Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies book cover

Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies

By: Meri Raffetto and Wendy Jo Peterson Published: 10-02-2017

Benefit from the Mediterranean diet

For decades, doctors and nutritional experts have observed—and confirmed—that people in Mediterranean countries have much lower occurrences in vascular disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes than their counterparts in northern European countries and the United States. Now, Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies shows you how to cook meals inspired by the cuisines of Italy, Greece, Spain, and southern France so you too can live a healthier life free of excess weight and disease.

The Mediterranean diet—ranked #2 in Best Diets overall, it is high in vegetables, fruits, olive oil, and whole grains, and moderate in protein and animal fats—has proven to be beneficial in reducing the risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Now, a new study shows it may also be good for the brain. The Mediterranean diet isn't just a fad or a quick fix—it's a healthy lifestyle choice that's here to stay!

  • Create more than 150 tasty recipes
  • Get expert tips on meal planning and exercise regimes
  • Prevent and fight diseases by eating delicious food
  • Find delicious alternatives to unhealthy ingredients

Whether you're just discovering the Mediterranean diet or are looking for some new recipes to add to your repertoire, this updated, hands-on guide offering the latest research has everything you need to start living a healthier life.

Articles From Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies

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Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 04-13-2022

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.

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Easy Ways to Incorporate Seafood into Your Mediterranean Diet

Article / Updated 11-18-2021

Although the Mediterranean Diet encourages you to slow down and enjoy cooking and eating, doing so all the time can be a challenge. Here are some quick seafood recipes that you can prepare and take with you as you run from errand to errand. The most important piece is to get you eating fish a couple of times a week if you aren't already doing so. Having some easy and tasty recipes on hand can help you enjoy fish more often. You'll find that cooking fish is actually much easier than cooking a steak. Grilled Sardines with Tabbouleh Preparation Time: 40 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Yield: 2 servings 2 tablespoons uncooked bulgur 1 cucumber, chopped small 2 tomatoes, chopped small 2 cups chopped fresh parsley Juice of 1/2 a lemon, plus 1 tablespoon 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste One 3.75-ounce can sardines in water, drained and patted dry In a medium mixing bowl, combine the bulgur, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, all but 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for 30 minutes. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Brush the sardines with the remaining olive oil and grill for 1 to 2 minutes on each side to obtain grill marks. Chop the grilled sardines and season with the remaining lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide the tabbouleh (bulgur mixture) between two serving plates and arrange the grilled sardines over the top. PER SERVING: Calories 282 (From Fat 177); Fat 20g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 32mg; Sodium 262mg; Carbohydrate 13g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 16g. Serve with crusty bread. Grilling sardines is a great way to elevate the flavor of a canned fish. If your canned sardines are small use a grill pan or cast iron skillet on the stove top to get the desired seared effect. Grilled Scallops Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus marinating time Cook Time: 8 minutes Yield: 4 servings 2 pounds sea scallops 4 cloves garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon butter, melted 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped Nonstick cooking spray Zest and juice of 1 lemon 1/4 teaspoon sea salt Rinse the scallops under water and pat dry. Toss scallops with the garlic, olive oil, butter, and parsley. Allow the scallops to marinate for 10 minutes. Spray the grill with nonstick cooking spray and heat the grill over medium-high heat. Skewer the scallops and grill them for 1 to 3 minutes on each side or until slightly firm to the touch and opaque. Drizzle with the lemon juice and top with the lemon zest and sea salt just before serving. PER SERVING: Calories 285 (From Fat 102); Fat 11g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 82mg; Sodium 531mg; Carbohydrate 5g (Dietary Fiber 0g); Protein 38g. Soak wooden skewers in water before grilling so they don't burn on the grill.

