Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies
Following a Mediterranean diet is a useful tool for overall health, weight management, and disease prevention. Knowing the principles of a Mediterranean diet, using appropriate portion sizes, and organizing your kitchen can lead you on the way to successfully meeting your health goals.
Following the Eating Principles of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet includes some modern eating principles inspired by traditional diet patterns of certain Mediterranean regions around the 1960s. Following these Mediterranean diet principles may significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer (though other, non-food lifestyle factors also come into play for the health benefits). The main food principles of a traditional Mediterranean diet include the following:
Eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day
Enjoying fish or seafood several times a week
Eating smaller portion sizes of beef, poultry, and grains
Consuming less beef (eating it a couple of times per month rather than a couple of times per week)
Incorporating beans and lentils with weekly meals
Using healthy fats such as olive oil in place of butter and lard
Enjoying nuts with meals and snacks
Using Mediterranean Portion Sizes in Your Diet
Eating appropriate portion sizes is essential when incorporating the Mediterranean diet into your daily life. Use these Mediterranean portion size estimates to help you make healthy choices and truly eat in tradition with the Mediterranean coast. The following list provides both traditional Mediterranean portion sizes and easy comparisons to help you eyeball your portions instead of painstakingly measuring them.
A 2- to 3-ounce portion of poultry, beef, fish, or pork is about the size of a deck of cards or slightly less. (If this portion seems ridiculously small to you, remember that meat is typically a side dish rather than main course in the Mediterranean.)
A 1-ounce portion of cheese is the size of a domino.
A medium piece of fruit is the size of a tennis ball.
A cup of vegetables is the size of a baseball.
A half cup of grains is about the size of the palm of your hand (unless you have gigantic hands.)
Stocking Your Kitchen with Mediterranean Diet Staples
Keeping your kitchen stocked with staple Mediterranean ingredients helps you adhere to the Mediterranean diet lifestyle. When you can easily make food in your own kitchen, you're less likely to fall off the Mediterranean wagon. Here is a good master grocery list of Mediterranean staples to get you started.
Whole-wheat sandwich bread
Whole-wheat crusty loaves like French bread
Grains and Pasta
Favorite pastas such as spaghetti, penne, or vermicelli
Cheeses such as mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, and crumbled feta and goat cheese
Lowfat cottage cheese
Any fresh fruit
Fresh or frozen berries with no sugar added
Fruit canned in its own juice
Vegetables and Herbs
Fresh, frozen, or canned veggies
Fresh or dried herbs
Assorted nuts or nut butters (such as peanut butter)
Dried or canned legumes
Fish or seafood
Lean deli meats
Olive oil for cooking
High-quality or flavored extra-virgin olive oil for dipping