3 simple ingredients for healthy Mediterranean fare | Inquirer Lifestyle

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Hummus, a popular Mediterranean appetizer that uses olive oil, which delivers a pleasant aroma and enhances the flavor

3 simple ingredients for healthy Mediterranean fare

Hummus, a popular Mediterranean appetizer that uses olive oil, which delivers a pleasant aroma and enhances the flavor
Hummus, a popular Mediterranean appetizer that uses olive oil, which delivers a pleasant aroma and enhances the flavor

 

New Year, new lifestyle. Take inspiration from the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, the dishes ranging from the Greek kebab to the Italian minestrone.

 

Here are three simple ingredients from the region that helps in creating healthy, flavorful meals:

 

Olive oil

 

Compared to other cooking oils such as canola and vegetable oil, olive oil is a better alternative—rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and has been shown to keep the heart young. Those who regularly consume olive oil have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases including hypertension, stroke and high cholesterol levels. It’s also known to keep depression at bay and certain types of cancer such as breast and skin cancer.

 

The right olive oil does not only deliver these health benefits, but also delivers a pleasant aroma and enhances the taste of dishes.

 

Hummus, for instance, is a popular Mediterranean appetizer that features olive oil, which helps enhance the flavors of the ground chickpeas.

 

Bruschetta with tomatoes, basil and feta cheese
Bruschetta with tomatoes, basil and feta cheese

 

Tomatoes

 

Rich in vitamins A, B, C and K, tomatoes are also known to improve the appearance of skin and hair, maintaining strong bones, reducing heart disease and repairing damage caused by smoking.

 

A popular dish using this ingredient is Bruschetta. After dicing the tomatoes and placing it on top of the toast, simply sprinkle basil and feta cheese to add more kick to the flavor.

 

Spaghetti Aglio Olio made with durum wheat pasta
Spaghetti Aglio Olio made with durum wheat pasta

 

Durum wheat

 

Many people cut down on pasta when they want to lose weight. But eating it in moderation can actually fight obesity. Depending on the type of wheat used, pasta can actually be a healthy type of carbohydrate and a good source of energy.

 

Compared to other types of pasta wheat, durum wheat’s high protein content makes it a healthier choice. It is known for its ground-up version called semolina, which results in a firm, naturally rich, yellow color. It is also very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and is a good source of magnesium and phosphorus, manganese and selenium.

 

Pasta is a known staple of the Mediterranean diet, such as the simple yet delicious Spaghetti Aglio Olio.

 

Contadina, a premium array of Mediterranean essentials, makes it easier to recreate these healthy meals. The brand uses fine olives from Andalucia, Spain, and the finest and juiciest tomatoes from California for its tomato-based products.

 

The sauces are made by a small family-owned company in Italy, ensuring every jar of Contadina pasta sauce is made with high quality ingredients, while 100-percent Canadian durum wheat semolina is used for its pasta noodles.

 

Contadina is available at all groceries and supermarkets nationwide.