Soaking up Mediterranean Sun

May is a good time to think about eating healthfully, with summer sneaking up on us, we all get a little bit more “into our bodies.” Getting active and moving around outside, hopefully that motivates us to think a little more about maintaining our health for the long haul.

If you are in that frame of mind, the Oldways organization has declared May “Mediterranean Diet Month.” If you are not familiar with Oldways, they are a wonderful group that was founded in the 80’s to educate modern eaters about the wisdom of eating the “old” way. The Mediterranean Diet is an ancient way of eating that emphasizes unprocessed foods from the Med region. Lots of whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds, fish, a little dairy, and very little meat, with olive oil and wine thrown in for good measure.  Med goes Veg very easily.

If you are thinking of going veg, or of trying to tempt people to eat veg with you, Mediterranean foods are always crowd pleasers. The meatless standards of hummus, tabouli, veggie lasagna and big salads are all from the Mediterranean. Just skip the fish and replace it with walnuts and other high omega 3 foods, and you will be dining like the ancients. Small amounts of dairy, in the form of yogurt and cheese, can work for you, or you can go vegan and eat more calcium rich leafy greens. Whole grains are an important base for the Med diet, and they confer all their health promoting qualities to you as you enjoy them in hearty Greek salads and Lebanese flatbreads.

The reasons for reviving the good old days of eating are many. Oldways has collected countless studies showing that eating this way will prevent most of the diseases of our current society, from heart disease and diabetes to obesity and tooth decay. Olive oil and walnuts are even associated with lowered risk of depression.

for a past post on that:

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was created by the group based on the eating style of the island of Crete, Greece and Southern Italy circa 1960, when their rates of chronic diet-related disease were enviably low. 1960 isn’t all that long ago, but those regions were still eating the way their ancestors did, and enjoying life to the fullest.

The Oldways Pyramid, Just take out the meat and fish

So if you want to stay active, feel great, and eat delicious food, the Mediterranean way is a good way to go.  It’s certainly a tasty way to eat yourself well!

For recipes on the Oldways website, go here:

Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad

(from Oldways)

This recipe was passed from Oldways Staffer Georgia Orcutt to Sara Talcott after a conversation about the wonders of barley, and now is a favorite. Its flavors are rich and complex, and it is wonderful over a bed of spicy arugula, and can be served cold or at room temperature. Recipe adapted from Gourmet.


1 1/2 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/4 cups pearl barley (8 oz)
1 3/4 cup veggie stock or 1 3/4 cup water
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint


1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425 degree.

2. Toss eggplant and zucchini with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool, reserving other pan for cooling barley.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

4. Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add barley, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well. Serve with cheese slices.

Nutritional Analysis:

Per serving: Calories: 324, Protein: 6 grams, Fat: 19 grams, Saturated Fat: 3 grams, Carbohydrates: 36 grams, Fiber: 10 grams, Sodium: 533 mg.

8 servings
for a hummus recipe: