Making Salad

Kick off a New Year with the Mediterranean Diet

Picture yourself in a villa in Sicily. As the warm sea breeze blows through your hair, you enjoy a meal of baked eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and mozzarella, all doused in olive oil over whole grain toast. You take a sip of red wine and sigh happily. La vita è bella.

Your everyday life might not look exactly like this … but it can come close, at least dietary-wise, with the Mediterranean diet. This food plan is based on the cuisine of the Mediterranean area and is rich in vegetables like onions—our favorite.

BEFORE MAKING CHANGES TO YOUR DIET, PLEASE CONSULT A DOCTOR AND/OR A REGISTERED DIETICIAN

Origin

The Mediterranean Diet was created in the 1950s by a scientist who noticed that less-affluent people living in southern Italy had a lower risk for heart disease than Americans living in New York. He attributed their heart health to diet and introduced a meal plan inspired by the food eaten by the locals. 

The list of approved foods includes: 

  • Fruits and vegetables 
  • Potatoes 
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine 

Things like Greek yogurt, cheese, and eggs are also allowed, but in moderation. And like most diets, participants should avoid foods that are processed or high in sugar. 

Benefits

Aside from the possibility of losing weight, the Mediterranean diet has various health benefits. According to research studies, the Mediterranean diet may decrease your likelihood of cardiovascular disease significantly and can even improve sleep!

Drawbacks

The Mediterranean diet does include a high percentage of calories from fat, which can be a deterrent for some people. It can also be difficult to maintain a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that aren’t always in season in the US.

Should You Consider the Mediterranean Diet?

If you’re looking to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, but still want to be able to eat things like dairy and grains, the Mediterranean diet might be a good fit. 

Is It Sustainable?

As with any diet that restricts specific foods, the Mediterranean diet can be difficult to maintain long-term. However, because there is no “limit” to the amount of approved foods, many people find this freeing and are able to sustain a Mediterranean diet for long periods of time.

Tips for Dining At a Restaurant or While Travelling 

If you don’t live in the Mediterranean, finding foods that work with this plan while on the go can be a little tricky. If you’re travelling, bring along nuts, veggies, and whole grain snacks to tide you over. Here are a few tips for restaurants:

  • Order seafood as your main dish whenever possible
  • Ask for olive oil to dress your salad
  • Look for gluten-free options on the menu (although you’re allowed whole grains, this is a good way to avoid refined grains when eating out)
  • Opt for fruit and yogurt for dessert

What Area of the Grocery Store to Shop In

Like most diets, the outer aisles of the grocery store are your greatest ally with the Mediterranean diet. However, you’ll also want to visit inner aisles for beans and other legumes, whole grains, and olive oil.

Common Food Alternatives

Luckily, the Mediterranean diet isn’t too restrictive, but there are certain foods you’ll want to choose in place of what you might be used to. For example:

  • Olive oil instead of butter 
  • Olive oil instead of other salad dressings
  • Whole grain pasta and rice instead of white 
  • Natural sugar substitutes

Recipes

Greek Salad

Greek salad is flavorful, satisfying, and packed with delicious vegetables. This recipe calls for tomatoes, Gills diced red onion, cucumbers, bell peppers, Kalamata olives, avocado, and feta cheese. Simply combine all ingredients, and top with a homemade dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and other seasonings. 

Gluten-Free Lemon Cake

This recipe uses almond flour, polenta, lemon zest, eggs, and butter (or substitute olive oil) to create a dense and delicious low-sugar dessert. Top with a lemon glaze, or serve warm with Greek yogurt and honey, and enjoy. 

Wherever you live, the Mediterranean diet can be a great exercise in adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, while avoiding processed foods. You may not be in Sicily, but your palate may think it is. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department