More and more people are seeking whole foods based, authentic, flavorful ways of cooking. Looking to ethnic cuisines can help us spice up our own way of eating. Even for those on special diets - grain free, low carb, or gluten free - Mediterranean cuisines can inspire us to bring warm, bold, and exotic tastes into our own kitchens.
When we think of the Mediterranean, most people think first of Italy and Greece. But there are over 20 countries on the Mediterranean Sea including Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Croatia, Turkey, Spain, and of, course, France, Italy and Greece.
Let's take a look at a few condiments and flavor combinations you can use to spice up your cooking this winter. In the last few years, a nutty, spicy Egyptian condiment called Dukkah has been gaining popularity in this country. Dukkah is a mixture that includes pistachios or other nuts, sesame seeds, coriander, and cumin. To this, a cook might add dried thyme, mint, peppercorns, or various other sweet, hot, and savory herbs and spices. The options are endless. Dukkah is delicious sprinkled on roasted fish, meat, or vegetables, or as a dip for hard boiled eggs, cut up raw vegetables, or pita and olive oil. A recipe for Dukkah can be found at: Dukka Recipe: Egyptian spice mix
Another North African country, Morocco, gives us exotic and earthy spice rubs that include cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, black pepper, and cayenne. These blends can be used to warm up the flavors of roasted meat, vegetables, or fish or added into lamb burgers for an exotic flair. A simple recipe for a Moroccan spice blend can be found at: Epicurious: Moraccan spice blend
Winter is a time for rich and comforting soups and stews, slow braised meats that fall from the bone, and roasted, carmelized vegetables bursting with natural sweetness. To bring in warming flavors from across the Mediterranean into your kitchen this winter, try Sundays at Moosewood: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant by The Moosewood Collective. For a collection of faster recipes that explore Mediterranean flavors beyond the shores of Italy and Greece, try Rachael Ray: the new Mediterranean Diet.
Whatever your personal style of cooking or dietary preferences, Mediterranean flavors can add warmth and inspiration to your meals this winter. Enjoy!
Ruth Goldstein, MS, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian who works for Sojourns Community Health Clinic in Westminster, VT. Ruth's primary focus is on whole foods nutrition and helping clients set practical goals that reflect their lifestyle and health needs. Ruth's particular areas of interest include gut health, food intolerances, emotional eating, and eating disorders. Ruth graduated from Bastyr University with a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and completed her dietetic internship at Keene State College.
Sojourns Community Health Clinic was founded as an innovative response to the need for a change in how our culture views health and delivers healthcare. Sojourns offers nutrition counseling, physical therapy, biologic and functional medicine, chiropractic, acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, craniosacral therapy, massage therapy and more. Sojourns is located at: 4923 US Route 5 Westminster, Vermont 05158 Tel: 802.722.4023 Fax: 802.722.4137