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Introduce Favorite Fall Vegetables into Your Mediterranean Diet

Article / Updated 11-18-2021

Although the fall isn’t as big a veggie season as summer, you can find several choices to incorporate into your Mediterranean diet, including broccoli, cauliflower, and late summer eggplants and squash. These recipes highlight some of the vegetables you can find from September to November, adding a punch of flavor with fresh herbs, spices, olive oil, and cheeses. Grilled Romaine with Lemon Anchovy Dressing Preparation Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Yield: 4 servings 4 anchovies, canned in oil Juice of 1/2 a medium lemon 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 2 cloves garlic, smashed 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil Salt to taste (optional) 1 large head romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese Chop the anchovies, lemon juice, parsley, Dijon, and garlic in a small bowl, then in a blender or food processor for 1 minute. Turn on the machine and slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of the olive oil until combined, about 2 minutes. Using a piece of the lettuce, taste the dressing and season with salt (if desired). Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the lettuce with the remaining olive oil and grill the cut side for 2 to 3 minutes, or until grill lines appear. Roughly chop the grilled lettuce and toss in a large serving bowl with a little dressing at a time until coated. Top with the Parmesan and serve immediately. Save the remaining dressing in the refrigerator and use within 3 days. PER SERVING: Calories 177 (From Fat 137); Fat 16g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 7mg; Sodium 284mg; Carbohydrate 7g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 5g. Sautéed Eggplant with Tomatoes and Black Olives Preparation Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Yield: 6 servings 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1 large eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 1 tablespoon dried oregano One 28-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes 1/4 cup kalamata or black olives 1/4 cup tomato paste 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 to 3 tablespoons water 1 cup fresh basil, sliced thinly Salt and pepper to taste 1/4 cup ricotta cheese In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, eggplant, and oregano and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, olives, tomato paste, and vinegar and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until the eggplant softens, stirring often, about 15 minutes. If needed, occasionally add 1 tablespoon of water to the pan to help the eggplant soften and cook. Stir in the basil and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place into a serving dish, dollop with spoonfuls of the ricotta, and serve. PER SERVING: Calories 118 (From Fat 61); Fat 7g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 5mg; Sodium 164mg; Carbohydrate 13g (Dietary Fiber 5g); Protein 4g. The figure shows how to cube an eggplant.

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Enjoying a Great Steak on the Mediterranean Diet

Article / Updated 11-15-2017

No matter what country you live in, nothing tastes as good as a perfectly cooked steak. Eat steak the Mediterranean way: smaller portion sizes and amazing fresh flavors and ingredients. Although the serving may be smaller, the taste quotient is just as high. You can make up for the smaller size by adding an amazing legume or vegetable dish. As you slow down and enjoy your steak, you see how living the Mediterranean lifestyle offers better health and more flavor than you may have experienced with your old recipes. Zesty Mediterranean Flank Steak Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus marinating time Cook Time: 20 minutes Yield: 6 servings Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus 1 tablespoon juice 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced 4 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of excess fat 2 avocados, cubed 2 tomatoes, cubed 1/4 cup parsley, chopped Salt and pepper to taste Whisk together the lemon juice (minus 1 tablespoon) and zest, rosemary, garlic, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and the sea salt in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the meat in a glass dish and flip the meat to coat; cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 12 hours. Heat the grill over medium-high heat. Combine the avocados, tomatoes, parsley, and remaining lemon juice and olive oil. Allow the flavors to blend at room temperature while the meat cooks. Grill the meat for 6 to 8 minutes until it reaches the desired doneness (3 to 4 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other). Remove the meat from the heat and cover with foil for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Slice the meat on the bias for serving. Season the tomato and avocado mixture with salt and pepper and divide evenly over each flank steak serving. PER SERVING: Calories 350 (From Fat 192); Fat 21g (Saturated 7g); Cholesterol 92mg; Sodium 191mg; Carbohydrate 8g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 32g. Filet with Gremolata Preparation time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 16 minutes Yield: 4 servings Four 5-ounce filets of steak 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1⁄3 cup gremolata Season the meat with the salt and pepper and allow the meat to come to room temperature. Heat the grill over medium heat. Cook the filets for 4 to 6 minutes on each side or until they reach the desired doneness. Remove the meat from the heat and cover with foil for 5 minutes. Spoon the gremolata evenly over the top of each serving and serve. PER SERVING: Calories 361 (From Fat 234); Fat 26g (Saturated 7g); Cholesterol 88mg; Sodium 368mg; Carbohydrate 1g (Dietary Fiber 0g); Protein 29g. You can find gremolatas with a variety of fresh herbs. Thyme, rosemary, oregano, and mint make great additions to this recipe.

