There’s always a lot of talk about certain diets at this time of year. Everyone is looking for a quick way to get into shape for the summer. One diet in particular has been getting a lot of attention lately, not for it’s weight loss potential, though it certainly has that effect, but for its health benefits.
Bob Harper, designer of the Black Fire workout, avid Cross-Fitter, author and well-known personal trainer, despite being an incredibly fit individual, suffered a heart attack at only 51 years old. Thankfully, he is recovering well, at least according to his Instagram and Twitter feeds, and this is partly because of the diet his doctors prescribed him. Yep, you guessed it, it’s the Mediterranean diet.
So what is it? First, it’s not a diet in the way we’ve come to think of a diet. It’s more of a dietary tradition, with fewer dietary restrictions than modern diet plans. It focuses on eating vegetables, fruits, olive oil, legumes, nuts and seeds, fish and seafood, herbs and spices, water and the occasional glass of red wine. Yippee!
Second, the Mediterranean diet isn’t only about the food you consume. It’s also about making a lifestyle change and adapting your eating habits to those of the Mediterranean region. The Italians or Greeks didn’t devour their meals watching TV or while they’re busy on their phones. Eating your meals on time is important and skipping meals isn’t an option. Meals should be enjoyed, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are social occasions, an opportunity to pause and enjoy every bite of your food while spending time with family or friends, as opposed to ramming it in your mouth while doing two or more things at the same time.
There are certain foods on the Mediterranean diet that, while still consumed, are done so in moderation. These are cereals and grains, meat and eggs, milk and dairy.
Cereals and grains can be part of every meal as long as they are whole grains such as wheat, oats, rice, rye and barley. It is recommended that portions are moderated for this particular food. The main focus at any meal should be on fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, as well as fish and seafood. Cereals and grains are only served as an accompaniment.
Meat is eaten once a week at most on a Mediterranean diet. When it is eaten, it is served in small portions and always as a side dish, not the main focus of the meal.
Eggs are used for baking, making omelettes or frittatas, or eaten boiled or poached but, again, moderation is key.
Milk and dairy products aren’t part of the Mediterranean diet, with the exception of yogurt and cheese. Greek yogurt, feta cheese and parmesan feature in the Mediterranean diet, but in small portions.
You all know my love of pancakes so it seems appropriate to share with you a Mediterranean-style recipe for Greek pancakes with fruits and nuts. This recipe comes from the book ‘The Complete Mediterranean Diet for Beginners’ by Susan Williams and these pancakes offer up the benefit of whole grains combined with fresh fruit, toasted nuts and Greek yogurt. While this recipe uses some of the ingredients in the moderation group of foods, the focus should be on the fruit served with the pancakes, not the other way around.
The following recipe serves 4:
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 2 tablespoons flax seeds
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Fresh fruit such as bananas and berries for topping
- Handful of toasted walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, chopped for garnish
- Add the flour, oats, flax seeds, baking soda and salt in a blender and process for a minute.
- Add yogurt, eggs, oil and honey, and blend until smooth. Allow batter to stand for about 20 minutes until it thickens.
- Heat a large non-stick pan over a medium heat and brush with oil. Pour some of the batter into the pan and cook until golden brown and bubbles form on the top. Turn over and cook other side until golden brown.
- Serve with fresh fruit (bananas and berries), toasted nuts and Greek yogurt.
My family and I loved these pancakes and did so embracing the Mediterranean way of enjoying breakfast, eating slowly and talking, really talking to each other, switching off from the world to enjoy our meal together. I recommend you all try this.
Have a great week everyone.