Mediterranean Diet for Health & Weight Loss

Grilled-Salmon

Tasty and delicious, full of healthy ingredients, and the bonus: Weight loss.

Losing 10 lbs. in 4 months – while feeling great and knowing it’s good for my heart and health – I’m a fan of the Mediterranean diet.

Though I’ve been preparing Mediterranean dishes quite often (I collect Mediterranean cookbooks!) for several years now for the taste, health benefits, and the fun of cooking this style of food, I decided that in order to get serious about weight loss, I would incorporate it on daily basis – creating a diet that would work for me – and I’m delighted with the result!

What are the major themes of a Mediterranean diet?

Mediterranean-Montage

  • Protein from fish, chicken, lamb, eggs, and legumes (lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
  • Heart-healthy fats and omega-3s from olive oil, olives, fish, flaxseed
  • Fiber, vitamins, and minerals from fruit and veggies, nuts, figs, dates, honey
  • Calcium from yogurt, feta, parmesan, and other cheeses. (And some milk).
  • Fabulous assortments of herbs and spices, such as ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cloves, fennel, nutmeg, marjoram, basil, lemon, mint, etc.

 

Lamb-&-Lentil-Soup-with-Olive-&-Grilled-Eggplant-Tartlets

So, what does Kim’s mostly-Mediterranean Diet look like?

Here are some examples:

Breakfast:

1 free-range egg sautéed in olive oil, 1/3 cup spinach, and 1/2 spelt English muffin with a dash of butter and honey. 1/2 medium, or one small, banana.

Or:

A smoothie with a combination of a few fruits and veggies such as: peaches, mango, melon, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, banana, avocado, cucumber, plus 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, splash of organic milk, freshly-grated ginger, cinnamon, tablespoon of finely ground flaxseed; add chopped almonds/pecans or muesli sprinkled on top.

Peach-Mango-Avocado-Cuc-Smoothie

Drink:

1-2 cups of hot water  (plain or with ginger and/or lemon in it).

1 cup of a high-quality tea. (For calorie cut-back, I drink it black; though occasionally reverting to my British roots, I enjoy a cup of tea with milk).

Coffee (black, when dieting; white, when maintaining). Cappuccino / latté on weekends.

Mid-morning:

2 squares of dark chocolate or a biscotti  (with a second cup of coffee).

A pot of jasmine pearl tea, 1 tablespoon of honey swirled in the pot.

Lunch:

A delicious plate containing a combination of some of the following:

  • Salmon, kippered herring, or a similar high omega-3 fish
  • Falafel or hummus
  • Avocado – 1/2, sliced
  • Cucumber, slow-roasted tomatoes with olive oil and basil, or other salad veggies
  • Artichokes, cooked and chopped, sometimes in olive oil
  • Olive Tapenade or some Kalamata / Black olives
  • Bruschetta spread
  • Muhammara spread (roasted Red Pepper, Walnuts, Pomegranate juice) – delish!
  • Yogurt with mint
  • Pita Bread – 1/2
  • Sardinian Parchment Crackers – from Trader Joe’s / WholeFoods – how did I ever survive without them?

Mediterranean Lunch - Homemade Falafel

Drink: Juice mixed with sparkling mineral water, or glass of cucumber/ginger water.

Cucumber Water

Cup of Rooibos tea (this time with milk) and a couple of dates, figs, chocolate-covered walnuts, ginger biscotti, or some kind of after- lunch treat.

Mid-afternoon:

Melon, Mangoes, Apple, or other fruit or healthy snack (no more than 100-150 calories).

Drink: Glass of water and/or decaf tea/coffee.

Dinner:

4 oz serving of Fish, Chicken, Lamb, or Beef, with various vegetables, perhaps a Ratatouille or similar use of Eggplant and Tomatoes or other veggies, and small serving of rice pilaf or pasta, or grated cauliflower, with flavorful herbs and spices. An example might be: Lamb Ravioli, Moroccan Chicken with Saffron, Fennel or Rice Pilaf (I have my Persian friend, Zinat, to thank for the introduction of aromatic, anise-flavored, ground fennel spice in rice – fabulous!), Grilled Chicken/Hot Hummus Salad in Pita, or other similar Med-style dishes.

Or:

Lamb and Greek Lentil soup, or another meat/vegetable/legume soup.  1/2 Olive Bread Roll or crackers.

