We’ve been told that Mediterranean-style eating is great for our health. It was reaffirmed last week when U.S. News & World Report released its annual ranking of diets, anointing the Mediterranean Diet with the top spot in the Best Overall Diet category. It was followed by the DASH Diet (developed at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center), and the Flexitarian Diet, which tied for second place. All of these programs advocate incorporating heart-healthy fats and proteins, and they place a big emphasis on consuming more vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
This makes sense and sounds great, until, of course, you find yourself in a weeknight rush. It takes time to prepare tasty whole grains and vegetables; most whole grains need patience to cook fully, and vegetables require washing and chopping. Both are best when jazzed up with chopped herbs, spices and other ingredients, which need their own degree of prep. Frankly, it’s a lot easier to sear a big, flavorful slab of meat and slap it on a plate.
So how do you get around this if you want to create a Mediterranean-inspired family dinner?
It’s actually pretty simple.
Start with a rotisserie chicken. Arrange deboned pieces of white and dark meat on a platter. Surround the chicken pieces with cut raw veggies, like cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet onions and olives. Add a basket of warmed pita, naan or French bread. Around it, place bowls of hummus, baba ganouj and tzatziki. Prepare some quick-cooking whole grains, like quinoa, adding diced bell peppers and lemon juice for flavor and texture. Make a quick batch of lentils, which are ready in about 20 minutes. Or, sauté chopped onions and peppers and raw spinach, and toss in a can of white beans.
See! None of that is difficult, time-consuming or expensive, but the result is quick, yummy and healthful: a family-style spread complete with lean proteins, vegetables and whole grains. Best of all, the leftovers make for a satisfying desktop lunch.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.