This age-old eating habit is deeply rooted in the coastal cuisines of Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy, France, and northern Africa. Researchers noted that these people were exceptionally healthy compared to Americans and had a low risk of many killer diseases. Numerous studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can cause weight loss, prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes and premature death.
Exactly which foods belong in the Mediterranean diet is controversial, partly because there is such variety between the different countries. Here are the basics:
- Eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
- Eat in moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.
- Eat only rarely: Red meat
- Don’t eat: Sugar-sweetened beverages, processed meat, added sugar, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.
A perfect plate reflecting the Mediterranean diet is nutritionally balanced, diverse, and full of color, flavor, and texture.
Mediterranean Chicken and Bulgur Skillet
- 4 (6-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic1
- 1/2 cup uncooked bulgur
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 4 cups chopped fresh kale (about 2 1/2 oz.)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced bottled roasted red bell peppers
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh dill
How to Make It
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a 10-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Add chicken to pan; cook until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate.
- Add remaining oil to pan. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add bulgur and oregano; cook, stirring often, until fragrant and toasted, about 2 minutes. Add kale and bell peppers; cook, stirring constantly, until kale begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add stock and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper; bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Nestle chicken into bulgur mixture; place skillet in oven. Bake at 400°F until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 165°F, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with feta. Let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with dill, and serve immediately.
Cooking Light Magazine
Julie Fortenberry is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling.