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Eat more fruit: National Mediterranean Diet Month

May 1, 2011

WE’RE ALREADY CELEBRATING AT OUR HOUSE. As citizens of Rome, the olive oil runs free in our kitchen and even 23-month old Phoebe will ask for it if she can’t see it oozing off her bread. So I’m glad to hear that the US is getting into the action with National Mediterranean Diet Month. Mostly because it’s delicious but there are also can’t-argue, must-comply health benefits too. According to USA Today, this is the gist:

Heavy on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and plant-based fats (nuts, olive oil, avocado), yet light on meat, dairy, alcohol and sweets, the Med diet is an ancient way of eating practiced in Greece and surrounding countries of the Mediterranean basin. Its link to longevity and lowered incidence of chronic disease has been studied worldwide.

Who can argue with advice for living longer, healthier (and likely cheaper)? The trick of course, as with all advice, is to put it into action.

We’re relatively big dairy people here, drinking milk every day, yogurt and certainly cheese. But I’ve actually been on the fence about getting off pork and beef–in favor of fish, eggs, legumes and poultry–for a while. I realize I’m not Oprah here (and my meager site traffic will prove it) but don’t misunderstand me : I am not saying anything bad about pork or beef, or people who eat either one. I’m just starting to feel like it’s not necessary, for me. But before I get entirely off topic (and get our house egged), I do think that using meat, whatever it is, as an ingredient is brilliant. The dish is lighter and healthier and as I mentioned before, the grocery bill even benefits. Here’s what I’m talking about:

  • Stir fried veggies with beef, pork or chicken
  • Spaghetti with meat sauce
  • Szechuan noodles with red peppers and grilled chicken
  • Beef barley soup

And so on. Incorporating meat into a dish makes it satisfying without overkill. In Italy, it’s very common to have a meat dish ordered separately (as a secondo) and after a plate of pasta, which may or may not have contained meat. It’s quite heavy though and very often, diners just stick with the pasta, or share a meat dish as my husband and I do a lot. I think it’s a healthier way to eat though I could just be tired. After all, restaurants in Rome don’t start serving until 8pm so it’s easy to find yourself biting into a steak at 10 o’clock, an hour that I usually like to find myself in bed.

Recipes from delicious sources

>> Szechuan noodles from {Barefoot Contessa on Food Network}

>> Bucatini All’Amatriciana–Spaghetti with bacon and tomato sauce from {Mario Batali on Serious Eats}

>> Beef barley soup from {Martha Stewart’s Whole Living}

>> Doctor’s choice chili from {The Sneaky Chef}

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