Easy Mediterranean "How-To" Menu

Bookshelves and Internet sites are replete with information on various diets and cooking methods and you will see dozens of cookbooks that tout the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. You’ve heard how heart-healthy a Mediterranean diet is but you worry that you don’t have the time to read all the cookbooks, re-learn how to shop for the right ingredients for the recipes and above all find the time to learn a new style of both cooking and eating.

The beauty of “eating Mediterranean” is that you don’t have to learn a completely new way of cooking and eating because with the Mediterranean diet you’re actually getting back to a more natural, less processed, and a more fruit and vegetable based lifestyle.

Here are a few pointers from O&CO., purveyors of fine Mediterranean cuisine, and recipes to get you started on a healthier eating plan for both you and your family.

Rather than loading up on heavy meals at breakfast time, a Mediterranean diet is much lighter. Consider adding fresh berries into plain yogurt and drizzling it with one of the flavorful honeys available from O&CO. Adding in a few spoonful’s of an unsweetened granola amps up the crunch and protein. There’s also no reason you can’t enjoy a Mediterranean-inspired scrambled egg breakfast. Take two eggs, add red and green peppers, sliced olives, onions, sun-dried tomatoes and a crumble of feta once it’s done cooking. Top the meal off with a piece of crusty bread spread with extra virgin olive oil. Boiled eggs, a handful of grapes, a wedge of hard cheese and a slice of toast spread with lavender honey is another great option.

When it comes to lunchtime, it should be the biggest meal of the day. Regardless of whether you’re packing your lunch for work or eating your lunch at home, you can pack yourself a quick and easy, yet delicious, Mediterranean lunch that will fill you up for the afternoon while still offering a healthy alternative. Make a salad with spinach, romaine, spring vegetable mixes and radicchio. Amp up the flavor of the meal by adding in crumbled cheese, chopped egg, carrots, tomatoes, anchovies, capers, slices of avocado and nuts. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top. A few cubes of hard cheese is a great way to add protein to your lunch. A perfect meal-ender can be a square of a high quality bittersweet or fine dark chocolate or a Torrone, otherwise known as nougat. Take the time to savor it – especially if you’re eating at your desk.

After a long day at work, you have precious little time to prepare a large meal and that’s why it’s important to eat a hearty lunch so that your dinner preparation can be simple. Boil up some of the delicious, hearty whole wheat pastas that are available from O&CO. Whole wheat pasta topped with olive oil and parmesan cheese is a quick and easy, yet heart healthy meal to prepare. Toss in some sun dried tomatoes, capers, anchovies or even grilled salmon or chicken to add to the protein of the meal. If you make enough you can take it for lunch the next day.

Grilling chicken or fish that’s been seasoned with olive oil and one of the flavorful sea salt and herb mixtures available at O&CO. is a meal that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Add a small salad or steamed fresh broccoli, cauliflower or brussel sprouts to the meal or even a side dish of couscous or wild rice.

The way you eat is equally as important as what you eat. If you’re taking the time to purchase fresh, flavorful foods and spending time in their preparation, you should sit down and truly savor the meals. One of the true beauties of the Mediterranean Diet and its meals is that they are meant to be savored, not simply eaten.