Evidence is mounting on the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet – a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy fats. Low-fat dairy foods, lean red meats, fish, skinless poultry and eggs are also included in the diet, if desired, but in moderate amounts. This way of eating can lower the risk for heart disease and diabetes and may help prevent certain cancers as well. A recent study in Greece followed 2,500 adults for 10 years. They found that those individuals ranked in the top third as being most adherent to a Mediterranean diet had a 47% decrease in risk for developing heart disease compared to individuals that did not follow the diet (ranked in the bottom third).
Following this diet may be a complete lifestyle change for you, but small goals can help get you there. One way to increase your vegetable consumption is to start your lunch or dinner meal with a salad or vegetable soup. This pasta fagioli soup, or pasta and beans soup, with it’s savory tomato-based broth, is full of vegetables and flavor. It’s also a wonderful light meal with some carrot sticks and hummus, even though my teenage son has declared that soup is not a meal. However you enjoy this comforting soup, you’ll know it’s good for your heart.
Did you try this recipe? Do you have a favorite soup you enjoy? Please click on the title of this post and scroll to the bottom to leave a comment.
Alphabet Soup with Vegetables and Beans
1 sweet or yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green squash, halved, seeds scooped out with a spoon, halved again and chopped
2 yellow squash, halved, seeds scooped out with a spoon, halved again and chopped
3 carrots, sliced in half and chopped
3 celery sticks, sliced in half and chopped
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, stems removed, chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) petite diced tomatoes
1 can (15.5 oz.) cannelloni (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
32 oz. vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 ½ cup alphabet pasta*
¼ tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Dried parsley
½ tsp. Dried oregano
1 tsp. Basil
1 Bay leaf
Warm olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion, carrot, celery and garlic for 8 minutes.
Add green and yellow squash, salt and pepper and dried herbs (except bay leaf) and sauté another 5 – 8 minutes.
Add spinach and sauté another minute until wilted.
Add beans, tomatoes, stock, water and bay leaf and increase heat to medium-high until simmering.
Once simmering, add pasta and reduce heat to medium once pasta begins to simmer. Let simmer 10 minutes until pasta is cooked through. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 10 more minutes. Add more water if desired. Remove bay leaf before serving.
*For chunky pasta, like elbows, cook pasta separately and add to the soup during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Recipe compliments of http://www.nourishednation.wordpress.com
If you are up to your ears in vegetables from your garden, this ratatouille should do the trick. It’s a hearty vegetable stew, also known as ratatouille, that is delicious by itself or served over whole grain pasta, cous cous, quinoa or rice. I’ve even spooned it on slices of toasted French bread and used it as a pizza topping. Feel free to adjust the recipe to include your favorite vegetables, but don’t forget the chick peas (garbanzo beans) – I love those little guys, don’t you?
CROCK POT RATATOUILLE – EGGPLANT STEW
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
5 cloves minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
3 small Italian eggplants, peeled and chopped
1/8 tspn. pepper
3/4 tspn. salt
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 medium zucchini, seeded and chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tspn. thyme flakes
1 1/2 tspn. basil flakes
Heat oil on med. heat and saute garlic and onion for 3 minutes. Add eggplant and season with salt and pepper, cooking 5 more minutes. Turn heat to low and cover, cooking an additional 5 – 8 minutes or until eggplant are tender. Transfer to slow cooker and add peppers, zucchini and chick peas (garbanzo beans).
In medium bowl, combine tomatoes, basil and thyme and mix well. Pour into crock pot and stir all ingredients together. Cover and cook on low for 7 – 8 hours and high for 4 – 5 hours.
This recipe makes for a satisfying and healthy lunch or dinner. It is written for two people, but can be doubled as needed. This is an easy-to-prepare recipe, especially if you happen to have leftover broccoli and couscous in your refridgerator already. The most time-consuming part is preparing the peppers, but it is worth the effort. The roasted peppers are full of flavor and make the perfect “bowl” for the stuffing. If you are vegan, just omit the cheddar cheese. If not, I have to say that the savory flavor of the cheese marries beautifully with the smokiness of the peppers and broccoli. These stuffed peppers are a perfect healthy lunch or dinner, especially if you are following the Mediterranean Diet or looking for a Meatless Monday recipe that will please the whole family.
Click on the Dinner 911 tab (on the top right) for the recipe and be sure to leave a comment at the end of this post to let us know what you think. Just click on the title of this post and scroll down to comment. **Note: This recipe has been removed to make room for another delicious recipe.
For more information on Near East cous cous, click here.
Enjoy and Happy Meatless Monday!