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22 Mediterranean diet recipes to improve your health

  • Follow the Mediterranean Diet

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By now most people know that many studies have linked a Mediterranean diet to a lower risk of cancer and Alzheimer's disease, better cardiovascular health, and a longer life. The building blocks of the Mediterranean diet are foods that are low in saturated fat, rich in healthy oils, and packed with fresh fruits and vegetables (plus exercise). But what exactly should you be eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks? These delicious Mediterranean diet recipes will give you lots of ideas.

Creamy Panini

Packed with vegetables, this Mediterranean-style panini is the healthiest and most satisfying sandwich you'll ever make. Roasted red peppers add sweetness and color, and provide more than half the recommended-daily intake of immunity-boosting vitamin C. Basil, black olives, zucchini, provolone cheese, olive oil, and a dab of mayo are the other flavorful ingredients sandwiched between two pieces of rustic bread.

Tip: If you're watching your weight, swap the mayo for creamy low-fat Greek yogurt.

Try this recipe: Creamy Mediterranean Paninis

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

What makes this mouthwatering pasta salad Mediterranean? It's full of resistant starch, a natural fiber that makes you feel fuller longer and can help you burn nearly 25 percent more calories a day. Now that's a mouthful! Peas and artichoke hearts taste great together, and contribute a whopping 8 grams of fiber per serving (1/3 of your daily target) which help to keep you full.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Love tuna salad, but want to avoid fatty, mayo-filled recipes? This recipe uses zero mayonnaise to create a delicious tuna salad with 2 grams of fiber and less than 200 calories per serving. Our recipe uses classic Mediterranean ingredients like scallions, capers, and olives to create a bold flavor combination. Smooth it over whole-wheat bread or crackers for a healthy lunch. Surprise: you don't need to spend a lot of money on fresh tuna. Both canned and fresh fish pack omega-3 fatty acids.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Tuna

Mediterranean Halibut Sandwiches

Lean proteins packed with healthy monounsaturated fats are a main component to the Mediterranean diet, and fish are a great source. Monounsaturated fats are great for your heart because they raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL, the kind of cholesterol you want to keep low. This recipe dishes out just that with delicious and low-fat halibut on crispy ciabatta bread. Halibut is rich in selenium, a mineral with antioxidant properties that regulates thyroid function as well as contributes to a healthy immune system. On a low-carb diet? You can skip the bread and add additional arugula to make the recipe as a nutrient-rich salad.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Halibut Sandwiches

Health.com: 20 Best Foods for Fiber

Mediterranean Skewers with Bloody Mary Vinaigrette

This pretty snack or appetizer contains only 3 grams of carbs and about 150 calories. The skewers are simple to make as you just slide your ingredients onto a stick. We like metal skewers, which can go straight onto the grill. The vinaigrette comes together in a flash and can be effortlessly made in one bowl. Simple, delicious, and healthy, what's better than that?

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Skewers with Bloody Mary Vinaigrette

Seafood Grill with Skordalia

Skordalia is a Greek dip or sauce made with potatoes, garlic, and olive oil, among other healthful ingredients. Here, it's the base of a seafood dish. We used halibut, but you can sub in any fish of your choice. It's flavored with dried thyme, lemon juice and zest, and includes healthy ingredients like zucchini and vitamin C-rich red bell peppers.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Seafood Grill with Skordalia

Chickpea Patties

We're always looking for new ways to cook with chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, because they're one of the best and tastiest sources of fiber you can eat! These easy-to-make patties are a light and healthy meal, especially when they top a delicious salad; the whole recipe adds up to a skinny 225 calories. As if you needed another reason to make this dish, chickpeas are also the richest vegetarian source of vitamin B6, which helps to metabolize foods, stabilize blood sugar, and make antibodies that fight disease.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Chickpea Patties

Mediterranean Detox Salad

Could this be the healthiest salad you've ever eaten? It's only 200 calories and packed with vegetables, including cucumbers, watercress, artichoke hearts, celery, and red onion, and gets a hint of tangy flavor from feta cheese. Even the simple dressing—fresh lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil—is heart healthy and light. Cucumbers are a Mediterranean superfood as they're very low in calories; provide 62 percent of the vitamin K recommended for daily-consumption, and offer a healthy dose of vitamin C.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Detox Salad

Mediterranean Salmon Recipe

Salmon is one of our favorite types of fish. It's full of monounsaturated fats, a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and it's low in calories. There are so many ways to prepare salmon, but the people from the Mediterranean think simple is best. We agree! This recipe uses delicious and healthy ingredients, and when you pair it with some sautéed spinach or whole-wheat couscous you're in for a delicious dinner.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Salmon

Health.com: 20 Heart-Healthy Salmon Recipes

Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta

This protein-rich dish features low-calorie shrimp with healthy Mediterranean ingredients including crumbled feta cheese, which is lower in fat than many other cheeses. Sub in whole-grain pasta to get an extra boost of fiber, which helps to keep you full and satisfied.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta

Portobello Mushrooms with Mediterranean Stuffing

This filling appetizer contains 4 grams of fiber, 9 grams of protein, and is less than 200 calories. Portobello mushrooms are a vegetarian's best friend, but we bet carnivores will love this dish's deliciously meaty flavors. To make this recipe vegan-friendly, leave out the cheese.

