FOOD

How to eat Mediterranean style

10 tips to help you eat Mediterranean style on WW, plus learn the essential ingredients to add to your shopping list.

10 tips for Mediterranean cooking

 

The Mediterranean diet is popular because of extensive research on its health benefits particularly for heart health and weight management. The good news? You don’t need to live near a Greek Island to enjoy the benefits! The following tips and Mediterranean ingredient shopping list will have you cooking up delicious and healthy Mediterranean dishes in no time.

1. Eat primarily plant-based foods such as fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, herbs, legumes and nuts.

2. Add vegetables to every main meal, with an emphasis on leafy greens and tomato products.

3. Include at least two pulse or legume meals (such as dried peas, lentils or beans such as cannellini, borlotti or red kidney) a week.

4. Limit red meat to small portions and consume only once or twice a week.

5. Enjoy fish and seafood at least twice a week, and include oily varieties such as salmon, sardines and mackerel.

6. Flavour natural, unsweetened yoghurt as a dairy food for everyday use, with cheese in moderation.

7. Use olive oil as the main healthy fat in place of butter or margarine.

8. Choose fresh fruit and nuts as snacks rather than processed foods.

9. Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour foods.

10. Save sweet treats and desserts for celebrations or family gatherings.

Mediterranean ingredient shopping list


Australia and New Zealand’s rich multicultural heritage means you can pick up all your Mediterranean staples at supermarkets or fresh-food markets, while more exotic items such as vine leaves can be found at delicatessens. Our basic shopping list is a good place to start:

Fruit

Why?
Rich in plant-based phytonutrient antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.

How much?
Aim to include fresh fruit as a snack or healthy dessert. One serve = 1 medium piece or 2 small fruits.

What?
Oranges and other citrus fruits, peaches, apricots, apples, pomegranates, berries, grapes, figs, dates and olives.

Vegetables

Why?
Rich in plant-based phytonutrient antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.

How much?
Aim to include 3 serves at every main meal. One serve = 75g cooked vegies or 1 cup salad.

What?
Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, tomatoes (and minimally processed products made from them, such as passata), garlic and onions.

Legumes

Why?
A nutritious plant source of protein, plus dietary fibre and phytonutrient antioxidants.

How much?
Aim to include 2 meals a week that are vegetarian or feature legumes. One serve = ½ cup cooked dried or canned legumes.

What?
Chickpeas, cannellini beans, red and green lentils, red kidney beans, borlotti beans and split peas.

Fish & seafood

Why?
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish with edible bones (such as sardines) also bump up calcium intakes.

How much?
Aim to include at least 2 fish meals per week with an emphasis on oily choices.

What?
Oily fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, plus calamari, mussels, prawns, scallops and octopus. Canned fish is a good substitute for fresh.

Lean meat

Why?
A source of essential nutrients such as iron and zinc, plus high-quality protein.

How much?
Red meat is traditionally enjoyed in smaller quantities once or twice a week. One serve = 65g cooked.

What?
Lean beef, lamb, poultry or pork.

Wholegrains

Why?
Rich in plant-based phytonutrient antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.

How much?
Aim to include every day and make the switch from refined grains (for example, swap white bread for wholemeal). One serve = 1 x 40g slice bread; ½ cup cooked pasta or rice; ½ cup cooked porridge.

What?
Freekeh (roasted green wheat), barley, oats, buckwheat, millet, polenta, burghul (cracked wheat), brown rice and wholemeal pasta.

Dairy

Why?
A source of absorbable calcium, protein and other bone-building nutrients such as magnesium and phosphorus.

How much?
Dairy foods are traditionally enjoyed less frequently, with an emphasis on yoghurt over cheese. One serve = 1 cup milk; 40g cheese; 200g tub yoghurt.

What?
Reduced-fat, plain or Greek-style pot-set yoghurt or full-fat for dolloping. Small quantities of strong aged cheese such as parmesan or feta for flavouring soups or pasta, and haloumi or ricotta for adding to salads.

Nuts & seeds

Why?
Rich in protein, healthy fats, plus plant-based phytonutrient antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

How much?
Include as a healthy snack or regularly in cooking. One serve nuts = 30g handful. One serve seeds = 1 tablespoon.

What?
Pistachios, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels).

Healthy oils

Why?
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils for heart-healthy fats, plus antioxidant activity.

How much?
Traditional Mediterranean diets are high in olive oil.

What?
Olive oil remains the staple oil for cooking (choose pure or light olive oil) and dressings (extra virgin is best). Australian-made varieties are often fresher and higher in antioxidant activity.

Herbs & species

Why?
Very high in plant-based phytonutrient antioxidants.

How much?
Include generously at every meal, from cinnamon on breakfast porridge to fresh torn basil in an evening minestrone soup.

What?
Basil, flat-leaf parsley, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, fennel seeds, mint, cinnamon, cumin, tarragon, saffron and paprika.