Over the years, I have looked for a cookbook to recommend to my clients to make it easy to adopt the Mediterranean diet. Our team at Prevention magazine has created the perfect compilation of the Mediterranean diet recipes for every meal, and you can trust that the recipes are not only nutritious but also representative of the tastes and flavors of the Mediterranean region. The following is an excerpt from Prevention Mediterranean Table: 100 Vibrant Recipes to Savor and Share for Lifelong Health (available here and at booksellers nationwide).
Watch Jennifer discuss her book and the Mediterranean Diet on STL Moms, Fox 2 News.
Twenty years ago, when I was a senior in high school, my 52-year-old father underwent a quadruple bypass surgery, and it changed my life forever. After experiencing chest pain, my father’s doctors discovered his main artery–nicknamed the “widow maker”–was 90 percent blocked. My busy, self-centered teenage life came to a halt. I faced the fact that I could lose my dad. Dad’s surgery was successful, and it brings me joy to say that my three sons have a grandfather, but that experience planted the seed that grew into my decision to become a dietitian. I believe in the power of prevention and our ability to influence our health, one forkful at a time.
While most of us know that diet plays a role in our health, we don’t always act on that knowledge. About 80 percent of chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, could be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. Every meal and snack is an opportunity to support our short- and long-term health, and yet 7 out of 10 deaths per year are due to chronic disease. In my private practice, clients frequently come to me confused and mislead by mixed messages the health world often conveys. Should they follow this or that diet? Do they need a “bad foods” vs. “good foods” list? Should they cut out entire food groups?
The truth is that they yearn for sound nutrition advice that is flexible, realistic, and proven over time. I prefer this, too. I would rather discuss nourishment and fuel, not calorie counting and nutrient categorization. If there is one way of eating or lifestyle in line with those philosophies, it is the Mediterranean diet.
I became interested in the Mediterranean diet through my research into longevity. It was clear that individuals in the Mediterranean region, in places such as Greece, Crete, Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Syria, Portugal, France, Morocco, and Lebanon, not only lived longer than Americans but also with less disease. What was it about the Mediterranean way that supported a high-quality, long life? It wasn’t hard to find the evidence. The Mediterranean diet has been the subject of thousands of studies, making it one of the most studied ways of eating. Researchers confirm that the native diet of the Mediterranean region lowers the risk of inflammatory-related diseases. Also, shifting from the standard American diet to the Mediterranean diet improves health and lowers disease risk. It has the power to both prevent and treat.
The Mediterranean diet has been the foundation of my diet and lifestyle advice, with everyday foods including olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, and herbs and weekly servings of fish, poultry, and dairy foods. My clients embrace a satisfying, healthy-fat diet rich in nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Abundant, creative use of spices and herbs adds flavor and variety in place of less healthy go-to seasonings like butter, added salt, and sugar. This diet celebrates a variety of foods as opposed to a black-and-white list that tells you to “eat this, not that.” Even meat has a place–it just isn’t the center of attention. The flexibility of the diet makes it easy to incorporate into anyone’s unique eating style.
The simple and flavorful ingredients will make you want to linger and savor your meal. It is my hope that you not only reap the benefits of the diet but also slow down and mindfully enjoy these meals with friends and family. The Mediterranean way is not rushed, emphasizing community, connection, and celebration above all else.
Over the years, I have looked for a cookbook to recommend to my clients to make it easy to adopt the Mediterranean diet. Our team at Prevention magazine has created the perfect compilation of Mediterranean recipes for every meal, and you can trust that the recipes are not only nutritious but also representative of the tastes and flavors of the Mediterranean region.
Come to our Mediterranean table. Make the choice to put more of these beneficial and delicious foods on your plate and build a long, healthy life.
Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, is a registered dietitian specializing in sports nutrition, weight management, corporate wellness, and family nutrition. She’s also an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson and a published author.