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Mediterranean Mondays

May is Mediterranean Diet Month and in honour of that, here is some food for thought.

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, more than 3 million people in Canada suffer from diabetes and 80% of those will die as a result of heart disease or stroke.  The onset of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through increased physical activity, healthy eating and weight loss.

One way to achieve that is to jump-start your eating habits by adopting the Mediterranean diet.

No doubt you have been hearing about its benefits for years, but do you really know what the diet involves? Unlike fad diets, the Mediterranean diet is not a temporary fix, it is a lifestyle.

Based on whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fresh fish, fresh fruit, olive oil and nuts, the Mediterranean diet has been praised by health officials as a diet rich in the nutrients that we all need. It is based on the dietary traditions of Greece and southern Italy circa 1960, a time when the rates of chronic disease among the population there were among the lowest in the world and the life expectancy was among the highest despite the limited medical services available.

Today we face many concerns over the growing epidemic of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. But research has shown that these problems can be eliminated by doing several things including eating a diet that is high in fiber and low in saturated fat.

That would mean adopting the Mediterranean diet and eating foods like Insalata di Farro (see recipe below).

Starting today and every Monday going forward we will be posting easy recipes, some traditional, some innovative, but all following the Mediterranean philosophy of eating.

Insalata di Farro  – a wonderfully easy summer salad that is filling and light at the same time. It uses the ancient  Roman grain Farro, the oldest cultivated grain in the world, very similar to Spelt. Farro  is extremely high in fiber & protein (2 times that of modern wheat), vitamin B and antioxidants.

1 500g bag of Farro cooked according to the package instructions (approx. 25 minutes in boiling salted water)
1 small red or yellow pepper chopped
1/2 cup of pitted olives of your choice (I prefer Taggiasca for the taste and size)
3/4 cup of quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup of chopped red onion
1 can of tuna, drained (packed in olive oil is better) – omit for a vegetarian version
your favourite artisan EVOO in abundance
3 tbsp of fresh mint chopped

Allow the cooked farro to cool before combining all ingredients together. Dress (heavily!) with your EVOO of choice. I like a fairly robustly flavoured oil with this dish but the important thing is that it is fresh – check your best before dates! Top with chopped fresh mint. Serves 4 with enough left over for your lunch the next day.

This is the basic farro salad so feel free to add, substitute and experiment. Grilled vegetables, fresh peas, marinated artichokes, asparagus are all delicious additions.

Enjoy!

Until next Monday…

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