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Cooking for your health: The Mediterranean Diet

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

Changing your heart health with a simple one pan Shakshouka Recipe.

Looking to lower risk for cardiovascular disease while staying full and feeling satisfied with your food choices? The Mediterranean Diet is an evidenced-based way to combine pleasure and disease prevention with a whole food, plant-dominant diet. Why is it beneficial?

The evidence shows eating the Mediterranean diet produces some of the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease. When compared to a low-fat diet, the Mediterranean diet resulted as best for prevention of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular complications. Greece and Italy are in the heart of the Mediterranean and are two out of five areas across the world that possess some of the oldest populations, defined as a ‘Blue Zone’.

What makes up the Mediterranean diet?


The components of this diet include, Olive oil, nuts, seeds and plant-based oils as main sources of fat, moderate amounts of lean meats and mainly seafood, high amounts of legumes, vegetables and fruits, whole grains, dairy as a condiment, and rarely, red meat and processed cheese.


“I thought fat was bad.”

At one time, it was thought that lowering overall fat in our diet proved to be beneficial for preventing cardiovascular disease. It is now known that adding in essential fats in place of animal-based saturated fat is a better medicine to our heart.

Saturated fats, when eaten in excess, can lead to cardiovascular disease. These fat sources are mainly found in animal products like: red meat, pork, cheese, milk and butter. Saturated fats should be limited to less than 10% of a person’s daily calories. That’s around 13 grams or less than 200 calories per day.

Following the Mediterranean diet is a way to ensure one’s plate can be filled properly, as most of the items on it are from plant sources. This also provides a lot of fiber which is a natural way to decrease cholesterol. Some examples of healthy, essential fat sources are olive oil, avocado, flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon, tahini, brazil nuts, almonds, tuna, chia seeds, and canola oil.

Following the Mediterranean diet can create long-lasting health benefits. Not only is the Mediterranean diet a useful intervention for cardiovascular disease, its effectiveness compares to medicines prescribed by the doctor.

This diet will be flavorful, colorful, and healthy. Imagine the peace one can have knowing food is their medicine while also being very delicious.


One Pan Shakshouka Recipe


The only requirement for this recipe is a pan that can go from the stovetop to the oven. A cast iron skillet is recommended for the best results.


Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs*

  • 1 ½ C Zucchini, medium chopped

  • 1 C Green Bell Pepper, chopped

  • 1 C Red Bell Pepper, chopped

  • 1 Can of drained and rinsed chickpeas

  • 3 cloves of Garlic, minced

  • 1 C White Onion, chopped

  • 2-3 Tbsp of Olive oil

  • 1 28 oz can of stewed/crushed tomatoes

  • ½ Tbsp Red pepper flakes

  • 1 Tbsp Cumin

  • 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika

  • ½ Tbsp Black pepper

  • ½ tbs salt

  • ½ C Parsley, roughly chopped

  • ½ C Cilantro , roughly chopped

  • Optional toppers: avocado, feta, goat cheese, or, toasted pine nuts

*This recipe can be made vegan by leaving out the eggs, as the chickpeas add protein.

**None of these are required, but are highly suggested to add depth of flavor


  • Preheat the oven to 350

  • Place an oven safe pan on medium high heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let the oil heat for 1-2 minutes then add the onions, cook them until translucent. Add in the green and red pepper bell peppers and sauté for 5 additional minutes.

  • Add in zucchini and garlic, cooking in the pan for another 3-4 minutes. At this point the peppers should be somewhat soft.

  • Pour in the can of crushed tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Add all of the spices. Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas, stir to combine everything together, and turn the heat down to a simmer. Let simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes.

  • Place the pan in the oven to bake for 25 minutes

  • Pull the pan out, carefully, when the sauce is thick and dark. Make three small wells in the sauce with a spoon for the eggs to sit in. Crack three eggs into the wells and place the pan back into the oven. When eggs are cooked to your liking, remove the pan and let cool. Top with cilantro and parsley mix. Serve with hummus and warm bread of choice to dip.






Citations:

Widmer, R. J., Flammer, A. J., Lerman, L. O., & Lerman, A. (2015). The Mediterranean diet, its

components, and cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Medicine, 128(3), 229–

238. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.10.014


History of blue zones - blue zones. Blue Zones - Live Better, Longer. (2021, April 30). Retrieved

February 1, 2022, from https://www.bluezones.com/about/history/



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