The Mediterranean diet is a widely recognised as a healthy and delicious way to eat. With 22 countries bordering the Mediterranean, each with their own cuisine, you might be wondering what exactly this rather general description means.
Let’s start by looking at its key ingredients. An abundance and variety of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables are one of the basics. Grains and grain products include rice, oats, barley, pasta and couscous. Legumes are a rich source of vegetable protein. Indeed, one of the key characteristics of the Mediterranean diet is that it mostly consists of plant-based food. Red meat is limited to only a few times a month, whilst fish and poultry is eaten a couple of times a week. Healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts are favoured, and considered to make a difference in lowering the risk of heart disease. Other components emphasised include using herbs and spices to flavour food instead of salt, and limiting higher-fat dairy foods such as cheese, butter and cream.
The dietary and lifestyle patterns certainly differ in countries such as Italy, Lebanon, Greece and Syria, to name just a few of the shores touches by Mediterranean waters. Historically, each culture has made its contribution to what is now generally identified as typically Mediterranean.
One thing you’ll certainly have already noticed about Spanish cuisine is an abundance of olives, as an aperitif before a meal, an ingredient in the main dish, or a among a selection of tapas. Food is often fried in olive oil, from seafood and shellfish to local seasonal specialties such as fried artichoke and eggplant. The best way to experience the variety of flavours in the Spanish cuisine is with a selection of tapas in a traditional restaurant. And of course, the secret ingredient of a healthy Mediterranean diet? To take your time and relax whilst savouring each meal in good company!