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Mediterranean Diet Month

Posted by Janice Cox, RDN, LD, Lunds and Byerly’s Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist
Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May is International Mediterranean Diet Month, a chance to focus attention on one of the world's healthiest (and most delicious) diets.

In February, 2013, a major clinical trial was published in The New England Journal of Medicine showing a 30 percent risk reduction for heart attacks and strokes with the Mediterranean diet. In April, 2013, a second large scale study was published in Neurology that showed following the Mediterranean Diet was associated with lower risk of memory and cognitive impairment. With new evidence, this topic has been especially hot.

While it’s called the Mediterranean “diet,” it’s really a lifestyle that reflects a way of eating traditional foods from countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. These cultures enjoy a delicious diet: leisurely dining and regular physical activity. Eating this way isn’t a fad diet; it’s a smart way to eat that leads to long, healthy lives and less chance of chronic disease.

Simple steps for good health, the Mediterranean way: 

  • Eat lots of vegetables - set a goal to fill half your plate at lunch and dinner
  • Change how you think about meat - enjoy small amounts for garnish and flavor
  • Always eat breakfast - start your day with fruits, whole grains and foods that can help keep you full for hours
  • Eat seafood twice a week - for brain and heart health, enjoy tuna, herring, salmon, shellfish and other fish
  • Cook vegetarian meals once a week - when one meal feels comfortable, try two 
  • Use good fats - think extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, peanuts, avocados, etc.
  • Enjoy some dairy products - Greek or regular yogurt and a variety of traditional cheeses are great
  • For dessert, eat fresh fruit - save sweets for a rare or special occasion
  • Look for ways to be active – dance, walk, swim, bike, garden, hike
  • Spend time with family and friends - share your food and enjoy great conversation

The health benefits are certainly there, the food is delicious and the social aspect of the lifestyle are good for us at any age!
Here’s a favorite Mediterranean recipe to get you started!

Red Quinoa Salad with Raspberries & Beets
Prep: 30 minutes Cook: 15 minutes Stand: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 as entrée, about 12 servings as a side dish

  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/3 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 small, red Fresno or red jalapeno chile, halved & seeded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups torn red leaf lettuce
  • 4 small beets, cooked & sliced (about 1lb.)
  • 4 large radishes, sliced
  • 1/2 cup roasted pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (optional)

In a small saucepan bring 1 ½ cups of water to boil. Add quinoa and return to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover tightly. Simmer about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature.

For dressing: in a food processor combine 1/3 cup of the raspberries, chile, shallots, sugar and salt. Cover and process until pureed. Scrape down sides. Add vinegar; process until combined. With food processor running, slowly add oil in a thin steady stream (dressing will thicken as oil is added).

In a large bowl gently combine cooked quinoa, lettuce, beets and radishes. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to mix. Transfer quinoa mixture to a serving dish. Top with remaining raspberries, pistachios and cilantro.

Recipe notes: Garnish with 1/2 cup feta cheese for a flavor burst. Canned beets (well rinsed and drained) can be substituted for fresh beets.

Credits: Better Homes and Gardens, March, 2013

Tags: diethealthyquinoa

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