Living Well Eating Smart: Feeling your best with the Mediterranean Diet

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Staying active daily, building meals and snacks from a base of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes (dried beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas), enjoying wine in moderation each day and being social with meals enjoyed with family and friends (even virtually!) are the main components of a Mediterranean lifestyle.

The Mediterranean Diet itself has been shown to help reduce the risk for lifestyle-based conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Coupled with aiding in weight maintenance, there’s good reason the Mediterranean Diet has been voted the #1 Best Diet Overall for the past 3 years from U.S. News & World Report.

Following these Mediterranean Diet tips from Oldways is a great way to get started:

#1 Build your base with:

–Vegetables

–Fruits

–Whole Grains

–Legumes (dried beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas)

#2 Eat at least 2 times per week:

–Fish

–Shellfish

#3 Enjoy moderate portions daily to weekly:

–Greek Yogurt

–Cheese

–Milk

–Eggs

–3 ounces Poultry and Lean Cuts of Meat

–Meat mostly as a garnish in recipes

#4 Keep these as sometimes foods:

–Sweets

–Processed Red Meat

#5 Drink:

–Water

–Wine 1, 5-ounce glass/day for women; 2 for men

Begin trying more Mediterranean Diet-savvy, plant-forward recipes, like this one from the Almond Board of California, to add more flavor and nutrition to meals.

Garlic and Herb Almond “Cheese” from the Almond Board of California

Makes: 4, ¼-cup servings

What You Need:

1 cup slivered or sliced California Almonds

1½ cups warm water

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon salt-free Italian seasoning, plus extra for garnish

½ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

How to Make It:

1. Place almonds and water into blender. Puree almonds, scraping down the sides of blender when necessary. It should not have gritty pieces.

2. Pour puree into saucepan and stir in lemon juice and salt. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently. Cook until water evaporates and mixture is thick like muffin batter, about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Stir seasoning and garlic into puree.

5. Divide mixture between two, 8-ounce ramekins or bowls.

6. Sprinkle additional seasoning evenly over top of each.

7. Cover and refrigerate until cold and firmer, about two hours.

8. Serve on whole grain crackers and bread as you would traditional chèvre.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories 90, Total Fat 8 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 35 mg, Carbohydrates 4 g, Fiber 2 g, Protein 3 g

Recipe, image and nutrition analysis from Almond Board of California. Visit almonds.com for more almond inspirations.

About the Author: Carrie Taylor is the lead registered dietitian nutritionist for the Living Well Eating Smart program at Big Y Foods and has been trained as a yoga teacher, mindful outdoor guide and Journey Dance apprentice. Have a nutrition question? Email livingwell@bigy.com or write Living Well at 2145 Roosevelt Ave, PO Box 7840, Springfield, MA 01102.

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