There is no doubt that we all need more Mediterranean food in our diets, and I am going to tell you just why. But first, what is Mediterranean food?
The broad category of Mediterranean food is a reflection of a collection of different cultures’ cuisines. The variety of countries located around the Mediterranean sea have all influenced this cuisine. The most influential cuisines being Maghrebi, Egyptian, Levantine, Turkish, Greek, Italian, Provençal, and Spanish. Together these cultures have blended to create a diet that consists mostly of fresh produce, whole grains, healthful fats, and fish. Additionally, the emphasis on herbs and spices in Mediterranean cuisine truly elevates each and every dish, making the most simple produce explode in your mouth with flavor. Mediterranean food truly makes healthy and simple foods absolutely delicious.
So, here are 7 reasons why we all need more of this cuisine in our diets.
1. Deliciously Flavorful Dishes
For starters, Mediterranean dishes are flavor-packed with herbs and spices. With abundant herbs and spices, dishes are slightly different with every bite, making them all the more exciting. Garlic, red pepper, paprika, cumin, oregano, rosemary, basil, mint, parsley, thyme, and dill are utilized heavily, usually alongside olive oil, a staple. By adding these flavors to combinations of vegetables, nuts, healthy fats, and proteins, the dishes become masterpieces. If you are someone that appreciates salt and pepper but needs something more for your flavor profile, Mediterranean dishes do not disappoint.
2. Great for Your Health
Mediterranean food is amazing for your health. This is mostly in part to how fresh and unprocessed the ingredients are. Additionally, most dishes center around fresh produce and focus less on heavier and unhealthier foods like dairy products and red meat. There is an emphasis on fish as a source of protein and healthful fats such as nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Whole grains are also an important part of the cuisine, but carbs are used in moderation. The abundance of vegetables mixed into every dish make them extremely nutrient-packed and leaves you feeling both satisfied and like you fueled your body with great ingredients.
Sugar intake is also pretty limited in Mediterranean foods. Desserts mostly consist of natural sugars like dates or fruits. Your sweet tooth is satisfied but in quite a healthy manner! Mediterranean food is proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, strokes, diabetes, and numerous cancers. It is also great for weight loss. Read 8 Scientific Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet for more information on why eating Mediterranean food is so beneficial.
3. Easy to Cook/Prepare
Because Mediterranean food is so fresh, it is often quite easy to prepare. With many staple dishes, it is just about combining the proper ingredients and flavors, making the process of cooking fairly simple. There are a lot of one pan/dish meal options, whether it is a fresh salad or a whole baked fish. Here is a simple and delicious Mediterranean style salad to try:
Chopped Mediterranean Salad
for 4 servings
- 2 cucumbers
- 4 tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- ½ cup feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup kalamata olive
- Peel the cucumbers. Cut into discs, and then quarter the discs. Place in a large salad bowl.
- Cut tomatoes into quarters, lengthwise, and then rotate and cut into large chunks. Add to the salad bowl.
- Cut the red onion in half, removing the skin, stem, and bottom. Thinly slice and add to the bowl.
- Add the feta cheese, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olives to the salad bowl and toss gently.
4. Inexpensive and Fresh Ingredients
With a produce and whole grain-based ingredient list, Mediterranean food is not only easy to make but also easy to make on a budget. You can take basic and fresh ingredients and create tons of different Mediterranean dishes. As seen in the recipe above, you could easily prepare that salad for a very low budget, especially because a lot of those ingredients are ones that may be in your fridge or pantry already. What is better than dishes that are healthy, flavorful, and economical? To learn more about eating fresh Mediterranean food on a budget, read The Mediterranean Diet on a Budget: 12 Tips That Will Save you Money.
5. Protein Packed Without Too Much Meat
One of the most amazing parts about Mediterranean food is that you can really get a satisfactory intake of protein without having to eat too much meat. Through the use of beans, nuts, and seeds incorporated into many dishes, your protein is very much accounted for. Fish is another important source of protein in many dishes. One of the most delicious and protein-packed Mediterranean food is falafel. There is so much you can do with falafel and it is very nutritious. Read here for A Simple Falafel Recipe and see how versatilely delicious falafel can be.
6. Lots of Potential Variations
Because Mediterranean food draws from so many other cuisines, making it a melting pot of culture, there are endless possibilities when it comes to variations of dishes. It is so easy to get creative with your choice of herbs and spices as you decide where from around the Mediterranean to draw your inspiration. Whether you are inspired by common Greek flavors like dill, mint, and lemon or more Moroccan flavors like cumin, cloves, and paprika, your options are endless.
Take hummus, for example, an important Mediterranean dish. If you add lemon and garlic to hummus, it pairs perfectly with some Greek pita; however, if you add cumin and cinnamon to hummus, it would be delicious with Moroccan bread, Khobz. So, in all, with Mediterranean food, you can take the same baseline fresh ingredients and add a variety of flavors to your liking.
7. Red Wine is Encouraged
Finally, and most importantly, the best part about Mediterranean food is that red wine pairs perfectly with every dish. Read 7 Best Wines from Napa That Will Impress Your Date to see what you should pair your Mediterranean feast with.
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