The Mediterranean Diet has received a lot of press this year as countless studies have uncovered the numerous health benefits of this style of eating. Evidence has shown that the Med Diet can increase lifespan, prevent cancer, protect against metabolic syndrome,control diabetes, ward off Parkinson’s disease, lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and elevated “bad” cholesterol levels, and even slash the risk of Alzheimer’s! In fact, researchers found that women who followed a healthy Mediterranean diet during middle age were about 46% more likely to live past the age of 70 without chronic illness and without physical or mental problems than those with less-healthy diets. You can find that study here.
So how do you follow a Mediterranean diet?
- Base every meal on plant foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa and bulgur), beans, nuts, legumes (lentils, dried peas and beans), seeds, herbs and spices.
- Use 60mls of olive oil daily as your principal fat.
- Eat seafood at least twice a week.
- Eat moderate portions of cheese and yogurt daily to weekly.
- Eat moderate portions of poultry and eggs every two days or weekly.
- Eat Fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert; sweets with a significant amount of sugar and saturated fat consumed not more than a few times per week.
- Limit Red meat to a few times per month (recent research suggests that if red meat is eaten, its consumption should be limited to a maximum of 12 to 16 ounces [340 to 450 grams] per month; where the flavor is acceptable, lean versions may be preferable).
- Moderate consumption of wine, normally with meals; about one to two glasses per day for men and one glass per day for women. From a contemporary public health perspective, wine should be considered optional and avoided when consumption would put the individual or others at risk.
This delicious dish of clams and cabbage served over a slice of hearty whole grain bread is a perfect example of a meal you would eat when following the Mediterranean diet. By eating this way, you don’t have to forgo flavour to eat healthy and prevent disease.
Ingredients: Serves 6
For the Greens:
- 5 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 5 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 head of savoy or green cabbage, cored and shredded coarsely (I used this green cabbage from my garden)
- 1 large bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed and ripped into small pieces
- 1/4 tsp iodized salt
- 1 long red chili, seeded and chopped finely
- 2 400 gram(14.5 oz) cans chopped tomatoes with their juice
For the Clams:
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus extra to drizzle on bread
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 4 dozen small clams in shell, scrubbed clean
- 6 slices of thickly cut wholegrain bread
For the greens
Warm 5 Tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for around 7 minutes until the garlic is soft and translucent. Add the Tuscan Kale and cabbage and toss with oil. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the greens begin to wilt. Add the salt and chili, stir and raise the heat to medium. Cover and cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally until the greens are tender. Add the tomatoes and their juice. Cover partially, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes .
For the Clams
After you have added the tomatoes to the greens and it is simmering, start cooking the clams. Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant (about 3 minutes). Raise the heat to medium-high and add the wine. Add the clams and cover the pan. Cook the clams for about 5-8 minutes until they just open. Remove any unopened clams and discard. Add the clams and their broth to the cabbage and stir gently until well combined. Turn off heat. Drizzle bread slices with olive oil and place under a broiler for a few minutes on each side until bread is toasted and golden. Place one slice of toast in a bowl and spoon over clams and greens as well as some of the broth. Enjoy!