other options. It also swaps out butter for olive or canola oils and encourages eating as many plant based foods as possible.

When it comes to protein, the Mediterranean people eat as little red meat as possible – only 3 ounces once or twice a month – and instead rely heavily on fish and poultry. This small dietary change is healthier for your heart and reduces the risk of heart disease later in life.

Plant based proteins such as chickpeas, beans and other legumes are highly encouraged and can keep you fuller longer, reducing the need for snacks that may hinder the weight loss process. When a craving hits mid-day the best snack to reach for is a handful of unsalted nuts which contain healthy fats such as omega-3 or a mix of vegetables with 2 tablespoons of hummus.

Bland is the last word that would be used to describe this diet with its nearly unlimited options, but subbing salt for natural herbs and spices is recommended. Instead of sprinkling your meal with salt, try a squeeze of lemon juice instead for the burst flavor you crave.

Perhaps the most enticing aspect of the diet is that wine is encouraged – daily. While some physicians are still wary about endorsing alcohol due to its addictive properties, a 5 ounce glass of wine daily may reduce the likelihood of heart disease. As if we needed any more reasons to love wine Wednesday.

This diet is incredibly heart healthy and, when combined with regular exercise, is a great way to get to as well as maintain a healthy weight. But the benefits of this diet don’t stop there. According to the Mayo Clinic, those who eat a higher concentration of foods in the diet see a lower risk of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, women who eat more olive oil and nuts than others may have a lower risk of breast cancer and heart disease, the two leading causes of death in women.

Check below for a Mediterranean approved recipe that works for a quick snack or pairs perfectly with a piece of grilled chicken.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
What You’ll Need
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup of chickpeas
  • 1 medium cucumber, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
What You’ll Do
  • In a medium sized pot combine uncooked quinoa and water. Over medium heat bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes or until the quinoa has absorbed all the water. Set aside until room temperature.
  • Combine cucumber, red onion, chickpeas, green bell pepper and red bell pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl combine olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the cooled quinoa to the bowl of vegetables and mix together.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix until evenly distributed.
  • Serve room temperature or chilled.

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