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Figs

Figs are one of the fruits we enjoy a lot around the Mediterranean. And of course we eat it in season. Figs have two seasons; a short season in early summer, and a second one that starts late in summer and runs through fall.

I love figs, and wait for them every year! I love them in salads, with nuts, cheese or even cured meat like pancetta, ham or bacon.

p-fig1_1482202cFigs, like other fruits , have a lot of benefits:

-Figs are rich in potassium and minerals that can help control hypertension.

-Figs are full of dietary fibers. A high fiber diet helps to slow down digestion and cuts your hunger.

-Research indicates that regular consumption of figs helps in reducing the chance of post-menopausal cancer by 34%.

-Figs have anti diabetic properties to help you lower your blood sugar level.

-Daily use of figs can lower triglyceride levels within the blood (triglycerides are the main type of fats that go around in the blood).

And here is a simple way of enjoying them differently: Fig crostini:

-Finely chop figs and toss with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.

Let the figs sit while you cut baguette slices and toast them.

Top the toasts with the fig mixture, add some fresh ground pepper. You can spread a bit of fresh goat cheese to the toasts first if you like.

These are great for a light lunch or a snack!

*image via google

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Power in a small package

We always have a bowl of olives at the table, be it lunch or dinner. It’s a starter, an end to a meal, or just the pleasure of savoring the olives of the season.

Experts recommend taking 7 olives a day. In our house 7 is just not enough! My daughter alone can eat 20 in one sitting if i don’t stop her!

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-Olives contain a natural chemical that reduces stress in the brain. Eating a daily serving of olives improves memory by 25% according to a research from the University of Massachusetts.

-They are rich in iron, which helps in the rise of hemoglobin in the blood.

-Olives, like olive oil, contain oleic acid which keeps skin soft and healthy, and improves the appearance of wrinkles by 20%.

-Olives contain vitamin E, an excellent antioxidant for skin health.

-Olives have a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids, making them an ideal food for the prevention of cardiovascular disease by decreasing cholesterol levels in the body.

-The combination of monounsaturated fat and vitamin E make olives a great health benefit;they help in preventing the risk of colon cancer.

Both black and green olives can complement almost anything; salads, pasta, chicken, cheese, pizza, dips, appetizers, Greek yogurt…

This is a salad that i love, and have whenever i can: Wild Thyme Salad

(If you can’t find wild thyme in the grocery stores or at the local farmer’s market, try it instead with wide leaf origano, since they are from the same family.)

-1 bunch of wild thyme

-4 green onions finely chopped

-10 green olives cut in half

-Juice of 1/2 a lemon

-olive oil, salt and pepper.

Rinse and dry the thyme. Pick the leaves and place in a plate. Add the chopped green onions and the olives. Mix with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

We usually eat this salad with pita bread. Enjoy

*image via pinterest

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How we benefit from avocados

On the Mediterranean you can find avocados almost all year long. Here in Canada i find it all year long too, but it comes from warmer countries.

I eat avocados everyday; alone with some salt and olive oil, in salads, with quinoa, tofu, as a spread instead of butter…

Avocados are rich in protein, fiber and many other nutrients. It also increases the absorption rate of nutrients.

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-Avocados like olive oil, are high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.

-One cup of avocado has 23% of the recommended daily value of folate. Studies show that people who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower incidence of heart disease than others.

-Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintain overall health.

-Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which help control triglycerides in the bloodstream, lower blood cholesterol and control diabetes.

-A typical avocado contains soluble and insoluble fiber; that alone makes it very powerful. Insoluble fiber is great at cleaning out your bowels, you will reduce your chance of being constipated and lesser the chance of getting colorectal cancer.

Soluble fiber on the other hand is great for appetite control.

-Eating avocados will give you a feeling that your belly is full. Therefore, it reduces your food intake, the temptation to take sugars and saturated fats.

Are avocados an important part of your diet? If not, add it to your daily intake and try feeling the difference!

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Mediterranean herbs and spices

Herbs and spices are a great way to spice up your dishes. With spices you don’t need to add fats, because on their own they give an absolutely great taste!

In the Mediterranean diet, spices are used to enhance the flavor of its produce, be it vegetables, legumes, meat, fish or poultry. They are incredibly healthy and should be consumed frequently.

Spices and herbs are a surprising source of antioxidants and help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

The Mediterranean region is exceptionally fertile, making it easy for herbs and spices to flourish there. But thankfully we can find all these herbs and spices everywhere!

