Tag Archives: Mediterranean Diet

How Do I Make My Favorite Soup or Stew Even Better?

Jeff's Naturals Game Day Chili

Is it possible to make your favorite soup even better?  We say yes. With so much flavor and variety, you can pretty much count on Jeff’s Naturals olives and peppers to pair perfectly with most of your favorite soup!

Here are some delicious ideas to get you started:

  • Transform ordinary Tomato or Vegetable Soup into something extraordinary by adding diced Roasted Bell Pepper Strips and a dollop of basil pesto.

We could keep going but we want to hear your ideas!  Tell us on our Facebook page!

How to Prepare the Perfect Pasta Dish

Mama Mia! Since October is National Pasta Month, we wanted to give a salute to one of America’s favorite foods! In recent years, pasta has gotten a bad rap (think no carb diets) but we think that pasta dishes can actually be a healthy and filling meal, especially with some help from Jeff’s Naturals all natural line of olives, peppers, capers and sun ripened tomatoes.

Rigatoni_with_Puttanesca_Sauce_cropped

pic_Pasta-Nicoise

Mediterranian-Salad-1

What’s the secret to pasta perfection? It begins with cooking pasta itself. The National Pasta Association recommends the following steps to cook pasta perfectly every time:

1. Boil 4 to 6 quarts of water for one pound of dry pasta. (You can divide this recipe depending on how much pasta you are cooking.)

2. Add the pasta with a stir and return the water to a boil.

3. Stir the pasta occasionally during cooking.

4. Follow the package directions for cooking times. If the pasta is to be used as part of a dish that requires further cooking, undercook the pasta by 1/3 of the cooking time specified on the package.

5. Taste the pasta to determine if it is done. Perfectly cooked pasta should be “al dente,” or firm to the bite, yet cooked through.

6. Drain pasta immediately and follow the rest of the recipe.

Reheating Pasta

To reheat cooked pasta, portion out the amount you need and place in boiling water. For extra-easy draining, you can place the pasta in a stainless steel colander or strainer and then submerge in boiling water. Count 40 to 60 seconds of re-heating time for a four-ounce serving. Drain the pasta well, toss with sauce and serve immediately. Pasta can also be reheated in the microwave oven. Reheat single servings on high for 45 seconds at a time, checking between intervals for doneness.

To create the perfect pasta dish, you must also pair it with the right sauce. The National Pasta Association recommends pairing thin, delicate pastas (like angel hair or thin spaghetti)are better served with lighter, thin sauces. If it’s a heavier sauce you crave, it’s better to stick with thicker pasta shapes, like fettuccine. Pasta shapes with holes or ridges, like mostaccioli or radiatore, are perfect for chunkier sauces.

Now that you know the basics, grab a fork and dig into our newest pasta recipe using Jeff’s Naturals!

Jeff’s Naturals Mediterranean Pasta

Prep Time: 5 min.Total Time: 10 min.Serves: 4

mediterranean-pasta-jeffs-naturals
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, sliced diagonally
1 cup Jeff’s Naturals Sun-Ripened Dried Tomatoes, drained, julienned
2 Tablespoons crushed garlic
1 pound angel hair pasta, fresh
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 jar (6.5 ounces) Artichoke Hearts, drained
1/2 cup Jeff’s Naturals Organic Sliced Greek Kalamata Olives, drained
6 ounce crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
PREPARATION

Boil water for pasta. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown chicken strips until no longer pink in the middle, about 3 minutes on each side. Add sun dried tomatoes and crushed garlic to skillet. Sauté for 2 minutes. In the meantime, add the fresh pasta to the boiling water, cook until al dente, about 5 minutes.

Add the basil, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives and crumbled feta cheese to the skillet. Sauté 1 minute. Stir in cream. Strain pasta and transfer to a large pasta bowl. Add the chicken sauté to the pasta and toss.

Season with oregano, salt and pepper before serving.

Visit National Pasta Association to see these and other great pasta cooking tips!

veggielovingmom

How to Build A Super Salad

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 5.50.38 PM
If you’re like most people, chances are you could use more veggies in your diet. Eating a healthy, nutrient rich, low-cal salad is not only good for you, it can be completely satisfying if you add the right ingredients. In honor of National Salad month, we encourage you to punch it up and wake up your palette with these healthy salad tips.

Be inspired and be healthy!

Step One: More Leafy Greens Please!