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Add Spring Vegetables to Your Mediterranean Diet

Article / Updated 11-15-2017

Springtime in the Mediterranean (March through May) brings warm weather and new crops such as brightly colored, pencil-thin asparagus; dark leafy greens; and artichokes. Nothing is quite like seeing these welcoming veggies lined up in the produce aisle or at the farmers' market after a long, cold winter. Here are some simple Mediterranean-inspired veggie dishes to go along perfectly with a spring meal. Roasted Grapes with Walnuts and Feta Preparation Time: 8 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Yield: 4 servings 1 pound red grapes, washed, dried and de-stemmed 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon honey 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup walnuts 1/4 cup feta Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the grapes out evenly. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, honey, and vinegar and drizzle over the grapes to coat. Place the grapes in the oven and drop the heat to 400 degrees. Roast the grapes for 15 minutes. To serve, top the grapes with the walnuts and feta. PER SERVING: Calories 234 (From Fat 119); Fat 14g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 8mg; Sodium 91mg; Carbohydrate 28g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 3g. Braised Artichokes Preparation Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 23 minutes Yield: 6 servings 4 small artichokes 1 lemon 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 leek 4 cloves garlic, sliced 1/4 cup mint or basil, chopped 1-1/2 cups chicken stock 1/2 cup white wine Salt to taste Using a sharp knife, cut off the tip of the artichoke stems and remove the artichokes' tough outer leaves. Cut a 1/2-inch piece off the top of each artichoke and trim any remaining thorns on the tips. Cut the artichokes in half. Place all the halves in a large bowl of water. To prevent browning, slice the lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the water, and place the lemon halves in the water as well. Using a spoon or paring knife, cut out the purple choke (not to be confused with the heart) in the center of the artichoke. Slice each artichoke half into 4 to 6 wedges and return them to the lemon water. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cut the leek into 1/4-inch slices, separate the rings, and rinse well to remove any sand. Add the leeks and garlic to the heated olive oil and sauté for 6 minutes. Drain the artichokes and pat dry. Add the mint and artichokes to the pan and continue to cook over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the stock. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover for 10 minutes. Stir in the white wine and simmer uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes or until tender. Season with salt and serve. PER SERVING: Calories 152 (From Fat 85); Fat 9g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 1mg; Sodium 113mg; Carbohydrate 12g (Dietary Fiber 5g); Protein 4g. You can save time by using frozen artichoke hearts rather than cutting them fresh. Just thaw them out and skip to Step 3. Leeks are grown in sandy soil, so rinsing fresh leeks well and separating the rings to remove all sandy debris is important. Grilled Fennel Preparation Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 8 minutes Yield: 4 servings 2 fennel bulbs 1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1⁄8 teaspoon salt 1⁄8 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 orange 1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped Heat a grill over medium-high heat. Cut the fennel bulbs in half, drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season with the salt and red pepper flakes. Grill the fennel for 4 to 6 minutes on each side. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin away from the orange, removing the white outer portion. Cut the orange in half; break it into segments. Toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring or tossing constantly to avoid burning. Sprinkle the almonds over the orange slices. Thinly slice the fennel and toss it with the orange slices and almonds. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and serve. PER SERVING: Calories 169 (From Fat 103); Fat 11g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 235mg; Carbohydrate 16g (Dietary Fiber 6g); Protein 4g. You can see how to cut fennel for this recipe here.

