The Mediterranean diet has long been touted as the most healthful on the planet—and for good reason. It's been linked to lower rates of cancer, obesity, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
In addition to improving your overall health, it gives you a healthy glow. I recently returned from Greece, where the Mediterranean diet originated, and was amazed by how simple, fresh, and easy the diet is to live by.
The Greek diet consists of fruits, vegetables, olives, feta, fresh seafood, and meat. A typical day for a Greek includes a breakfast of fresh fruits; grilled chicken with horta (wild greens) for lunch; and a salad and grilled fish with potatoes and fava bean purée for dinner.
Even if you don’t step foot on the Greek isles, you can still feed yourself like a Greek goddess by following these six easy tips:
1. Go organic.
Greeks eat all-natural food that hasn't been processed (think of real food you can pick up with your hands and prepare, not something that comes out of a package).
You can find a farmers market (called a laiki bazaar in Greece) in every neighborhood at least three days of the week. I love shopping there with my grandma. The markets are filled with fresh produce such as vegetables, fruits, olives, nuts, eggs, and seafood. Truly amazing!
2. Sweeten with honey.
Greeks source some of the best honey in the world. They have so many beekeepers on the islands and in the mountains, and the quality is excellent.
You'll never find sugar or artificial sweeteners in a Greek goddess's pantry, she only uses honey as a sweetener.
3. Have some yogurt.
Greek yogurt is super creamy and, for me, it tastes better than ice cream when served with honey and walnuts.
This is the most typical Greek dessert many restaurants serve—yogurt topped with honey and chopped walnuts. Can’t get much healthier than that—full of protein, calcium, and tummy-friendly probiotics.
4. Use olive oil instead of butter.
Greeks use olive oil for everything. Their olive oil has such a deep green color that can’t be compared to some of the commercial American brands.
The deeper the color, the better quality you'll get. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats (healthy fats), antioxidants, and vitamins E and K and contains anti-inflammatory properties.
5. Season with lemon and oregano.
These are two ingredients go hand-in-hand and can be found in most Greek dishes.
They add a lot of flavor to a simple Greek salad with tomatoes, feta cheese, and green peppers. Yum!
They are not only flavorful but also healthy. Lemon is a great source of vitamin C, and when consumed with meat, it increases iron absorption.
Oregano is often added to tomato salads, bread, meat, and marinades. It's an excellent source of antioxidants and an antibacterial.
6. Eat your omega-3s.
Fish oil supplements aren't consumed by Greeks, but fish definitely is!
Getting nutrients from food is a lot more beneficial than getting them in the form of a pill. Greeks eat a lot of seafood that's high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is known to boost skin elasticity and hydration.
Practice your Greek goddess skills with this meal below!
Halibut With Fava Bean PureeServes 2
- 2 4-ounce halibut fillets
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- lemon wedges, for serving
1. Season the halibut on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the mint and olive oil.
3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium to high heat. Place the halibut fillets in the pan and cook until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the halibut, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to flake.
4. Transfer to a plate and top each fillet with the mint dressing.
5. Serve halibut with fava purée and lemon wedges.
Fava Bean Purée
- 1 cup fava beans (yellow split peas in Greece)
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ lemon, squeezed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 tablespoon red onion, sliced
1. Rinse the fava well and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the chopped shallot and garlic. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the shallots start to caramelize.
3. Add the fava and stir well. Pour in the warm water and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, until the beans are soft and mushy.
4. Drain the beans and keep the broth in a separate bowl.
5. Place the beans in the food processor; add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper; and blend. Add the broth if it needs to be thinned out. This depends on preference, so add as much as you need to.
6. Serve on a plate with sliced red onions, capers, and a drizzle of olive oil.