Today show nutritionist Joy Bauer says to choose a base for your salad that provides important nutrients like folic acid and lutein. “Give up the iceberg for mesclun greens, baby spinach, or a spring mix that includes a variety of dark green lettuces”, she says in her post, 5 Tips for Building a Healthier Salad.

Instead of adding cheese, add sliced peperonicnis or jalapeño stuffed olives.

Step Two: Get colorful and creative with fruits, vegetables and herbs!

Pile on as many vegetables as possible. The more seasonal and local your vegetables are, the better (think Farmers Markets). Summer is the perfect time to indulge in a multitude of fresh seasonal fruits, veggies and herbs. When making your salad, go for different textures and tastes. You can also use leftovers you find in the fridge (like grilled veggies- YUM) and many pantry staples like olives, peppers, artichoke hearts, and more.

 

Step Three: Add Protein

In her post, Joy Bauer also recommends adding protein to your salad for a satisfying meal.

“If you’re opting for animal protein, select one lean source (or two if you’re extra-hungry), such as four egg whites or three ounces of skinless chicken or turkey breast, water-packed chunk light tuna, wild salmon, or lean sirloin steak. If you’re vegetarian or just want to mix it up, choose half a cup of cubed tofu or three-quarters of a cup of chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans, or other legumes”.

Step Four: Add some additional toppings for extra flavor!

Greek Salad
These are the items that can take your salad to the next level, but have the potential to pack in too much fat and calories if you aren’t careful. Toppings like chopped nuts, seeds, shredded cheese, croutons, dried cranberries or raisins, and salad dressings are fantastic on salads, but should be used sparingly. For less fat and more flavor in your meals, think about adding something spicy to your salad.

Here are some more salad tips to inspire you:

  • Toss Sun-Ripened Dried Tomatoes with chilled cooked pasta, sliced Kalamata Olives and Marinated Artichoke Hearts for a colorful and delicious pasta salad.
  • Toss pitted Castelvetrano Olives with mixed baby greens, orange sections, shaved fennel and a light lemon vinaigrette for a beautiful and refreshing salad.
  • For a tangy vegetarian version of a classic Caesar salad, use Capers in place of the traditional anchovies.
  • Toss Spicy Italian Olive Antipasto, along with its marinade, with romaine lettuce and tomato wedges. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and top with crumbled feta cheese for a super quick and delicious salad.
  • Toss pitted Kalamata Olives with feta cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, olive oil and red wine vinegar for a refreshing Greek salad.
  • Add diced Jalapeño Stuffed Olives to a Southwestern black bean salad.
  • Toss Sliced Pepperoncini into a mixed green salad for an extra punch of flavor.
  • Add Sliced Hot Cherry Peppers to salads for a boost of color and flavor.
  • Arrange Roasted Bell Pepper Strips on a serving plate along with sliced fresh mozzarella and julienned fresh basil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

photo credit: Pear Dried Cranberries and Candied Pecan Salad via photopin (license)

Top  photo by @veggielovingmom on Instagram http://ow.ly/zZgcj

Featured Natural Foods Store: Lamb’s Nature’s Choice Market

-2

We know that everyone loves to find a great sale or bargain, so we are happy to let you know that Jeff’s Naturals is part of the It’s Only Natural sale at Lamb’s Nature’s Choice Market stores during the month of February!

That means that this is the perfect time for consumers to stock up and save up to 25% off of their favorite Jeff’s Naturals items at all Lamb’s Markets!

Jeff's Naturals
This is the time to stock up on Jeff’s Naturals!

Castelvetrano Olives

Lamb’s Nature’s Choice Market operates a number of independently managed food stores in the Pacific Northwest including

  • Nature’s Choice Market in Lake Oswego, OR
  • Garden Home in Portland, OR
  • Stroheckers in Portland, OR
  • Nature’s Choice Market in Wilsonville, OR

Our all-natural line of Mediterranean pantry staples can be found in all the above Lamb’s Market stores and in addition to Cutsforth Marketplace Thriftway in Canby, OR and Shop n Kart in Chehalis, WA.

Consumers with food sensitivities and allergies will appreciate “Free From” at Lamb’s, an Allergen Awareness Program developed to help their customers find appropriate foods for their special dietary needs. The store even offers a Gluten Free store tours with a local Gluten Free Lifestyle expert who offers suggestions for replacing old favorites with new ones. For more information on Lamb’s Market, please visit www.lambsmarkets.net.

Jeff’s Naturals can be found in natural food stores all over the country. To find a store near you, try our new store locator.  You never know when you’ll find a great sale! Happy Shopping!

