Eat and Drink

Your Mediterranean Diet Shopping List

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Why the Mediterranean Diet?

 

The Mediterranean Diet keeps coming up as one of the most healthy diets in the world. You probably already know that it's based primarily on the everyday food of Greeks and other Mediterranean people as recently as a few decades ago. 

 

It consists mainly of plant-based and minimally processed foods. It features local and in-season vegetables, lots of beans, olive oil, fruit, fish and chicken on occasion, meat rarely, and wine. Bread and pastas are part of the traditional as well, but not the ooey-gooey Olive Garden-type pastas - simple, healthful and olive oil-based. 

 

Cheese and yogurt are also a part of the diet. Just make sure it's full-fat Greek yogurt (nothing with crazy flavorings or aspartame), and mostly goat cheeses like feta and other types. 

 

Get used to using lots of extra virgin olive oil; Greek if you can get it. Whole Foods has one that's not expensive. There's a whole range of Greek dishes called lathera (λαδερά) - literally "with oil" - that are various vegetables cooked with olive oil, and occasionally with the addition of tomatoes. Click here to see some lathera recipes.

 

Beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains are eaten almost daily. Enjoy your beans, pasta and rice with vegetables and lots of olive oil!

 

Small amounts of meat and chicken (grass-fed and organic, if possible) are eaten in smaller quantities and less frequently than in a standard Western diet. Think of adding meat to a casserole or chicken to a salad. Have it be the supporting actor rather than the star of the meal. 

 

Omega 3 fatty acids are a big part of the Mediterranean diet - they're anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy. Find them in fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon, seabass and anchovies. Flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are other excellent ways to get Omega 3s, if you don't eat fish. 

 

Eggs are also a big part of the Mediterranean diet. And they don't just have to be for breakfast - add chopped hard boiled egg to a salad for lunch or have a veggie omelette for dinner. 

 

And of course, wine in moderation is very Mediterranean! 

 

Here's a basic list of some things you may want to have on hand for your Mediterranean meal planning. It's by no means exhaustive, but it will get you started.

Grains and Beans

 

lentils

rice

chickpeas

beans of any kind

split peas

barley

bread (preferably whole grain)

pita

paximadia (rusks)

 

Protein

 

fish

chicken

eggs

seafood

red meat very rarely

 

Vegetables (you can use frozen if available - it makes it easy to have on-hand)

 

spinach

zucchini

eggplant

tomatoes (including canned tomatoes)

cucumbers

greens of all kinds - chard, dandelion, kale, etc.

potatoes

onions

avocado

peppers

cauliflower

carrots

okra

beets

green beans

peas

mushrooms

broccoli

cabbage

Dairy

 

Greek yogurt

cheese, especially goat and sheep's cheese

 

Herbs & Spices

 

garlic

basil

oregano

mint

cinnamon

cumin

saffron

 

Fruit

 

all fruit, especially citrus

Other

 

honey

olives

olive oil

tahini

wine, especially red

nuts, especially walnuts, almonds and pistachios

seeds - pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, etc.

herbal teas - Greek mountain tea, chamomile, etc.

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