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Gone are the days where meat is the regular main dish on the table. Produce is often the most lacking part in the American diet, but eating the Mediterranean way reverses that order. When an individual decides to make produce their primary source of nutrients, the first worry is if they will be getting enough protein. This worry is without cause as long proper meal planning is integrated. Nuts contain omega-3s with legumes and tofu proving to be excellent sources of protein. Low-fat dairy options such as cheese and yogurt are also available in the daily “quota” of traditional Mediterranean dining.
Whole grains should be consumed daily. Helping to break monotony is the fact that whole grains come in a wide variety, such as bread, pasta, cereal, quinoa, rice, and various other forms. Six to seven small meals are recommended, with additions of vegetables, fruit, legumes, seeds, and nuts. These “additions” can double as snacks or meals unto themselves. The above are all great sources of fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals.
While this daily “quota” in the Mediterranean diet includes low-fat dairy, meat should not be seen as either a main dish or eaten daily.
Certain low-fat dairies such as mozzarella cheese should be part of a weekly diet rather than a daily one. Meat should be regarded the same, being primarily utilized as an extravagant meal enhancer. Portions that are small and weekly make it possible to appease both the palate and heart health. While technically a meat, fish can be consumed in larger amounts. The reason why six to eight ounces of fish can be eaten weekly and other meats are strongly recommended otherwise comes down to two main reasons. Fish provide large amounts of omega-3s while being low in saturated fats. High cholesterol and increased heart disease risk is the main reason why most meats are placed as side dishes and savory enhancers. After all, in keeping with the traditional Mediterranean way of eating, food is consumed to nourish body and soul, gourmet gifts set the ambience.
Eggs, poultry, veal, lean pork, lean red meat, and high-fat red meat are placed in descending order of the amount consumed in the traditional Mediterranean diet quota. Eggs can be consumed up to four times a week and high-fat red meats such as prime rib once monthly or less. While the near-exclusion of meat may seem daunting at first, it is easier in practice. In fact, you can easily consume less animal products in a month than the Mediterranean diet quota allows for within a week’s time. As with any habit, the Mediterranean way of eating soon becomes automatic.
Instead of using large amounts of butter or margarine, use olive oil instead, although it wouldn’t hurt to treat yourself to a little butter. However, olive oil consumption should not be a problem as long as you remember to drizzle, not pour.
High-fat and sugary desserts should be limited to once a month and replaced with the natural sweetness of fruit.
Even so, the notorious American sweet tooth is not so easily sated some days. In this case, two options are available. Some ready-to-eat cereal bars are pure in that they contain less chemicals. Lacking partially hydrogenated oils and being sweetened with artificial sweeteners, some cereal bars are sweetened with brown sugar, molasses, and maple syrup. While these cereal bars are good alternatives to other sweets, there is a naturally sweet vegetable that may satisfy you more fully. This vegetable is nature’s candy, also known as a sweet potato or yam. For peak sweetness, cook the sweet potato at four hundred degrees for about twenty minutes. Additional time may be required for large individual potatoes or a full pan. You will know the potato is done when it easily flakes with a fork. Top with honey, a splash of coconut milk, and cinnamon for an extra savory treat.
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Tags Mediterranean Diet, Olive Oil