There are dozens of healthy Mediterranean diet recipes. There are some basic ingredients that you will use quite frequently and also some cooking styles that are better suited for this type of cuisine. Here are the essential foods and the most common cooking methods used to create Mediterranean style recipes.
Fresh Fish and Seafood
Fish and seafood are the main protein sources. They are lower in fat than beef, poultry, pork and other kinds of meat. Unlike vegetarian protein sources, fish and seafood provide complete proteins.
So, there is no need to worry about food combinations. Certain species of fish and seafood are also sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
Grilling is the most common cooking method for fish and seafood. You can use kabobs or a wire seafood basket to grill shrimp and other small pieces of seafood. Grilling adds no extra fat or calories.
Fish can also be baked or cooked up in stews with seafood. Steaming is another no added fat or calories cooking method and works very well for bass.
The things that create the unique healthy Mediterranean diet recipes are the spices. Fresh spices were used traditionally in the area. Dry spices are not quite as flavorful, but you may find them easier to cook with and easier to find at certain times of the year.
The spices you will want to keep in your kitchen cabinet include garlic powder, black pepper, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, dill, tarragon, fennel seed and saffron. You will see that many easy healthy Mediterranean diet recipes call for cilantro. I prefer to use fresh cilantro. It can usually be found in the produce section. In a pinch, dried cilantro can be substituted.
You will find that almost all of the healthy Mediterranean diet recipes call for fresh vegetables. Peppers, eggplant, artichokes, all varieties of squash, all varieties of tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, cucumbers, okra and green leafy vegetables are all used as side dishes and many times, they take center stage in the meal.
The vegetables add lots of color and are the reason that so many dishes are beautiful to behold, not just good to eat. To get the best quality vegetables and also the best price, choose the ones that are in season. Buy from local farmer’s markets when possible to make your healthy Mediterranean diet recipes.
You might also consider buying your favorite vegetables from local farmers when they are in season and then freezing them for use during the winter. Freezing vegetables does not reduce the nutritional content and is quite easy.
Vegetables are cooked many different ways. Most often they are sautéed in olive oil or steamed until they are tender but still slightly crisp.
Olive Oil & Bulgur
Olive oil is the major source of fat in this healthy eating plan. It is used for cooking and also in salad dressings. You will want to keep olive oil on hand.
If you are looking for an easy Mediterranean diet recipe, lots of them also call for the whole grain bulgur. Bulgur cooks up quickly and has a little more flavor than rice. It can be served warm or cold with cucumber, dill and olive salad.
Grapes, pine nuts, pomegranates, anchovies, capers, anise and chickpeas are other staples that are common ingredients in these dishes. After you try some of the recipes, you learn quickly that cooking healthy can be fun and flavorful.