The easiest way to get started on the Mediterranean diet is to replace one meal a day with a plant-based or grain-based choice, experts to say. We made it easy for you by asking CNN staff member Rahaf Al Bochi, a registered nutritionist and founder of Olive Tree Nutrition, to create these Mediterranean inspired Recipes for every meal of the day, along with snacks and dessert.
We even added a recipe that is sure to entice your kids to eat the healthy Mediterranean way, a brunch suggestion, and tips on prep and cooking and freezing. Enjoy!
Breakfast is an easy introduction to Mediterranean cuisine. Enjoy a warm and filling ancient grain, topped with yoghurt, fruit and honey. Alternatively, you can limit yourself to Greek yogurt, which contains twice as much protein and half as much sugar, for the same calories as regular yogurt, topped with fresh fruit, berries and a pinch of nuts.
Try this version to take your yogurt breakfast to a new level. It’s a unique combination of whipped Greek yogurt with cardamom, vanilla, medjool dates, and pistachios.
RECIPE: Whipped Greek yogurt with cardamom, dates and pistachios
Lunch is another great meal to replace with a Mediterranean option. For example, eating a grain- or legume-based salad will help raise blood sugar slowly and give your brain the energy it needs to get through the day. It also reduces overeating at night.
This beautiful farro salad is filled to the brim with vegetables, sprinkled with Greek feta and drizzled with vinaigrette.
RECIPE: Warm Farro Grain Salad with Pomegranate
Studies have shown that few of us eat enough nuts, a great source of heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Packed with protein, nuts are a great snack choice as long as you are careful with your portions – they can be high in calories. this Almond snack contains the Mediterranean spice mixture Za’atar.
Za’atar varies by culture, but it is generally a combination of toasted sesame, dried oregano, and thyme or marjoram, along with the tart, tangy Mediterranean spice sumac.
RECIPE: Za’atar and rosemary flavored roasted almonds
The use of red and processed meat is rare in traditional cuisine Mediterranean diet, but fish and other seafood (which are good for your brain) are consumed at least twice a week. Try for your culinary pleasure this recipe made from salmon with roasted grape salsa, a colorful mix of roasted red grapes, red peppers, green peppers, red onions, lemon juice and coriander.RECIPE: Salmon with Roasted Grape Salsa
You might think you’re going to enjoy Mediterranean delicacies like baklava, tiramisu, cannoli, gelato, flan, and creme brulee, but these are only kept occasionally special delicacies in many countries around the Mediterranean.
Instead, think of fresh fruit, whole, sliced or grilled, or a healthy combination of whole grain muesli with ricotta and freshly grated orange peel.
RECIPE: Strawberry Ricotta Granola Parfaits
A giant meze platter is usually served as a starter in the Mediterranean, but you can repurpose this eye-catching spread as a festive brunch. Assemble small Bowls with hummus and baba ghanoush – or dip with roasted eggplant – together with fresh figs and dried dates, raw vegetables, yogurt dip, cheese and warm pita slices.
Fried or stuffed vegetables are another brunch choice, along with casseroles. Native to North Africa, Shakshuka is a staple food used by Middle Eastern countries such as Israel and Palestine that can feed a crowd. This one-pan dish is usually a mix of tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and spices with poached eggs.
It can be cooked with a variety of vegetables, and Al Bochi’s green version picks up on the regional favorite by using spinach with fresh basil.
RECIPE: Green Shakshuka with Basil and Roasted Pine Nuts
Prepare and freeze
If you want to cook on the weekend and freeze for the weeks ahead – or have ideas to start with – you’re in luck. Many Mediterranean foods can be prepared or frozen without any problems. Whole grain products can be prepared in large quantities in a slow cooker and frozen in individual portions for breakfast or later added to soups and salads.
This freshly cooked, freezable breakfast – jam-packed with veggies and some feta – is a breeze to prep ahead for a busy morning or a protein snack for lunch.
RECIPE: Vegetable Frittata Egg Muffins
Worried that the little ones won’t like Mediterranean cuisine? Don’t worry – try these fun and healthy pita pizzas. Cut the black olives into round eyes and bend the roasted pepper strips into a smile – the spinach makes great hair!
RECIPE: Mediterranean flatbread pizza
PS Adults will also love the delicious creations.
Cook it! Grab your creation and then share it with #plateitpostit. You could be in one of the upcoming stories!