The Mediterranean Diet is a meal plan that is based on the natural eating habits of Southern Mediterranean cultures. The countries of Greece, Italy and Spain eat a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish, pasta, bread, wine, eggs, salad and whole grains. Meats are limited on this diet. The Mediterranean Diet has become popular in recent years because research shows that a diet rich in heart healthy oils and fats, such as the monosaturated fats found in olive oil and the omega-3 fatty acids found in certain fish, can help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, individuals who follow this diet appear to naturally maintain a healthy body weight. Below is a sample meal plan for individuals following the Mediterranean Diet.
For a morning meal, enjoy a cup of bran flakes with ½ cup of low fat or fat free milk. Top this bowl of cereal with ¼ cup of mixed berries, 1 tbsp raisins and 1 tsp of flaxseed.
For lunch, enjoy a Greek salad composed of ¼ endive, ½ sliced tomato, ¼ sliced yellow pepper and ¼ sliced cucumber. Top this salad with a dressing made by blending ½ tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp flax seed oil, ½ tbsp Greek yogurt and 1 tsp oregano together. Top with 2 olives and 2 tbsp feta cheese and enjoy.
For an afternoon snack, try a refreshing melon prosciutto salad. For this quick and easy lunch, boil 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Allow to reduce by half and cool. Serve sauce over ¼ of a cantaloupe with 1 slice of prosciutto and 1 fig, halved. Season with salt and pepper, if desire.
For dinner, try a filling and indulgent tasting chicken breast with wild mushrooms. Simply heat ½ tsp of olive oil in a small sauté pan over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook in the sauté pan until brown on both sides, approximately three minutes per side. Add ½ minced shallot, 1 small garlic clove minced, 2 tbsp red wine and 2 tbsp chicken stock. Reduce heat and cook covered for 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan and keep warm. Add 2 tbsp chicken stock to the pan along with ½ tsp olive oil, 3 oz sliced mushrooms, 3 oz chestnuts and 1 tsp parsley. Sauté until mushrooms are soft. Serve sauce over chicken.
Dessert tonight includes a low fat but high protein fig compote with yogurt. Simply peel 1 fig and cut in half-length wise. In a small saucepan, add ¼ cup orange juice, 1 tbsp minced lemon peel and 1 tbsp minced orange peel. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the fig and 1 tbsp of honey to the mixture. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow mixture to cool. Serve over 2 oz low fat yogurt topped with 1 tsp chopped walnuts.
This free sample meal plan includes approximately 1,500 calories. It features healthy fats and an array of essential nutrients and vitamins.