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Include Hearty Winter Vegetables in Your Mediterranean Diet

Article / Updated 11-15-2017

The winter months, December through February, are often the time when you're less active, which makes it one of the most important times of the year to ramp up your vegetable intake, especially if you're following the Mediterranean Diet. The extra fiber and roughage help you feel full and satisfied as you expend less energy through activity and exercise. Potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower are great winter choices. Sautéed Broccoli Rabe Preparation Time: 6 minutes Cook Time: 14 minutes Yield: 6 servings 2 pounds broccoli rabe 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 4 cloves garlic, sliced 1/2 cup chicken stock 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes Remove the leaves on the broccoli rabe stem and set them aside. Cut the stalk into 3-inch pieces. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the broccoli rabe stalks and leaves and the garlic for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Serve. PER SERVING: Calories 76 (From Fat 48); Fat 5g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 114mg; Carbohydrate 4g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 5g. The figure shows an example of broccoli rabe If your broccoli rabe has thick stalks, peel the outer layer of the stem with a vegetable peeler before cutting the stalks in Step 1. Curry-Roasted Cauliflower Preparation Time: 6 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes Yield: 6 servings 1 head cauliflower 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon curry powder 1 tablespoon paprika 1 teaspoon salt Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the cauliflower (including the stalk and leaves) into bite-sized pieces and place in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients. Pour over the cauliflower and toss to coat. Pour the cauliflower and sauce onto a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Serve. PER SERVING: Calories 118 (From Fat 85); Fat 9g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 431mg; Carbohydrate 7g (Dietary Fiber 3g); Protein 3g.

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Health Benefits of Mediterranean Vegetables

Article / Updated 11-15-2017

You may be surprised how healthy a simple serving of popular Mediterranean vegetables really is for your body. You've probably heard the saying "You are what you eat," meaning that if your food is full of sugars and unhealthy fats, that's what you have coursing through your body. Vivid description, but true! Luckily, the same is true for eating vegetables. Here are the health benefits of some popular Mediterranean veggie crops so that you can feel great about loading them up on your plate: Broccoli: Broccoli is truly loaded in vitamins and minerals. In fact, it has too many to list here (just take our word for it). Broccoli is chock-full of vitamins C, K, and A as well as folate. Broccoli is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant capabilities and helps enhance the body's detoxification system. This little green tree can help you fight off chronic diseases such as heart disease and even some forms of cancers. Eggplant: Eggplant is very popular in the Mediterranean; it provides a unique flavor and a beautiful, rich purple color. Eggplant is a good source of phenolic compounds that protect the plant from weather and bugs and help you prevent heart disease and cancers. Cucumbers: Cucumbers are on just about every menu in Crete and southern Italy, and they're better for you than you may expect. The skin of cucumbers contains both vitamin C and caffeic acid, which help reduce water retention and skin swelling (hence their popularity as an eye mask). They're also a good source of potassium and magnesium, which help maintain healthy blood pressure. Plus, cucumbers provide high water and fiber contents and few calories, making them a great food to help you feel satisfied and refreshed.

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Mediterranean Diet Quiz: Rate Your Plate

Article / Updated 11-15-2017

You may already be on board with many of the principles of a Mediterranean diet. Take this quiz to see where you fall and what changes you can focus on toward adopting a Mediterranean diet. Answer the following questions; the numbers in parentheses are point totals, but you don't have to worry about those until after you take the quiz. How many total fruits and vegetable servings do you eat each day? Five to nine (2) Three to four (1) Fewer than three (0) How often do you eat fish or seafood? Several times a week (2) Once or twice a month (1) Once or twice a year (0) How often do you use fresh herbs with cooking? At least four times a week (2) Three to four times a month (1) Once or twice a year (0) On average, how often do you eat beef? Two to three times a week (0) Three to four times a month (1) Once or twice a month at most (2) How often do you eat beans and lentils, including those found in soups and stews or dips (such as hummus)? At least four times a week (2) Several times a month (1) Several times a year (0) When you eat beef or poultry, what serving size do you most often eat? Six to eight ounces (0) Four to five ounces (1) Two to three ounces (2) How often do you use olive oil for cooking or in salad dressings and spreads? Daily (2) Two to three times a week (1) Two to three times a month (0) How often do you eat nuts or nut butter? At least four times a week (2) Two to three times a month (1) Two to three times a year (0) Now figure out your score by adding up the points to the right of your answers and comparing the total to these ranges: 13–16: Great job! You're right on track with a Mediterranean way of life. Use the recipes in this book to inspire you to stick with this dietary pattern. 8–12: You're almost there! Many of your habits are right on track, but others could use some small changes. Focus on areas where you scored less than two points and see whether you can improve those dietary habits. This book offers lots of tips, suggestions, and delicious recipes to get you inspired. Less than 8: You've got some dietary changes to focus on to master the Mediterranean diet. Focus on areas where you scored less than two points and use this book for inspiration to make small changes that better align your habits with a Mediterranean style of eating.

