Today our nutritionist/guest blogger Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN, shares the secrets of the Mediterranean diet and its health benefits. Not only will your tastebuds and body benefit, but your mind will, too. Don’t miss her recipe for Mozzarella Caprese Bites below! Vicki is a registered dietitian and author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods (Alpha Books/Penguin, 2011).
By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN
How many of us eat like people in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal? Recent research shows that the diet of those in Mediterranean countries is loaded with beneficial health properties that fend off heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, depression and can even elevate your mood.
Plant foods like whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet. Filling up your plate with vitamin C, potassium, B-vitamins like folate, as well as fiber and healthy fats goes a long way toward longevity and health. In my travels through Italy and Spain, I was exposed to this healthy way of eating with plates drizzled with olive oil and loaded with grilled vegetables, whole grain pastas, lentil and berry salads and the proverbial glass of red wine to wash it all down. It’s not only a colorful feast for the eyes, but healthy fuel for your body and soul.
One of my favorite family Mediterranean-style dishes – which is a twist on the Italian classic Caprese salad – is Mozzarella Caprese Bites (featured in chapter 24 of my book). Eat this as a side dish paired with grilled fish or enjoy them as an appetizer.
Mozzarella Caprese Bites
These are a bite-size, tasty, and a healthful start to a party or simple dinner.
Each serving has:
10 g total fat
5 g saturated fat
0 g trans fat
18 mg cholesterol
304 mg sodium
16 g carbohydrates
2 g fiber
2 g sugars
11 g protein
5 percent iron
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese, diced
2 TB. fresh basil, chopped
2 TB. balsamic vinegar
1 TB. extra-virgin olive oil
[1/4] tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
12 whole grain toast rounds or pita chips
1. In a large bowl gently toss together cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
2. Dollop a tablespoon of the mixture onto each of the toast rounds and serve.