Mediterranean Cooking with Oils, Proteins, and Vegetables
The Mediterranean diet is being touted as the fresh and fabulous method for pursuing long term weight maintenance and general good health. Connecting the average American with a good sense of what it means to be Mediterranean can be tough, as most of them are familiar with the pizza and pasta or hummus and pita, and very little else. Getting a practical hold on what makes up this diet can be tough, and there are some guidelines that help the novice work their Mediterranean cooking repertoire from dabbler to daring traveler in no time.
Olive oil is the cornerstone of the diet, gracing both salad and skillet alike. Replacing butter, olive oil even graces whole grain bread as the condiment of choice, particularly in combination with balsamic vinegar.
Protein choices for the Mediterranean diet are poultry, seafood, beans, and nuts. Red meat is consumed rarely. Adding 2 meals of fish to one's diet is a great way to begin to tackle this dietary change. Red meat should be eaten only occasionally and in a small portion of about 4 ounces.
Other red meat such as beef or pork products, particularly pancetta or bacon is used in the Mediterranean diet as a seasoning rather than a staple. In fact, the addition of lightly caramelized pancetta to white beans in a stew, or a puree is an excellent way to get a big bang out of a very small red meat addition.
Veggies are the absolute core of the Mediterranean diet. Green salads grace nearly every meal, and a huge variety of fresh produce, varied to delight the eye, the palate, and the nutritional needs of the body, vegetables may be the most difficult part of any given Mediterranean diet beginner. It takes time and effort to keep fresh produce, particularly when a variety is desired, in the house. The effort is very much worthwhile, as the health benefits are huge and the portioning of this part of each meal is generous.
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