 

Or:

1/2 small Feta and Spinach pizza or 1/4 of a 12-inch homemade Chicken pizza with a variety of Mediterranean veggies on top. Super thin crisp organic flour or gluten-free crust, light on the cheese, olive oil and slow-roasted tomatoes as a base – perfecto!

Dessert:

Serving of Greek yogurt with fruit and a drizzle of honey, or another healthy dessert, with a cup of Rooibos tea with milk.

Evening Snack:

1/2 spelt English muffin with butter/honey, or small bowl of cereal with dash of milk.

Chamomile tea (2 cups)

Water

That’s it and I’m off to bed, happy and satiated at about 1000-1200 calories per day.

Note: obviously this works for me, but you may need more calories depending on your stature and needs. I also take some important vitamins to make sure I’m getting all needed nutrients. BTW, I keep an eye on my daily calories in an easy little app on my Android phone (Simple Calorie Count).

You might think this takes a bit of discipline to stay on this type of diet for several months – but it’s SO easy and delicious that I’m not inclined to stray from it too much.

It took a few weeks before I saw any change, then – ‘wham’ the pounds started falling off. Now I have the next ten pounds in my sights, a dream I had all but given up on!

The wonderful thing about the smells and flavors of the Mediterranean diet – it’s as if you’re exploring the villages of Tuscany, the markets of Jerusalem, or the shores of Sardinia, without leaving home.

Tuscan-Street-Cafe

So, if you want to lose a few pounds and maintain a healthy diet, while enjoying great taste,  may I recommend the Mediterranean diet?

And hey, after you lose your desired weight, why not celebrate with a latté and teeny chocolate éclair? Latte-and-Chocolate-Eclair

Cheers, my friends. I raise my sparkling water glass to you and hope you’re enjoying the blessings of a bountiful harvest yourself. We have much to thank God for!

Bon Appétit!

Kim

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Refresh, Renew, Regenerate

Changing Seasons

As I watch the final leaves fall from the trees in our garden – after a windstorm last night – I pondered on the reason for the season changes.

Some people view this as a sad time of year, but actually, it has some amazing benefits.

Three words come to mind:

  • Refresh
  • Renew
  • Regenerate

Leaves, which, during the warmer times of year, were an asset (providing needed photosynthesis and coverage), during the winter become a liability when light is less, and could likely freeze with snow, becoming too heavy and breaking the branches.

If the leaves aren’t shed once a year, the tree could be seriously damaged, or even die.

If they don’t fall from the trees, we might be looking at dead leaves next season.

If the old leaves are not removed, there is no room for new growth.

Dropping the leaves allows the tree to solidify it’s core. It’s going through a needed cycle.

Sometimes we need to shed things in our lives that, although at seasons are an asset, if we hang on to them at later times, become a liability.

There are things that are core to our lives, and there are things that are extraneous. And at various seasons in our lives, these could change.

What is core in your life? And what are you hanging on to, or adding to your life, that is weighing you down?

Sometimes we need to take a seasonal look at what needs to change, what habits and other things need to be shed from our lives, so that we can make room for new growth.

If we don’t shed some necessary things occasionally, the winds of life may facilitate it for us. It seems to me that being a proactive participant in this is preferable!

Take some time this season to be refreshed, renewed, and regenerated. You’ll find the next season will be so much better.

Peace Like a River

Hasn’t the world seemed a little crazy lately? Turmoil and trouble everywhere on the international and domestic scene.

While we view the news headlines with furrowed brows, we crave peace, don’t we? Not just around us, but inside us also.

Did you know that God has promised that you can have “peace like a river”?

Who doesn’t enjoy relaxing under the shade of a tree on a late summer’s day, breathing in the fresh breeze, and gazing at a river’s gentle ripples? Beautiful. Peaceful.

Rivers are continuously flowing. Regardless of activity around, or in, them, they continue on. Nothing seems to adversely affect them, water flows on, either in a gentle meander or a spirited over-the-rocks forward movement.

Perhaps that’s why God used the metaphor “peace like a river” to describe the peace He has for us. Isaiah 48:18 indicates that we can have this flowing peace, if we listen to, and obey, the voice of God: “Oh that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river…”

So many people spend their lives searching for peace – in all the wrong places. Craving peace, they search everywhere BUT God to find it, not understanding that a troubled world doesn’t have the capability to give them peace.

