Top Tips To Get Started Cooking The Healthy Mediterranean Way
Are you looking to make the transition to a Mediterranean diet but have no idea what kind of dishes to start with? Have no fear – getting started with this healthy, nutritious way of eating doesn’t need to be intimidating or difficult.
In this blog post, we’ll provide some delicious go-to meals that any beginner can easily incorporate into their daily routine. From flavourful vegetable side dishes to one-pan entrees made with extra virgin olive oil as your primary fat, Mediterranean Diet recipes are sure to satisfy your taste buds and keep health top of mind!
An Easy Way Into The Mediterranean Diet With Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This centuries-old diet emphasizes fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and legumes and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil. It also allows the occasional inclusion of seafood and dairy products. As such, it can provide not only greater variety in your meals but also vital fibres and essential vitamins that are often neglected in other diets.
To get you started on this delicious lifestyle – without having to fret over what foods to serve, we have hunted out some great go-to recipes for Mediterranean Diet beginners!
We loved these three beginner Mediterranean Diet recipes from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s latest book : 5 Ingredients Mediterranean which he recently shared in Insider and are a really straightforward way to get started.
Tunisian prawn spaghetti
- 150 grams (¾ cup) dried spaghetti
- 8 large raw shell-on king prawns
- 2 teaspoons rose harissa
- ½ a bunch of flat leaf parsley (15 grams)
- 1 lemon
- Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, peel the prawns, removing and reserving the heads and leaving the tails on. I like to run a small sharp knife down the back of each, discarding the vein, so they butter?y when they cook.
- Toss the prawns with the harissa and leave to brie?y marinate. Place the prawn heads in a large frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and fry until golden all over, stirring regularly and gently squashing to extract amazing flavor
- Roughly chop and reserve the top leafy half of the parsley, then ?nely slice the stalks and add them to the pan with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Fry for one minute, then add the marinated prawns and cook for one minute on each side.
- Using tongs, drag the pasta into the pan, squeeze in half the lemon juice, throw in the parsley leaves, then toss together, loosening with a splash of starchy cooking water, if needed.
- To serve, pick out and discard the crispy prawn heads and cut the remaining lemon half into wedges for squeezing over.
Other Key Things To Remember As A Mediterranean Diet Beginner
If these mouth-watering meals have convinced you to give The Mediterranean Diet a go, what else do you need to keep top of mind when introducing this way of eating to your kitchen and lifestyle? These top tips from Eatingwell.com are a great reminder of the key principles of The Mediterranean Diet to keep you on track. It’ll be second nature before long!
Focus on Whole Foods
To make healthier choices, opt for foods that consist primarily of whole-food ingredients, such as nuts, legumes, and whole grains like oats and bulgur. Additionally, include fruits, vegetables, fish, and healthy plant-based oils like extra virgin olive oil in your diet to promote overall well-being.
Make Vegetables the Main Part of Your Meal
Fruits and vegetables should make up the bulk of your meals. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but even 3 to 5 servings per day have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Swap Red Meat for Fish
Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and herring are key sources of protein in the Mediterranean diet. These fish are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in reducing inflammation and enhancing cholesterol levels.
Cook with Plant-Based Oil Instead of Butter
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating more heart-healthy fats (poly- and monounsaturated fats) and fewer saturated and trans fats. Oils like extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, sesame oil and sunflower oil are all good sources of unsaturated fat.
Rethink Your Dairy
Instead of adding higher-saturated-fat sources of dairy like heavy cream or cheese on top of everything, aim to eat a variety of flavorful cheeses or dairy products (especially fermented dairy products) in moderation.
Enjoy yogurt, too, but choose plain, fermented and Greek when possible. Skip the high-added-sugar, flavored yogurts.
- Replace Refined Grains with Whole Grains
- Snack on Nuts
- Skip the Added Sugar (Most of the Time)
- Enjoy Red Wine in Moderation
For the full detail of how to build your Mediterranean Diet kitchen, check out the Eatingwell article here.