November 11, 2016
Vol. VIII No. 23
Sharing Meals 
One common myth about the Mediterranean diet is that it's all about the food - getting enough olive oil, nuts, legumes, vegetables, fruit, and fish; finding the best recipes; and using the best methods to prepare ingredients. However, good food alone isn't enough to live a healthy life. The lifestyle component of the Mediterranean diet is equally important. 

In addition to touting regular exercise and healthy foods, the Mediterranean lifestyle emphasizes social interaction, quality over quantity, and beauty in simplicity. There are many reasons why living this lifestyle leads people to a life of health, meaning, and happiness, and it's no  surprise that the Mediterranean diet is often referred to as a "way of life" rather than a diet designed for the sole purpose of losing weight.

One recent study published in Clinical Psychological Science examined the link between the lifestyle component of the Mediterranean diet and improved mental health. Scientists examined 11,800 people in Spain, and asked how much they exercised, what they normally ate, and how much time they spent socializing with friends. They concluded that those who adhered to the Mediterranean lifestyle the most were less likely to develop depression than those who didn't. The findings were consistent with previous research examining the connection between social interaction and psychological well-being

One of the easiest ways to incorporate more social interaction into your daily routine is by sharing meals with others. Mediterranean cultures are known for their "family-style" meals, shared plates such as tapas and mezze, and social events such as festivals centered around food. Mealtime is sacred there; it brings people together, sparks interesting conversation, and encourages slower and more mindful eating. 

The Mediterranean lifestyle also emphasizes quality over quantity, in every aspect of life, from food to relationships to daily routines. Focusing on life's simple pleasures, like enjoying a meal with family or tasting a tomato straight from the garden, often leads to a more meaningful life. 

Mediterranean cooks stay conscious about quality by not buying more food than they need, and if they do find day-old ingredients remaining in their kitchens, they incorporate them into meals in delicious ways. Many traditional recipes stem from a need to extend ingredients to feed a crowd. They are impressive, yet simple. One great Mediterranean recipe that incorporates a food that otherwise might be considered past its prime is fattoush salad. " Fatta" are dishes that incorporate leftover pita, and in fattoush, this pita comes in the form of croutons. After the pita is torn into small pieces and tossed in a pan with some olive oil, the bread becomes crispy and adds a crunch to any salad. 

Eating together and eating simply make for the best eating. Check out our Mediterranean recipes below for inspiration, and share them with friends and family.

Click on a title or photo below to go to the recipe.

We'll never turn down an excuse to cook with an open bottle of wine by our side. This pasta recipe calls for vinho verde, a soft, fizzy Portuguese wine that complements hearty whole grain linguine perfectly.

Recipe courtesy of Barilla. Photo courtesy of Lou Manna for Barilla.

This recipe is a light and refreshing take on a creamy crab salad. It pairs perfectly with hearty whole grain bread, crackers or a bed of mixed salad greens. Serve it with cucumbers and chopped tomato too.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Dish on Fish.

Baking fish in parchment is a relatively forgiving way of cooking. In this recipe, shallots, mushrooms, and lemon juice impart an earthy flavor to the fillets. Serve with crusty whole grain bread or cooked whole grains like farro or brown rice.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Bella Sun Luci

Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be.