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Meatless Monday: Mediterranean style

Patricia Conte has a background in marketing communications and works as an independent writer. In 2010, she was given the opportunity to combine her love of writing and food when she started as a contributing writer for the Food channel...

A meatless Mediterranean feast

You may have heard about the “Mediterranean Diet,” but for people in many Mediterranean countries, a Mediterranean diet is simply a lifestyle and not a meal plan. Mediterranean dishes are heart-healthy and fit in nicely with Meatless Monday, as the diet (or way of eating) is generally associated with a limited consumption of red meat.

Mediterranean diet meals

Along with their way of living, people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea (including Greece, Israel, Italy, Morocco and Spain) eat things like whole grains and plant-based foods. They use herbs and spices rather than salt, eat a few servings of fish each week and limit the amounts of fatty foods they eat, including red meats.

A Mediterranean diet is a good fit with Meatless Monday. Take a journey on your Meatless Mondays without leaving town -- there are many Mediterranean-style recipes, foods and eating habits you can try!

Tips for healthy, Mediterranean-style eating habits:

Limit red meats

A perfect fit for Meatless Monday, a Mediterranean diet cuts back on red meat consumption.

Fit in fruit and vegetables

Try to make the majority of your meals based around vegetables and fruit. Go for fresh, in-season items if possible.

Go for the whole grains

Incorporate more whole grains into your meals. Switch to whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta and rice.

Get nutty

The "good" fat in nuts can help lower cholesterol levels, they're high in fiber which keeps you feeling full, and they contain omega-3 fatty acids that are good for the heart. Incorporate walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and macadamia into your meals and snacks.

Switch from butter to olive oil

Use olive oil in your cooking and as a replacement for margarine and butter. Drizzle it on steamed or grilled vegetables, use it as a dip for whole-grain bread and as a topping to your favorite pasta.

Feast on fish

Add steamed or grilled fish to your menu a few nights a week. Try mackerel, salmon or trout. Fish is another good source for omega-3 fatty acids and protein, and is low in saturated fats.

Dial down the dairy

Try to keep the high-fat dairy products to a minimum. Switch to low fat or skim milk, cheeses and yogurt.

Substitute the salt

Instead of shaking on the salt, try replacing it with herbs and spices. You'll add flavor and seasonings without the added sodium.

Toast with wine

If your doctor doesn't prohibit you from drinking wine, you might consider drinking a glass of red with dinner. Some studies indicate red grapes (and red wine) could be good for your heart. If you don't drink alcohol, you can drink (red or purple) grape juice instead.

Mediterranean-style Meatless Monday recipes

Read more about Meatless Monday

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