Mediterranean diet ranked # 1 again – Mediterranean Onion Soup

Photo courtesy Foodland Ontario

Every January, U.S. News & World Report comes out with the best diets for the coming year. Keep in mind, though, that the term diet does not mean a weight loss plan, but a dietary pattern. The publication, using a panel of diet, nutrition and health experts, assesses and ranks 40 different diets based on various factors including its heart healthy attributes, whether it’s diabetes friendly and if it contributes to easier weight management.

And the winner is ….. the Mediterranean diet. Once again, this eating style comes out on top. It’s the fifth year in a row for the Med diet.

It’s hardly surprising considering what makes up the Mediterranean diet. Though the dishes may vary as you travel around the region, the basics remain the same: a foundation of plenty of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, pulses (lentils, kidney beans and chick peas, for example), nuts and seeds and whole grains along with only small portions of animal foods and the use of olive oil. The arsenal of disease-fighting weaponry also includes assorted herbs and spices which interact with the various food combinations to boost the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer action even more so.

It’s a delicious way to eat while providing stellar nutritional attributes.

In some areas of the Mediterranean, though, the locals have moved away from their traditional dishes and as they do, they are experiencing increased rates of various ailments that are more common with our North American eating style.

To find out more about the Mediterranean diet – from the foods and flavours to how to get started on the eating plan without leaving home, check out the vast number of resources at Oldways, the food and nutrition non-profit group that brought global attention to the Mediterranean diet. They continue to be the best source to turn to if you’re looking for anything about the Mediterranean diet – research studies, recipes, tips etc.

Here’s an example of a Mediterranean-style soup, adapted from Foodland Ontario. Feel free to use your local ingredients and enjoy!

Mediterranean Onion Soup

Serves 4 to 6 (Makes 8 cups)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 Ontario Onions, halved and sliced lengthwise (about 6 cups)
1 tbsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tbsp Ontario Maple Syrup
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
8 cups no salt added beef or sodium-reduced vegetable broth
1/4 cup crumbled Ontario Feta Cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh Ontario Parsley

In large deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add thyme and salt; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in maple syrup until onions are well coated. Stir in flour until onions are well coated, about 1 minute.

Increase heat to high; add bay leaf and broth and bring to boil. Stir and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until soup is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine cheese and parsley; set aside.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with cheese mixture. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving:
• Calories: 154
• Protein: 5 grams
• Fat: 6 grams
• Carbohydrate: 21 grams
• Dietary fibre: 2 grams
• Sodium: 350 milligrams

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Categories: Nutrition News, Recipes

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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