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27.5.13

Greek Vegetarian: Celebrating Mediterranean Diet Month #Healthy Eating #Weekly Menu Plan

Yum
Greek Salad



Hello everyone! My name is Lisa, from the food blog Greek Vegetarian and I'm delighted today to be writing a guest post for Diane's wonderful Simple Living and Eating blog – especially given it's Mediterranean Diet Month!

Although the Mediterranean diet has been around for thousands of years, it has only recently gained recognition as one of the healthiest in the world. But the Spaniards, Italians and of course the Greeks knew that a long time ago. Lentils, for example, have been a part of Greek cooking for millennia. High in protein and loaded with minerals, the ancient Greeks knew they were on to something when they introduced lentils as a staple in their diets over 8,000 years ago.

Many people don't know that the Greek diet is largely plant-based with a very low meat component. When you think of Greek food you might imagine a big plate of shaved lamb off the spit. It's true, this dish represents an element of Greek cuisine, but meat isn't really considered an essential component of the Greek diet and spit roast lamb is usually only served up on special occasions. In fact, for a significant part of the year, many Greeks observe fasting periods such as those leading up to Easter and Christmas which means abstaining from meat, fish and sometimes even eggs and dairy products. 

The Greeks have become quite the masters of vegetarian eating, making the most of beautiful fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes. And not just because of their fasting periods. In earlier times most families couldn't afford meat, but their own fields provided them with such an abundance of plant-based foods to feed their families that meat was not missed.

Today's Greek diet is still rich in fresh produce and unprocessed ingredients, and having a low red-meat content it is no coincidence that the Mediterranean diet can protect against heart disease and stroke. Studies also show that eating as the Greeks do can lessen your chances of developing cancer, diabetes and obesity, and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.

As a vegetarian, I focus on the vegetable, grain and legume aspects of Greek cuisine and let me tell you, there is no shortage of deliciously healthy dishes that can be created from the plethora of fresh ingredients that make up the vegetarian Greek diet.

Olives, eggplants, tomatoes, honey, feta cheese, mint, pistachio nuts, oregano, almonds and cinnamon are just a few of the many flavor sensations that are found in traditional Greek recipes, and with ingredients like these, it's no wonder Greek cuisine lends itself so well to a healthy, vegetarian diet.

I swear my Aunt Koula has a Greek recipe bible stored in her head and her cooking skills and techniques are well practiced. Needless to say she is my main source of inspiration and education when it comes to Greek cooking. Last year she and I shared some time in the kitchen on the Greek island of Limnnos where my dad's family is from. We have an old family house where we stay when we are on holiday on the island (I know, we are very lucky!) and family members come from the mainland of Greece and from Australia to spend the summer months together in Limnos. 

Lunch with the family outside on the terrace is the best part of the day and usually involves lots of laughter, waving of hands, good conversation and clinking of drinks. On the table would be a basket of warm crusty bread from the bakery around the corner, a huge Greek salad made from vegetables freshly picked from the garden that morning, and a tray of rice and herb stuffed tomatoes that Koula had only just taken out of the oven.

The recipes for this simple but gorgeously colourful and healthful lunch are what I want to share with you today.



greek salad



Greek Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Feta and Mint (Horiatiki Salata)


Serves 4
Ingredients


  • 200g mixed lettuce leaves
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 continental cucumber, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 small red capsicum, finely sliced
  • 100g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6 large flat green beans, blanched and sliced
  • 1 small handful of fresh mint, roughly torn
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Instructions


  1. Arrange lettuce leaves in the bottom of a large salad bowl.
  2. Place remaining vegetables, followed by the mint and feta cheese over the lettuce leaves.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice and vinegar until combined and pour over salad.


Vegetarian Stuffed Tomatoes



Vegetarian Stuffed Tomatoes (Yemista)


Serves 4
Ingredients


  • 8 tomatoes
  • 100g long grain rice
  • 8 spring onions, white part and some green finely chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced lengthwise
  • 200ml water

Instructions


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Using a sharp paring knife, remove the tops of the tomatoes and reserve for later. Carefully scoop out the tomato flesh using a spoon, taking care not to pierce the skin. Reserve half of the pulp and discard the rest.
  3. Place the tomato shells in a baking dish and set aside.
  4. Fry spring onions and zucchini in 50ml of oil over low to medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring, until lightly golden. Add tomato pulp, parsley, mint, rice and 100ml of water and stir well. Allow to simmer uncovered for 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Fill the tomato shells almost to the top with the rice mixture, leaving room for the rice to expand, and replace tops on tomatoes.
  6. Arrange the potato pieces between the tomatoes to help keep them in place and carefully pour the remaining 100ml of water, followed by the remaining 50ml of oil around the vegetables.
  7. Cook for around one hour.
Tuesday Food:
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop @ Premeditated Leftovers
Tempt my Tummy @Blessed with Grace
Totally Tasty Tuesday @ Mandy's Recipe Box
Traditional Tuesdays @ Cooking Traditional Foods
Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ SS& GS
Show Me What You Got @ Our Delightful Home
Hand Made Tuesday @ Ladybug Blessings
Share it Link Party @ Winthrop Chronicles
In & Out of the Kitchen @ Feeding Big & More
Tuesday's Table @ Love in the Kitchen

