There’s never a bad time to get into the kitchen and start embracing a healthier diet. But this time of year, the excitement for flavorful, nutritious meals really sizzles. That’s because May is International Mediterranean Diet Month. #MedDietMonth
The Mediterranean Diet was made famous after scientists discovered that people living around the Mediterranean had remarkably better heart health, longer lives, and lower rates of other health problems than people in many other regions. These initial studies were then reinforced with decades of scientific evidence. The foods of the Mediterranean, which include seasonal vegetables and fruits, grain foods (like pasta), pulses, herbs, olive oil, fish, and artisan cheeses, are beautifully illustrated in the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.
Oldways created the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in the early 1990’s, in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health. Since then, Oldways has been an essential voice in bringing this nutritious and delicious pattern of eating into families’ kitchens.
For those of you looking to Mediterranean-ize your pantry, pasta is the perfect place to begin. Pasta is a pillar of the Mediterranean diet, acting as a canvas for seasonal vegetables, fresh herbs, olive oil, and a sprinkle of artisan cheese.
While most people understand that eating more vegetables and fewer sugary desserts is a step in the right direction, the recipes and food pairings in traditional Mediterranean cuisine offer a delicious blueprint for ways to incorporate more nutrition. Pasta, of course, is a key player in this strategy. After all, pasta is the perfect vessel to carry a serving or two of vegetables, and a healthy fat, like olive oil. Plus, if you choose whole grain pasta, your pasta meal will count towards your whole grain needs as well.
For centuries, Mediterranean families relied on grain foods, like pasta, as an important source of nutrition, and a healthy way to stretch local specialties into a hearty meal. These families did not suffer from the diet related illnesses (like diabetes) that we do today, nor were they scared of carbohydrates or fats. That’s because Mediterranean families intuitively understood that staple foods like pasta provide necessary energy and a delicious bite, and are ideal carriers for leafy greens, ripe tomatoes, locally produced olive oil, and freshly caught seafood.
This month, we encourage you to try a new Mediterranean-inspired pasta recipe each week. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
For additional pasta recipes, visit our recipes page here.
This guest blog post was written by Kelly Toups from Oldways, a nonproﬁt food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to inspire healthy eating through cultural food traditions and lifestyles. For more information on Oldways, click here.