Ten Tips for Getting More Plant-Based Foods in Your Mediterranean Diet
The biggest concept behind a Mediterranean-style diet is adding more plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, legumes, and even whole grains, to every meal. Fruits and vegetables are the main components of this push; you want to have five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Here are ten tips for accomplishing that goal:
Keep sliced vegetables on hand
One of the easiest ways to consume more veggies is to eat them raw as snacks. The key to making it simple is to pre-slice a bunch of different vegetables, such as bell peppers, broccoli, and carrots, for the week at one time. Then you can grab some of the veggies and your favorite healthy dip (such as hummus) for an instant healthy snack. In addition, you can throw whatever cut veggies you don't use as snacks into a soup, pasta dish, salad, or some scrambled eggs.
Include a fruit or vegetable with every meal
You can find all sorts of creative ways to make this step happen. For example, you can spruce up your sandwich with dark leafy greens and tomatoes, add some fruit to your morning yogurt, or slice up some raw veggies as a side dish.
Keep a fruit bowl on your counter
Reverse the old mantra "out of sight, out of mind"; you want to go for "in sight, in mind." Keep a fruit bowl on your counter to remind you to eat some fruit during the day with your meals or as a snack. If you have kids, you may be surprised how much more fruit they eat when it's in plain sight. Don't just settle for a few bananas; fill the bowl up with all kinds of fresh, seasonal fruit so that you have choices and aren't left with the same type of fruit every day.
Add fruit to your cereals
Adding fruit to your cereals is a great strategy that gives your meal more flavor and makes it more satisfying. Slice up any sort of fresh fruit, such as bananas, nectarines, or peaches, or sprinkle some fresh berries on your cereal or oatmeal. Dried fruit is also a wonderful choice and is easy to store in your pantry. Just choose dried fruits with no added sugars.
Dress up your salad with fresh fruits and vegetables
Don't settle for a boring old leafy green salad. You can create a savory or sweet masterpiece by incorporating some fruits and veggies. For example, add sliced bell peppers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs, such as dill, for a savory experience. Sweeten up another salad by adding mandarin orange slices along with some walnuts. Salads in general are a great way to up your plant food intake. Use salads frequently as an additional vegetable side or as your entree with some kind of protein (such as chicken or egg).
Sneak veggies and herbs into your egg dishes
You can use vegetables to add tons of flavor and texture to the most basic egg dishes. Chop up fresh tomatoes (okay, those are technically a fruit), fresh spinach, onions, or even zucchini. If you have leftover steamed veggies, they're perfect to throw into an egg dish the next morning.
You can also add fresh herbs to the mix to add significant flavor. Basil, parsley, and oregano are all great flavors with eggs. Fresh salsa is also an excellent addition to egg dishes.
Punch up your pasta with fresh produce
Even if you already use a vegetable-based sauce such as marinara, you can up the vegetable quotient by adding blanched broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers. Doing so adds more variety and helps you eat less pasta than you may otherwise. And don't forget about herbs! Fresh herbs can turn your pasta dish into something spectacular. Experiment and see what types of blends work well for you. One idea: Next time you're eating a pasta salad, try adding some fresh basil leaves.
Start off with a little vegetable soup
Beginning a meal with a cup of vegetable soup is an easy strategy for adding more vegetables and helping with weight management. Use low-calorie vegetable or tomato soup as a starter for your meals. The soup can help you feel full and satisfied so that you eat less of the main meal.
Supercharge soups and stews with whole grains
You can add some flavor and texture to soups and stews by incorporating whole grains into them. Adding whole grains like whole-wheat pasta or pearl bailey to plain vegetable soup can re-create a side dish as a complete meal. Whole grains provide fiber and other healthful nutrients and add to the variety of plant-based foods you take in during your day.
Add beans to, well, everything
Beans are versatile, flavorful, and easy to use with many different dishes. Look for ways to include them every day. Always keep some dried and canned beans on hand in your pantry. You can rinse canned beans and add them to soups, stews, salads, pasta dishes, and grain dishes.