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Here are some of the Mediterranean herbs and spices:

Basil, Cinnamon, Sage

Bay leaves, Cloves, Sea salt

Caraway seeds, Coriander, thyme

Cardamom, Garlic, Turmeric

Chives, Marjoram, Ginger

Cilantro, Mint, Pepper

Nutmeg, Oregano, Parsley

Onion, Rosemary, Chili peppers, dill.

See some of their benefits here.

Tips:

-Stir some oregano in your vinaigrette salad dressing.

-Add rosemary leaves to veggies like asparagus, spinach and tomatoes.

-Mix up:1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper and a dash of sea salt. Pour into a bowl and serve with bread. Delicious!

*image via pinterest

 

 

 

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8 reasons to add Omega 3 to your diet

After an exhausting trip across the ocean, i finally arrived back home to visit my parents. And the first thing my mother gives me is an Omega 3 tablet! “You have to do a cure , you know that don’t you?” Well yes i KNOW, but it’s still good for your mom to know everything right?!

The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating foods with actual health benefits , including foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Eating fish a few times a week is one way of following a healthy Mediterranean diet.

Fatty fish, such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, tuna and salmon are rich sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 lowers triglycerides, decreases blood clotting, improves the health of blood vessels and helps moderate blood pressure.

Salmon Fillets CREDIT AquaBounty

We need Omega 3 for our bodies to work normally. Because they are not made in the body, we need to get them from our diet or as supplements.

1-Omega 3 in modest doses reduces cardiac death.

2-Omega 3 fatty acids prevent atrial fibrillation after coronary artery bypass surgery.

3-Omega 3 supplements have a therapeutic effect in children with ADHD.

4-Omega 3 fatty acids improve macro and microvascular function in subjects with type 2 diabetes.

5-An 8 month treatment with Omega 3 fatty acids has a positive effect on decreasing inflammation in patients with cystic fibrosis.

6-Omega 3 may have a therapeutic effect on postpartum depression.

7-Higher intake of Omega 3 may reduce the risk of pneumonia.

8-Omega 3 improves skin health, by helping the prevention of acne and psoriasis.

*image via google

 

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The facts about “liquid gold”

Fat is bad for you. As in trans and saturated fats. Two other types of fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, can actually improve your health by lowering your bad cholesterol or LDL, and help your body absorb vitamins. What are we talking about? Olive oil of course!

Olive oil is also known to be gentle on the digestive system and even may help prevent gallstones and ulcers.

Olive oil is loaded with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants, which many believe help protect the body from cancer.

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-Olive oil is naturally cholesterol, sodium and carbohydrate free.

-Color is not a factor; greener oils come from green olives while the black ones yield paler oil.

-In natural medicine, olive oil has been used for reducing muscle aches and hangovers, as laxatives, sedatives…

-Olive oil coats rather than penetrates, so food fried in olive oil is less greasy than food fried in any other kind of oil.

-Stored in a cool dark place, olive oil can keep for 2 years or more. (My parents get big gallons of olive oil, yeah they use it a lot, and store it in their attic).

-Even monounsaturated fat like olive oil is high in calories, so use it with moderation, don’t go drizzling it all over your food because it’s healthy!

-Don’t forget, extra virgin olive oil is the one with the most nutrients and benefits.

Olive oil isn’t just for salad dressing or cooking, check out the  unusual uses for olive oil  here .

*image via pinterest

 

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Pomegranate,”the miracle fruit”!

Growing up, my mother used to break open the fruit, fill up a bowl, and we would eat it with a spoon. Till this day, whenever i’m back home, i always find a bowl in the fridge; my father has been eating it all his life, maybe this is why he looks so young?

The pomegranate is an original native of Persia, and has been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life; ancient Egyptians buried their dead with pomegranate, believing it offered eternal life!

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-Pomegranates are rich in potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease, cancer and hardening of the arteries.

-In some studies, these potent antioxidants have shown to reduce platelet aggregation and naturally lower blood pressure, factors that prevent both heart attacks and strokes.

-Research has also shown that drinking pomegranate juice can increase oxygen levels to the heart.

-The juice also contains phytochemical compounds that stimulate serotonin, improving symptoms of depression.

-A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries and cranberries. My cousin was right when she told me  she and her husband both drink a glass everyday!

You can find pomegranate from September through January. When refrigerated in a plastic bag, they can keep for up to 2 months.

Pomegranate is often used in Mediterranean dishes, as is the pomegranate molasses sauce, that is used in marinades, salad dressings or as a dipping sauce (i always buy it ready made, and you can find it in middle eastern speciality stores).