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Savory Starters the Mediterranean Diet Way

Article / Updated 11-15-2017

In many Mediterranean regions, the general rule is to serve a hot appetizer before a light meal and a cold appetizer prior to a heavy meal. This strategy is a great health tip; avoiding eating heavy foods on top of heavy foods is one of the ways the people of the Mediterranean naturally balance their calorie and fat intake. Pan-Grilled Shrimp Preparation Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 8 minutes Yield: 6 servings 24 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (tail may be intact) 8 cloves garlic, sliced 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 teaspoon cracked red pepper flakes 1 lemon, zested and cut into 6 wedges 1 cup parsley, chopped Sea salt to taste Cracked black pepper to taste Skewer 4 shrimp 1/2 inch apart on each of 6 small skewers. Mix the garlic, olive oil, and cracked pepper in a small skillet. Heat the mixture over medium heat to infuse flavors, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest. Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of the shrimp skewers with the heated oil mixture. Heat a grill pan, cast-iron pan, or griddle over medium high heat. Cook the skewers 1-inch apart for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until pink in color. Sprinkle the shrimp evenly with parsley, sea salt, and cracked pepper and serve each with a lemon wedge. PER SERVING: Calories 111 (From Fat 85); Fat 9g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 36mg; Sodium 36mg; Carbohydrate 2g (Dietary Fiber 0g); Protein 5g. If you have to clean and devein your own shrimp, check out these guidelines. Fried Calamari (Calamari Fritti) Preparation Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 12 minutes Yield: 6 servings 1 pound fresh, cleaned calamari 1 teaspoon sea salt 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/4 cup semolina flour 3 cups extra-virgin olive oil, for frying 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges 1-1/2 cups marinara sauce Rinse the calamari in cold running water and then drain and pat it dry. Slice the calamari into 2-inch pieces and sprinkle with sea salt. In a bowl, whisk the flours. Add the calamari and toss until lightly coated with the flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour and place the calamari onto a clean plate. Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauté pan or cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat until you start to see small bubbles (about 360 degrees F). Working in small batches (so the oil does not get cold), fry the calamari for 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly golden. (Don't overcook the calamari, or it will be chewy.) Remove the calamari with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Allow the oil to reheat and continue cooking in small batches until you've fried all pieces. Serve the calamari with the lemon wedges and marinara sauce (heated or at room temperature). PER SERVING: Calories 343 (From Fat 58); Fat 12g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 42mg; Sodium 850mg; Carbohydrate 16g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 25g. Watch that your oil doesn't get too hot. If the oil begins to smoke, it has reached its smoke point, and you should start over with fresh oil. When working with fresh seafood, use it within 24 hours of purchase for best results. Tuna-Stuffed Tomato Bites Preparation Time: 20 minutes Yield: 18 servings One 6-ounce can tuna packed in olive oil, drained 2 tablespoons capers 1 tablespoon mayonnaise 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup chopped parsley Salt and pepper to taste 18 large cherry tomatoes (preferably with flat bottoms) Mix the tuna, capers, mayonnaise, vinegar, and parsley in a medium bowl. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Cut off the top (stem side) of each tomato and gently remove the insides with a spoon or a grapefruit spoon, being careful not to go through the bottom of the tomato. Fill each tomato with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the tuna mixture; the mixture should be coming out the top. Serve or store in the refrigerator until your guests arrive. PER SERVING: Calories 26 (From Fat 10); Fat 1g (Saturated 0g); Cholesterol 2mg; Sodium 69mg; Carbohydrate 1g (Dietary Fiber 0g); Protein 3g. If you can't find flat-bottomed tomatoes, you can slice a small sliver off the bottom so that the tomatoes sit flat.

