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Mediterranean Cuisine, Diet, and Recipe Guide 

by Coach Sara

When you hear the term “Mediterranean diet,” what comes to mind?

You’ve likely heard of Mediterranean food and even tasted its mouth-watering flavors. Still, you might not be clued into its impressive list of health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and supporting weight management. 

We've put together a comprehensive guide on what a Mediterranean diet entails, why it’s so beneficial, and how to make it at home. And yes, it includes red wine.

What countries are part of the Mediterranean diet? 

When most people hear the term “Mediterranean diet,” they think of Greece, Italy, or Spain. However, the Mediterranean region includes 22 countries that span Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea include Albania, Algeria, Cyprus, Croatia, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Syria, Turkey, and Tunisia. All of these countries represent different diets, religions, and cultural traditions. Thus, the Mediterranean diet includes a wide range of foods.

What are the Components of a Mediterranean Diet? 

The Mediterranean diet primarily consists of plant-based, whole, unprocessed foods.

  • The daily emphasis is on vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains, seafood, herbs, spices, and healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil, olives, nuts and seeds. 
  • Eggs, cheese, yogurt, and poultry are eaten in moderation. 
  • Beef, pork, and lamb are consumed sparingly. 
  • Red wine is often enjoyed in moderation at dinner with friends and family. 

What are the Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet? 

Hundreds of studies have documented an array of health benefits linked with the traditional Mediterranean diet, including: 

  • Healthy weight 
  • Fewer symptoms of arthritis 
  • Increased life span and lower risk of heart disease  
  • Lower levels of blood pressure and LDL cholesterol
  • Improved brain function with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Lower risk of certain cancers and diabetes

How to Shop & Stock Your Pantry: 

  • Produce: Shop frequently for a variety of fresh produce. Aim to include a rainbow of colors in your shopping cart: red, orange, yellow, white, green, blue/purple. Click here to learn how to eat the rainbow. 
  • Protein: Frequently choose fresh or frozen seafood such as fish, shrimp, clams, and mussels. Choose poultry, eggs, cheese, and plain yogurt in moderation. Reserve beef, pork, and lamb for special occasions.  
  • Dried whole grains, nuts, seeds, & legumes: Brown & black rice, barley, bulger, whole wheat couscous, farro, whole wheat flour, whole wheat/chickpea/lentil pasta, lentils, chickpeas, fava beans, kidney beans, green peas, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, & sesame seeds. 
  • Canned & jarred items: Artichoke hearts, almond butter, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans, extra virgin olive oil, olives, harissa (chili paste), sardines, stewed tomatoes, tahini (sesame) paste, tomato paste/sauce, marinara, and low sodium broth. 
  • Fresh and dried herbs & spices: 
    • Parsley, mint, basil, oregano, dill, rosemary, thyme, and saffron.   
    • Sea salt, black peppercorns, coriander, caraway, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, zaatar, and sumac. 

Meal Planning & Recipe Ideas: 

Dips 

Soups

Cold Salads

Warm Veggie Dishes  

Protein Dishes 

Vegan

Vegetarian

Pescatarian

Meat & Poultry 

Whole Grains

There you have it! Try out some of these delicious Mediterranean recipes, and see which work best for your family and lifestyle. Share with your coaches and community in-app. Bon Appetit! Or as they say in Greece, Kali orexi!



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