Ahh.. the Mediterranean.. blue seas and blue skies, the history, the FOOD! By now you've heard that the Mediterranean-style diet is a healthy choice for most people, with research that strongly suggests benefits ranging from lessening the risk of heart disease and stroke to reducing the impact of diabetes and inflammatory conditions.
But isn't following a Mediterranean diet a hassle?
I've just returned home from a visit to the Holy Land of Israel, where people of all backgrounds hold to a traditional way of eating that is relatively inexpensive, with easy to prepare dishes that are simply delicious and good for you.
I had meals at a soup kitchen as well as at a seaside restaurant, and I was equally impressed by the food I enjoyed (honest!). And why not? The dishes offered were similar - salads brimming with fresh vegetables, hummus beside whole grain breads, pasta, fish, and nuts and seeds for healthy snacks. There was plenty of water to drink, and even a small amount of wine on occasion. Serving sizes were small with seconds within reach if desired, and the pace of meals was relaxed, unrushed.
Some of the simple joys of the Mediterranean can be brought into our homes with little effort, and yet with great potential health benefits. Though we might often feel rushed, we need little time to toss fresh tomatoes together with crisp leafy greens and other vegetables you enjoy to then be gently sprinkled with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a side of hummus and whole grain rolls and you've got a meal that's satifying and healthy.
When you have a little more time you might purchase cold water fish to be baked or lightly grilled, or occasionally choose a lean cut of meat to be enjoyed alongside grilled vegetables. Maybe tonight is the night for pasta with marinara sauce. Breakfast? How about yogurt and fruit, with tea to start help start your day off right?
Anything that's new requires some effort, but in this instance it takes only a little to move on the path towards a truly enjoyable and healthy way to eat. As a result of my recent experiences, by way of food I'll be working to bring a little more Middle Eastern joy and wisdom into my home. I hope you will, too.
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