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Fresh, Clean, Delicious Taste

Jill Weisenberger MS, RD, CDE
As a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and a mom, I fully understand just how important our food choices are to our health, wellbeing and happiness. I invite you to look for me on Twitter @nutritionjill and take a look at my video blog. Learn more about me at my website.

Three things about the Mediterranean-style diet stand out. First is the fresh taste. Meals are cooked and seasoned in ways that make flavors pop. They aren’t weighted down with frying oils and grease or heavy sauces and thick layers of cheese. I’ve raised my family on fresh produce, whole grains, seafood and meats seasoned with herbs, spices, citrus juices, unique vinegars and just a splash of oil. Try my Bean and Barley Salad (below) as a delicious example.

I’m still working on incorporating two other characteristics of a Mediterranean style of eating in my home. Order breakfast in a restaurant in any Mediterranean country, and it’s likely that your plate will arrive with a small assortment of freshly chopped vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes. Unless I’m making an omelet for breakfast, I don’t usually eat vegetables until lunch. The other aspect that I’d like to bring into my own diet is eating fruit for dessert. As a lover of most sweets and all things chocolate, I look forward to a small sugary treat after dinner nearly every day. Fruit is usually more nutritious for fewer calories, but I either forget about fruit after the dinner dishes are done or I just ignore it. Perhaps I’ll make this my new diet challenge. I’ll start with Medjool dates. If they didn’t have pits, you could convince me they were candy.

Bean and Barley Salad



2 cups cooked pearled, barley (prepared without salt)
3 ounces baby spinach, torn (about 4 – 5 cups whole baby spinach leaves), remove tough stems if any
1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (about ¾ cup chopped)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (about 5 – 6 ounces)
1 15-ounce can no salt added cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed or chopped
¼ tsp black pepper
2 ounces reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled

In a large bowl, mix together the cooked barley, spinach, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and beans.

Pour the dressing over the barley, beans and vegetables and mix well. Chill several hours.

Before serving, sprinkle with the feta cheese and mix gently.

Yields: 8 cups, or 6 servings of about 1 ⅓ cups each
Exchanges/Choices: 1 Vegetable, 1½ Starch, 1 Meat, 1½ Fat,

Nutrition information per serving: Calories 230, Total Fat 10g, Saturated Fat 2g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 3mg, Sodium 240mg, Total Carbohydrate 30g,Dietary Fiber 7g, Protein 8g.

This recipe comes from Jill Weisenberger’s newest book, Diabetes Weight Loss—Week by Week, which will be published by the American Diabetes Association and will be available in July 2012. It can be purchased online at www.shopdiabetes.org or at any of your local bookstores.

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