My sophomore year in college began with three questions from roommates and friends: “How did you lose the weight so fast?!” “What magic pill did you take?!” “What diet did you follow?!” The secret to losing the wicked freshman 15 (or in my case, the freshman 30) was not a magic pill, nor a starvation diet. It was simply returning home to my mother’s Mediterranean kitchen. That summer break, I traded newly acquired college habits for the foods of my childhood — and almost effortlessly returned to my healthy weight.The benefits of the Mediterranean diet go far beyond weight loss—from reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer to maintaining brain health and even elevating overall mood. With the variety of foods the Mediterranean offers, and in the absence of a long list of restrictive rules, it’s hard to even think of it as a diet. It’s just the Mediterranean way.
There are three simple elements to eating this way: First, eat in-season, mostly plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Second, enjoy lean proteins from fish, eggs, legumes and nuts. And for your cooking fat, use olive oil. Perhaps the most exciting part about eating the Mediterranean way is the big flavor. Naturally flavorful ingredients are emphasized: garlic, onions, citrus, fresh herbs and so many spices.
Although I grew up in a family that prized home cooking and big gatherings, our weeknight meals were always simple. My working parents had three rules: easy, quick-cooking, one pan. And my Mediterranean recipes today take the same no-fuss approach. Here are some of my favorite light spring eats that fulfill my parents’ rules. Enjoy!
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Suzy Karadsheh was raised just blocks from the Mediterranean Sea in Port Said, Egypt. She shares easy and healthy recipes from all over the Mediterranean region on her blog, The Mediterranean Dish.