Mediterranean Diet Tips & Chicken with Lemons and Olives
Is the Mediterranean diet really the healthiest diet in the world? Experts agree that, yes indeed it is the best diet for overall health. The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries like Italy and Greece back in 1960. Researchers noted that these people were exceptionally healthy compared to Americans and had a minimal risk of many lifestyle diseases. Numerous studies have now shown that the Mediterranean diet can cause weight loss and help prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and premature death. I am not a medical professional, however, I have been following the diet for the past 2 years to keep my cholesterol in check with much success.
I will share some of the secrets of the world’s most provocative flavors and talk about some of my signature recipes including Mushroom Farro Risotto, Braised Chicken with lemons and olives, and Moroccan Oranges.
Why is the Mediterranean Diet so popular?
One of the reasons why it is so popular is because it is considered a balanced diet. There are no food groups left out, you can enjoy them in low and moderate amounts. It's not an all-or-nothing lifestyle.
Some of my favorite ingredients I love to cook with are beans, salmon, and Turkey breast. Fresh vegetables lightly sauteed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar always add something to a meal. Olive oil is a staple and is recommended to be consumed heartily as are olives.
What you eat affects many aspects of your overall health, including brain health. A healthy diet can improve your ability to think, remember and process information as you age.
In one study, the healthiest eaters at age 50 had a nearly 90% lower risk of dementia compared with those who had the least healthy diets. The Mediterranean and DASH diets have been proven to boost brain health as well as improve heart health.
Eating patterns can help us maintain our good health. I recommend shooting for 7-9 fruits and vegetables a day (½ cup serving) I don't think about what I am giving up on my eating plan, I am thinking about what I can add to it in a day.
What cuisines are included in the Mediterranean Diet?
The countries that border the Mediterranean Emphasizes the flavors-
Greece, Turkey, France, Morocco, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Egypt , and Syria
The vegetables, grains, fruits, and seafood in this area are staples of the diet.
What are the flavor profiles I can use in my cooking?
Spice blends can be your best friend. A few to have on hand are
Italian- basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram
Moroccan – sweet spices and cumin and coriander
Dukkah- a mix of seeds, nuts, and middle eastern spices
Zatar- roasted thyme, sesame seeds oregano, and sumac
All-purpose salt-free spice mix / Salt and pepper mix chef's salt
Orange flower water is amazing drizzled on oranges and fruit salad
Tips for optimum health with nutrition
Load up on fruits and vegetables to help stabilize blood sugar
Consider plant-based proteins and beans
Half your day's intake of grains should be whole grains.
Choose healthy fats- unsaturated like olive oil
Lean proteins - just a little red meat- 2 x a month
Don't forget dairy is important in moderation
Because of the whole food approach, it's consistently rated one of the best in the world
Includes generous portions of fruits and vegetables
Offers lots of choices, recipes are plentiful
Encourages plant-forward meals in which meat is 30% or less of the plate
Supports healthy overall eating patterns, fiber fills you up.
Great for cooks who like to cook with whole foods.
Chicken with Olives and Lemon
Several countries that border the Mediterranean claim a recipe to use the bounty of lemons and olives that grow in that region. Rice flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour for a gluten-free version.
Serving size: 4
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
8 each chicken thighs boneless and skinless
1/8 cup olive oil divided
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
2 each lemon
1 each red onions sliced
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon garlic minced
1 cup green olives
1/4 cup lemon juice or stock
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley roughly chopped
1. Slice one of the lemons 1/4 inch thick, set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the pan and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Place lemons in the oil and cook until they start to char. Remove and place on a plate. Set aside. 2. In a small bowl, mix flour and salt, and pepper. Place on a plate and dredge chicken thighs in flour. Set aside. 3. In the same skillet, add the remainder of the olive oil and sear the chicken thighs, turning with meat releases from the pan. When chicken is browned and seared, remove and set aside. 4. Add sliced onions and cook for 3 minutes or until they start to soften. Add white wine to deglaze the pan, add garlic, green olives, Herbs de Provence. 5. Return chicken back to the pan and cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked until 165F and no longer pink in the middle. Add lemon juice or stock. Add in Chopped parsley. 6. Serve on a warm platter or in the skillet and garnish with charred lemons.