Lunch may well be your most important meal of the day! Eating a plant-based meal with lean protein at midday boosts your blood sugar — slowly — thereby giving your brain the energy it needs to finish the day’s work without a carb crash. This approach also keeps you from ravenously overeating at night, which can cause weight gain.
Traditionally, lunch in the Mediterranean was the biggest meal of the day, often followed by a nap!
But forget dishes like lasagna, paella and lamb souvlaki on a daily basis. Simple, plant-based cooking is the focus, with most of each meal created from fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, with a few nuts and seeds and a heavy emphasis on extra-virgin olive oil.
Cooking food in olive oil or “laderá” is such a part of the Greek culture that if natives think someone is a bit crazy, they say they are “choris ládi” or “losing oil.”
Fats other than olive oil, such as cholesterol-raising butter, are consumed rarely, if at all. And say goodbye to refined sugar or processed foods — your sweet tooth will soon be craving seasonal fresh fruit.
Fish and other seafood (which are good for your brain) are consumed at least twice a week. Yogurt and cheese show up daily to weekly, in moderate portions. Chicken and eggs are OK on occasion during the week, but the use of red meat is very limited.
A Mediterranean lunch is only limited by your imagination! Choose from a rainbow of flavorful vegetables, eaten raw or steamed, oven-roasted or sautéed (but only with EVOO) or stuffed into other veggies and baked.
Use a weekend day to prepare large batches of dishes you can pack up and take to work. But if you can’t find the time, healthy options like grain bowls, specialty salads and vegetable soups are available at a growing number of restaurants.