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12 Great Ways to Use Artichokes

They may look mysterious, but artichokes are a great family friendly vegetable. One medium artichoke is an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate, and a good source of magnesium. To prepare a whole, fresh artichoke for cooking, rinse and lightly scrub it under cold water. Cut about an inch off the top and remove the bottom of the stem. Snip the thorns off the petal tips with a pair of kitchen shears. Spread the petals slightly apart, rub all cut parts with a lemon, and you’re ready to cook!

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12 Great Ways to Use Avocados

Avocados head the list of healthy fruits, although they’re often categorized as a vegetable since they taste so great in salads. Smooth, buttery, and needing nothing but a quick “nick and peel” to eat as a healthy snack, they contain “good” fats, are linked to reduced risk of chronic diseases, and rank as one of the “super foods” of the Mediterranean Diet. Since they’re typically eaten fresh, their important nutrients aren’t lost in processing or heating. Here are twelve delicious ways to enjoy their creamy flavor and lovely color.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Beets

This wonderfully versatile ingredient has edible roots and greens. A half cup of beet root has just 30 calories, but contains folate and manganese. A half cup of chopped beet greens have a scant 4 calories, but pack vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Grocery stores offer fresh beets, packaged cooked beets (in the produce section), and canned beets, making it easy to integrate them into your meals any time.

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12 Great Ways to Use Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are a popular vegetable in Mediterranean cooking, perhaps because they come in a variety of bright colors. You know what they say: “You eat with your eyes first!” They are also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and a good source folic acid, and fiber, with red bell peppers packing the most nutrition. In fact, red bell peppers are richer in vitamin C than most citrus fruit! They add a touch of sweetness without the excess calories, and are just as delicious raw as they are cooked.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Blueberries

High in vitamin C and a good source of fiber, blueberries may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve cognitive function, and protect the bladder from infection. Buy fresh berries when you can find them, or check the freezer case for frozen choices that now include flavorful wild berries. To use frozen berries in place of fresh, let them sit out at room temperature for about 15 minutes, or zap them in the microwave for about 30 seconds, and drain.

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12 Great Ways to Use Bulgur

Bulgur wheat is one of the world’s original fast foods. It consists of hulled wheat kernels (also called groats) from any of several wheat varieties (most commonly durum wheat). Because the kernels retain their intact germ, bran, and endosperm, they are whole grains. Bulgur has been precooked and dried, so it only needs to be boiled for about 10 minutes to be ready to eat—about the same time as dry spaghetti or linguine. This makes bulgur an extremely nutritious fast food for quick side dishes, pilafs, or salads.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Cabbage

The wide variety of cabbage available in the supermarket means nearly endless ways of incorporating this humble, healthy ingredient into family meals. Bok choy, green, napa (or Chinese), red, and savoy (or curly) cabbages are excellent sources of vitamins C and K. Look for tight heads of cabbage and discard any loose or brown leaves. Avoid overcooking cabbage to keep your kitchen free of that notorious smell.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Canned Beans

Looking for ways to put healthy meals together in minutes? Reach for the canned beans. Traditional cooks soak dried beans overnight before cooking them. But when you’re in a hurry, canned beans are a great convenience. And they deliver plenty of inexpensive protein as well as fiber. Include canned cannellini beans, pinto beans, black beans, or chick peas (garbanzo beans) in your weekday Mediterranean Diet meals. Get into the habit of always draining them in a colander and rinsing them well under cold water to remove as much sodium as possible.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Sardines

Keep a few cans of sardines in your pantry. The USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans—which recommends that we eat more fish—specifically calls out sardines as a great seafood choice for their high levels of omega-3s and their low levels of methyl mercury, a marine contaminant. Sardines are also a source of protein, calcium, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. And, in addition to being incredibly nutritious, sardines—specifically those caught in the Pacific—are also a sustainable choice for the environment.

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12 Great Ways to Use Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is a great Mediterranean Diet food. It is rich in protein, low in fat and calories, and is an excellent source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which science has shown to improve heart health and brain function. With a shelf life of over four years, canned tuna is also affordable and versatile. Here are 12 ways to easily incorporate this nutritional powerhouse into your daily meals.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Cauliflower

Cauliflower is an amazingly versatile ingredient! It’s mild flavor makes it easy to incorporate into a wide range of dishes, meaning you can easily introduce extra fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants to the dinner table.

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12 Great Ways to Use Citrus

Citrus is a healthy and delicious part of the Mediterranean Diet, filled with cancer-fighting flavonoids, and loaded with vitamins and minerals. As with herbs and spices, citrus offers a sodium-free way to flavor foods. Experiment with all sorts of citrus. From tart limes and tangy tangelos to sour lemons and sweet navel oranges, citrus brightens our lives (and our cooking!).

