The Mediterranean LifeStyle

tel aviv beachIt’s no secret that the people of Italy, France, Spain to the north and Greece, Turkey, Israel and Lebanon to the east, with Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria comprising the North African countries, live and eat well. Time and time again, countless studies have proven that the Mediterranean lifestyle and diet has lower incidences of coronary heart disease thanks wholly on their heavy reliance on vegetables, grains, legumes and olive oil.

Mediterranean Diet Magnet.inddThe Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was developed for American eyeballs back in 2009. With its high amounts of heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats, promotion of heart healthy blood sugar levels, improvement of cognitive function, prevention of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancer, I find it amazing that fast food joints are still in business in The United States. People who follow the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle tend to be thinner, have improved body mass indexes, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

Fortunately, DH and I are both Italian and had incorporated some of the Mediterranean traits into our lifestyle and menu choices. (going to Italy three times and France once helped!) Apparently, however, whatever we were doing wasn’t quite enough. Both of us this past year suffered from heart events (brought on by stress) so we’ve decided to go full throttle and emerge ourselves into a new lifestyle change and mode. We’re going 100% Mediterranean.

I’ve cleared out our pantry of all junk. We’ve started eliminating foods high in sugars and unrefined starches out of our diet. In addition to our traditional Italian style meals, we’ve added in more foods from Jerusalem, Morocco, Africa, Greece and France. We are eating more fruits and vegetables. Less red meat and more fish, chicken and lamb. Drinking more veggie juices and Greek non-fat yogurt smoothies. I’m learning how to prepare more meals based on grains, such as farrow, bulgur wheat, quinoa and brown rice. Lunches lately have been home-made hummus and falafel based (made from ground chick peas/beans) spread out over cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes and eggplant, wrapped up in whole wheat pita breads.

This is NOT a diet per se. It’s a conscious decision to simply make better food choices. If you look at the first bottom rung of the Mediterranean Pyramid, sitting down to a meal with other people is thee most important feature on the triangle. Sharing and enjoying a meal with others, with good conversation, leads to a happy and healthy lifestyle. DH and I have spent months de-cluttering our home, freshening it up with new appliances and a more modern decor. Nothing can be more of a debbie-downer than living in a stressful environment. When we think of the Mediterranean lifestyle, we envision people relaxing on a beach along the Adriatic Sea or the French Riviera (see photo above). That’s what it’s all about.  Good food. Good company. Good friends.

The Good Life.

 

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8 thoughts on “The Mediterranean LifeStyle

  1. Good morning, I like this chart makes it easy to plan meals. Are you still doing Weight Watchers? What’s your recipe for your homemade hummus? do you drain the chick peas and rinse to eliminate some salt? Do you cook the eggplant I have never eaten it raw? Lara

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    • Hi Lara. No more weight watchers for me. There allotment for me per day was just WAY too low. I got a refund. LOL! I’m into counting calories now via a free app on my iPhone. It allows me 1300 calories per day BUT because I walk 1.5 miles per day and do at least 45 minutes of strenuous cleaning, that allots me more calories. So, I’m good with that. I’m not losing any weight BUT I’m also not gaining, which is still equally important to me. The big thing for me was to get off sugar and sugary products like cakes and candy. It’s been a few weeks now and I haven’t touched that crap. So, it’s all good!
      I used canned chick peas, drained and no I don’t wash them because I don’t put any salt in my recipe. I add a half cup of tahini. Some lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. A touch of red pepper, parsley and black pepper. If the mixture looks too dry or think, I add just a touch back of the chick pea canned liquid. When I pour into a bowl, I top with paprika.
      So far, I’ve been grilling the eggplant with a touch of olive oil and some seasonings. Later on in the season, I’ll be hot baking everything and making caponata.

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  2. Saw somewhere instead of the expensive tahini The sesame oil used in Chinese cooking gives. The same flavor and I think it was a teaspoon or less to a can of beans. Unfortunately I lost the recipe when my old laptop died?My heart nutritionist hates canned beans and says never use the liquid and rinse them to get the salt off. She says it’s worth the work to go with dried beans, organic even better.
    The eggplant sounds yummy. Do you freeze the caponata? 🍀Lara

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    • FYI: I happen to look at the shop right chick peas and the total sodium in a can is1225 mg and rinsing and not using the liquid you can reduce that by 50% still 613 mg and my nutritionist says I should aim for 800- 1000 mg daily, which after doing a food journal a lot of this allotment is used up in naturally occurring sodium in unprocessed foods. Another reason I use dried beans is to allow me to guiltlessly enjoy a half of cup of hummus with vegetables as a substitute for salad. 🍀 Lara

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      • Lara, you don’t eat a whole can of chick peas at once, do you? A 1/2 cup serving of chick peas right out of a Shop Rite can is 350mg of sodium. Rinse that off and you get 175mg. DH and I try to stay within the 2000mg daily of salt intake. In fact, I rarely use any salt at all in my cooking. People can add salt afterwards to their own plate.
        I’m trying to get off sugar now two. A double whammy!
        As long as we’re making our own hummus from scratch, I think we’re fine. of course using raw chick peas to start is way better than canned. For sure!

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  3. Your lucky your set at 2000 mg most people with Heart disease have a lot lower daily sodium allowance of 1000 mg recommended. And no I don’t eat a whole can of them, but you said you didn’t rinse them and even add some of the liquid they are in, so 350 mg is a third of my sodium allowance and a half cup of chickpeas right out of the Can makes about one third cup puréed. And If I am being honest it’s a half cup I will have with my vegetables so doing it your method would mean half my sodium (500 mg) right in that hummus. Different strokes for different folks but the reality of the true amount of salt was brought home to me by the cardiologist nutritionist. Americans are addicted to salt as well as sugar. 🍀 Lara

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    • I’ve given up salt & sugar lately. In fact, now, if I eat something too sugary, I get sick to my stomach. Yuck!
      I’m sure DH and I eat way less than the 2000mg we’re allowed. From now on in, however, I’m going to place a closer eye on our salt intake. Everyday is a new day.

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