-3

5 Reasons to Follow a Mediterranean Diet in 2015

Mediterranian Diet

Is eating healthier part of your plan for the New Year? Why not consider following a Mediterranean diet? Combined with physical activity, the Mediterranean diet could improve not only your health, but your overall quality of life!

A traditional Mediterranean diet consists of large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, and less red meat and dairy. Replace processed foods and refined sugars and flour with natural ingredients, and your body and taste buds will thank you.  Click here to see some of our wholesome Mediterranean recipes.

Here are 5 more reasons to consider switching!

1. More and more studies are linking the Mediterranean diet with disease prevention.
Numerous studies have linked the Mediterranean diet to reduced heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions. Refined breads, processed foods, and red meat are discouraged in a Mediterranean diet, and it encourages drinking red wine instead of hard liquor, which have all been linked to heart disease and stroke prevention.

2. It’s Budget Friendly.
Not only is this way of eating good for your health, it’s good for your wallet too! If you stick with meals that emphasize vegetables, whole grains and legumes, you may discover that the Mediterranean diet to be less expensive than serving dishes with larger portions of meat, cheese, and processed foods.

3. It’s not just what you eat, HOW you eat your meals could make you healthier and reduce stress.
Though food choices play a large factor, you might enjoy adjusting your habits to reflect the Mediterranean lifestyle. Rather than rushing through your meals or eating in front of a television (or even worse, a car!); sit down for a relaxed, leisurely meal with others. It could be as important for your health as what’s on your plate.

4. Fewer cravings = weight loss.
A Mediterranean diet is rich in fiber, which makes you feel fuller longer by slowing down digestion. A fiber rich diet has also been shown to prevent huge swings in blood sugar, which can curb your appetite and reduce cravings for sweets and other processed foods.

5. It could help you age gracefully.
The nutrients and high levels of antioxidants associated with a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of developing muscle weakness and other signs of frailty. Researchers speculate that the Mediterranean diet may improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels and overall blood vessel health. When there is a reduction in developing heart disease or cancer, as in the case when you follow a Mediterranean diet, there is a 20% reduced risk of death at any age.

bell-pepper-harvest

Mediterranean products that have been enjoyed for generations are now available in an all-natural line. We, at Jeff’s Naturals,  are passionate about healthy eating and are pleased to offer a line of Mediterranean products that are free of preservatives, stablilizers, artificial colors, flavors and sulfites.  Click here to learn more about our 100% natural line of olives, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and more!

Article Sources:
www.hsph.harvard.edu
www.helpguide.org/life

photo credit: flippinyank via photopin cc

When it Comes to Flavor and Fun, a Little Peperoncini Goes a Long Way

“Ugh…Pasta for dinner again?”

Does this sound familiar? If so, may we suggest adding a little twist to your regular quick weeknight dish? Why not throw in some Jeff’s Naturals sliced Golden Greek Peperoncini to liven things up! A little bit goes a long way to bring plenty flavor and fun to the table!

The possibilities are endless, you just have to get creative!

For instance, did you know you could liven up any sandwich or wrap with a hearty helping of our peperoncini? You can also toss peperoncini into a mixed green salad or top it on a pizza for an extra punch of flavor!

Pizza

How about creating a plentiful antipasto platter with our Whole Golden Greek Peperoncini, Kalamata Olives, marinated Artichoke Hearts, Roasted Bell Pepper Strips and assorted meats and cheeses? Or add some peperoncini & feta to your mac ‘n cheese for a spicy kick to the traditional recipe!

Who knew there were so many ways peperoncini can save dinner?

Here are 3 easy recipes that just may become an instant classic for you and your family! And with so little prep or need for a clean up, these dishes also made an ideal weeknight dinner (very helpful as the kids head back to school!).

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranian Salad

1- 16 oz. package of dried rotelle pasta
8 oz. Jeff’s Naturals sliced Golden Greek Peperoncini, drained & chopped
8 oz. Jeff’s Naturals Organic Sliced Greek Kalamata Olives, drained
8 oz. Jeff’s Naturals Sun-Ripened Dried Tomatoes, not drained
8 oz. Jeff’s Naturals Roasted Bell Pepper Strips, chopped
2 Jars (4 oz) marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper

Preparation
Boil Pasta according to the directions on the package. Rinse under cold water and drain thoroughly. Add pasta to a medium sized bowl along with the remaining ingredients. Blend together. The pasta salad may be served immediately or stored covered in the refrigerator for the following day. Enjoy!

