This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. As always, all opinions and ideas are entirely my own.
I’ve seen a lot of fad diets come and go over the years, and for the most part I haven’t gotten involved in very many of them. And that isn’t because I haven’t ever wanted to lose weight—on the contrary, in fact! But many of the trendy diets that have surfaced over the few decades have been so obviously unhealthy that I have steered clear of them entirely. But in the past few years or so, there has been a definite upswing in diets that focus on making sustainable lifestyle changes, rather than doing dangerous crash diets. One such diet is the Mediterranean Diet, and I keep hearing about it everywhere!
Today I’ll be sharing a primer about the Mediterranean Diet, including what it is, what the purported benefits are, and how you can get started on it too. I’ll also share one of the most delicious recipes I’ve made in recent memory (courtesy of my friends at Blue Apron) that just so happens to be 100% Mediterranean Diet-approved! Seriously, who knew cauliflower and farro could taste so dang good?! So let’s get started!
What Is The Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is based on the historical eating patterns of people living in the Mediterranean region in southern Europe. Some of the basic building blocks of the diet of Mediterranean people are local fruits and vegetables, fresh seafood, and lots of locally-made olive oil. (Note the conspicuous lack of red meat and dairy products in this list, which are eaten sparingly in the Mediterranean region.)
Dining like the Mediterraneans do is not only a delicious way to eat, but there are plenty of benefits to eating this way! The Mayo Clinic sites studies that show the Mediterranean Diet can lower your risk of heart disease and protect against degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The Mediterranean Diet may also be a good option for those looking to lose weight. You’ll get plenty of high-quality protein, while cutting out processed foods and added sugar. That means the food you eat will help you stay full throughout the day, reducing blood sugar spikes and those dreaded afternoon “snack attacks.” Some even claim that the Mediterranean Diet may help you live longer!
Mediterranean Diet Shopping List
Here’s a quick glimpse at what your shopping list might look like if you were eating according to the Mediterranean Diet. Feel free to use this list however you like!
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard)
Herbs & Spices
- Chicken breasts
- Goat cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Nuts (almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews)
- Seeds (sunflower seeds, sesame seeds)
- Legumes and beans (chickpeas, lentils, cannellini beans)
- Whole grains (barley, farro, quinoa)
- Whole wheat bread or pita
As you can see, there’s nothing too crazy or out there on this Mediterranean diet shopping list. I’m sure you’ve heard of most of these ingredients before, even if you haven’t prepared them at home! But if you want to get a better feel for what the Mediterranean diet looks and tastes like, there’s no easier way to do it than through Blue Apron.
The Mediterranean Diet & Blue Apron
Blue Apron has started offering at least 2 specially marked Mediterranean Diet recipes each week. If you’re looking to see if the Mediterranean Diet can work for you, Blue Apron makes it so easy! Just sign up, choose a meal plan, the select the marked Mediterranean Diet recipes from among the 8 recipe options. You’ll receive all the delicious ingredients you need in the exact right amounts, meaning no guesswork and no waste. It couldn’t be easier or more convenient!
I recently tried out a couple of the Mediterranean Diet recipes from Blue Apron, and honestly, I was SHOCKED at how delicious they were! My very favorite recipe I tried was Za’atar-Roasted Cauliflower with Date-Farro Salad. I will freely admit that I had some reservations about this recipe before I made it. I had no idea what za’atar was, and I’d never eaten farro before in my life. But I was willing to venture into the unknown in the name of food, and I’m SO glad I did! The dish is bursting with flavor, and the bright and tangy sauce on top might just be one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Here’s how you can make it at home (and I really think you should!)
Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower with Date-Farro Salad
- 1 cup semi-pearled farro
- 1 head cauliflower
- 4 oz sweet peppers
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch parsley
- 4 dried Medjool dates
- 1 1/2 oz feta cheese
- 1/2 cup labneh cheese*
- 1 pickled shallot*
- 3 Tbsp roasted almonds
- 1 lime
- 1 Tbsp za’atar seasoning
*Author’s Note: Labneh is a Middle-Eastern dairy product that’s thicker in texture than Greek yogurt. You can find it many grocery stores, but in case you can’t find it, you can always make your own labneh at home by straining yogurt to achieve the thick and creamy texture. As far as the pickled shallot goes, some stores sell them in jars in the pickle aisle, but you can also make your own pickled shallots at home.
Start by slicing the cauliflower into 1″ thick “steaks,” making sure to keep them as intact as possible. Drizzle your cauliflower steaks with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and about half of the tablespoon of za’atar seasoning.
Roast the cauliflower at 450°F for 25-27 minutes, or until lightly browed and tender when pierced with a fork. Top with the juice from half of your lime.
While the cauliflower is cooking, put the farro into a small pot of boiling water. Boil the farro for 18-20 minutes. Drain, drizzle with olive oil, and return to the pot.
Now you’ll prep the rest of your ingredients. Remove the stems and seeds from the sweet peppers, then slice them crosswise into rings. Roughly chop the garlic. Pit and roughly chop the dates. Roughly chop the pickled shallot and drain off any liquid. Roughly chop the roasted almonds. Finally, roughly chop the parsley too.
Next you’ll cook the peppers! Toss them in a medium-sized non-stick pan with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the garlic and dates to the mixture and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, season the labneh cheese with the remainder of the tablespoon of za’atar seasoning, the other half of the lime juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir, then season it with salt and pepper to taste.
Finally, add the cooked pepper mixture, the chopped shallot, and the feta cheese to the cooked farro. Stir it up, then serve on plates along with the cooked cauliflower steaks. Garnish each dish with chopped almonds, parsley, and a scoop of the seasoned labneh. YUM!
Making this delicious cauliflower dish totally opened my eyes to just how delicious the Mediterranean Diet can be. I now have a better understanding of the fact that just because something is healthy doesn’t mean it can’t also be super flavorful!
If you’re thinking about giving the Mediterranean Diet a try (or just want to see what all the fuss is about), I highly recommend exploring the delicious Mediterranean meals kits from Blue Apron. (And why not? There’s no contracts or commitments to worry about, and you can skip or cancel shipments at any time!)