Mediterranean Diet: Fresh and Healthy Choices in Every Season
The Mediterranean diet is not only a type of diet, it is a way of life that makes us happy with its rich flavours and, at the same time, it makes us prettier, healthier, long-lived and full of antioxidants.
Mediterranean à la carte
When it comes to this type of diet, we are actually talking about local, coastal and island food, that is, dishes consumed every day, exclusively made from seasonal ingredients coming from local fields and gardens, fish and seafood caught by our own hands, a bit of dairy products, mostly fermented and only occasionally meat. Therefore, the backbone of the Mediterranean diet consists of whole grains, seasonal vegetables and fruits, wild plants and herbs, beans, nuts, honey and olive oil. Fish and seafood are recommended twice a week, while eggs, yogurt, soft and hard cheeses are recommended moderately, and meat and sweets very rarely.
365 days of the Mediterranean flavours
Spring is the season of awakening from hibernation which implies, for our taste buds and health, all the splendour of the Mediterranean vegetables and wild plants that will now grow again, some of them through the autumn as well. Asparagus probably represents this season the best! It grows in the wild and it is up to you to simply pick it during your walks in the nature, and of course eat it while it is still beautifully fresh. Roasted asparagus (grilled in the barbecue or pan) with some lemon, chopped garlic and olive oil is not only a symphony of flavours for your taste buds, but also one of the Mediterranean health secrets coming right from your plate. Another slightly neglected ingredient is baby potato. This brown ball is full of vitamins and minerals and, with its edible skin, it also has a bunch of dietary fibres essential for a healthy immunity, as well as a better nutrient absorption and a cleaner skin. Roasted baby potatoes with baby carrots taste wonderfully, and that can be a great side dish along with veal or lamb and scallion, which are also seasonal in the spring. There are also young cabbage, kale, all kinds of lettuces and edible herbs, and the word of the day or word du jour connecting all of them is “youth”.
Those of us who have spent a good part of our lives by the sea know very well what it means to have fresh ingredients and eat them raw or prepare immediately. Especially in the summer when there is an abundance of vegetables, delicious fruits and numerous green leafy sources of health. Their simple preparation with a bit of olive oil and very few spices will spice up your holiday in the best and healthiest possible way. You won’t be feeling hungry and you will be full of energy for all those activities you want to experience! The summer queen of fruits is tomato (yes, tomatoes are officially fruits!) containing lycopene which is good for your heart, eyes, skin and, in short, the whole body. It is excellent in all shapes, from salad to fine sauces in which it enhances the flavours of innumerable dishes. If it is cooked, it is even healthier. As a sauce with fresh and homemade pasta, it is a symbol of love on the plate, but as a salad with mozzarella, fresh basil and a few drops of homemade olive oil, it represents a true meaning of the Mediterranean life. In the summer, we also have courgettes, cucumbers, artichokes, fennel, spinach, broccoli, aubergine, figs, peaches, watermelons, melons… Summer = wealth of the Mediterranean.
During the autumn, there are plenty of fruits of nature as well. Mushrooms are our first association to this period, but let’s not forget about nuts, legumes, olives and a variety of fruits such as apples, plums, grapes, clementines… One of the most beautiful dishes that bring warmth to the body and soul is wild mushroom soup with toasted almonds and baked olives. All the nuances of autumn (colours and) flavours delight us and show us just how different the Mediterranean is (ahem, and better) from the other places in the world.
In the winter, we will often find seafood like squid and clams on our plates because they are the most delicious in this period. We turn to some “stronger” Mediterranean dishes for additional energy, such as minestrone soup made from various seasonal local vegetables with toasted homemade bread. The winter in the Mediterranean is rich in colours of citruses such as tangerines, lemons, oranges, but also one of the most nutritious fruits of the entire region – pomegranate – which is a part of desserts as well as salty dishes like salads and sauces. Your mouth starts watering at the very idea of fish with some wild vegetables like fennel. How does a roasted duck breast with nuts sprinkled with seasonal citruses sound to you? Squid stuffed with homemade cheese and prosciutto on an aromatic rice covered with olive oil … And so on and so forth. Life is beautiful, isn’t it?
We love living the Mediterranean lifestyle and eating the Mediterranean way! What is your favourite season of the Mediterranean diet? Which ingredients or dishes do you like to eat in restaurants, and which ones do you like (and know how) to make at home?