Following the Mediterranean diet meal plan can protect your health in a vast number of ways: reducing the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and more. But getting started on this program can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re used to a steady diet of fast foods or processed foods.
To support your healthy efforts, we’ve outlined a meal plan for you to follow. The staple foods of the Mediterranean diet include:
- Olive Oil (healthy fats)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Unrefined whole grains
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Simple Rules for the Mediterranean Diet
Following the Mediterranean Diet can be best tackled by dividing foods into five categories:
1. Daily (Eat multiple times per day.)
- Vegetables (excluding starchy corn and potatoes)
- Healthy fats (olive oil)
2. Daily (Eat at least once per day.)
- Legumes (beans, peas, etc.)
- Unrefined whole grains (brown rice, steel cut oats, etc.)
3. Weekly (Eat multiple times per week.)
- Fish (wild)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, etc.)
4. Monthly (Eat 3 to 4 times per month or less.)
- Organic cheese and yogurt
5. Rarely (Eat only on special occasions.)
- Saturated fats from red meat and dairy products (besides organic cheese and yogurt)
- Refined sugars and sweets
- Luncheon/deli meats
This Mediterranean Diet Pyramid can help you better visualize the types and amounts of foods you should be eating:
Create a Diet Calendar
Now you know which foods you should be eating regularly, prepare your meal plan by using a weekly or monthly calendar. Look over the list of Mediterranean foods above and choose the items you like best. Here are three examples of daily meal plans to get you started:
- Breakfast: Fresh Fruit salad and yogurt
- Snack: Carrots and hummus
- Lunch: Salmon Salad
- Snack: Red grapes and walnuts
- Dinner: Baked halibut on a bed of brown rice with a side of peppers and onions cooked in olive oil
- Snack: Frozen strawberries
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries
- Snack: Almonds
- Lunch: Lentil basil soup
- Snack: Sliced bell peppers and avocado dip
- Dinner: Homemade veggie pizza (recipe below)
- Snack: Sliced oranges
- Breakfast: Breakfast fruit smoothie
- Snack: Granola with fruit and nuts
- Lunch: Half tuna salad sandwich on rye with side of split pea soup
- Snack: Celery and almond butter
- Dinner: Grilled shrimp drizzled in olive oil, lemon juice and basil; bed of spinach and fresh tomatoes topped with feta cheese crumbles and sunflower seeds; and side of broccoli, mozzarella cheese and wild rice casserole (recipe below)
- Snack: Sliced oranges
Mediterranean Diet Recipes
Homemade Veggie Pizza
For family fun, allow your kids to create their own pizzas.
- Spinach tortilla (1 or 2 per family member)
- Olive oil
- Tomato sauce
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Your favorite veggies
Lay out your spinach tortillas. Drizzle with olive oil and toast for 3 to 5 minutes (just enough to get warm and slightly toasted). Spoon the tomato sauce over the tortillas (as much or as little as you prefer). Add shredded mozzarella cheese. Top with favorite veggies such as bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos or your other favorite toppings (olives, shrimp, turkey bacon, organic beef, etc.).
Broccoli, Mozzarella Cheese & Wild Rice Casserole
- 1½ cups wild rice
- 3 cups broccoli
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon parsley
- 2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 package shredded mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook wild rice according to package instructions; add salt and pepper to taste. At the same time, steam broccoli until it is tender; then drain. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan and pour the broccoli and diced onions into the pan. Sprinkle with oregano and parsley. Cook on medium heat until the onions are lightly browned.
Lightly grease a casserole dish with olive oil. Add half of rice in one layer on the bottom of the casserole dish. Layer with half of the broccoli/onion mixture. Layer with half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers – remaining rice, remaining broccoli/onion mixture, and remaining cheese. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
Do you have a tasty Mediterranean Diet recipe of your own? If so, share your recipe in the comments section below. Let’s help each other stay healthy!
Originally published in 2013 and updated.