Nicci Micco, a nutrition editor at EatingWell magazine, says the common sense (and delicious) Mediterranean diet not only is packed with healthy nutrients but also is great for your waistline.
And while a trip to the region would be nice, following a Mediterranean-style diet is easy anywhere. Micco says the primary guidelines are:
• Eat plenty of produce, as many as seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
• When possible, substitute fish or lean poultry for red meat. Avoid the highest-fat meats such as sausage and bacon.
• Eat at least two meals of fish or shellfish a week.
• Season foods with herbs and spices rather than salt.
• Substitute whole grains for processed ones whenever you can. Whole-grain breads, brown rice and other grains such as barley and bulgur are flavorful and filling.
• Use extra-virgin olive and canola oils instead of animal fats, such as butter. Both are high in healthy fats.
WHOLE-GRAIN ROTINI WITH NO-COOK TOMATO SAUCE
This recipe for whole-grain rotini pasta with no-cook tomato sauce is a simple and tasty example of Mediterranean diet principles.
The fresh, uncooked sauce is perfect for when tomatoes are in season. It’s seasoned with fresh basil and oregano along with scallions and a touch of minced garlic. Be sure to rinse the capers to wash away some of the extra-salty brine they are packed in.
Serve this dish warm or cold with a crisp green salad and a glass of hearty red wine.
3 1/2 cups diced and seeded ripe tomatoes
1 bunch scallions, whites and pale greens only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup diced fresh mozzarella
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
12 ounces whole-grain rotini pasta
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, scallions, capers, basil, oregano and garlic. Toss well, then add the vinegar, oil and mozzarella. Toss again to mix. Season with salt and pepper, then let sit for 30 minutes.
When ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Toss well. Serve warm or cold. Serves 6.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 370 calories; 120 calories from fat; 13 grams fat (3 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 8 milligrams cholesterol; 52 grams carbohydrate; 14 grams protein; 7 grams fiber; 279 milligrams sodium.