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The Mediterranean Diet

Peppers by gharness, on Flickr

Peppers by gharness, on Flickr

The Mediterranean diet is a wonderful eating plan that is very effective for lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels and cutting the risk of heart disease. It can also reduce the incidence of several types of cancer such as colon, breast and even prostate cancer. This plan is high in monounsaturated fats, micronutrients such as folate, antioxidants, and low in saturated fats and revolves its menus around the consumption of whole grains, fish, healthy oils and vegetables.

The Mediterranean diet does not contain many high Glycemic index foods and has many foods like whole grain pastas, fruit, and various kinds of beans which might be carbohydrates but also promote stable blood sugar levels. This eating plan is quite high in fat compared to other diets which promote weight loss or health benefits so you must watch your fat intake and keep it between 30 and 35% if you already have any health issues such as diabetes.

When trying this diet eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, olive oil, legumes, fish, stewed tomatoes, nuts, herbs and spices for flavour, lamb, whole grains and even a glass of wine. Finding ingredients you like in this bounty of choices should be pretty easy. The following salad is a wonderful mix of textures, colours and tastes and can be served topped with a nice piece of grilled fish or chicken. Try to find fresh herbs for the dressing if you can to maximize the flavours.

Grilled Vegetable and Sweet Potato Salad with Herbs

  • 4 Peppers, (all colors) quartered and seeded
  • 1 Zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 Small red onion, skinned and cut in half
  • 2 Small plum tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 4 Medium sweet potatoes cut into disks
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • ½ Bunch chives, chopped
  • ½ Bunch parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsps Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Toss all vegetables except tomatoes in olive oil
  2. Grill vegetables until tender and lightly marked.
  3. Coarsely chop grilled vegetables and combine with rest of ingredients on a decorative platter.

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How to Make Herbal Oils and Vinegars

?????Herbs have many wonderful properties that can enhance your food while stimulating the appetite and encouraging effective digestion. Adding herbs to your culinary creations can introduce new flavors and provide untold benefits to your family. Herbal oils and vinegar are perfect in this capacity and can be wonderful gifts for family or friends.

Herbal oils are quite easy to make and have a wide application in salad dressings, marinades and simply for dipping a crusty piece of bread. Lovely, unusual bottles are quite easy to find in home stores to display your gorgeous oils. When you master the art of beautiful herb oil, try your hand at different combinations for sweet oils and fragrant spice oils.

Herbal vinegar can be delicious in sauces, salads and gravies. They also are very attractive when displayed, as a useful housewarming or as a hostess gift.

Try these easy recipes and create an interesting myriad of lovely oils and vinegar for your family. Always sterilize the final display bottles after thoroughly washing them in hot soapy water. You can place the bottle, seals and lids in boiling water to sterilize or place them in a baking pan, bake in a 200 F oven for 40 minutes and then let the bottles cool in oven until you can handle them.

Lemon Grass Oil

  • 2 stalks of Lemon grass
  • 6 fresh lime or lemon leaves
  • 3 half-inch pieces of fresh peeled ginger
  • 4 cups of good quality olive oil
  1. Thoroughly wash and dry a jar that holds 1 litre of liquid
  2. Lightly crush lemon grass, ginger and leaves with flat of a knife
  3. Put crushed herbs into clean jar and pour in oil
  4. Leave the oil for 3-4 days to infuse the flavours
  5. Pour into decorative bottles and seal.

Basil Oil

  • 8 Tbsps. fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4 cups good quality olive oil
  1. Thoroughly wash and dry a jar that holds 1 litre of liquid
  2. Put basil leaves in bowl and cover for 1 minute with boiling water
  3. Drain off water and pat leaves dry.
  4. Process basil and oil in processor until well combined
  5. Pour into jar and let stand for 3-4 days to infuse flavour.
  6. Strain oil into decorative bottles

Floral Vinegar

  • 20 Tbsps. chopped herb flowers such as lavender, rose petals, thyme, sweet violets, nasturtiums and primrose
  • 4 cups white wine vinegar
  1. Pick through flowers, remove stems and damaged parts
  2. Lightly crush selected flowers
  3. Heat half of the vinegar until warm and pour over crushed flowers
  4. Pound again to release flavour and let cool
  5. Mix in remaining vinegar and pour into sealable clean jar.
  6. Seal with acid proof lid and place in sunny area for at least 2 weeks
  7. Shake jar every day and test flavour after the time has passed
  8. If you need a stronger flavour, strain out flowers and repeat the process with new flowers
  9. Strain infused vinegar through fine cheesecloth and pour vinegar into decorative bottles
  10. Place a sprig of the herb flower into the finished product and seal