A Mediterranean Diet Promotes Health

Many friends in my age bracket are worried about preventing cardiovascular problems, diabetes,obesity in children and grandchildren. Norene Gilletz, a famous cookbook author, cooking teacher, and friend recommended Dr. Arnold Slyper’s “Family Friendly: Mediterranean-style Cooking (with a Groundbreaking Guide to Weight Loss, Weight Control, and Cardiovascular Health)” (Feldheim Press) to me.

The aim of this cookbook is to encourage families to eat more veggies, fruits and whole grains by means of 190 family-friendly Mediterranean-style recipes. The health chapters explain the importance of this diet for health, particularly for preventing and treating obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

American physician and nutrition expert Dr. Arnold Slyper contends that strategies for healthful eating are undergoing a paradigm change. The notion that restricting total fat, saturated fat and dietary cholesterol prevents cardiovascular disease and obesity has been shown to lack scientific basis. Hence, the focus is no longer on what should not be eaten (although sugar-containing drinks are still strongly discouraged), but on what should be eaten.

“The Israeli Mediterranean diet described in this book is a unique Mediterranean diet eaten by health-conscious Israelis and contains moderate amount of eggs, white meat (fish and chicken) and full fat dairy,” says Dr. Slyper. “This is in contrast to other Mediterranean diets that are more restricted in animal products. However, it is similar to other Mediterranean diets in incorporating abundant vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and the use of olive oil. This blend of a Mediterranean and Western diet makes it a very acceptable one to American families.”

Why is the Mediterranean diet one of the healthiest diets in the world? It is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, seeds, and nuts, and therefore has a high content of antioxidants. “These protect against cardiovascular disease and other medical conditions involving oxidative stress,” says Slyper. “Mediterranean diets are also high in dietary fiber, which suppresses excessive hunger and prevents obesity.”

Salmon Pasta

Serves 4; cooking time 6 minutes

8 ounces of uncooked linguine
2 salmon fillets (6-ounce each), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon of minced fresh rosemary or ½ teaspoon of dried rosemary
5 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
1/8 teaspoon of pepper

Cook the linguine according to the package directions. Drain the linguine and place in a bowl. In a large skillet, sauté the salmon cubes and rosemary in 2 tablespoons of oil for 5 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, salt, and pepper to the salmon and cook for 1 minute.

Add the salmon to the linguine and toss gently.

Drizzle the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil over the mixture (if you find this too oily, use only 2 tablespoons of oil).

Tuna Salad with Grapes and Almonds

Serves 5; cooking time 3 minutes

1/4 cup of slivered almonds
10-oz can of tuna in spring water, drained
1/3 cup of chopped scallions
1 cup of grapes, cut in halves
1/2 cup of celery, chopped
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Toast the slivered almonds in a small dry skillet for a few minutes until they are just turning golden. Set aside 1 tablespoon of almonds. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Sprinkle the reserved almonds on top of the salad.

Chicken Couscous

Serves 4; cooking time 30 minutes

With its mixture of vegetables, grain and chicken this tasty dish is Mediterranean-style to the core. Couscous is a form of pasta. Like pasta, it is often made from semolina and durum wheat and therefore has a low-glycemic index.

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
12 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs), cut into 1-inch cubes
3 medium carrots, cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 1/4 cups of chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2- x 1/2- x 1-inch strips
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or one 8-ounce can of chopped tomatoes with juice)
15-ounce can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup of uncooked couscous, preferably whole wheat

In a large frying pan, sauté the onion and garlic in hot oil until tender but not brown.
Add the chicken, carrots, celery, chicken stock, salt, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the zucchini, tomatoes and garbanzo beans. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more or until the vegetables and chicken are tender.
In the meantime, prepare the couscous according to the packet instructions. (Once the pot of water is boiled, this takes just over 10 minutes to cook.)

Serve the chicken dish over the couscous.

Find more of Sheilah’s culinary treats at www.cookingwithsheilah.com.


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