International Mediterranean Diet Month
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May is International Mediterranean Diet Month! The world of diet and nutrition can often offer confusing and conflicting information. When it comes to your health and wellness, it’s important to choose information that is supported by sound research. The Mediterranean Diet has been highly researched and is supported by doctors and nutritionists around the globe. In fact, outcomes on the benefits of eating a Mediterranean Diet have been so strong, that a group of nutrition and health professionals at NC State University designed a program entitled Med Instead of Meds. The program provides nutrition principles based on a Mediterranean way of eating that includes choosing healthier proteins and fats, eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and eating less processed foods and added sugars.
Did you know that eating the Med Way can:
- Decrease the risk of some forms of cancer
- Is more effective than a low-fat diet for weight loss in overweight and obese individuals
- Protects against cognitive decline by protecting the small blood vessels in the brain
- May improve eye health including decreasing the risk of macular degeneration
- Decreases the risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Can help manage blood pressure
- Can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as much as 30-60%
Kim Terrell, Family and Consumer Science Agent with the Clay County Cooperative Extension, is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and encourages the Mediterranean Way of eating. If you would like more information on the Mediterranean Diet or the Med Instead of Meds program, please call Kim at 828-389-6305 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit Med Instead of Meds for Mediterranean meal planning ideas and recipes. The following recipe makes a wonderful summer salad idea that can be eaten alone or as a healthy side. Enjoy!
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
A simple Chickpea Salad with feta, cucumber, and bell peppers. Fast, healthy and filled with bright Mediterranean flavors, it’s a perfect lunches or side!
SERVINGS: 8 to 10 servings (about 12 cups total)
FOR THE SALAD:
- 1/2cup finely diced red onion about 1/2 small
- 2cans reduced-sodium chickpeas (15-ounce cans), rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley about 1 bunch
- 1red bell pepper chopped
- 1orange bell pepper or yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1green bell pepper chopped
- 1/2large seedless cucumber chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1/2cup crumbled feta about 4 ounces
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2teaspoons dried oregano
- 1teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2teaspoon black pepper
- Place the onions in a bowl of cool water and let them soak while you prepare the other ingredients (this removes the harsher bite from the onions, while still giving great flavor).
- Place the chickpeas, parsley, bell peppers, cucumber, and feta in a large serving bowl.
- In a small mixing bowl or large measuring cup, stir together the dressing ingredients: olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Drain the red onions and add them to the chickpea mixture, then pour the dressing over the top. Toss to combine. If time allows, let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or enjoy immediately.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Serving ideas: This salad is lovely as is, but to transform it into a main dish, try it stuffed inside pita pockets with hummus and mashed avocado or add grilled chicken and serve it over salad greens with an extra squire of lemon juice and drizzle of olive oil.
SERVING: 1(of 8), about 1 1/2 cupsCALORIES: 169kcalCARBOHYDRATES: 21gPROTEIN: 9gFAT: 7gSATURATED FAT: 1gCHOLESTEROL: 3mgSODIUM: 466mgFIBER: 6g
Source: Well Plated