How to Make Midwest Meals More Mediterranean

Published on: 03/09/2021

Here are 10 ideas for adding Mediterranean foods that can help you lower your blood sugars and cholesterol!

Research shows that eating more Mediterranean foods can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 30 percent!

But how do you eat Mediterranean foods when you live in the Midwest United States?

Like many in the rural Midwest , I grew up on meat and potato meals and I still love them. Unfortunately , I never mastered portion control when it comes to potatoes, and they are still one of my favorite foods almost any way you make them!

As someone over 50 trying to prevent diabetes,  I try my best to incorporate healthier foods that will help me manage weight and prevent diabetes.

If you are looking for simple healthy food ideas to help reverse diabetes the Mediterranean diet has plenty of research proving its benefit.

The healthy fats are good for your heart and help lower inflammation, and the unprocessed fiber in grains, fruits, veggies, beans, and nuts help with a slower blood sugar rise instead of a quick spike after eating.

The easiest way to eat more Mediterranean is to try adding in foods to your daily meals or snacks, 1 or 2 at a time, and then gradually add more into your regular eating routine.

Here’s 10 ways to do that:

  1. Use olive oil for the healthy fat benefit.
    • Make extra virgin olive oil a regular part of cooking by using it for sauteing meats, vegetables, onions, mushrooms.
    • Coat carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, or other vegetables before roasting.
    • Use oil and vinegar for salad dressing.
  2. Eat more vegetables for the fiber, low carb, and nutrient benefit.
    • Add leftover veggies to scrambled eggs for breakfast. Use avocado or guacamole on eggs.
    • Keep raw veggies handy for a quick snack or part of your lunch.
    • Tomatoes are an easy vegetable to add. Use cherry or grape tomatoes in salads, on homemade pizza, or with cheese and fruit for snack or lunch. Canned tomatoes or tomato sauce counts too!
    • Have a premixed organic greens salad and add flavors with nuts, sunflower seeds, olives, or cheese.
  3. Eat fish twice a week. Fish that are great sources of Omega-3 fats include Albacore tuna sardines, herring, and salmon. Check out recipes and meal ideas here.
  4. Use beans in meals to reduce or replace the meat. Beans and lentils are a good fiber, nutrient and plant protein food.
    • For example, in chili use half pound ground beef instead of a whole pound and use 2 cans beans instead of one can.
    • For enchiladas, you can also use half the meat and add refried beans to the filling mixture.
    • Add a can of black beans to your taco filling
  5. Portion and planning are key to success!
    • Eat small meals but add small snacks to control hunger and cravings.
    • Use smaller plates.
    • Pre-portion snack foods into carb or calorie portions that fit your plan.
  6. Try different grains you may not be familiar with such as quinoa, wild rice, bulgur, barley, or farro. These are minimally processed and have more nutrition and fiber.
    • Start with pre-packaged grains or blends that already have seasonings or flavor.
    • If unseasoned try cooking in chicken or vegetable broth for more flavor
    • Be sure to plan as these grains take longer to cook so make enough for the number of meals you might want from one batch.
  7. Have fresh fruit for dessert. Even though there is natural sugar you get fiber and vitamins you need.
    • Apples and citrus fruits are great sources of the soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol.
    • Frozen fruit can be a nice back up to add to Greek yogurt or smoothies.
  8. Snack on nuts, fruit, veggies, hummus, or a few chips and salsa. The key to healthy snacking is to plan ahead and have it ready to eat or packed in your lunch bag.
  9. Have oatmeal or eggs instead of cold cereal for breakfast. Cold cereal is very processed and tends to spike blood sugar faster.
    • Cook up a batch of steel cut oats for the week and just reheat your portion every morning.
    • To save time cook some hard-boiled eggs you can have over the next few days for grab and go breakfast with fruit or toast.
  10. Dairy is a healthy Mediterranean option. Enjoy Greek yogurt, feta cheese, and try some new flavors of hard cheeses with fruit or whole grain crackers. Just remember – small portions!

If you would like help building your food plan to reverse or manage type 2 diabetes, contact Karen for more details on the Path to Diabetes Food Freedom program.


Meet the Author
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Thanks for visiting my blog!

I’m Karen, a diabetes nutrition specialist who is passionate about fighting diabetes for my clients, my family, and myself.

I hope you find food ideas and answers to some of your questions here in my articles. But if you are looking for more personalized help with nutrition or diabetes please check out my services page.

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