Kitchen Vacation

Do you sit at work and daydream about traveling to a far off place? How long does it usually take you to realize that you have a to-do list a mile long and no time for a vacation? 2 minutes? 5 minutes? Well, we have a solution for those of you who are too busy to hop on a plane, but still have time to cruise the grocery store. How about turning your kitchen into one of these palate-pleasing paradises?

The Mediterranean Diet, considered one of the healthiest by WebMD and nutritionists alike, as well as one of the tastiest by yours truly, isn’t a fad diet where you’re only eating grapefruit or giving up starches and carbs. It’s a diet that stresses the importance of fresh, healthy food from the regions around the Mediterranean Sea.

These types of food, coupled with a more active lifestyle, often lead to health benefits such as protection against the development of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, some types of cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies also show this diet leads to a longer lifespan, which may give you enough time to plan a real vacation!

There isn’t a set-in-stone Mediterranean Diet, rather, each region around the Sea is able to customize a basic set of guidelines to take advantage of food availability and cultural preferences.

If you decide to follow this diet as a weight-loss plan rather than simply a taste-cation, it’s important to note that the Mediterranean lifestyle includes regular physical activity, too.

So what are the Top Ten foods for a lifestyle rich in health and taste?

Olive Oil: Olive oil is the principal source of dietary fat in the Mediterranean diet used in cooking, baking and in dressings. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat that can help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

Vegetables: Traditional vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, spinach, eggplant, garlic and mushrooms are just as tasty as they are healthy.

Fish: Filled with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, salmon, tuna and sardines are great options.

Legumes: Lentils, cannellini beans, fava beans and chick peas add flavor, depth and texture.

Grains: Choose whole grains such as couscous, bulgur, faro, semolina, polenta and pasta.

Cheese and yogurt: Some popular cheeses are Parmigiano-Regiano, feta, Gorgonzola, mozzarella and ricotta.

Nuts: Keep almonds, walnuts and pistachios on hand for a quick snack. Choose natural peanut or almond butters. Try tahini (blended sesame seeds) in recipes or even as a dip.

Fresh herbs: Basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme are popular in Mediterranean cooking.

Fruit: Try fruit for dessert! It adds fiber and vitamins.

Red wine: Red wine contains antioxidants and has been said to reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent blood clots and improve circulation. Keep portions to about 3 ounces.

Check out the Botticelli Recipes tab to find more meal time ideas that will surely take your taste buds to a place far, far away.

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