By Aparna Mele MD; Source: Halfbakedharvest.com
For years now, the Mediterranean way of life has been looked to for health inspiration, and it’s easy to see why. The Mediterranean diet has been linked to numerous health benefits, from treating acid reflux to lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, breast cancer and dementia, and even extending lifespan. Unlike trendy diet fads, trademarked or commercialized plans that require calculations and rules, this diet is more sustaining as a general eating pattern and lifestyle that can be adopted for life. Studies have even shown that you can lose weight on the Mediterranean diet without having to cut any calories. Translation: you can do this diet for life and never feel like you are actually dieting!
In general, the Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and lean sources of animal protein. It is low in red meat and other saturated fats, and it contains fewer processed foods or refined sugars. You can include alcohol in moderation, traditionally as wine with meals, and encourages a sit-down dining experience with family and friends when the meal can be savored and enjoyed, not rushed and inhaled on the go. The Mediterranean diet draws upon the culinary practices and traditional diet of the people of southern Europe, North Africa, and the Mediterranean Middle East. The health benefits have much to do with the heavy plant based foods in the diet, rich with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which are protective against many diseases.
Try this delicious recipe to jump into fall the Mediterranean way!
Souvlakia are Greek skewers with grilled meat or veggies. This recipe is a deconstructed bowl version that’s Mediterranean diet–friendly. The salmon is marinated and grilled before being assembled with couscous, colorful vegetables, and tzatziki.
Salmon Souvlaki Bowls
- 1 pound fresh salmon cut into 4 pieces
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika or regular paprika
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup dry pearl couscous or farro
- 2 red peppers quartered
- 1 inch zucchini cut into 1/4 rounds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 Persian cucumbers sliced
- In a medium sized bowl combine the lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, dill, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the salmon and toss well, making sure the salmon is completely coated in the seasonings. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the couscous or farro, according to package directions.
- In a bowl, toss together the red peppers, zucchini, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt + pepper. Toss well to coat the veggies.
- Heat your grill, grill pan or skillet to medium high heat.
- Transfer the salmon to the preheated grill and grill for about 3 minutes on each side or until the salmon is cooked to your desired doneness. Remove the salmon from the grill. During the same time, add the bell peppers and zucchini, grill 3-4 minutes per side or until char marks appear. Remove everything from the grill.
- To assemble, divide the couscous or farro among bowls and drizzle with lemon juice. Add the grilled veggies, salmon, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and feta cheese. Dollop with Tzatziki and garnish with fresh herbs.