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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Bring Mediterranean to your table

Caprese Salad
Caprese Salad - Contributed

By Teresa Flynn

You may have heard the buzz about the Mediterranean way of eating.

It’s a diet based on traditional foods from countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea, such as Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey and Lebanon. Each offers fresh, distinctive and delicious flavours. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Research shows that eating the Mediterranean way can reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases. You don’t have to travel to get started; your grocery store is waiting for you to discover all the Mediterranean flavours it has to offer. Your taste buds, and your heart, will thank you!

A Solid Foundation

Eating together is an important part of the Mediterranean meal. It’s a great time to enjoy food and catch up on the events of the day with family and friends. Even when schedules are busy, try setting aside time to share a meal around the table with the people you care about.

Focus on Plant-based Foods

Traditional Mediterranean meals are planned around plant-based foods.

Foods eaten daily:

• Vegetables and fruit

• Whole grains

• Nuts and seeds

• Beans and lentils

• Herbs and spices

• Olive oil

Foods eaten daily to weekly:

• Fish and seafood (at least twice per week)

• Poultry and eggs

• Dairy products such as plain Greek yogurt and small amounts of flavourful cheese

Foods eaten less often:

• Meats and sweets are eaten less often, and are instead used to add flavour and variety to meals.

Tips for Getting Started

You can make Mediterranean inspired meals from the comfort of your kitchen!

• Fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner.

• Focus on fruit at breakfast and for desserts.

• Choose whole grains more often. Try something different like bulgur, wild rice or farro.

• Use olive oil instead of butter or shortening.

• Plan a vegetarian meal at least once a week or add beans, lentils, nuts and seeds to dishes you already make.

• Flavour food with garlic, herbs, spices and lemon zest instead of salt.

Mediterranean Made Easy

• New to using legumes? Start with lentils. They are small in size and have a mild flavour. Try adding dried lentils to soup. They cook quickly and don’t need to be soaked ahead of time. Also try adding canned lentils (drained and rinsed) to salads or pasta sauces.

• Spread hummus on sandwiches or use as a dip for raw vegetables and whole wheat pita bread.

• Add a new zip to your dip. Try tzatziki (yogurt and cucumber dip) instead of your old standby.

• Sprinkle nuts on yogurt, oatmeal, cereal or stir fry.

• Use pesto as a marinade for chicken or toss with hot pasta.

• Make pizza by spreading pesto or tomato sauce on a whole grain pizza crust. Add leftover chicken, feta cheese and your favourite veggies. It’s quicker than take out!

• Look for freeze-dried herbs and herb pastes in the produce department. You will have the taste of fresh herbs without the chopping, and no waste!

Get your Mediterranean journey started with this simple salad.

Caprese Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 tbsp 30 ml Olive oil

4 tsp 20 ml Balsamic vinegar

1 clove Garlic, minced

¼ tsp 1 ml Pepper

¼ tsp 1 ml Salt

1 cup 250 ml Basil leaves, fresh, loose packed, chopped

400 g Boccocini cheese, cut in quarters

4 cups 1000 ml Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

¼ cup 60 ml Red onion, finely chopped

Directions:

1. Whisk oil, vinegar, garlic and pepper together in a small bowl.

2. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the top and stir gently to coat salad.

Nutrition Information per serving:

Calories 268, Fat 19 grams, Carbohydrate 9 grams, Fibre 2 grams, Protein 15 grams,

Sodium 105 milligrams

Tip: Jazz this up by serving on top of mixed greens.

Source: Sobeys Dietitians

Hungry for more? Like @SobeysDietitian on Facebook and Twitter for more tasty tips and recipes or receive our schedule of events and Healthy Bits & Bites Newsletter directly to your inbox! Register at www.sobeyspharmacy.com/newsletter.

Teresa Flynn is a Sobeys dietitian in New Glasgow. Questions for Teresa? Call 902-755-3645 or email Teresa.flynn@sobeys.com

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