Every January U.S. News and World Report releases its annual assessment of “diets”, more realistically viewed as ways of eating or eating patterns.  Recognized experts in multiple fields make the determinations.  They even look at how easy a plan is to use, in addition to its nutritional completeness, safety, and potential to prevent and manage diabetes and heart disease. 

While several eating approaches are highly rated, the Mediterranean Diet (Med Diet) was once again ranked the Best Overall Diet in 2021. 

For all things Med Diet, a great resource is Oldways, a food, and nutrition nonprofit. Over 25 years ago, Oldways created the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid visual guide in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health and WHO. Years of subsequent research documenting its health benefits and of cooks embracing its ingredients and flavors have occurred.

May, International Mediterranean Diet Month, is the perfect time to shine a spotlight on its common foods and flavors, which reflect the eating traditions of this region. 

This month’s Flourish with Food will share the approach’s general guidance.  Next month will focus in on guidance related to two American favorites, red meats and sweets.

It’s likely many of the Med pyramid’s foods are already favorites. To get you started: (1) check off those common to your “way of eating” and (2) think about how often you eat them.

Core foods daily:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Healthy fats, such as olive oil, peanuts, avocados, olives
  • Often, at least twice weekly:

    • Fish and seafood

    Daily to weekly, in moderate amounts:

    • Dairy foods
    • Eggs
    • Poultry

    Sometimes:

    • Red meats
    • Sweets

    Low-to-moderate intake, 5 oz. (if at all):

    • Red wine, primarily and with the main meal

    For tasty meal plans: 

    Make Every Day Mediterranean, 4-Week Menu Plan. 

    Oldway’s Mediterranean Pita Pizza 

    4 small whole-grain pitas

    1 c. tomato sauce 

    ½ c. (4 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

    4 c. sliced mixed vegetables

    4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

    1. Heat oven to 350-degrees.  Arrange pita rounds on a baking sheet.
    2. Using the back of a spoon, spread about ¼ cup of tomato sauce evenly on top of each pita.
    3. Top each pizza with some shredded cheese.  Arrange a choice of vegetables on top, then drizzle with olive oil.
    4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned.

    Tips: 

    1. Substitute whole-grain English muffins
    2. Sprinkle Italian seasoning on tomato sauce 
    3. Use canned pizza sauce which has a thicker consistency and is seasoned
    4. Cut vegetables into smaller pieces for easier coverage: mushrooms, any color sweet pepper, sundried tomatoes, artichokes


    About Mary Lynne Hixson, MA, RD:

    Mary Lynne, a registered dietitian, helps others enhance their health through the advocacy of nutrient-rich food choices and safe food-handling practices. Her expertise also includes counseling patients who have Type 2 diabetes and advising those who are in medically managed weight loss programs. After her 35+ year career, she retired and became involved with the launch of Harvest of Hope Pantry in 2012 as a Board of Directors member. Mary Lynne is a weekly volunteer with Cultivate’s Carry-Out Caravan program, shopping and delivering groceries to seniors in the Boulder area, and also a frequent volunteer with Harvest of Hope.