Friday, January 1, 2010

Healthy Mediterranean Foods

Last week, I was reading an article from the Mayo Clinic about the Mediterranean diet. The cuisine of Crete, much of Greece and southern Italy is rich in olive oil, whole grain, fresh fruits, vegetables and  legumes combined with moderate consumption of nuts, cheese and yogurt, fish and red wine. This healthy cuisine is linked to higher levels of HDL (high density lipoproteins) known also as "good cholesterol" and reduced levels of  low density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad cholesterol". 

It's focus is not to limit total fat intake but to make wise choices about the types of fat we eat.  Healthy fats are olive oil (monounsaturated fats), canola oil, flax seed oil, nut oil, soybean oil and fish oil (these are polyunsaturated fats containing omega-3-fatty acids).  Many believe omega-3 fatty acids improve learning in kids, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, enhance immunity, and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Edamame and chickpeas are my fav beans, mung bean is Teen's and Hubby can't get enough of legumes so I was so excited to receive a package consisting of chickpea salad, pita chips, several kinds of dips from Cedar's Mediterranean Foods. I'm supposed to try out their award-winning products and give them my honest opinion.  What a healthy way to start the year right! 

I cut up red and green bell peppers into "boats" to serve the spinach dip and chickpea salad.  Normally, most recipes for spinach dip uses cream cheese or sour cream and mayonnaise but Cedar's Spinach Dip was made with Greek strained yogurt.  It was very creamy.  It was also a hit when I shared the rest to my friends at Coffee Klatch next day.  They enjoyed the creaminess and balance of flavors of both spinach dip and Cedar's Artichoke Spinach Hommus with Ritz crackers but hands-down favorite was definitely the spinach dip.  I could not taste artichokes in the hommus but Kim felt that you really don't want a strong artichoke flavor to dominate.

Cedar's Chickpea Salad with edamame, chickpeas, green and red peppers, carrots, dried cranberries, rosemary, cumin, vinegar, garlic and black pepper had a lovely flavor. It was not too acidic and no ingredient overpowered the rest. Hubby felt it needed a bit more salt but I liked it a lot.

My plan was to bring the Roasted Garlic Artichoke Salsa and Baked Pita Chips to the Coffee Klatch. Teen wanted to try them right away so they never made it. Teen usually loves his salsa with lots of heat from jalapenos so I was surprised he liked Cedar's comparably tame salsa.  He says the distinct flavors of tomatoes, cilantro, roasted garlic, celery and lime juice came through and despite its tameness, the flavors were addicting!


Anonymous said...

i love the idea of bell pepper "boats" filled with the salad and the dip - such yummy and healthy ingredients !

KennyT said...

Love the presentation of this beautiful dish!