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12 Great Ways to Use Dates

If you haven’t experimented with dates in your kitchen, start with the large, soft, creamy and delicious Medjool dates, grown in the United States in the Bard Valley between Phoenix and San Diego. They deliver special tastes and textures to a wide range of dishes, adding great bursts of flavor to stews, tagines, curries, and grain dishes, or providing the grace note to cooked pasta. Look for them in the produce section of your local grocery store.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Eggplant

A Mediterranean Diet staple, eggplant is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Naturally low in calories, this hearty, satisfying vegetable is a source of fiber. Since eggplant is extremely versatile and can be cooked in many ways, it’s easy to add this nutritious powerhouse to your diet. Here are a dozen ways to bring it to your table.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Eggs

Packed with protein, eggs are a staple in the Mediterranean Diet. They’re easy to find, easy to keep on hand in the refrigerator, economical, nutritious, and versatile. One large egg contains about 70 calories, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein. The yolk, which has nearly 50% of the egg’s protein, is a source of vitamin D and many other vitamins and minerals, so unless you are on a restricted diet, eat the entire egg, as many as one a day.

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12 Great Ways to Use Fennel

Fennel’s fragrant anise-like flavor pairs nicely with onions, garlic, lemon, fresh herbs, seafood, chicken, and pork. Fennel can be sauteed, braised, roasted, baked, or enjoyed raw. And because the bulb, stalks, fronds, and even fennel seeds are all deliciously edible, it is a widely versatile ingredient.

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12 Great Ways to Use Garlic

Although garlic sometimes gets a bad rap for its strong odor, it is still one of the most common ingredients used in Mediterranean cooking. Typically paired with onion, tomato, and ginger, it’s challenging to find a savory recipe that doesn’t list it as an ingredient. Garlic is versatile because of how its flavor changes as it is cooked, from spicy and pungent to sweet and mellow. It’s unique bite is well worth garlic breath.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Grapes

Grapes are grown all over the world and come in thousands of varieties. Many varieties are used to make wine, but a few sweet varieties are used for sale as table grapes. Grapes are an excellent source of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and manganese. They have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and a natural source of polyphenols, which may contribute to heart health and other age-related diseases.

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12 Great Ways to Use Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a key ingredient in the Mediterranean Diet. It is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt since most of the whey has been strained out, and it has a delicious tangy flavor. Plus, it contains twice the protein of regular yogurt and less lactose as well, making it suitable for some people who suffer from lactose intolerance. Eaten plain, it’s a perfect snack. Used in cooking, it lightens, moistens, and supports fresh flavors. And it serves as an excellent stand-in for mayonnaise.

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12 Great Ways to Use Hummus

This nutritious, creamy, and tangy Mediterranean spread and dip provides protein, and fiber, which helps keep you feel full after you eat it. You can buy traditional hummus, made from chickpeas, plus varieties made from edamame, white beans, or yellow lentils, plus flavors ranging from lemon to horseradish. Hummus with baby carrots probably heads the list of healthy snacks in America; the duo is delicious, portable, and inexpensive.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Kale

Kale, a dark leafy green related to collards and cabbage, is a nutrition powerhouse! Whether you use curly, dinosaur (also called lacinato), or red (also called Russian) varieties, you’ll get over 600% of your daily value of vitamin K, over 200% of your daily value of vitamin A, and over 100% of your daily value of vitamin C in just one cup of chopped raw kale. Kale is also a good source of calcium, iron, and manganese. And the best part is that kale is also delicious!

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12 Great Ways to Use Lentils

Lentils are small but nutritional powerhouses of the legume family. A half-cup of cooked lentils has a whopping 9 grams of protein, more than nearly any other legume, and 8 grams of fiber. Plus, compared to other kinds of dried beans, lentils have the added advantage of being quick and easy to prepare. Although they should be rinsed and checked for dirt and debris before cooking, there is no need to pre-soak them. Three varieties of lentils are most widely available: green, brown, and red. The green have a nutty flavor and will stay firm when cooked. Brown lentils soften during cooking, and risk becoming mushy if overcooked. Red lentils are the quickest to cook, and will lose their shape, turning a yellow-orangey color when cooked. The different types make lentils a versatile addition to your diet!

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12 Great Ways to Use Olive Oil

It’s hard to think of a reason not to use olive oil every day. It keeps well, has a delicious taste, and offers remarkable health benefits. Studies show that people who make olive oil a part of their diets have lower rates of diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Supermarkets and gourmet shops offer dozens of choices. Buy several different kinds to discover the range of flavors. Think of it as you do wine: Sample and taste to find your favorites.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Olives

When you adopt the Mediterranean Diet, olives become an important ingredient to use daily in many different ways—on their own as snacks and appetizers, or as important components in dips, sauces, salads, whole grain and pasta dishes, stews, and even baked goods. They’re an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, important fatty acids, natural antioxidants, and iron. There are many different kinds of olives, with varying flavors and colors. Sample them all to find your favorites.

