Monday, July 28, 2008

Eating As the Mediterraneans Do

It seems like the Mediterranean Diet is popping up everywhere. It is not really a gimmick diet in the way of the low-carb craze or these crazy diets your see mentioned on those Weight Watchers commercials. It's not really even a diet in the way of drastically changing what you eat to lose weight. It IS, however, a diet in the way of "the diet" of a certain people. The folks who live around the Mediterranean Sea have been living and eating the way they do for a long time. The way any certain number of people eat according to their culture and locality is defined as one's diet. That is what the Mediterranean Diet is all about... Look at the way people of the Mediterranean countries eat: I've seen many blogs and even videos on YouTube speaking of the importance of eating the way they do. Lots of pasta, lots of beans, fruits and veggies, and less meat than the average American is used to eating. There are supposedly studies that show that the people who live in Mediterranean countries have better heart health and live the longest.
I was definitely raised the way many were by way of dinner containing a meat, a starch, and a veggie. We always had meat. Always... even on our pasta. We usually had potatoes or bread, and then there were the veggies, which, especially as children, we ate the least of.

Since becoming an adult and more aware of treating my body better, making better food choices, and eating cheaper, I've began the transition to what I've realized is classified as the "Mediterranean Diet." I began eating pasta for lunch because it was cheaper and easier than making myself something else. (Deli-meat is surprisingly expensive unless you get the overly processed chunks of mystery meat.) Top Ramen doesn't count as pasta by the way, as it's loaded with salt and fat and other artificial things I've been trying to stay away from. I mentioned some videos by Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman a while back, talking about the importance of eating "true" food (foods on the perimeter of the grocery store), and not eating meat from wasteful (and sometimes cruel) factory farms.
Pasta and beans are some of the cheapest things you can get for your money, make them stretch the farthest, and give you the most nutrition-bang for your buck. I've began eating lentils, chickpeas, and brown rice almost daily. I'm also fond of pasta (I prefer whole-wheat pasta, but budget doesn't always allow), and I try to throw in whatever veggies I have. One thing I've discovered is legumes and pasta together. I've discovered that hummus is a wonderful topping/sauce for pasta. I've experimented with lima beans and pasta, green beans and pasta, and chickpeas and pasta.
My favorite pasta/bean combo so far is this one I make with chickpeas, zucchini, and of course pasta. The silky texture of the zucchini and the firm texture of the chickpeas is just delicious. I'm submitting this to Lore over at Culinarty for her monthly Original Recipes Roundup... check it out.

Mediterranean Pasta Toss
print recipe only here

  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch thick half-moons
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can whole tomatoes (about 6-8 tomatoes)
  • 1 cup farfalle pasta, cooked (2 oz uncooked)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • fresh basil, for garnish
Boil water. Cook pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Saute garlic until fragrant or about a minute. Toss in zucchini, cook until the undersides begin to caramelize, then toss to coat with olive oil/garlic. Add chickpeas and oregano, then reduce heat to medium. With your hand, crush tomatoes into pan. Add cooked pasta and toss for another minute to mix. Sprinkle with torn basil and cracked pepper.
Serve hot as a meal side or cold as a pasta salad.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
Bookmark and Share


Kevin said...

That pasta toss sounds simple and good. I have been enjoying various beans and whole grains more recently.

Mimi said...

Looks delish!

Lore said...

I've been eating the Mediterranean way since well as long as I can remember :)...I can't imagine switching to a different way of eating. Your pasta toss makes me hungry, delicious!
Thanks for sending it my way :D

Shorty said...

Thanks for your comment - yes the meditarranean "way" is quite beautiful. I am married to an Italian man, and I myself grew up with the same way of eating.

Slow, enjoy, chew, talk...appreciate.

Neen said...

I think the thing that makes the Mediterrean dishes so special is how many vegetables they manage to incorporate into their diet, and how yummy they are. In Italy, for example, their pasta dishes will use half the amount of pasta that ours do, but more than twice the amount of veggies. The pasta is almost an afterthought compared to the yummy, fresh veg! That said, it seems a lot easier to eat Mediterrean in the summer rather than in the winter!

kittie said...

Lovely pasta dish - and I applaud you on your drive for 'good' eating :)

Jescel said...

mediterranean food is not only good but healthy as well, and generally simple to prepare.. what's not to like? i made my own version not too long ago, so check it out if you've time... your pasta is good... yummy.

Corinne said...

Kevin - Whole grains are definitely the way to go

Mimi - Thanks! Glad to see you!

Lore - Thanks, I can't wait for your roundup!

Shorty - Thanks for coming MY way :) You are lucky to have that influence in your life... it really is nice and relaxing.

Neen - It's amazing how much we 'americanize' everything and screw it up lol.

Kittie - Thanks! And thanks for stopping by :)

Jescel - I agree, love the simpleness of it all! Thanks for coming by!

Ivy said...

Corinee, you did a lovely post about Mediterranean Diet or better Nutrition. I try and follow this diet as much as possible but some times I get tempted to make some new things and today I posted cupcakes (butter) which I made for the first time. Olive oil is the secret of Mediterranean diet, I rarely use anything else than olive oil. Your pasta dish sounds wonderful. I never tried pasta with legumes before but I like the idea.

nancysrecipes said...

The pasta looks and sounds delish!

tallmisto said...

I love Mediterranean food and try to eat as close to their pyramid as possible. I think I'm supposed to live in Greece, in one of those nifty houses on the cliffs. And eat all day, and sail about.

Oh well, since I'm here and not on a island near the sea, I want this book

Everything in it sounds wonderful!!

Tom Aarons said...

That pasta does look delicious. And healthy too!