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11 Recipes to Eat While on the Mediterranean Diet

Scientists and physicians have been promoting the Mediterranean diet for several decades. What we now call the Mediterranean diet is not an actual diet plan; it is a general pattern of food consumption that developed in the Mediterranean region over the past 5,000 years (Palmer, 2013).

People living in southern Europe and North Africa developed a particular diet based on the resources locally available to them. When modern scientists investigated why people in Mediterranean countries often have longer lifespans and better health than those in Western countries, they found that these dietary patterns were a critical factor in promoting cardiovascular health.

This dietary pattern includes an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fish, while limiting consumption of red meats and added sugars. Not only is the Mediterranean diet healthy, but Mediterranean-style meals also taste great! Try the following Mediterranean diet recipes to boost your overall health and to learn what the hype is all about.

Mediterranean Diet Breakfast Recipes

A healthy breakfast on the Mediterranean diet should include some complex carbohydrates and protein (Clark, 2006). The complex carbs provide a slow release of energy that will sustain you throughout the morning. Meanwhile, adding protein to your breakfast will prevent you from getting hungry later in the day. Consider some of the following Mediterranean diet breakfast ideas.

Matcha Green Tea Pancakes

Matcha Green Tea Pancakes Recipe {gluten-free}

Nuts are naturally high in unsaturated fatty acids. In particular, they are full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (Ros & Mataix, 2006). These pancakes will start your morning off with a healthy serving of nuts, with the batter containing almond milk and the pancakes being adorned with delicious walnut and almond Greek yogurt topping. The pancakes contain just 3 tablespoons of unrefined sugar, meaning that they are naturally sweet and consistent with the Mediterranean diet.
Ingredients: Almond milk, brown rice flour, egg, sugar, coconut oil, matcha green tea powder, hemp protein powder, butter, greek yogurt, walnuts, almonds, banana chips, cranberries, golden raisins, maple syrup, cacao powder, baking powder.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 9-10 pancakes

Strawberry and Banana Overnight Oats

Strawberry and Banana Overnight Oats Recipe

Fruits are a critical part of the Mediterranean diet, providing essential vitamins and minerals. This overnight oats recipe comes together easily, with rolled oats soaking up the naturally sweet strawberry and banana mixture. Chopped walnuts and chia seeds add bulk to this breakfast, which can be made ahead of time in jars if you need something to grab as you run out the door.
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, chia seeds, walnuts, unsweetened shredded coconut, fresh or frozen strawberries, ripe bananas, agave or maple syrup, almond milk.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 10 - 12 244-gram servings

Quinoa Pancakes

Quinoa Pancakes Recipe

If you’re seeking a protein-rich breakfast, look no further. Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse, containing 8 grams of protein per cup (Self Nutrition Data, 2014). Plus, this grain is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids your body cannot make for itself. The mixture of quinoa and whole-wheat pastry flour keeps these pancakes light while giving you the complex carbohydrates and protein combination your body needs to rev up in the morning.
Ingredients: Quinoa, whole wheat pastry flour (or brown rice flour for gluten-free cakes), eggs, milk, maple syrup or honey, raw pecans, baking powder, vanilla extract, salt.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 7 pancakes

Protein Acai Bowl

Protein Acai Bowl Recipe

While the açaí berry is native to South America and not a traditional staple of the Mediterranean Diet, this antioxidant powerhouse fits the feel of the eating pattern well. With a taste that is remniscent of tart Greek yogurt, this blended bowl is a perfect way to start your day, particularly if you work out in the morning and are seeking some additional protein. Discover a new way to start your day and try this delectable recipe.
Ingredients: Frozen strawberries, almond milk, whey protein powder, acai powder, banana, fresh fruit toppings

Lunch Recipes for the Mediterranean Diet

For lunch, focus on getting more servings of vegetables. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, eggplant, broccoli, and carrots. However, whatever vegetables are local and seasonal to you are fine. The important thing is to eat fruits and vegetables from a variety of color groups, ensuring you get a wide profile of critical nutrients (European Food Information Council, 2015).

Buckwheat Salad

Buckwheat Salad Recipe

Many people avoid lunch salads, thinking that a salad won’t contain enough nutrients to sustain them throughout the afternoon. This buckwheat salad is definitely an exception to that rule. Buckwheat groats are a whole grain with a nutty texture. Containing three grams of dietary fiber per ounce, buckwheat will prevent hunger pangs while promoting digestive regularity. The salad includes mixed greens, fresh tomatoes, raw pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, and antioxidant-packed dried cranberries. Plus, the vinaigrette has a sesame oil base, which makes it a good source of the healthy fats promoted by the Mediterranean diet.
Ingredients: Mixed greens, buckwheat, tomatoes, onion, raw pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, salt, black pepper.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 5 servings

Farro Vegetable Salad

Farro Vegetable Salad Recipe

The perfect Mediterranean lunch, this farro vegetable salad is packed with protein and key micronutrients. Farro will soon become a favorite whole-grain food for its perfect texture and hearty flavor. Here, the farro is mixed with sun-dried tomatoes, pitted black olives, fresh cherry tomatoes, and shredded carrots. The addition of crumbled feta cheese, dill, and mint provides a Mediterranean flair.
Ingredients: Organic farro, sun dried tomatoes, frozen corn (thawed), scallions, black olives, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, salt, fresh dill, fresh mint, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 6 254-gram servings