Wednesday Food:
Wholesome Foods Wednesday @ This Chick Can Cook
Cast Party Wednesday @ Lady Behind the Curtain 
 Wednesday Whatsit @White Lights on Wednesday 
Fresh Foods Wednesdays @ Gastronomical Sovereignty
Show and Share @ Semi Homemade Mom
Wonderful Food Wednesdays at @ All She Cooks
Seasonal Celebration @ Natural Mother's Network
Wednesday Extravaganza @ Hunger Little Girl

Thursday Food:
Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Link it Up Thursday @ Seven Alive
Fantastic Thursday @ Three Little Chiefs
Thriving on Thursdays @ Domesblissity
Tasty Thursdays @ The Mandatory Mooch


Friday Food:
Foodie Friday @ Home Maid Simple
Freedom Friday @ My Turn
Friday Favorite (DYI too) @ Simple Sweet Home
Foodie Friday @ Not Your Ordinary Recipes
Friday Favorite Finds @ Finding Joy in my Kitchen
Foodie Friday @ Rattlebridge Farm 
Friday Food Fight @ Run DMT
Weekend Wonders @ The Thriftiness Miss
Friday Food Frenzy @ Mostly Food and Crafts 
Weekend Potluck @ Sunflower Supper Club
Friday Linky Party @ The Pin Junkie 



Weekly Menu Plan:


Sunday: Grilled Chicken, Corn on the Cob, Green Salad


Meatless Monday: Classic Burgers, Potato Salad, Tomato Salad


Tuesday: Black Bean Enchiladas, with guacamole


Wednesday: Spaghetti with Clam Sauce & Broccoli Rabe with Garlic & Oil


Thursday: Slow Cooker Asian Pork with Brown Basmati Rice


Friday: Red lentils and Green Beans with Garam Marsala seasoning and Indian Rice







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32 comments:

  1. Thanks for having me on your blog today Diane! xx

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    Replies
    1. You are very welcome... so glad to have you.

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  2. Diet or no diet - these are 2 wonderful dishes!!
    I'm a vegetarian and I love the salad and love the stuffed tomatoes.
    Thank you so much for sharing :)

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    Replies
    1. You are so right... good food is good food. It is great when it is healthy too. I hope you will visit Lisa's blog and check out more of her recipes.

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  3. Beautiful recipes Lisa and I love hearing your stories of Limnos. Healthy lunches with your family sound like they are very enjoyable.

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    1. Thanks Jenny, stop by Lisa's blog and post a message there too. I'm sure she will appreciate it.

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  4. The stuffed tomatoes are beautiful! These look like great recipes.

    http://www.foodieinwv.com

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  5. wow those look yummy and thank you for adding my recipe!

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  6. I love Greek salad but have never made it. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I am serving it this week!
    Peace, Linda at The French Hens Nest

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    Replies
    1. You are so welcome. This is a guest post so you might want to check out Lisa's blog for more great greek vegetarian recipes.

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  7. We love your site - and the menu plans - and yummy food! Thanks so much for taking the time to share this on BeBetsy BRAG ABOUT IT Tuesday.

    Hope to see you again next week - BeBetsy Link and Hop

    Sharon and Denise

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, so glad I know about your party now.

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  8. Thanks to everyone for the lovely comments here! And thanks again to Diane for the opportunity to do a guest post :)

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    1. You are welcome back anytime. Your recipes are very popular here: High views. Hope you will come to the food party tomorrow with more of your delicious and healthy recipes.

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  9. looks amazing want this for lunch. thanks for linking up to Friday food frenzy!

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  10. Thank you for sharing your lovely salad at FF. Pinned!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you be sure to check out Lisa's blog.

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  11. Hi, your greek salad looks so good. I saw it on Friday food frenzy!
    Julie from julieslifestyle.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much, this is a guest post, please check out Lisa's blog.

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  12. My favorite salad is a Greek salad and those tomatoes look great!! Thanks so much for linking up to Friday Food Frenzy!

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    Replies
    1. You are very welcome thanks for stopping by.

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    2. picked this recipe for the Friday food frenzy feature this week. hope you will come by and add another recipe this week. http://www.stayingclosetohome.com/share-your-recipes-swap-67.html

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  13. Hi Lisa and Diane,
    This is a wonderful post and I can't wait to try these recipes, they look delicious. If the storms will just stop long enough so we can get some cooking done, we are so grateful that all of our family is safe! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a fabulous weekend.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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    Replies
    1. You are very welcome Miz Helen... this has been quite a year for weather. Glad to hear your family is safe.

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  14. I love salads and saw this at Marvelous Monday - so had to stop by to saw - this looks awesome!

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  15. Thanks for coming by Deb. This is a guest post so please check out Lisa's blog for more great greek food.

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  16. I absolutely LOVE Greek salad. We may just have to have this for dinner tonight!!.... :)


    hugs xx Crystelle
    Crystelle Boutique

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    Replies
    1. It's the best I love the mixture of sweet tomatoes and salty olives and feta... yum.

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  17. what a healthy salad - perfect for summer

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  18. A Greek Salad is always one of my favorites. Your photo is beautiful!

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