This is a guest post from Meri Raffetto, RD.
It’s interesting seeing the reaction of people after all the recent buzz about the Mediterranean Diet. I’ve read posts where people think this means it’s time to pile on the pasta again and load up on cases of red wine (not quite the way it works), but mostly I’ve seen hesitation of how one would cook this way. After all, the Greek eat things like Stuffed Grape Leaves and Italians eat Eggplant Parmesan…sounds too involved. While many of these classic recipes are in deed part of the culture, this style of eating is more based on simple flavor combinations and easy meal ideas.
The traditional Mediterranean diet is based off research from rural areas in the region 60 years ago. They used what they had on hand and that meant a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, lentils and seafood. Vegetables needed to fill you up so many different combinations were served with one meal and they became true experts at combining foods to make delicious dishes.
I believe getting the most flavors out of simple ingredients is the first step to eating more plant based foods, a major principle of the Mediterranean style of eating. It tastes much better than that pile of canned green beans that may be your go to veggie. The best part? It doesn’t have to be hard or terribly time consuming. Try pairing sliced apple slices in your tossed green salad to bring in sweetness and texture, or adding sliced cucumbers on your sandwich for a cool crunch.
The idea is to keep it simple like this Grilled Fennel with Oranges and Almonds recipe.
Grilled Fennel with Oranges and Almonds
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 8 minutes Yield: 4 servings
2 fennel bulbs
1 tablespoon, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8th teaspoon salt
1/8th teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
1. Heat a grill over medium-high heat. Cut the fennel bulbs in half, drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with the salt and red pepper flakes. Grill the fennel for 4 to 6 minutes on each side.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin away from the orange, removing the white outer portion. Cut the orange in half, break it into segments.
3. Toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring or tossing constantly to avoid burning. Sprinkle the almonds over the orange slices.
4. Thinly slice the fennel and toss it with the orange slices and almonds. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and serve.
Per serving: Calories 169 (From Fat 103); Fat 11 g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 235 mg; Carbohydrate 16g (dietary fiber 6g); Protein 4g.
Tip: Give easy peel mandarin oranges a try with this recipe and skip the step of completely taking off the white pith from the orange segments.
Tip: If serving to kids you can omit the red pepper flakes to tone down the heat.
Tip: Roast almonds ahead of time and keep them handy in an airtight container for recipes like this one or to throw in a salad. Makes cooking healthy that much easier!
Recipe from Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies, Wiley and Sons, November 2011
Meri Raffetto is a Registered Dietitian, author of the Glycemic Index Diet for Dummies® and coauthor of Glycemic Index Cookbook for Dummies®, Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies®, Restaurant Calorie Counter for Dummies®, and Calorie Counter Journal for Dummies®. To learn more about Meri visit her blog at www.3tomatoes.net.