As the research we shared earlier this week showed, most Americans don’t eat a balanced diet but think they do. And, getting started on a more balanced diet can seem intimidating and overwhelming if it’s your first foray into diet, nutrition, and meal planning. We’ve got your back! Below, we’ll share three delicious and nutritious meals inspired by the Mediterranean Diet. While there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all “best” diet, the nutrition professionals and registered dietitians at Today’s Dietitian recommend the Mediterranean diet.
“If the Oscars were given to outstanding diet plans, the Mediterranean diet would sweep the red carpet,” report the dietitians. “This delicious cuisine was voted No. 1 for the Best Overall Diet, the Best Plant-Based Diet, and the Easiest Diet to Follow. It also tied for No. 1 for the Best Heart Healthy Diet, Best Diabetes Diet, and the Best Diet for Healthy Eating.”
Let’s dig in!
BREAKFAST: Rosemary-Infused Mediterranean Egg Sandwiches
Start your day with the flavors of sun-dappled Italy. It’s the perfect breakfast to fill you up with energizing whole grains, immune-boosting antioxidants, and quality protein. And although this nutritious meal takes just a few minutes to whip together, little touches like rosemary-infused olive oil elevate the flavor profile to that of a gourmet kitchen on the Mediterranean coast.
4 whole-grain sandwich thins or panini bread
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
4 eggs, ideally local, free-ranged and organic
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, ideally organic
1 tomato, cut into thin slices, ideally organic
5 tbsp feta cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit. While your oven is heating up, cut the panini bread or sandwich thins in half. Drizzle the cut sides with some olive oil, then bake in the oven until golden brown.
While your bread is toasting, whisk together a few teaspoons of olive oil with the crushed rosemary. Heat in a frying pan until fragrant, then crack the eggs and place in the sizzling oil. Cook for a couple minutes on each side then remove from the heat.
Take the toasted bread and add some spinach, a slice or two of tomato, and a spoonful of the feta cheese. Top with the egg and season with salt and pepper, then add the top half of the bread. Repeat for the second sandwich and enjoy hot!
LUNCH: Tangy and Creamy Greek Salad Pasta
Get a full day’s worth of fresh veggies in a single meal. It’s so creamy that you’ll assume it’s unhealthy, but this nutritious meal gets its richness from Greek yogurt — an excellent source of protein that also contains probiotics that improve your gut health and immune system. Meanwhile, the textures of the pasta pair well with the crisp crunch of bell peppers and other vegetables, while the herbs add multiple layers of flavor are sure to surprise and delight your friends and family!
1 pound macaroni, penne, or rigatoni pasta
2 large Roma tomatoes, diced
2 cucumbers, diced
1 red onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the label, as every type of pasta has its own specific cooking time. Once al dente, rinse with cold water in a colander to quickly cool it down and keep it from overcooking in its own steam and heat.
In a big mixing bowl, combine the pasta with the rest of the ingredients. Let it marinate in your fridge for 60 minutes to allow the flavors to fully bloom and combine, then enjoy cold or at room temperature!
DINNER: Spicy Egyptian Fava Beans
We round out our list of nutritious meals with this delightful dinner idea. Fava beans are an incredible source of protein and digestion-enhancing fiber, plus specific plant compounds that research suggests may lower your disease risks. It all comes together in this warm and comforting meal that has just the right amount of spice.
2 15-oz. cans of plain fava beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 jalapeno pepper, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lemon, juiced (approximately 2-3 tbsp of lemon juice)
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup minced fresh parsley
1 large tomato, diced
Cook the fava beans in 1/2 cup of water in a hot frying pan. Once sizzling, add salt and cumin, then mash with your spoon.
In a separate bowl, combine the jalapeno pepper, garlic, and lemon juice. Whisk together for a few seconds, then pour into the hot beans and give them another good mix.
Drizzle with the olive oil and garnish with the tomatoes and parsley.
Enjoy hot with your favorite Mediterranean side dishes, such as pita bread and Kalamata olives.