Tips and tricks on how to cook Mediterranean-style

Tips and tricks on how to cook Mediterranean-style

It seems like every month there's a new diet we're supposed to be sticking to - Keto, paleo, Atkins, low-sugar, no-sugar, high-carb, low fat.

It's boggling and tough to know where to begin, especially when everyone you went to high school with now seems to be a nutrition expert on Facebook.

Luckily there are real health experts around the world who can tell us the actual healthiest way to eat, according to science. For the third year in a row, Mediterranean eating has been dubbed the best kind of diet in the world, according to a US News and World Report.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) even endorses it as the key to longer life.

If you're anything like me, this news will fill you with joy. Eating Italian food all the time? Fabulous! I'll have pastries for breakfast, carbonara for lunch and maybe lasagne for dinner, thank you.

Sadly, no. While we'd love that to be the case, Mediterranean-styled cooking isn't some all-you-can-eat-spag-bol competition.

Instead, it's the style of eating adopted by those countries along the Mediterranean Coast - Spain, France, Monaco, Greece etc. - who live a lot longer than many of their US, UK and Australasian counterparts.

Newshub has put together some tips to make Mediterranean-styled eating a little easier in your home, whether you're cooking solo or for a family.

What to eat

Unsurprisingly, the Mediterranean diet is big on veggies - it's almost plant-based. Its foundation can be found in vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains. Countdown has a wide variety of dried or canned beans, which are great and affordable options.

Don't be afraid of those healthy fats - olive oil is the fat of choice. It is a monounsaturated fat (one of the good ones) and has long been credited with lower cholesterol, and healthy skin and nails. Nuts and seeds also contain monounsaturated fat.

At Countdown  you’ll find a lot of nut and seed options in the bulk bins as well as the Macro  range in the health food aisle.  


Countdown nutritionist Deb Sue
Countdown nutritionist Deb Sue Photo credit: Countdown

Countdown nutritionist Deb Sue says a serving size is a handful of nuts, and she recommends choosing the unsalted variety.

Fish are a major factor in Mediterranean eating. Fatty fish are rich in Omega-3 acids that help reduce inflammation in the body, so choose some sardines and salmon. Even tinned fatty fish still is still nutritionally dense, making lunch prep easy.

And great news! You can even drink - in moderation. Mediterranean often includes the occasional glass of red.

What to avoid

Mediterranean food is typically a lot lower in red meat than the standard Kiwi one, favouring vegetables and fish over a massive slab of steak.

Fish typically doesn't have a lot of trans-fats or processed foods containing hydrogenated oil. These are the foods you typically find in plastic packs - 'junk food' - chips, crackers and baked goods as well as fish and chips and takeaways. If your gran doesn't recognise it, it's probably not on the list.

Stay away from foods high in sugar, or processed "starchy" carbohydrates, such as food made with white flour, like white bread, biscuits, breadsticks and other refined carbohydrates.

And finally, remember it's not just about the food - while now more than ever is a great time to think about cooking from home, the Mediterranean lifestyle also involves regular physical activity and enjoying life.


This article is created for Countdown.