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12 Great Ways to Use Pasta

Pasta is nutritious, delicious, and affordable, making it an important staple in the Mediterranean Diet. A healthy pasta meal is truly the sum of its parts, and features two key factors: what you pair with your pasta, and how much pasta you eat in a meal. Pasta’s versatility allows for almost endless preparations. It is a wonderful partner for almost any vegetable. The dish can be as simple as pasta + al dente vegetables + grated cheese + extra-virgin olive oil, or pasta + a cream sauce with roasted vegetables. Healthy pasta meals are a balance of pleasure and health!
 

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12 Great Ways to Use Peanuts

Peanuts and peanut butter play an important role in the Mediterranean Diet. They are sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and protein and can lower your risk of weight gain, since they help keep you feeling full for hours. When used as a snack, they deliver important nutrition that might otherwise be missing from your diet. And they’re delicious and affordable, too.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Pomegranates

It’s likely that people have been cultivating and enjoying pomegranates for more than 5,500 years! Whole pomegranate arils (the bright red, juicy seed sacs) offer the most nutritional benefit, but pomegranate juice and molasses are also traditional Mediterranean ingredients and can be used to make healthy, delicious dishes.

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12 Great Ways to Use Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the most nutrient dense vegetables and a staple food in cuisines around the world. One medium potato, with skin, has more potassium than a banana, is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin B6, provides about 110 calories, and contains no fat, no sodium, and no cholesterol. There are hundreds of different types of potatoes. Popular varieties include russets, reds, fingerlings, blues, purples, yellows, and whites – each offering different textures and tastes. And potatoes are economical and will keep you feeling pleasantly full long after your meal. Experiment in your kitchen to find ways to make potatoes central to quick and easy meals.

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12 Great Ways to Use Radishes

Radishes add texture and brightness to all kinds of dishes. With only 9 calories in a half-cup serving of sliced radishes, they are an easy, healthy way to season food without heavy use of salt.

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12 Great Ways to Use Salmon

Research shows that seafood is an important part of a balanced diet. Plan to eat fish or shellfish at least twice a week for maximum benefits. Salmon is a delicious and versatile choice often enjoyed as part of a Mediterranean Diet. This nutrient dense fish is low in calories and offers a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids that contributes to brain and heart health.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Shrimp

Fish and seafood are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet. Research shows there are many health benefits—particularly cardiovascular—from eating them at least twice a week. Shrimp, the most popular seafood in the U.S., is prized for its mild flavor, quick cooking time, and versatility. It’s also low in calories and fat. Visit your local fish market to find the most sustainable options, which include wild-caught and U.S.-farmed shrimp.
 

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12 Great Ways to Use Spices

It’s a smart idea to find ways to flavor your food with spices, which provide both a regional and a cultural identity to whatever you prepare, along with many health benefits. Spices are made from the aromatic dried buds, flowers, fruits, seeds, berries, bark, and roots of plants. They can add both flavor and antioxidants to your food and help you wean your palate from salt, which many of us rely upon too much for its familiar flavor. Start with adding just a little spice (measure about ¼ teaspoon) to familiar foods and go from there. Here’s a quick look at some popular spices, from A to Z! Experiment with just one, and then combine several to come up with your own flavors.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Summer Squash

With a one-cup serving offering a mere 20 calories and more than 30% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, summer squash makes a great healthy addition to any meal! Whether you grow it in your own garden or purchase it at the supermarket, summer squash is a versatile vegetable in the kitchen.

 

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12 Great Ways to Use Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the true stars of the Mediterranean diet. Homegrown or sold at your local farmer’s market, simply sliced and served with only a sprinkle of salt or a drizzle of olive oil, they are the essence of summer. Fresh–including cherry, grape, and plum varieties–or canned, they’re also a versatile staple that partners beautifully with herbs and other vegetables in a wide range of traditional dishes including ratatouille and gazpacho. And of course, tomato sauce and pasta are a match made in heaven.

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12 Great Ways to Use Walnuts

Walnuts are nutritious foods that complement a wide range of flavors. They contain a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, and provide protein, too. Plus, they’re easy to find everywhere. Get into the habit of adding them to grain dishes, tossing them along with fresh herbs into salads, sprinkling them on pasta, grinding them to make delicious dips and spreads, and pairing them with vanilla, cloves and cinnamon in desserts. Download the PDF for some easy ways to use them in the kitchen.

 

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