The Mediterranean diet encourages healthy snacking.
The Mediterranean diet — which emphasizes eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, as well as fish and seafood a couple times a week — is widely considered one of the healthiest and most sustainable eating regimens. The eating plan isn’t just great when it comes to meals, but also for healthy snacking, says Jack Bishop, chief creative officer of America’s Test Kitchen.
“Finding healthy snacks is easy when following the Mediterranean diet,” Bishop says. “There’s a long tradition of small plates throughout the region, from tapas in Spain to antipasti in Italy and meze in Greece and Turkey. Snacking is actually part of the Mediterranean diet.”
Mediterranean snacks are almost always savory rather than sugary, he notes. That’s helpful if you’re trying to cut down on your consumption of added sugars.
Here are 10 Mediterranean diet snack ideas:
Avocado and egg crisp
“Who doesn’t like avocado toast?” says Jaclyn London, a registered dietitian and head of nutrition and wellness for WW (formerly Weight Watchers). She’s based in New York City.
Adding an egg is a twist that provides lean protein and some heart-healthy fat to promote satiety, London says. It’s easy to make: Mash 2 tablespoons of avocado with lime juice and a pinch of crushed red peppers in a small cup. Spread it over a piece of toast and top it with one whole, sliced hard-boiled egg.
“This snack is a great combination of flavors, nutrients and health benefits,” London says.
Hummus is a crowd-pleaser, great as a snack or as an appetizer, Bishop says.
Since it’s made with chickpeas, olive oil and tahini, it’s an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. Hummus is also versatile.
You can serve hummus with:
— Cherry tomatoes.
Baba ghanouj (ga-noush) is another tasty and nutritious Mediterranean spread that’s great for snacking, says Shelly Wegman, a registered dietitian with UNC REX Nutrition Services in Raleigh, North Carolina.
This spread is made with olive oil, a good source of heart-healthy fat, along with eggplant and tahini. “It’s great as a dip with raw vegetables such as zucchini slices, mini peppers, celery and carrots, and the spicy flavor and creamy texture make it great as a sandwich spread too,” Wegman says.
Spicy red lentil dip
For a Mediterranean treat that’s high in fiber and protein, consider spicy red lentil dip.
You can find red lentil dip in stores or make your own, so you can add as much (or as little) spice as you like, Wegman says. “Lentils are rich in protein and are an excellent source of soluble fiber, the kind of fiber that helps your body get rid of cholesterol,” Wegman says. “Serve it with slices of pita bread and assorted raw vegetables for a quick and easy snack.”
For a healthy, tasty and easy-to-prepare snack, consider oven-roasted peppers.
After adding a drizzle of avocado oil, you can roast an array of peppers of different colors, including:
— Red peppers.
— Green peppers.
— Yellow peppers.
— Orange peppers.
To cook peppers, slice them in half, remove the stem and core and put them on a gas or charcoal grill until they get some char and the skin starts to loosen. “Or you can drizzle them with olive or avocado oil and roast them skin side down on a baking sheet at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes,” Wegman says. “Let them cool, remove the skin and add a splash of balsamic vinegar or your favorite Italian dressing for a colorful addition to any veggie plate.”
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a key part of the Mediterranean diet — and happen to make excellent snacks, Bishop says.
These offerings contain a good amount of protein and healthy fats. “Nuts are incredibly nutrient dense,” Bishop says.
You can eat nuts as they are, or warm them up. For example, you can toast nuts on a baking sheet with the oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes, until they’re fragrant. “Once you can smell them, they’re ready to enjoy,” Bishop says. “I like to toss them with chopped fresh rosemary and a pinch of salt as soon as they come out of the oven. Chili powder is another good option.”
Mediterranean nuts and seeds include:
— Pine nuts.
— Sesame seeds.
Mediterranean bean salad
Combine your favorite legume — garbanzo, for example — with whole cherry tomatoes, freshly diced onions, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, suggests Brian St. Pierre, a registered dietitian based in Scarborough, Maine. He’s the director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition.
“Don’t forget a hint of salt, to your personal taste,” he says.
Pizza is a hugely popular food among many U.S. consumers. Pizza with a Mediterranean twist is both tasty and healthy, St. Pierre says.
Substitute a whole-wheat mini-tortilla for the typical white flour crust, St. Pierre says. “Add spinach, feta cheese and tomatoes — or even grilled peppers and garlic — for a healthy, happy pizza fix,” he says.
For a snack that’s tasty, portable and nutritious, try kale chips, Bishop says. They’re “a way to have a Mediterranean snack for the American snacker who’s not going to drop into a tapas restaurant.”
You can buy kale chips at many stores or make your own. Start by preheating the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, take a large bundle of green or purple kale and put it in a mixing bowl. Splash the kale with coconut or avocado oil. You can also add spices like cumin powder, curry powder or chili powder.
Spread the kale over a couple of baking sheets and place it into the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, then turn the pans around and lightly toss or stir the kale to ensure it bakes evenly. Bake for another five to 10 minutes, and when the leafy greens are crispy and slightly golden brown, remove them from the oven.
Let the kale chips cool. They’re best enjoyed when they’re fresh.
Fresh figs with yogurt, honey and nuts
The combination of figs, honey and nuts is simple to make and includes fiber, protein and healthy fats, London says.
Place four medium-size, quartered figs into a bowl, and spoon a cup of yogurt on top. Drizzle it with honey and sprinkle in nuts. “This snack is nutrient dense and satisfying, in line with the foods encouraged in the Mediterranean style of eating,” London says.
To recap, here are 10 healthy Mediterranean snacks:
— Avocado and egg crisp.
— Baba ghanouj.
— Spicy red lentil dip.
— Oven-roasted peppers.
— Nuts and seeds.
— Mediterranean bean salad.
— Mediterranean pizza.
— Kale chips.
— Fresh figs with yogurt, honey and nuts.
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Update 03/15/21: This article was previously published and has been updated with new information.