I sprinkle pomegranate seeds on salads, quinoa, grilled Halloumi cheese, or try it mixed with some cooked wheat, almonds, pine nuts, rose water and sugar. Delicious!!

*image via pinterest

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6 reasons why cinnamon is a healing spice

I have received lots of emails asking about cinnamon and its benefits, so of course here they are! Cinnamon is found a lot in the Mediterranean, specially in Morocco where spices are often thrown together to give this sweet and savory taste.

Cinnamon isn’t just for cooking and baking, research has found that it is one of the most powerful healing spices!

1359246674h0vdyHere are 6 of its most famous benefits:

1-Lowers cholesterol: studies have shown that 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon a day can lower LDL cholesterol.

2-Anti-clotting: it has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.

3-Arthritis relief: a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with 1 teaspoon of honey acts as a pain reliever for arthritis. (My mother uses this and swears by it!).

4-High in nutrients: cinnamon is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron and calcium.

5-Cancer prevention: according to a study by the Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.

6-Blood sugar regulation: cinnamon has become most famous for its ability to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes.

You can add it to your coffee grind, mix into yogurt, sprinkle it on oatmeal, even add it to your smoothies….

 

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Why add yogurt to your diet

Yogurt has been part of the Middle Eastern diet as early as 2000 BC. Back home we eat a lot of yogurt, and by yogurt i mean the plain kind; for breakfast, with some foods at lunch time, at dinner and even as a snack with some honey.

Yogurt

-Yogurt is a rich source of calcium, a mineral that contributes to colon health and decreases the risk of colon cancer. People who have diets high in calcium (like the Scandinavian countries) have lower rates of colorectoral cancer.

-Yogurt can boost immunity; the bacterial cultures in yogurt have been shown to stimulate infection-fighting white cells in the blood.

-For children, its is a most balanced source of protein, fats, carbohydrates and minerals.

-Yogurt, because it contains less lactose than milk, is good for healing intestines and is a “healing food” for diarrhea.

-The probiotics (beneficial bacteria) in some yogurts balance the microflora in your gut, and aids with digestion.

activia-vanillaThis is one of my favorite probiotic yogurt, i have it everyday with some fruits and chia seeds, tastes great!

-Yogurt is good for lowering the risk of blood pressure.

For the face: it gently exfoliates the top layers of the epidermis, which can clear up blemishes and discolorations and may even reduce fine wrinkles. My mom used plain yogurt on my brother’s face when he came back from skiing once, and had his whole face burned and peeling!It was funny but worked wonders!

-Yogurt may help you loose weight: It helps feel fuller and less hungry.

An unusual use of yogurt is as a brass polisher! ‘The lactic acid works to eat away the tarnish”.

Tzatziki sauce Recipe:

-3 cups plain greek yogurt

-1 clove garlic, crushed

-2 medium cucumbers, diced

-1/2 tsp dried mint

salt (optional: juice of 1/2 a lemon)

Great on its own, with meat or chicken, grilled veggies…The perfect summer side dish!

*images via google

 

 

 

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Are you eating lentils?

Since we eat meat very rarely, twice or three times a month, we use a lot of legumes in our diet. And lentils are one of my favorites.

Researchers have found that eating lentils (and other legumes) is the single most important dietary factor in longevity; lentils are a nutritional fountain of youth!

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Low in calories and high in nutrition, lentils are perfect to eat this season as salads. They are very easy to cook and taste great!

1-Lentils are very rich in protein; 26% of lentil’s calories are attributed to protein, which makes them a wonderful source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.

2-Lentils are great for weight loss. One cup of cooked lentils contains only 230 calories, but still leaves you feeling full.

3-Lentils are good at stabilizing blood sugar levels and slowing down digestion. Great for people with diabetes.

4-Several studies have shown that eating high fiber foods like lentils reduces your risk of heart disease.

5-They are a great source of magnesium which improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

6-Lentils help also in reducing blood cholesterol since it contains high levels of soluble fiber.

Red lentils provide less fiber than the black, brown or green variety, because they are sold with their hulls removed.

Mediterranean lentil salad Recipe:

1/2 cup cooked lentils

lemon juice

extra virgin olive oil

1 onion finely chopped

1 tomato finely chopped

salt and pepper

1 small cucumber finely chopped

1/2 red pepper finely chopped

1/2 avocado cut in cubes (optional)

Mix all the vegetables with the lentils, add the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

*image via pinterest

 

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