**I was provided a complimentary copy of the book for the purposes of this review, but the photos and opinions are my own.**
The Mediterranean Diet: we hear about it on the news but what really is it? Why is it so good for you, and can just anybody do it and still enjoy their food? This book answers all those questions and more.
I’m not big on “diets.” Rather, I like changing your lifestyle. Enjoy food, but eat the right things in the right amounts. Pay attention to ingredients, when you eat and how much and you can lose weight. I like food, and I want to be happy eating it; if it goes in my mouth, it had better be worth the calories and I’d better know what it contains. Some people cut out dairy, others cut out sugar. Each is a lifestyle choice but don’t deprive yourself; instead, educate yourself and you can have success without resenting the changes you’re making.
This book, from the Idiot’s Guide series, will confirm basically what I’m saying. The Mediterranean Diet is a way of life, a food style including fresh fruits, vegetables, and a lot of seasoning, things grown in and around those countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. Dr. Ancel keys, an American scientist, first brought the lifestyle attention back in the 1950s. Dr. Keys’ findings showed that fat consumption, physical activity and eating habits decreased study participants’ risk of cardiovascular disease. The Mediterranean Diet has long-lasting health benefits that prevent chronic health problems. Eating foods rich in fruits, veggies and low-fat dairy, along with reduced sodium and saturated fat, represent an ideal eating pattern. You’ll need to read the book for more details but eating processed foods that are bad for you can and will hurt you. That’s what makes reading this book worth your time. Inside, you’ll find a breakdown into the science behind the lifestyle, the definitions of a various terms, how to stock your pantry, and a lot of healthy hints to help you fully understand why this type of eating works. I learned so much in a ten-minute read, and even if I didn’t stick on this style of eating, I now know a lot more about what I eat and the benefits.
The book includes a slew of recipes to make the change into this lifestyle an easy and realistic one. The recipe categories are broken down into descriptives about what your kitchen should contain, and how to eat three Mediterranean meals a day. Salads, soups, stews, meaty or vegetarian, grains, rice, beans, dips, spreads, appetizers and breads, seasonings, spices, condiments, sauces, dinners, seafoods, sides and desserts — the book covers them all.
The first recipe I tried was for baba ganoush, otherwise known as an eggplant dip. I roasted my own pita chips in olive oil, cayenne and salt, and dipped them into the ganoush for lunch. Lots of healthy additives to my diet and I felt like I was eating something bad!
Next up was olive tapenade. (We love dips!) We host a lot of weekend gatherings and being able to throw out easy, quick dips that are rich in flavor is so important.
Each recipe lists the yield, the prep time, and the serving size. There’s also a Tasty Tip for each recipe, such as “If you don’t like garlic or mint, you don’t have to use them.” It tells you right up front so you aren’t risking ruining a recipe if there’s an ingredient you can’t tolerate.
One really fun thing? The Mediterranean term for recipes, when they had one. “Yes, we’re having Labne with dinner.” Great conversation starter and the kids had fun with this as well.
What’s the difference between a soup and a stew? I know now…but you’re going to have to read the book to find out.
Like Greek Yogurt? Learn how to make it at home! Braised Lamb and Tomatoes, Lamb Meatballs, Tilapia with a Light Olive Sauce, Vegetarian Baked Spaghetti…so many recipes for entrees and sides that you can easily plan your menu out weeks in advance without any repetition.
The only downer about the book is that it’s got no photographs. I like visually perusing parts of the meal but it wasn’t a make-or-break problem. I’d still purchase the book, and I really did like that the binding allows you to flip through and keep it open to a specific page. It’s also not formal, so you aren’t intimidated by the size or the format.
The book, published April 1, 2014, is available at Amazon and other booksellers. You can read it and in conjunction with increasing your exercise, reduce your stress level while eating healthy and/or losing weight. (This would be a great maintenance program as well.) Boost your nutrients without expanding your waistline. Perfect, right?