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Savor the flavors of the Mediterranean

No passport required

Posted: October 13, 2009 10:48 p.m.
Updated: October 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Italian-Style Soup With Turkey Sausage Makes 8 (1-cup) servings Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes 1 tablespoon olive oil 8 ounces sweet or hot Italian-style turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices 1/2 cup chopped onion 1 can (32 ounces) reduced sodium ...

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Mediterranean cuisine, featuring abundant fruits and vegetables, and richly flavored with herbs and spices, is hailed by chefs, nutrition­ists and health-minded Americans as the “gold standard” of healthy eating.

The Mediterranean lifestyle blends wholesome, naturally good-for-you foods with a liberal dose of exercise and eagerness to enjoy the pleasures of life with friends and family around the table.

Recently, the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was updated to showcase the role of herbs and spices, placing them at the heart of every meal for the flavorful and health-promoting antioxidants they provide.

“To help Americans incorporate the foods of the Mediterranean into their daily meals, we recently updated the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid to emphasize herbs and spices, since they are such an integral part of the flavor of Mediterranean cuisines,” notes K. Dun Gifford, President of Oldways, a nonprofit food issues think tank.

“Plus, there is a growing body of research linking herbs and spices with an array of promising health benefits due to their high levels of antioxidants,” she said.

It’s easy to add vibrant Mediterranean-style flavors — with a liberal helping of antioxidants — to family favorites using the herbs and spices already in the pantry, such as rosemary, oregano, thyme and red pepper/paprika.

n    Make great tasting roasted chicken. Before roasting, brush chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle all over with 2 teaspoons crushed rosemary leaves, 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, sea salt and ground black pepper.
n    Make a Greek vinaigrette dressing by stirring 1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves and 1 to 2 tablespoons reduced fat feta cheese into 1/2 cup bottled vinaigrette dressing.
n    Sprinkle vegetables such as asparagus, spinach or tomatoes, with crushed rose­mary leaves.
n    Serve bread with Mediterranean spiced olive oil. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tea­spoon grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper and sea salt to taste in small shallow dish.
 

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