Dietitian A Day - Mediterranean Diet Month Celebration - Day 29
A Mediterranean Quick Fix
Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE
I’ve been a dietitian and diabetes educator for more than thirty years. Over the past couple of decades I’ve owned Hope Warshaw Associates, LLC. Today my work spans from corporate consulting to freelance writing and counseling people with weight and diabetes concerns. I’ve written several bestselling books for the American Diabetes Association including Diabetes Meal Planning Made Easy and Guide to Healthy Restaurant Eating. My articles regularly appear in Better Homes and Gardens’ Diabetic Living magazine. Regardless of the hat I wear I offer practical solutions to eating healthy and living well in today's fast-paced convenience-driven world. And I’ve got first-hand experience at needing to be practical as a mother, wife and chief of shopping, planning and cooking for my busy family. My mantra is I won't suggest it if I can't do it. Please connect with me on Twitter @hopewarshaw and visit my website or blog from time to time.
I’m honored to be one of the dietitians asked to help celebrate National Mediterranean Diet Month and the bounty of fabulous foods at the heart of the Mediterranean eating style. As someone who works hard to eat healthy and feed my family healthy meals foods central to the Mediterranean eating plan are often front and center on our table. One example - the quick and easy-to-fix recipe I’ll share, Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Greek Olives.
Not long ago I found a recipe for oven roasted cherry tomato sauce. I’d always made tomato sauce on top of the stove which took time and attention – something I don’t have during the week. So tomato sauce was relegated to weekend cooking. Not any longer! An oven roasted tomato sauce can go from chopping to serving in 30 - 45 minutes. And it’s flexible. I’ve roasted red peppers, onions and/or zucchini along with the tomatoes.
This quick-to-fix dinner serves up an easy way to include several food groups core to the Mediterranean eating style:
Whole grains: Serve the sauce over a whole wheat and/or high fiber pasta.
Vegetables: Tomatoes are central to this sauce but other vegetables can be oven roasted alongside. This recipe includes Vidalia onions. I’ve roasted red peppers, zucchini with the tomatoes or added fresh or frozen spinach for more nutrition and color.
Olives & Olive Oil: Include Greek olives or a mixture of green and black olives. Use just enough olive oil to minimally coat the tomatoes and keep them from sticking to the pan.
Nuts, Beans, Legumes & Seeds: This recipe lends itself to variation. I used chick peas in this version, but you could use another type of beans, cannellini, black or kidney beans. Or add toasted pine nuts or a handful of walnuts.
Herbs & Spices: Basil and garlic are key to the great taste. When you have fresh chopped basil and garlic use them. (My secret weapon is my frozen cubes of chopped garlic and basil with olive oil stashed in my freezer. We make these each Fall with our leftover garden garlic and basil.)
Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Greek Olives
2 pounds (2 packages) Compari tomatoes, halved or quartered, with stem cut out (or ripe tomatoes of your choosing)
1 small or 1/2 medium Vidalia sweet onion, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
4 – 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup pitted Greek olives, quartered
1/2 - 3/4 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Parmesan cheese (if desired to sprinkle on top)
Heat oven to 400°F.
Halve or quarter tomatoes and place in mixing bowl. Chop onion and mix with tomatoes. Add olive oil, basil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Toss tomato mixture until all vegetables are coated. Place on rimmed cookie sheet or in pan. Roast about 30 minutes until tomatoes are soft and onions soft and translucent. Turn over tomatoes halfway through cooking. Mix in olives and chickpeas.
While the tomato mixture is roasting, cook the pasta of your choice according to the directions on the package. All pastas are healthy, but consider a whole wheat pasta or a high-fiber one for extra benefits.
So whether you want to just eat healthier, manage your weight, and/or prevent or manage pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, following a Mediterranean eating pattern is a wise health move.
And speaking of moving, remember that sufficient physical activity is on the first rung of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. How about trying your hands at a vegetable garden this summer? I just planted our garden and have got the sore muscles to prove it! Include Mediterranean favorites – tomatoes, zucchini, basil, oregano and don’t forget the garlic. Just think, you’ll have the key ingredients for Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Greek Olives just a few steps away. Enjoy!