National Nutrition Month: Get your plate in shape… the Mediterranean way.

March is National Nutrition Month. It’s a nutrition education and information campaign created annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). This year’s theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape”. The basic idea is to manage your diet by thinking what goes on your plate with some simple tips. What is so great about the Greek-Mediterranean diet is the fact that it is really easy to “Get your plate in shape” without thinking about it too much. Let’s see how:

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
One thing the Mediterranean diet is known for is the abundance of vegetables. In fact sometimes the vegetables make up almost the whole plate, as is the case with the Greek vegetable casseroles ladera that consist of vegetables cooked with olive oil, tomato and herbs. Greeks cook their vegetables and consume them as a main course with some cheese and bread. Check out some easy recipes using fresh or frozen vegetables.

Vary your protein sources.
This is definitely easy to do with the Mediterranean diet. Traditionally, small amounts of red meat or chicken are consumed once a week. The rest of the week seafood and beans were the protein sources on the table. Greeks consumed small fish such as sardines and anchovies, which you can find them canned in your local grocery store. But salmon and tuna, even though not traditionally found in Greece are also great choices. Beans are prominent in the Greek diet; they were consumed at least 2 times a week. Try them in salads, baked, in soups, and yes-canned beans are OK too.

Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars.
Once you start eating more “real”, less processed foods you automatically cut down on sodium, unknown fats and added sugar.  One way to cut down on solid fats is by using olive oil for all your cooking, and yes it is more than OK to fry with olive oil, although you shouldn’t be frying all that much anyway.

Some more of my Mediterranean diet inspired tips to help you “Get your plate in Shape”

  • Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  • Add plenty of antioxidant-rich herbs and spices to your dishes.
  • Try to avoid pre-packaged, ready to eat meals.

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