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Eat Greek Everyday

The Mediterranean diet is known worldwide for nourishing a population relatively free of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.  While the French have their wine and the Spanish their various tapas, Greek recipes are being integrated into the American diet more and more these days.  Knowing a few Greek recipes can help anyone incorporate parts of the Greek diet into their lifestyle.

Eating Greek food everyday means finding ways to incorporate the following into your diet:
• Olives
• Olive oil
• Hummus
• Beans
• Melons
• Vegetables: Greek salad
Olives are a very unique tasting fruit that can be bought with a variety of flavors and can be used in many different ways.  Olives can be found in any large grocery store and can be incorporated into your diet easily.  Carrying olives as a snack is perfect when you’re on the go.  Adding them to your favorite pizza or salad can also help you eat Greek while out and about or even at home.  Lastly, mixing them into other vegetables can do wonders for your total veggie serving per day.  Vegetables are typically considered bland tasting so when you can add olives to them, you are more likely to eat them!  Another way Greek food proves itself to be amazing!
Olive oil is perhaps the one ingredient in Greek food that one can find at almost any grocery store and is the easiest to incorporate into your diet.  Olive oil has many health benefits among them including high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidative properties like vitamins A, C, and E. There are many simply ways to add olive oil into your diet.  You can add it to salad in place of the traditional salad dressings.  You can dip all your favorite whole grain breads into olive oil to give it an even more filling sensation.  You can use it as an alternative to other cooking oils like vegetable oil.  And finally, you can add olive oil as flavor to various recipes alongside herbs to give the meal that final touch.
Hummus can be a wonderful alternative to the traditional ranch dip we use often to enhance the taste of veggies.  The simple combination of chick peas, garlic, olive oil, and salt all blended together make hummus a very fast treat that can be eaten with crackers or any kind of bread.  My favorite is to add it to a sandwich instead of the typical miracle whip or mayonnaise.  Eating Greek can sure be scrumptious!
Beans are another food that provides lots of nutritional benefit to the Greek diet.  In the national Fassolatha soup, beans are the meaty substance of the taste and serve as an excellent source of fiber and protein for a filling soup.  There are many Greek recipes for this kind of soup online, but most of them include variations with tomatoes, olive oil, and onions.  You can add just about any kind of bean to this soup, so to make it part of your regular diet regiment, try making a few meals out of the week that include beans.  Not only in the form of a hearty soup, but also as part of the main dish or with a salad.
For something a little fruity, add various melons to your diet when they are in season.  Various melons grown in Greece include karpoozi (watermelon) and peponi (honeydew).  These are traditionally served as dessert following a meal; however, the famous Baklava dessert is a rich alternative.  This Greek recipe, though also found in Turkey, is made with phyllo dough, nuts like walnut or pistachio, and touched with a hint of honey or syrup.  You can make melons part of your diet easily during the summer months when they are in season, however, you can also find them during off months, though they will be a little more expensive.
Finally, we come to vegetables.  The Greeks, like most Mediterranean diets, includes vegetables as part of a healthy diet everyday.  The horiaktiki salata is Greek for their famous Greek Salad.  This Greek recipe for salad includes fresh onions, cucumbers, green peppers, feta cheese, red tomatoes, olives, and is dressed with herbs of oregano and virgin olive oil.  Sounds so delicious, right?  All of these ingredients can be found in any store so it is very possible to include this salad as part of a regular diet.  Other vegetables include the famous wild greens they serve during the summer.  These greens are called hortas and are served alone with lemon and olive oil, or as a side dish.  Very rich in nutrients like antioxidants which help clean up the by-products that your blood cells produce.
All of these Greek foods can be found in most stores.  By planning your meals accordingly, you could enjoy a few more meals with a Mediterranean flare.  And, why not?  These foods are a healthy and tasty way to prevent heart disease and cancer. 
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