Jeff’s Kickin’ Turkey Meatball Sandwich

Meatball Sandwich

2 c. prepared turkey meatballs
1 jar gourmet pasta sauce, (We like Tomato Basil- YUM!)
1 medium red onion
4 soft sandwich rolls
1 c. Jeff’s Naturals sliced Golden Greek Peperoncini
4 oz. provolone cheese, sliced

Preparation
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat 1/4 c. olive oil and prepare turkey meatballs according to package directions. Add pasta sauce and simmer on low. While meatballs are cooking, slice onion and cook in a skillet on medium high heat with remaining olive oil until edges are caramelized.

Open sandwich rolls and place on a baking sheet. Place onions on one side of the sandwich rolls. Place peperoncinis on the other side and top with provolone cheese. Heat in oven for five minutes, or until cheese melts. Remove pan from oven and add turkey meatballs to sandwiches. Serve with remaining sauce.

Best Ever Greek Salad

Greek Salad

1 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 c. feta cheese, diced
8 oz. Jeff’s Naturals sliced Golden Greek Peperoncini, drained & chopped
2 jars (15 oz.) Jeff’s Naturals Roasted Bell Pepper Strips, drained & sliced
3 green bell peppers, seeds and membranes removed, sliced
3 large cucumbers, preferably seedless, peeled and sliced
1 jar (16 oz.) jar Jeff’s Naturals Organic Sliced Greek Kalamata Olives, drained and roughly chopped
2 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1-1/2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation
Combine all of the ingredients together in a stainless or non-reactive bowl, and toss together. Allow to marinate 15 minutes. Toss again before serving. Serve on nicely arranged lettuce leaves.

photo credit: mhaithaca via photopin cc

May is International Mediterranean Diet Month!

You Can Help Promote Awareness and Celebrate International Mediterranean Diet Month!

Photo Source: Oldways Facebook Page
Photo Source: Oldways Facebook Page

We are passionate about healthy eating and living and frequently post about the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle:

Five Fabulous Mediterranean Inspired Salads
9 Simple Ways to Start a Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle
5 Reasons to Follow a Mediterranean Diet in 2014

The Mediterranean Diet is a common sense approach to eating and living with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, and less red meat, dairy, processed foods and sugars.  Combined with physical activity, the Mediterranean diet could improve not only your health, but your overall quality of life!

Health organizations like Oldways are a great resource to learn more about the Mediterranean Diet. The organization provides resources to help consumers understand what the Mediterranean Diet is, why it is good for you, and how to shop for and cook healthy Mediterranean meals.

Oldways is celebrating the 5th Annual International Mediterranean Diet Month by hosting the first virtual Mediterranean Dinner Party.  During the month of May, Oldways invites people everywhere to post photos of themselves taking pleasure in a taste of the Mediterranean, at home or in restaurants, for a chance to win weekly prizes and one grand prize. Med Lovers can submit photos of themselves via Twitter, Facebook, or the Oldways Forum, enjoying homemade meals from either of Oldways’ 5 in 50+ list, at home, or at a Mediterranean restaurant of their choice, using the hashtag #MedMonth2014. Click here for more details.

May is the perfect time to shift towards this way of eating and living.  To help get you started, download 8 simple steps you can start following a Mediterranean Diet. We also encourage you to browse our line of all natural Mediterranean products and visit our Recipe Page for more inspiration.

Salute! To Your Health!

About Oldways
Oldways (www.oldwayspt.org) is a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to guide people to good health through heritage, using practical and positive programs grounded in science and tradition. Oldways is the parent organization for The Whole Grains Council and The Mediterranean Foods Alliance, and is well-known for creating the Whole Grain Stamp and the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.

 

 

 

Five Fabulous Mediterranean Inspired Salads

Since May is International Mediterranean Diet Month AND National Salad Month,  we wanted to share some of our favorite salad recipes you can create using our all natural line of olives, peppers and more!

A traditional Mediterranean diet is heart healthy and budget friendly. It consists of large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, less red meat and dairy and no processed foods, refined sugars and flour.

These salads are Mediterranean classics with a modern twist. You will find these recipes to be simple yet versatile enough to be used as a side dish and hearty enough to be the main course. Hope you enjoy!

