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 — is widely considered one of the healthiest and most sustainable eating patterns. While there are many Mediterranean recipes and meal delivery services, snacking throughout the day is part of this popular diet, 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.”
Mediterranean snacks are almost always savory rather than sugary, he notes. That’s helpful if you’re trying to cut down on sugar.
Here are 11 delicious Mediterranean diet snack ideas.
While there are several ways to make this nutritious treat, a tried-and-true method is to start by placing slices of ripe avocado and a soft-boiled egg on top of whole-grain toast. Lightly season with salt and pepper to taste. For an extra boost of flavor, sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes for added spiciness or lime juice.
Hummus is a healthy, versatile and crowd-pleasing snack.
You can serve hummus with an array of healthy fresh veggies, including:
— Cherry tomatoes.
Made with extra-virgin olive oil, eggplant and tahini, baba ghanouj 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.
“It’s great as a dip with raw vegetables — such as zucchini slices, mini peppers, celery or carrots,” Wegman says. “The spicy flavor and creamy texture make it great as a sandwich spread.”
Red lentil dip
Red lentil dip is another wholesome Mediterranean treat that’s made with a bright blend of healthy spices, including cumin, cayenne, paprika and turmeric.
“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.”
You can purchase pre-made red lentil dip in stores or make your own based on your spice preferences.
Oven-roasted bell peppers
For a healthy, tasty and easy-to-prepare Mediterranean diet snack, oven-roasted bell peppers are a great option. Whether you choose red, green, yellow or orange peppers, these colorful vegetables are an excellent source of vitamin C.
To cook the peppers, preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, slice them in half and remove the stem, seeds and membrane. Drizzle them with olive or avocado oil and place them skin side up on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes.
Once the skin blisters and begins to blacken, transfer them to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool. Remove the skin and add a splash of balsamic vinegar or your favorite Italian dressing for extra flavor.
Nuts and seeds
You can eat nuts as they are or toasted. For example, you can roast nuts on a baking sheet with the oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit until they’re fragrant, approximately 10 minutes.
“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.
— Pumpkin seeds.
— Sesame seeds.
Mediterranean bean salad
For a fresh and healthy dish, you can’t beat Mediterranean bean salad, says Lisa R. Young, an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University in New York City and author of “Finally Full, Finally Slim: 30 Days to Permanent Weight Loss One Portion at a Time.”
This dish contains colorful vegetables that are rich in antioxidant vitamins A and C, heart-healthy olive oil and legumes, which are high in protein and fiber. You can enjoy this salad as a snack or meal.
The dish is easy to make: Combine chickpeas and kidney beans with chopped tomatoes, English cucumber, onion and red pepper. Drizzle the ingredients with a homemade vinaigrette dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.
As an option, you can sprinkle the salad with feta cheese.
Who doesn’t love pizza?
Pizza with a Mediterranean twist is tasty and nutritious, Young says. She suggests topping a whole-wheat tortilla or cauliflower pizza crust with marinara sauce and your favorite veggies.
“I love roasted eggplant, mushrooms and broccoli,” she says.
Top it with mozzarella cheese, sprinkle with oregano and black pepper, and you’re good to go.
For a snack that’s tasty, portable and nutritious, try kale chips.
You can conveniently buy kale chips at many stores, but they’re quick and easy to make at home, as well.
Start by preheating the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, take a large bundle of green or purple kale and place it in a mixing bowl. Splash the kale with coconut or avocado oil, sprinkle a bit of salt and add spices — like cumin powder, curry powder or chili powder — to brighten the flavor.
Spread the kale over a baking sheet and bake it into the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate to the pan and lightly toss the kale to ensure it bakes evenly.
Continue baking for another 5 to 10 minutes. Once the leafy greens are crispy and slightly golden brown, remove them from the oven.
Let the kale chips cool and enjoy.
Fresh figs with yogurt, honey and nuts
Figs are a staple in the Mediterranean diet and contain an array of nutrients, including vitamin B6 and copper. Figs also contain protein, fiber and antioxidants, which research suggests may help protect against cancer, heart disease and age-related conditions like dementia.
For a tasty and healthy Mediterranean snack, place fresh figs on top of a cup of Greek yogurt and add honey and nuts, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian based in Philadelphia.
Roasted sweet potatoes
“I’m a huge fan of roasted sweet potatoes and they make the perfect snack or side dish for any meal,” Young says.
To make this snack, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut sweet potatoes into chunks or slices, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cook for about 30 minutes and enjoy.
11 healthy Mediterranean snacks:
— Avocado toast.
— 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.
— Roasted sweet potatoes.
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Update 11/10/22: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.