Eat Like a Greek for a Healthy Heart | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 March 2013 14:58

The Mediterranean Diet

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A five-year clinical study has found that, among high-risk people, nearly a third of strokes, heart attacks and deaths could be prevented by switching to the Mediterranean diet.

The findings were published last week on the website of The New England Journal of Medicine.

For some time, researchers had been aware that people from Mediterranean countries seemed to have lower rates of heart disease, but the results of the just-concluded study even startled the experts.

Residents of Greece eat very little red meat and average nine servings a day of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of the traditional cooking style of Greece and other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Its key components include getting plenty of exercise, eating plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, legumes and nuts, replacing butter with a splash of flavorful olive oil, using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods, limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month, eating fish and poultry at least twice a week, and perhaps a glass of red wine.

GREEK SALAD

1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried and chopped

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 (6-oz) can pitted black olives

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 cucumber, sliced

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 lemon, juiced

Ground black pepper to taste

In a large salad bowl, combine the Romaine, onion, olives, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and cheese.

Whisk together the olive oil, oregano, lemon juice and black pepper. Pour dressing over salad, toss and serve. Serves 6.

MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup diced onion

3 cups tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup white wine

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup kalamata olives

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and 2 tablespoons white wine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and sauté about 4 to 6 minutes each side, until golden. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

Sauté garlic in pan drippings for 30 seconds, then add onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil.

Lower heat, add 1/2 cup white wine and simmer for 10 minutes. Add thyme and basil, and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Return chicken to skillet and cover. Cook over low heat until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside. Add olives and parsley to the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Yields 6 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 222 Cal., 6.2g Fat, 68mg Chol., 7.2g Carb., 1.6g Fiber, 268g Sodium.

MEDITERRANEAN GRILLED FISH

4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 (5-oz) salmon fillets (or swordfish, halibut, sea bass)

Cracked black pepper, to taste

4 green olives, chopped

4 thin slices lemon

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill or broiler. 

Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source.

In a small bowl, combine the basil, parsley, minced garlic and lemon juice. Spray the fish with cooking spray. Sprinkle with black pepper. Top each fillet with equal amounts of the basil-garlic mixture.

Place the fish herb-side down on the grill. Grill over high heat. When the edges turn white, after about 3 to 4 minutes, turn the fish over and place on aluminum foil. Move the fish to a cooler part of the grill or reduce the heat. Grill until the fish is opaque throughout when tested with the tip of a knife and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish reads 145°F (about 4 minutes longer). Remove the salmon and place on warmed plates. Garnish with green olives and lemon slices. Serves 4.

Nutritional information per serving: 183 Cal., 9g Fat, 1.5g Sat. Fat, 78mg Chol., 105mg Sodium.

BAKED FALAFEL

1 /4 cup chopped onion

1 (15-oz) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons olive oil

Wrap onion in cheese cloth and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Set aside.

Place garbanzo beans, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and baking soda in a food processor. Process until the mixture is coarsely puréed. Mix garbanzo bean mixture and onion together in a bowl. Stir in the flour and egg. Shape mixture into four large patties and let stand for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Place the patties in the skillet; cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer skillet to the preheated oven and bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serves 2.

Nutritional information per serving: 281 Cal., 9.3g Fat, 106mg. Chol., .2g Fiber,  909mg Sodium.

PASTA WITH SPINACH & RAISINS

8 ounces bow-tie pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 (19-oz) can garbanzos, rinsed and drained

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth

1/2 cup golden raisins

4 cups fresh spinach, chopped

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Cracked black peppercorns

Fill a large pot 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender), 10 to 12 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain the pasta thoroughly.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Add the garbanzos and chicken broth. Stir until warmed through. Add the raisins and spinach. Heat just until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. Don’t overcook.

Divide the pasta among the plates. Top each serving with 1/6 of the sauce, 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese and peppercorns to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

 

 


 

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