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad {gluten-free}

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad Recipe {gluten-free}

This wholesome twist on the already healthy Mediterranean classic swaps quinoa in for the standard bulgur base of traditional tabbouleh salad. Not only does this recipe offer a lunch that aligns with the nutritional constraints of the diet, but it also fits the spirit with a taste that is light and defined by classic Mediterranean herbs and seasonings. You can enjoy a bowl of this satiating salad on its own, or pair a small serving with your favorite lean protein- be it a fatty fish or a lean turkey breast.
Ingredients: Quinoa, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh parsley, fresh mint, black pepper, salt.
Total Time: 40 minutes | Yield: 4 servings

Quinoa Veggie Wrap {vegan}

Quinoa Veggie Wrap Recipe {vegan}

Because they are so portable, wraps make perfect lunches when you don’t have time to sit down for a meal. This Mediterranean diet-friendly wrap contains quinoa and hummus for a protein boost. Using whole-wheat tortillas gives you some extra complex carbohydrates and fiber, while the addition of spinach, shredded carrots, and sun-dried tomatoes brings the flavor profile together. This is sure to become a lunchtime favorite -- plus, it’s vegan.
Ingredients: Tortilla wraps, quinoa, hummus, fresh spinach, sun-tomatoes, shredded carrots.
Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 4 wraps

Mediterranean Diet Dinner Recipes

While following the Mediterranean diet, dinner is a great time to branch out and try a new recipe. Eating fish once or twice per week is a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet plan. Additionally, you can try the following recipes to break out of a dinner rut. Remember than women can enjoy a single glass of red wine, while men may have two glasses per day (Palmer, 2013). Red wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, which has been associated with lower risk for chronic disease.

Farro Risotto with Mushrooms

Farro Risotto with Mushrooms Recipe

Risotto is another classic Mediterranean dish that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Although risotto is traditionally made with Arborio rice, this version contains the whole grain farro. The addition of mushrooms provides a savory depth to the meal, while frozen peas and basil add extra nutrients. Pack up the remainder of this dinner for a satisfying lunch tomorrow.
Ingredients: Organic pearled farro, sliced mushrooms, garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil, frozen peas, salt, fresh basil, parmesan cheese, hot water.
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes | Yield: 6 servings

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers {gluten-free}

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Recipe {gluten-free}

Bell peppers are an important part of Mediterranean cuisine. Here, they serve as a main course when stuffed with quinoa and broiled in the oven. Lentils add bulk and extra protein to this meal, while the feta cheese provides its characteristic Mediterranean tang. Serve the peppers by themselves or with a crusty loaf of whole-grain bread to finish off the meal.
Ingredients: Quinoa, green bell peppers, canned lentils, fresh spinach, feta cheese, frozen corn (thawed), salt, black pepper.
Total Time: 40 minutes | Yield: 6 259-gram servings (8 half-peppers)

Kale Quinoa Salad

Kale Quinoa Salad Recipe

If you haven’t met your target for fresh vegetables by the end of the day, this kale quinoa salad makes the perfect dinner. As a leafy green vegetable, kale is an important part of the Mediterranean diet and is chock full of vitamins and antioxidants. Chopped purple cabbage and carrots provide additional color and nutrients to this salad. Meanwhile the addition of quinoa and eggs (hard- or soft-boiled, as you prefer) gives you more protein to suppress your cravings for a midnight snack.
Ingredients: Quinoa, fresh baby kale, purple cabbage, carrots, fresh dill, boiled eggs, rice wine, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper.
Total Time: 25 minutes | Yield: 8 210-gram servings

Farro Veggie Burger

Farro Veggie Burger Recipe

You won’t miss the beef with this delicious and hearty veggie burger. Farro, which is loaded with protein, dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, and B-complex vitamins, provides the base for the burger. Adding corn, black beans, and tomato paste fits with the Mediterranean diet plan. Enjoy your burger on a whole-wheat bun with a side salad of mixed greens.
Ingredients: Farro, corn kernels, baked beans, basil, egg, mayonnaise, tomato paste, paprika, salt, olive oil.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 8-10 medium patties

Gemelli pasta salad. This Italian pasta salad recipe has everything you want from a Mediterranean diet dinner. It’s worth finding pasta made from 100% semolina flour, which has better flavor and quality (although regular supermarket pasta works fine in a pinch). The pasta salad is simple to make, containing fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. A drizzle of heart-healthy olive oil finishes the dish. This pasta salad is the ideal dinner when you are pressed for time, as it can be made in 25 minutes or less.
References

Clark, S. (2006). Starting your day off right: breakfast. Bodybuilding.com.

Ros, E. & Mataix, J. (2006). Fatty acid composition of nuts -- implications for cardiovascular health. British Journal of Nutrition, 96(2).

European Food Information Council. (2015). Colours of fruits and vegetables. Retrieved from http://www.eufic.org/article/en/show/spotlight/rid/colours-of-fruits-and-vegetables-and-health/

Palmer, S. (2013). The Mediterranean diet: an up-close look at its origins in Pantelleria. Today’s Dietician, 15(5), 28.

Self Nutrition Data. (2014). Quinoa. Retrieved from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10352/2