Saturday, June 17, 2006

Greek and Mediterranean Cuisine for Healthy Dining Out.

The Mediterranean Diet has probably focused more attention on Greek cuisine than ever before. And Greek restaurants are becoming much more popular. If you haven't ventured into a Greek restaurant yet, summer is an especially good time.

Mediterranean people love to eat. The sunny climate allows for many social gatherings where food is served. Greek cuisine has been influenced by every culture who battled for, conquered, traded and immigrated there. Many who inhabit Greece and the Mediterranean region are a mix of religions, nationalities and races. Influences include the past Ottoman Empire, Southern Italy, North Africa and the Middle East.

Mediterranean cuisine offers a great deal in the way of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pita, pasta, olive oil, cheese, milk, eggs, fish and red wine. Less on red meat and processed foods. People of that area have been observed to have less incidences of heart disease and certain cancers, and this has been attributed to their cuisine. And that is also the basis of the currently popular Mediterranean Diet; although you certainly don't need to be dieting to enjoy the food.

Still, if you are basically health conscious and looking for some variety in dining out, Greek restaurants will definitely accomodate many of those desires.

A typical Greek Restaurant offers a wide range of vegetarian style dishes as well as seafood and chicken and of course lamb. You might enjoy a baked vegetarian moussaka with eggplant, parmesan, riccota cheese and zucchini layered, topped with tomato sauce. Other great healthful dishes include Greek Skillet Snapper or Greek Lemon Chicken. There are many lamb dishes offered too, of course. Be mindful, though, that lamb, like any red meat, should be eaten sparingly in accord with many modern health advisories. Mediterranean herbs and spices and traditional ingredients make for a very flavorful cuisine regardless of meat content. Greek Rose wine is wonderful too.

Wild marjoram grows in the mountains in Greece and is often used to flavor meat dishes. The herb is much sharper in flavor than domestic marjorams or oreganos. In Spain it was used to brew fine ales.

Here is a recipe for a Greek salad dressing with marjoram (rigani) to enjoy with fresh greens.

-1/2 cup virgin cold pressed olive oil
-Juice of one lemon (pierce with a fork and heat for a few seconds in a microwave to extract the most juice.)
-1/2 teaspoon of wild marjoram (rigani)
-1 teaspoon minced fresh mint
-1 tablespoon chopped onion
-1 tablespoon parley or cilantro
-1 teaspoon fresh cinnamon basil minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon thyme

Combine all ingredients and chill for a few hours before serving. Great on dinner salads.

Don't forget the desserts! Baklava, Kataifi, Amydgalopita....
That's pronounces bahk-lah-VAH, kah-tah-EE-fee, ah-mag-dah-lo-PETA.

Find Greek restaurants in your area at

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