Greek Grilled Shrimp Salad

1 pound raw shrimp (26-30 count), cleaned and deveined
1/4 c. & 1/2c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
1/3 c. Jeff’s Naturals Feta Cheese Stuffed Olives, sliced
1/2 c. Jeff’s Naturals Organic Pitted Whole Greek Kalamata Olives
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/3 c. aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. Crushed Garlic
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
Fresh ground pepper
1 (10 oz.) bagged baby spinach leaves, washed

PREPARATION

Thread shrimp onto metal skewers (or wooden skewers soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes). Brush both sides of the shrimp with 1/4 cup olive oil and sprinkle with the 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Heat gas grill, with all burners on high, until fully preheated, 10 to 15 minutes. Brush rack lightly with oil. Grill shrimp until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix the crushed garlic, sugar, salt, oregano and balsamic vinegar. Slowly whisk in the 1/2 cup of olive oil.

In a large serving bowl, combine the spinach, tomatoes, cheese, olives, and shrimp. Lightly toss the salad with the dressing. Top with fresh ground pepper and serve.

Recipe: Indian Summer Palette Salad

talian-Summer-Palette-Salad

Salad:

8 c. mixed greens (baby greens, fancy blend)
1/2 c. medium red onion, sliced
1/4 c. basil, finely chopped
1 jar Jeff’s Naturals™ Whole Pitted Kalamata Olives, drained
1 jar Jeff’s Naturals™ Garlic Stuffed Olives, drained
6 Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 c. shaved Parmesan cheese

Dressing:
4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. white wine
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. Jeff’s Naturals™ Sun-Ripened Dried Tomatoes, diced fine
1 Tbsp. crushed garlic
1 Tbsp. Jeff’s Naturals™ Non-Pareil Capers
Salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION

Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk briskly to combine and blend. Set aside. Place greens, red onion and basil in large shallow bowl (like a pasta bowl). Gently toss to mix.

Scatter olives over the greens. Arrange tomatoes on the outer perimeter of the bowl. Scatter cheese over the center of the salad. Re-whisk the vinaigrette and drizzle over the salad and serve immediately.

Mediterranean Bean Salad

Mediterranean Bean Salad

1 can (15 oz.) small white beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 jar Artichoke Hearts, coarsely chopped (not drained)
1 c. Jeff’s Naturals™ Roasted Red Bell Peppers, coarsely chopped (not drained)
3/4 c. Jeff’s Naturals Organic Pitted Whole Greek Kalamata Olives 
1/2 c. red onion, finely chopped
1/4 c.Jeff’s Naturals™ Sun-Ripened Dried Tomatoes (not drained)
2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. fresh basil, sliced thing
salt and pepper to taste
*Calculated ingredients may not always be as accurate as the original recipe.

PREPARATION

Stir together all ingredients except basil. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, for a least 1 hour. Stir in basil just before serving.

Recipe: Watermelon, Olive, Jalapeño and Feta Salad

Watermelon-Olive-Jalapeno-and-Feta-Salad

1 Tbsp. Jeff’s Naturals™ Pitted Kalamata Olives, drained and diced
1 Tbsp. Jeff’s Naturals™ Sliced Tamed Jalapeño Peppers, drained and diced
2 c. seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into 1”cubes
1/2 c. feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 c. red onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp. mint leaves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. green onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION

In a large mixing bowl add all ingredients and gently mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Served chilled.

Chef’s note: A refreshing salad, perfect side dish for any meal. Great with grilled dishes and sandwiches.

Greek Salad

Greek Salad

1 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 c. feta cheese, diced
1 jar Jeff’s Naturals Roasted Bell Pepper Strips, drained
1 jar Jeff’s Naturals Sliced Golden Greek Peperoncini 
3 green bell peppers, seeds and membranes removed, sliced
3 large cucumbers, preferably seedless, peeled and sliced
1 jarJeff’s Naturals Organic Sliced Greek Kalamata Olives, roughly chopped
2 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1-1/2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
*Calculated ingredients may not always be as accurate as the original recipe.

PREPARATION

Combine all of the ingredients together in a stainless or non-reactive bowl, and toss together. Allow to marinate 15 minutes. Toss again before serving. Serve on nicely arranged lettuce leaves.

9 Simple Ways to Start a Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

pic_Italian-Summer-Palette-SaladIf your goal is to improve your overall health and lifestyle in 2014, we want to help! Last month, we shared five reasons to follow the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean lifestyle is not a fad nor does it have a catchy title. It is simply a common sense approach to eating and living that has been shown to improve well-being and quality of life. The best part is, the Mediterranean diet does not ban any major food groups and is not difficult or expensive to follow.

