Easy Mediterranean "How-To" Menu

Many people look to the New Year as a time to shed weight, but they ultimately come to realize that no single food or meal plan is the solution for everyone. A good weight loss strategy is to incorporate healthy food choices along with lifestyle changes to make weight loss and maintenance a lifelong process.

To find a healthy menu and diet plan, incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables, fewer processed foods and more heart-healthy alternatives. And if you’re like many busy professionals who work and are raising a family you need to find a menu that is not only delicious but also easy to prepare.

A Mediterranean-inspired diet and lifestyle is one that is easy to jump right into and requires little fancy food preparation or culinary skills other than learning to incorporate extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and herb mixtures to enhance the flavor of the foods you’re preparing. Foods, like clothing, can come in and out of style so we want to share a few of the newest foods gaining attention this year!

One of the foods that has become the darling of the culinary set and one that can easily be incorporated into your meals is kale. Foodies have embraced this green leafy vegetable for its flavonoids (which protect your heart) and its lutein (which works to prevent cancer). Kale regulates a woman’s estrogen levels and stimulates the supply of milk for nursing women. It is also a great vegetable for children as it provides a great supply of folic acid.

Black garlic is also gaining in popularity in high-end kitchens. Black garlic can be substituted into any recipe that calls for garlic. This garlic doesn’t have the pungent odor associated with regular garlic, which means you can use it in your favorite recipes and not have to worry about carrying the smell of garlic with you for the rest of the day. As a bonus, black garlic has more than double the amount of antioxidants in regular garlic!

A great source of calcium has always been yogurt and in many circles Greek yogurt is being praised for its calcium content. It also has fewer calories and less sodium than traditional yogurts. While Greek yogurt may be more “sour” to the palate than other yogurts, many people find that drizzling honey into plain yogurt and tossing in some fresh fruit amps up the flavor. O&CO. has several gourmet honeys from which to choose. Greek yogurt, because it’s creamier and thicker than other types, also works well in recipes. Use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream when making dips and sauces.

Choose any one, or all three foods that are trending for 2012 and you’ll be among the many culinary experts that are adding flavor and healthy ingredients to their menu offerings.