I was selected to write a guest blog post for the “Dietitian-A-Day For the Month of May” as part of the Mediterranean Diet Month Celebration, this post is from today, May 6. Check out other posts by clicking here. Thirty-one well-known health professionals will provide personal stories and tips about the Mediterranean Diet and share a favorite Mediterranean recipe. I am honored to be part of this group! Here’s the blog post:
With the celebration of National Mediterranean Diet Month in May, it is the perfect time to plant a garden as a family! Not only will gardening enhance your physical activity – which is at the base of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, but it will also allow you to focus on the next step of the pyramid by enhancing your fruits and vegetable intake. On my blog “The Down-To-Earth Dietitian” (http://jenhaugenrd.wordpress.com ), I match my life experiences in the garden with my nutrition expertise to offer ideas that create the connection of fresh food to good health. To inspire you to get out to the garden, here are two plants you can easily grow and reap many health rewards as part of a Mediterranean diet:
Spinach is packed with vitamins A and C, iron, calcium and 1-1/2 cups of spinach is a top source of folate which can reduce homocysteine levels that contribute to heart disease. Spinach grows very easily and quickly actually preferring cooler temperatures which is perfect for spring and fall. As soon as you see the leaves, you can start harvesting whether you prefer them to be baby-like or a little more fully grown. Whether you plant a few seeds in a pot and keep it on your windowsill or grow it in your garden – you will have spinach leaves ready for harvest in just a matter of a couple of weeks.
Strawberries are usually the first fresh fruit of the growing season – I know my kids look for the first ones in the patch and they don’t even make it into the kitchen! In one cup of strawberries, you receive 140% of your daily vitamin C needs along with a tremendous source of antioxidants that work to reduce excess inflammation in the body. Planting strawberry plants is as easy as digging a small hole and spacing each plant one foot apart. But you can also plant strawberries in a planter that allows you to leave them on your doorstep.
This recipe showcases your fresh produce, where the kids can snip the spinach and harvest the berries. It also incorporates a tasty way to use salmon – a strong source of omega-3 fatty acids that contribute to heart health. I recommend salmon or other fatty fish like mackerel, tuna and sardines twice weekly.
Serves 2 as a main dish portion or 4 as a side dish portion.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 (5 oz) salmon fillets
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- ¼ cup toasted pecan pieces
- For the vinaigrette, mix all ingredients in small bowl until well-blended.
- Refrigerate ½ of the vinaigrette to use as a dressing. Place salmon in large re-sealable plastic bag or dish. Add remaining vinaigrette and toss to coat well.
- Refrigerate 30 minutes. Remove salmon from marinade and discard marinade.
- Grill or broil over medium-high heat 5 minutes per side or until salmon flakes in center.
- Divide spinach, berries and pecans among 2 plates. Arrange salmon fillet over salad. Whisk reserved vinaigrette. Drizzle over salads.
For a calendar of ways you can incorporate the Med Diet into your lifestyle, click here.