Thousands of studies prove that eating a Mediterranean style diet helps reduce your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and certain types of cancer. Bottom line: People who eat a Mediterranean diet live longer, healthier lives.
Here are some of the core principles of Mediterranean meals:
- Enjoy Plant-Based Meals. Strive for seven to 10 servings a day of veggies and fruits and at least three servings a day of whole grains.
- Go nuts. Keep tree nuts, like California walnuts, on hand for a more nutrient-rich and satisfying snack. Toast walnuts to enhance the flavor and then add to salads, whole grain dishes, in yogurt, oatmeal and baked goods.
- Use EVOO In Place of Butter. Use extra virgin olive oil as a healthy replacement for butter or margarine. You can use EVOO for any type of cooking or in dressings, for dipping and finishing dishes.
- Go fish. Eat fish twice a week — especially fatty fish like salmon — for the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. For more sustainable choices, look for options like Salmon from Norway, where the strictest standards are used in salmon fisheries.
- Enjoy a glass of red wine (optional). Another hallmark of the Mediterranean diet is enjoying a glass of wine with meals. Alcohol — in moderation — has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease in some research studies. However, health professionals don’t recommend that you start drinking for its health benefits.
Must-Try Mediterranean Recipes
Farro, Kale and Radicchio Salad Bowl
1 cup farro, rinsed and drained
1 large bunch kale, finely chopped, stems removed
1 batch Olive oil and Lemon Dressing (recipe below)
1 small head radicchio, quartered, cored and cut crosswise into thin strips
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
In a large pot, place farro with enough water to cover by a couple of inches and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until farro is tender but still chewy, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Toss kale with three-quarters of the dressing in a large salad bowl. With clean hands, gently massage kale with dressing to soften the leaves. Add radicchio, Parmesan, walnuts and farro, and toss again. Taste and add remaining dressing, if needed.
Olive oil and Lemon Dressing
Makes about 1 cup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. miso paste (Optional)
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Combine oil, lemon juice, garlic, miso (if desired), salt and pepper in a glass jar with a lid. Use a fork to stir in the miso, then shake vigorously to emulsify. Pour over the farro, kale and radicchio salad.
Adapted from Run Fast, Eat Slow.
- 5 lb. Norwegian salmon fillet, skinned and deboned
- 1 box fusilli or other short pasta
- 1 tbsp butter or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup crème fraîche (optional)
- 6 tbsp pesto
- pepper, black ground
- 3 cups pine nuts
- 3 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
- Cut salmon into 1-inch cubes.
- Cook pasta as directed on package.
- Cut cherry tomatoes in half.
- Pan-roast Norwegian Salmon cubes with butter and olive oil and add tomatoes.
- Mix crème fraîche (sour cream may be substituted, or you can skip this altogether) and pesto, and fold into pasta. Season with salt and pepper.
- Gently toss salmon and cherry tomatoes into pasta just before serving.
- Serve with pine nuts, Parmesan and chopped basil sprinkled over.
Recipe Courtesy of Seafood from Norway
Crunchy Walnut Crusted Salmon Patties
- 1 pound Norwegian Salmon
- 1 1/4 cup plain panko breadcrumbs, divided*
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup California walnuts, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups mixed greens
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup California walnuts, toasted and chopped
- 4 lemon wedges
- Rinse the Norwegian salmon fillet in cold water, pat dry and chop finely. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine salmon, 3/4 cup breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Spread remaining breadcrumbs and finely chopped walnuts on a plate. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop out salmon mixture into your palm and form into patties. Press patties into breadcrumb and walnut mixture to coat on both sides. Repeat with all patties.
- Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Pan fry salmon patties for 4-5 minutes on each side until lightly browned and crispy. Fry patties in batches, if needed. Place cooked patties on a plate.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and zest, honey, mustard, salt and pepper.
- Divide greens, avocado, walnuts and lemon wedges among 4 salad plates. Top with salmon patties and drizzle with vinaigrette.
- Instead of a salad, these patties may be served atop a toasted whole grain or whole wheat bun or bread with a smear of sour cream or stone ground mustard with avocado, lettuce and tomato – and a lemon wedge on the side.
Recipe courtesy of California Walnuts.
Dried Figs with Walnuts and Honey
- 8 figs, dried
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, part-skim
- 16 California walnut halves
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over a medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Cut each fig in half crosswise and place the fig pieces on a serving dish cut side up.
- Make a small indentation into the cut side of each fig half with a small spoon or your finger. Put a 1/4 teaspoon of the ricotta cheese onto each piece of fig and top with a walnut half.
- Drizzle each fig with honey and serve.
Recipe courtesy of California Walnuts