Try this recipe: Portobello Mushrooms with Mediterranean Stuffing

Greek-Style Picnic Salad

This recipe is much healthier than your average pasta salad. It packs 4 grams of fiber, less than 300 calories, and delicious, nutrient-filled ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and chickpeas. These ingredients aren't all that common in restaurant-prepared Greek salads, which makes our take on this recipe even more special. The recipe calls for dried oregano, but if you have fresh sprigs on hand, use a little extra of the fresh herb.

Try this recipe: Greek-Style Picnic Salad

Health.com: The Best Herbs to Grow (and Eat) at Home

Mediterranean Stuffed Tomatoes

Tomatoes are sweet, juicy, meaty, and your best source of the antioxidant lycopene, which may help lower your risk of stroke and various cancers. This recipe is simple: just scoop out the pulp and seeds from a half tomato and fill with a delicious stuffing of crumbled goat cheese, kalamata olives, garlic croutons, and some fresh herbs. At 200 calories per tomato, you'll want to make this dish again and again.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Stuffed Tomatoes

Warm Olives with Rosemary

The classic Mediterranean diet includes olives every day, and we think your diet should too. In this simple one-step recipe all you do is throw together a little olive oil, your favorite olives, rosemary, and optional fennel seeds, then sauté them for three minutes over medium heat. At 110 calories per serving, you can eat olives more often with no guilt!

Try this recipe: Warm Olives with Rosemary

Mediterranean Breakfast Couscous

Want a way to add some of the Mediterranean diet benefits to your breakfast? This couscous recipe mixes dried apricots, milk, and cinnamon sticks to give a classic grain breakfast appeal. With 5 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein, this morning meal will keep you full much longer than regular cereal.

Tip: you can make a big batch and portion out daily servings for breakfast to save time throughout the week.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Breakfast Couscous

Basmati Salad

This Mediterranean rice dish can be served as a side or light lunch. It includes pine nuts, a Middle Eastern cooking staple that have a sweet and nutty flavor. The recipe also calls for fresh mint, which is rich in vitamin A and is good for your breath, digestion, and more.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Basmati Salad

Mediterranean Pizza

Our homemade, crispy, thin-crust pizza is so much better than take-out. Topped with veggies and on a delicious whole-wheat crust, you can enjoy two slices of a 12-inch pie for only 290 calories. The artichoke hearts scattered on top pack plenty of fiber, and the tomatoes are a great source of the antioxidant lycopene.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Pizza

Grilled Vegetable Tagine

This stew, full of healthy veggies and flavorful ingredients like green olives, raisins, and red potatoes, packs heart-healthy fats and a whopping 14 grams of fiber! That's about half the recommended daily intake of fiber for adults all in one low-calorie meal. We served this stew up with healthy couscous, but you can also use quinoa, a gluten-free source of protein, iron, and fiber. For extra protein and omega-3s, add in a lean fish like salmon or tuna.

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Grilled Vegetable Tagine

Greek Salmon Burgers

These healthy burgers use salmon to create high-protein patties that look as good as they taste. Layering feta cheese, cucumbers, and a salmon fillet onto a ciabatta roll, or any bread of your choice, creates an effortless, omega-3-packed lunch or dinner.

Try this recipe: Greek Salmon Burgers

Health.com: 10 Healthy Fish Recipes

Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers

We all know how difficult and fattening classic stuffed peppers can be. This version is filled with healthy Mediterranean ingredients and takes less than an hour from start to finish. Each rich, satisfying serving packs 5 grams of fiber, 3 grams of monounsaturated fats, and only about 200 calories. Bell peppers are rich in vitamin C, and since you're getting nearly a whole bell pepper per serving, you'll be loading up on the immunity-boosting nutrient. One ounce of spinach, which is what goes into each pepper, provides 169 percent of your recommended-daily vitamin K intake as well as more than half the recommended vitamin A intake.

Try this recipe: Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers

Chicken-Garbanzo Salad

This high-fiber dish, made with chickpeas (garbanzo beans), gets an additional boost of fiber when you scoop it into a whole-wheat pita. The tasty salad is low in saturated fat and high in protein. And, it's simple to make this dish for just one person. (You can even make it and eat it out of the same bowl.) Easy to make and to clean up—that's one of our favorite ways to cook.

Try this recipe: Chicken-Garbanzo Salad

Two-Bean Greek Salad

Greek salad gets even better when you spruce it up with some protein-packed beans like edamame. The beans also provide some of the 8 grams of fiber found in this 300-calorie salad. Haloumi cheese, which is a combination of goat and sheep milk (and sometimes even cow milk too) is used to top this salad instead of feta, which is the most commonly used cheese on Greek salads. It adds a nice texture and great flavor to the dish.

Try this recipe: Two-Bean Greek Salad

This article originally appeared on Health.com.