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Kid-Friendly Mediterranean Diet Recipes

Article / Updated 11-15-2017

All children have different tastes. Some can handle a lot of spice, and others like foods to be bland. Changing to a Mediterranean Diet might be challenging if you may have picky eaters on your hands who shudder at the idea of lentils or feta. You might have adventurous eaters who think lima beans are the best food ever. Another way to encourage kids to try new things is to involve them in the planning, shopping, and cooking processes. The tykes will be more excited to try new things if those things are their creations. Try many different recipes with your kids because you never know what they may like. Here are a couple of recipes your kids will enjoy to get you started: Mini Spanakopita Preparation Time: 35 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Yield: 24 servings Three 10-ounce packages fresh spinach, coarsely chopped 6 ounces (about 1 cup) feta cheese, crumbled 1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, minced 3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 tablespoon butter, melted 8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed 1-1/2 cups breadcrumbs Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To prepare the filling, microwave the spinach in a microwave-safe bowl for 2 to 3 minutes or until heated. Using a colander, strain and wring out the spinach until it’s barely moist; transfer to a large bowl and mix with the feta cheese. In a medium nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sauté the chopped onion for 3 minutes. Add the onion, dill, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and eggs to the spinach mixture and stir well. Combine the remaining olive oil and melted butter in a small bowl. Lightly brush the phyllo sheet with the olive oil and butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the bread crumbs. Cut 1 phyllo sheet at a time lengthwise into three 4-inch strips. Spoon about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the spinach mixture onto one end of each strip; fold as Figure 8-1 shows. Place the triangles, seam sides down, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Using tongs, gently place the spanakopitas onto a serving plate. Serve warm. PER SERVING: Calories 78 (From Fat 39); Fat 4g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 8mg; Sodium 190mg; Carbohydrate 7g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 3g. As you work, cover the unused sheets of phyllo dough with a lightly moistened (not wet) towel to keep them from drying out. Tomato Basil Soup Preparation Time: 18 minutes Cook Time: 50 minutes Yield: 8 servings 4 pounds tomatoes, halved across the hemisphere 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt 1 large onion, chopped 6 cloves garlic, sliced 4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 tablespoon butter Salt and pepper, to taste 1/2 cup basil, sliced thinly 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese Heat the grill or grill pan over high heat to 400 degrees F. Remove the tomato seeds; brush the tomato halves with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle them with salt. Grill skin side down for 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly blackened. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 4 minutes. Pour in the stock, red pepper flakes, and roasted tomatoes. Bring the stock to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted. Blend the soup in a blender or in the pot with a stick blender until it’s the desired texture. In the pot, season the blended soup with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the soup into eight bowls, top each serving with 1 tablespoon of sliced basil and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan, and serve. PER SERVING: Calories 233 (From Fat 126); Fat 14g (Saturated 4g); Cholesterol 12mg; Sodium 967mg; Carbohydrate 22g (Dietary Fiber 6g); Protein 7g. If you’re using a traditional blender, blend the soup in small (1-to-2-cup) batches to avoid splattering soup everywhere. Oven-Fried Fish Sandwich with Fresh Spring Mix Preparation Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Yield: 6 servings 1/2 cup flour 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon paprika 1⁄8 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1/2 cup Greek yogurt 1 cup panko breadcrumbs Four 6-ounce fillets flounder or other white fish 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 French bread baguette 2 cups spring mix lettuce Juice of 1 lemon 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, paprika, and salt. In another bowl, combine the egg and Greek yogurt; place the breadcrumbs in a third bowl. Dredge the fish in the flour mixture and shake off any excess. Dip the floured fish into the yogurt mixture and then coat it with the breadcrumbs. Place the breaded fish onto a baking sheet. Bake the fish for 20 minutes or until golden. Immediately upon removing from the oven, top each fillet with 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Cut the baguette in half lengthwise and top it with the cooked fish. In a medium bowl, toss the greens with the lemon juice and olive oil to coat; season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the greens over the fish, cut the sandwich into 4 servings, and serve. PER SERVING: Calories 424 (From Fat 82); Fat 9g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 58mg; Sodium 706mg; Carbohydrate 49g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 35g.

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