Happy Cinco de Mayo!  In conjuction with Oldways’ Mediterranean Diet Month Celebration here is my blog post for today…enjoy!

I am a food-loving dietitian, author, and mother of two young children with a nutrition & culinary communications practice in Chicago.  My recent book, The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods, offers a whole host of powerful reasons why the Mediterranean diet is beneficialfor children and adults for health, disease prevention and longevity.  With plant foods like whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables being the cornerstone of the Mediterranean way of eating, it provides a rich and vibrant culinary landscape for delicious meals every day.  In my travels through Italy and Spain, I certainly got exposure with plates drizzled with olive oil loaded with grilled vegetables, whole grain pastas, lentil and berry salads and the proverbial glass of red wine to wash it all down.   It was not only a feast for the eyes, but healthy fuel for the body and soul.

One of my favorite family Mediterranean-style dishes – which is a twist on the Italian classic Caprese salad, is Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil Lentil Salad (featured
in chapter 19 of my book).  Eat this as a side dish paired with grilled fish or enjoy it as a main dish over a bed of mesclun greens.     

Mozzarella,Tomato, and Basil Lentil Salad

A refreshing Mediterranean-style salad is a delicious quick and easy lunch or
dinner. Add your favorite veggies, beans, or herbs.  Add a dash of curry powder for a unique twist and delicious flavor.

Yield:              Serving size:        Prep time:                    Cook time:

2 servings         1 1/2 cups                  5 minutes               `          30 minutes

Each serving has:

281 calories

11 g total fat

3 g saturated fat

0 g trans fat

9 mg cholesterol

139 mg sodium

30 g carbohydrates

15 g fiber

1 g sugars

17 g protein

21 percent iron

1/2 cup lentils, washed and drained

2 cups water or low-sodium broth

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 garlic clove, minced

5 basil leaves, chopped

1/4 cup fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

Pinch of salt and pepper

Mixed greens (optional)

1.       Add lentils and water (or broth) to medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then cover
and simmer until liquid is absorbed and lentils are softened (about 20
minutes). If lentils are not soft, add more liquid (2 – 3 tablespoons).

2.       In saucepan heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

3.       Toss garlic with lentils; add basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Season with salt
and pepper to taste. Serve cold or warm on a bed of mixed greens.