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What Is The Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan?
The Mediterranean is a beautiful place to visit and if you’ve ever been there then you know exactly what I’m talking about. What’s just as good (and maybe even better) than the scenery is the food. Their food is not only delicious, but it’s VERY good for you. It’s highly nutritious and contains high levels of MUFAs which help target fat. With an active lifestyle and the Mediterranean diet, you can lose weight and actually enjoy doing it!
So, what is the Mediterranean diet meal plan? The diet itself focuses on fresh pastas, fish, lean vegetables, and sources of monounsaturated fats like nuts and olive oil. This type of food is not only good for burning fat but it’s also extremely good for your heart as it’s chock full of omega-3s.
The Diet Principles
This diet focuses NOT on counting calories and not on what foods are best to eat, but HOW to eat. The Mediterranean lifestyle focuses on the PLEASURES of food. It’s meant to be savored and enjoyed. It’s not just something you do to overcome hunger. Most American diets focus on trying to keep you full while you eat food that’s processed or completely void of flavor. The Mediterranean diet focuses on food as a passion. And this diet does not include foods you might think. There are no gyros like you’ll find at your local Greek restaurant.
You also won’t find any 7-inch thick, high fat cheese covered lasagnas like you’ll find at the Olive Garden or another “Italian” style restaurant. The focus is instead, on peasant type foods. It may sound weird but this is actually much better tasting and much, MUCH, better for you than the type of Mediterranean foods that you’re used to.
The Mediterranean diet meal plan focuses on eating foods that are rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, nuts, and healthy oils. This makes it not only delicious and super-healthy, but also inexpensive. The peasant diet was created by, and still made today, by people who don’t have a lot of money. So they had to make meals out of what they could afford or what they could grow themselves. So what you have are beautiful meals created out of just a few choice ingredients. It’s actually quite remarkable how many completely different tasing meals you can make out of 3 or 4 ingredients.
What To Eat On The Mediterranean Diet
Basically, for this type of diet you’ll want to make a list of the essentials that you should keep in your pantry and your refrigerator. If you have these essentials on hand then you’ll only need a few ingredients here and there to make different dishes.
The essentials are: Couscous, extra-virgin olive oil, fish (frozen white fish can work), fruits (in season, fresh, and organic), Greek yogurt, nuts (almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews), pasta (penne, farfalle, spaghetti, linguine, fusilli, orrechiette, rigatoni, lasagna, capellini), polenta, vegetables (leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers (red and green), eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, mushrooms, peas, onion, garlic) herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage) and cheese (parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino, mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, fontina).
This may seem like a lot and you certainly don’t have to rush out and buy it all at once. That would be very expensive. Just collect it over time buying it when you need it and you’ll eventually get into the groove and you’ll know what you need when you need it. Also, once you have the spices and the cheeses the rest of the ingredients are pretty cheap. The mediterranean diet is not expensive at all. You can find most of the pastas at your local super-market for around a dollar a pound.
When you follow this diet you want to make sure the foods you buy are fresh. Look for vegetables that are grown organically and nearby if possible. This diet makes going to the farmer’s market a real treat. I love getting together a few recipes for the week and then going to the farmer’s market with a list of vegetables that I need.
With this diet you get to add loads of flavor to your meals with onion, garlic, basil, oregano and other herbs and vegetables. You get to include nuts, beans, lasagna, soups, hummus, salads, and more. You include fish, chicken, cheese and yogurt to get plenty of protein and you use olive oil to add flavor and heart healthy omega-3s and monounsaturated fat which helps slim down your belly.
This diet does not include desserts. For dessert you should stick with fresh fruit. Try keeping a fruit bowl full of delicious fruits in the refrigerator and when the meal is over set it out on the table. You’ll find that it’s much more satisfying than pie, cake, or cookies and it won’t leave you feeling guilty.