However the source of peace is found in the Prince of Peace Himself, as Jesus promised: “My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27.

What I love about God’s peace is that regardless of circumstances, we can have a quietness inside, a peace that continuously flows “like a river.” The world may be in turmoil, but we are not.

Want peace? It’s yours if you’ll ask for it. Seek it from the Prince of Peace, and sit on the river bank of His love and grace today.

What God Thinks About Me Is Infinitely More Important…

What-God-Thinks-About-Me-Is-Infinitely-More-Important

In this hyperconnected world in which so many people spend so much time in social media, do you find yourself wondering what your network thinks of you?

I think, if we’re honest, most of us would say “Hmm…yes…” to that.

The more important question, however, is “What does God think of me?

We know that God loves us. And wow, what an amazing and wonderful truth that is.

But what does God really think of the way that we live in this world? And does it matter?

The scripture says that God knows our hearts. In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves.

He also told us that if we are to spend eternity with Him, we must return His love, with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind, and with all of our strength. So, yes, it matters.

Fortunately, when you fully realize how much He loves you, what He has done for you, and the amazing plan He has for YOUR life, it’s easy to surrender to His love.

It might not be so easy, however, to fit your actions to your intentions. That is why He offers us His Spirit to lead, guide and empower us to do what we know we should do.

So here’s a couple of reflective questions to finish this thought today:

Knowing that He knows your heart, your thoughts, your attitudes, and your actions:

Would you say that your life is spent pursuing the applause of Heaven or the applause of people?

Which means more to you?

And which do you think means most to Him?

 

I think you know…

 

 

P.S. ~ Hat-tip to the person who coined the phrase: “What God thinks about me is infinitely more important than what others think about me.” If you know who they are, feel free to let me know in comments below…

 

 

Autumn Serenade – Video version

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A short poem for this first week of autumn – my hope is that through these few verses you would take a moment to pause and reflect on the gift of God we are given in the changing seasons. Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by!

~ Kim Batson, Joy on the Journey

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Joy That Frees Your Spirit

Remember when you were a child and something made you so happy that you started spinning around with glee? You may have jumped, you may have danced with joy, but you couldn’t keep still! So my question is, what holds us back from demonstrating such a joyful spirit as this as we grow older?

There’s an old Hebrew word for joy that suggests maybe we shouldn’t stop experiencing such joyful emotion like that. It’s the word “giyl” (pron. gheel) or “guwl” (pron. gool) and it means to find so much joy that you spin around with wild emotion! Interesting etymology, perhaps it’s where we get the word: “glee”. It is the word used for “joy” in Habakkuk 3:18 – “I will joy in the God of my salvation.” When was the last time you spun around with pure joy like this? Has it been a while, a long while?

Here’s the kicker: this kind of pure joy, in the context of this scripture, was expressed even when things weren’t going well. I’ll talk more about this in another post, but suffice it to say, you can choose joy, feel joy, and know joy, enough to spin about, regardless of circumstances. Wow. That kind of joy only comes from God.

When you experience joy like this, what others think really doesn’t matter. We know that King David exuberantly danced for joy, and may have even spun about, at the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. So much so, his wife mocked him, but he didn’t care. You see, such joy frees your spirit.

Like the release of a dove to fly, when you really grasp the joy that God gives, you want to spread your wings too. You feel the freedom to show your joy back to Him with pure abandon. The norms of society, of course, have taught us to restrain ourselves from showing too much emotion, but God does not. He doesn’t tell us to button it up. Even if you don’t feel as if you could spin around with joy in public, you might want to in the privacy of your own home. Why not? Break the rules! Experience the full joy of the Lord and the joy of a little child again. It’s not childish, it’s child-like, and there’s a significant difference. Jesus said: “Unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Although in this instance He was referring to humility and faith in our Father, we have it on good authority that some child-like attributes are good, even essential for us to adopt.

So the next time you think on the absolute goodness of God and let His joy flood your soul and spirit, let yourself have the freedom to dance before Him, even jump or spin around with glee again! (Okay, be careful not to fall.) Watch what it does for your emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.

Let your Father know how much you find joy in Him! He would be delighted in your pure and unadulterated happiness and joy. He’s like that.