Health organizations like Oldways are a great place to begin. The organization provides resources to help consumers understand what the Mediterranean Diet is, why it is good for you, and how to shop for and cook healthy Mediterranean meals. For more information Download their 8 simple steps you can start following a Mediterranean Diet today.

Here are some additional suggestions on how to get to started. You may find these simple steps to be easier and more manageable than you thought.

1. Print out a copy of the Mediterranean diet pyramid and post in your kitchen.

It helps to visually to compare and contrast the Mediterranean diet pyramid to the USDA Food Pyramid we are all used to.  In a nutshell the Mediterranean diet pyramid emphasizes fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices; eating fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week; enjoying poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation.

Compared to the USDA, the Mediterranean Pyramid contains much smaller amounts of red meat, sweets (fruits are eaten as sweets) and dairy but allows for more in-take of healthy fats and oils.

Another difference is that the Mediterranean Food pyramid is structured to demonstrate what is recommended on a monthy, weekly and daily basis while the USDA just describes the daily intake.

mediterranean-diet-can-it-work-to-help-you-lose-weight-800x866

2. Eat breakfast every day no matter how busy you are.

You have heard it before but breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The reasons to eat breakfast every day are seemingly endless. Studies have linked a healthy breakfast with lower rates of obesity, more energy throughout the day, and better productivity. A breakfast packed with fruits, whole grains, and other fiber-rich foods are a great way to start your day, just do it.

3. Understand the difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats.

Monounsaturated fats found in ingredients such as extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, sunflower seeds, olives, and avocados and polyunsaturated fats found in sunflower, safflower, soybean, and corn oil are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health.

Overconsumption of saturated fats and trans fats can increase your risk of disease and elevate cholesterol, so consume these in moderation. Click here to learn more about the differences in fats.

Join the millions who have adopted “Meatless Mondays” into our weekly meal planning or simply pick a day where you build meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables. Once you are comfortable with making vegetarian meals, try two nights a week. Don’t substitute cheese for meat- this defeats the purpose!

5. Pack in as many vegetables as possible into your meals.

Load up sandwiches, omelets, soups, pizza, etc with fresh herbs and vegetables. Look for recipes packed with vegetables like this Italian Farro Minestrone soup made with our Roasted Red Peppers and Caramelized Onions, or Indian Summer Palette Salad with mixed greens, red onion, basil, Kalamata Olives, Garlic Stuffed Olives, and Roma tomatoes.

6. Reduce your meat intake. 

Numerous reports have shown that Americans eat more meat than any other nation. In fact, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)  says the average every America consumes nearly 200 pounds of meat each year.

We are not saying NO MEAT, but reducing the amount of saturated fats and trans fats found in meat products could have a positive impact on your health.  The Mediterranean diet allows you to have meat, but it encourages smaller amounts and leaner cuts. Save the red meat for special occasions.

7. Eat seafood twice a week.

Fish such as tuna, salmon, herring, and sardines are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and shellfish like mussels, oysters, and clams have similar benefits for brain and heart health. Try new fish recipes like this one for Encrusted Salmon with Olive Pesto using our Kalamata Olives.

8. Make it a goal to sit down at the family table for dinner on a consistent basis.

In most cultures, meal time is a pleasurable experience with good foods and drinks, well prepared and consumed with pleasure, in the company of family and friends.

For many of us, the demands of our schedule make it difficult if not impossible to enjoy regular family meals together.…however it is important for our health and the health of your children. In recent years, researchers have linked regular family dinners with lower the rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents, lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher grade-point averages and self-esteem.   Visit thefamilydinnerproject.org for tips on how to bring your family  back to the table for dinner.

9.  GET MOVING.

Go for a walk even if it just around the block.  Play with your kids, go dancing, do yoga, go for a run, do a zumba class, go hiking, ride a bicycle, lift weights…whatever your exercise preference is..DO IT!  Commit yourself to getting at least 20-30 minutes a day!  Get off the couch or the computer and move!

Mediterranean products that have been enjoyed for generations are now available in an all-natural line. We, at Jeff’s Naturals, have been working for years striving to perfect this product line and we finally have it. We are pleased to offer a line free of preservatives, stablilizers, artificial colors, flavors and sulfites. Browse our collection of recipes created exclusively to highlight our all natural line of products. Some are old family favorites and others are modern takes on Mediterranean classics. Jeff’s Naturals products are convenient and add color and loads of flavor to any meal.

Article resources:
oldwayspt.org
health.usnews.com