May is National Mediterranean Diet Mon
National Mediterranean Diet Month is the perfect time to try a different approach to healthy eating. The Mediterranean Diet is recommended as a healthy eating plan by the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and is ranked as 2021’s Best Overall Diet by U.S. News and World Report for the fourth consecutive year. This plan is not a strict calorie-counting regimen, but a way of eating that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, whole grains, legumes, fish, and healthy fats. If you‘d like your family to enjoy the healthful benefits of Mediterranean meals, these easy tips can get you started.
Dish up the Dairy
Low-fat dairy is a flavorful part of meals and snacks on the Mediterranean diet, due to its versatility and variety. Strong-flavored cheeses like feta or parmesan in small portions can add flavor to your plate. Enjoy plain, fermented, or Greek yogurt as well as low fat milk, ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Dairy foods provide essential nutrients, including 8 grams of protein per serving. It’s important to pair protein with other foods at meals and snacks to keep you fuller for longer, and adding dairy will do just that.
Color Your Plate with Fruits and Veggies
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks, which calls for a little creativity. Add spinach and mushrooms to a feta cheese omelet, blend fresh fruit with Greek yogurt, milk and ice for a quick smoothie, or enjoy an apple with mozzarella cheese instead of crackers. Dairy compliments fruits and vegetables, and can be a great way to sneak in extra servings, along with the additional nutrients that dairy provides.
Fill Up On Fiber
Fiber found in whole grains and legumes provides many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. If you are growing tired of the same high fiber bread, swap it out for brown rice, bulgur, pinto beans or chickpeas. Ancient grains, such as quinoa, amaranth, millet, farro, and spelt each have different tastes and textures and can be an ingredient in many recipes. If these foods are new to you, try a different variety each month as part of family meal planning.