Mediterranean Diet For Dummies
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Popular grains used in the Mediterranean include rice; wheat products such as bulgur wheat and couscous; and polenta, which is made from cornmeal. Rice and couscous are always great staples to have on hand to make great, easy side dishes.

Although brown rice provides more fiber, you can still enjoy other types of rice (such as long-grain) and give them an extra punch of nutrients by adding healthy ingredients. Couscous is made from semolina wheat and is a popular dish all along the Mediterranean coast. It’s one of the quickest and easiest grains to cook with, and you can find it in any major grocery store.

Golden Pilaf

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 cup long-grain rice

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and raisins and sauté for 3 minutes.

  2. Stir in the rice, turmeric, cinnamon, and cardamom and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock, bring the mixture to a boil, and cover.

  3. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 15 to 18 minutes or until the liquid is fully absorbed.

    Meanwhile, toast the pistachios in small nonstick skillet for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the pistachios and parsley to the cooked rice and serve.

Per serving: Calories 205 (From Fat 43); Fat 5g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 48mg; Carbohydrate 36g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 6g.

Wild Rice Pilaf

Prep time: 12 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

2 cups wild rice, cooked

2 cups orzo, cooked

2 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped

1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise

Salt and pepper to taste

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

  1. In a large bowl, combine the rice, orzo, spinach, olives, dill, and olive oil. Toss to coat.

  2. Add the lemon juice and gently stir in the tomatoes and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with the cheese and serve.

Per serving: Calories 186 (From Fat 83); Fat 9g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 6mg; Sodium 211mg; Carbohydrate 21g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 5g.

Moroccan Couscous

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

1-1/2 cups vegetable stock

Zest and juice of 1 orange

1/3 cup chopped dates

1/3 cup chopped dried apricots

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 cups dry plain or whole-wheat couscous

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/4 cup mint, chopped

Salt to taste

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add the orange juice and zest, dates, apricots, raisins, spices, and couscous.

  2. Cover and remove the pan from the heat.

    Allow the couscous to absorb the liquid, about 15 minutes. If your couscous is too dry, add a bit of water, cover, and wait 5 minutes; repeat until the couscous is the desired consistency.

  3. Uncover, add the butter, and mix well. Stir in the almonds and mint and season with salt to taste before serving.

Per serving: Calories 264 (From Fat 46); Fat 5g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 4mg; Sodium 124mg; Carbohydrate 48g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 8g.

Couscous with Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Prep time: 2 hours, plus chilling time

Cook time: 5 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

2 cups water

1 cup whole-wheat couscous

1/2 teaspoon coriander

2 Roma or plum tomatoes, chopped

1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped

1/2 medium red onion, chopped

One 14.5-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil.

    Stir in the couscous and coriander, cover, and remove from the heat. Allow the couscous to absorb the liquid completely, about 15 minutes.

  2. Combine the cooked couscous with the tomatoes, cucumber, onions, chickpeas, and mint in a large bowl.

    Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil, pour the mixture over the couscous salad, and stir well.

  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve.

Per serving: Calories 222 (From Fat 33); Fat 4g (Saturated 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 102mg; Carbohydrate 40g (Dietary Fiber 6g); Protein 8g.

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