Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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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:

  • Breads

    • Whole-wheat sandwich bread

    • Whole-wheat crusty loaves like French bread

  • Grains and Pasta

    • Cheese tortellini

    • Bulgur wheat

    • Favorite pastas, such as spaghetti, penne, or vermicelli

    • Pearl barley

    • Polenta

  • Dairy Case

    • Cheeses, such as mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, and crumbled feta and goat cheese

    • Lowfat cottage cheese

    • Lowfat milk

    • Lowfat yogurt

  • Fruit

    • Any fresh fruit

    • Avocadoes

    • Fresh or frozen berries with no sugar added

    • Fruit canned in its own juice

    • Olives

  • Vegetables and Herbs

    • Fresh, frozen, or canned veggies

    • Fresh or dried herbs

  • Protein foods

    • Assorted nuts or nut butters (such as peanut butter)

    • Chicken

    • Dried or canned legumes

    • Eggs

    • Fish or seafood

    • Lean beef

    • Lean deli meats

    • Pork

    • Prosciutto

  • Fats

    • Olive oil for cooking

    • High-quality or flavored extra-virgin olive oil for dipping

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Meri Raffetto, RDN, founded Real Living Nutrition Services (, which pro- vides one of the only interactive online weight-loss and wellness programs.

Wendy Jo Peterson MS, RDN, enhances the nutrition of clients ranging from elite athletes to pediatric patients, and is currently a culinary instructor at Mesa College.

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