It’s not lost on me how incredibly fortunate I am to have grown up in a home filled with and passionate about good food. With both my parents hailing from the Middle East I was blessed to know and eat ‘real food’ on a daily basis.
When I close my eyes and remember my childhood home there are three things that stand out.
1) The noise – with a family of seven under one roof, you can imagine the cacophony of voices, chairs scrapping on tiles, plates clanging as the dishwasher got stacked and unpacked (for the 3rd time that day) and Arabic music singing in the background.
2) The aromas – my mum would usually start cooking in the morning, so there would often be some delicious meal simmering away throughout the day. I can smell the spices, the toum (crushed garlic paste), the lamb stew.
3) The chefs – both my parents love to cook and they do so in very different ways. When I think of my parents I can see them in the kitchen. Mum making a fresh batch of Labne (yoghurt), Dad pickling the Olives he just harvested from our tree outside.
It’s because of these childhood memories that I eat and live the way I do. Of course, I got lost along the way (in my late teens/early 20s my diet was far from good). And today, when anyone asks me ‘how’ I eat, the best way for me to describe it would be ‘traditionally‘ or better still ‘Mediterranean‘.
Let me share with you how and why you might like to tweak the way you fuel your body this year.
I eat grains.
Poo-ey to all those paleo loving, grain hating folks. I grew up on brown rice and basmati, oats and cous cous, barley and bourghal. It works for my tummy. It gives me energy.
My tip: Try including organic, biodynamic grains sparingly through your diet, maybe 1-2 times a day. See how it works for you. Limit portion sizes if you are watching your weight, but usually you’ll find you are fuller for longer and tend to snack less on crap food.
I eat Olive Oil + Fat.
Growing up and still today I use ALOT of Olive Oil. In fact, my husband and I buy (just as my dad did) a big 5 litre tin of good quality Australian Olive Oil. Not to mention that I use real butter and ghee (and coconut oil).
My tip: Don’t be afraid of fat – cook with butter, ghee and coconut oil for high heat. Olive Oil is ok on low temperatures, but best eaten raw on salads and drizzled over your meal.
I eat dairy.
As a powerhouse probiotic in yoghurt form, this superfood really is a must. If you can’t tolerate cow’s milk try goat’s or coconut.
My tip: In the meditteranean diet, yoghurt is used as a digestive aid, a flavour enhancer and a main meal! Use it for and on anything. My favourite – serving a bowl of savoury, slightly salty yoghurt, drizzled with yoghurt alongside meat.
I eat small portions of meat.
Thinking to the bulk of meals my parents made, meat featured alot but in very (and I mean very) small portions. Example: A vegetarian meal like Lebanese Zucchini’s stuffed with rise and minced lamb. Add to that, we don’t eat meat every single day and night.
My tip. Reduce your meat intake. Aim for 1-2 times per week or add meat to a meal as an enhancer and protein ‘kick’ but not the main affair.
I eat veggies with every meal.
Yep, every single meal (as much as I can!). Dark leafy greens, roasted root veggies, crunchy summer salads, seasonal produce.
My tip: Make the veggie component of every meal your main event. Don’t hold back, the more the merrier!
I eat fish.
Salmon, Barramundi, Prawns, Octopus, Sashimi, Sardines. Tuna. I could LIVE off fish. Oh wait, so could you. High in necessary Omega’s, Fish is something we should all be eating and often.
My tip. Increase your fish intake. If you aren’t already get fishy at least twice per week and serve it up with a BIG bowl of steamed, dark leafy greens.
I eat fruit, nuts and seeds.
Another double pooey to those anti-fruit people. High in fibre essential vitamins and nutrients, you’d be mad to delete fruit entirely from your diet. Nuts and seeds feature in my diet in some form – either as a snack, in a homemade granola, tossed into a salad or made into a milk!
My tip. You don’t need to eat it often, but one piece a day is fine! If you are watching your sugar than reduce your intake until the sugar cravings decrease. Honestly though ditch the refined sugar before you ditch fruit. When it comes to nuts no need to go mental on them, but a handful a day is perfect (especially Almonds).
I eat eggs… alot of them.
Seriously, I could eat around 4-5 per week, sometimes more. My cholesterol is PERFECT. Need I say more?
My tip. Eggs are an amazing source of good fat + protein. Increase them in your diet if you can tolerate them. They are perfect for breakfast and will give you alot more energy and sustenance than cereal and muesli. My husband lost weight simply by eating eggs for breakfast. It kept him satisfied for longer so he ate less in the afternoon!
Going Mediterranean is simple, easy and the most supportive way to nourish your body. It’s a no brainer really.