Mediterranean Grain Bowl
This Mediterranean Grain Bowl is a healthy meal that is easy to prepare for lunch or dinner. If you want to take the time to arrange the ingredients nicely, it can be very aesthetically pleasing as well. Keep reading to learn more about the Mediterranean diet and how you can make this grain bowl a regular part of your meal rotations.
All About the Mediterranean Diet
Have you ever traveled to a Mediterranean country, such as Italy, Greece, or Turkey? These countries are all located on the Mediterranean Sea, which means they have access to lots of fresh ingredients (including fish and seafood).
Although This Mediterranean Grain Bowl doesn’t include seafood, it is still is a great representation of many other characteristics of the traditional Mediterranean diet.
Dietitians and health gurus alike all love the Mediterranean diet pattern because it encourages you to eat fresh, nutritious meals without restricting any foods unnecessarily. So what does it look like to follow the Mediterranean diet?
The Components of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet consists of 9 components/food groups. Each group has specific recommendations for how much you should consume regularly, although this can be more customizable for individuals (talk to a dietitian!).
Here are the 9 components of the Mediterranean Diet:
- Fruit and Nuts
- Cereals and Whole Grains
- Fish and Seafood
- Oils and Fats
In general, you want to focus on getting more of some food groups (i.e. vegetables or legumes) and reduce your intake of others (i.e. meats and alcohol).
Here’s a great handout for more information on servings and food examples → Click Here
Why Should You Follow the Mediterranean Diet?
Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet has many health benefits. When you follow this diet, you will be eating so many different nutrients that have a positive effect on your health. In fact, you may experience a reduced risk for heart disease, a healthier gut, and a reduced risk for cancer.
Better Heart Health
A few key components of the Mediterranean diet help reduce your risk for heart disease.
First of all, people who follow this diet tend to eat little meat. Rather than having meat as the center part of most meals, meat is used to add flavor with small amounts in select meals. Animal-based products such as meat typically have higher amounts of saturated fat. Over time, consuming excess saturated fat can increase your risk for heart disease.
On the other hand, the diet is high in plant-based oils. Think about the classic oil of Italy- olive oil. This oil has a different fat assortment than meat, and these fats actually have a positive effect. In fact, replacing saturated fats with other plant-based sources (high in monounsaturated fats) can lower your risk for heart disease.
A Healthier Gut
Gut health is becoming an increasingly popular topic, and for a good reason. A healthier gut has been linked to reduced risk for many chronic diseases.
The Mediterranean diet is an excellent way to improve your gut health. It is rich in fruits, vegetables, and legumes, which are all high in fiber. Eating lots of fiber is one of the best ways you can help your gut stay healthy.
Of course, it is always important to remember not to throw in a bunch of fiber to your diet all at once. Too much fiber can lead to constipation, especially if your body isn’t used to a high fiber intake. Make sure you drink plenty of water when you start adding new fruits, veggies, and legumes into your diet so everything keeps running smoothly!
Reduced Risk for Cancer
There are a few ways in which the Mediterranean diet may help lower your risk for cancer. Going back to the high fiber content, this can reduce your risk for colon cancer specifically.
Generally speaking, eating a diet high in antioxidants can also decrease your risk for most cancers. Fruits and vegetables are especially high in antioxidants, and this Mediterranean diet sure doesn’t skip out on the produce.
Does This Grain Bowl Meet the Requirements?
So let’s assess this Mediterranean Grain Bowl. It has 4 different food groups that you want to increase with the Mediterranean diet – vegetables, legumes (the chickpeas), grains (quinoa/brown rice), and fats (olives). Plus, this bowl has no meat – it is almost completely plant-based!
And although the Mediterranean diet is relatively low in dairy, Greek yogurt is one of the most nutritious dairy options you could use for your Tzatziki sauce.
All in all, I would say this Mediterranean grain bowl is a very good representation of the healthy Mediterranean diet.
Mediterranean Grain Bowl
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr Prep: 15 min Cook: 45 min
FOR THE BOWL:
- ¼ cup brown rice, uncooked
- ¼ cup quinoa, uncooked
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- ½ English cucumber, diced (the other half is used in the sauce)
- ½ can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced (optional, may replace with feta cheese)
FOR THE TZATZIKI SAUCE:
- ½ English cucumber, peeled
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt (may substitute with dairy-free option)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ tsp dried dill
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- Cook rice and quinoa according to package directions. You can combine them in one pot to save on dishes.
- While the rice is cooking, prepare toppings. Ensure that you reserve half of the English cucumber for making the Tzatziki sauce.
- Using a fine grater or microplane, shred the peeled cucumber half into a small bowl. Then, strain the finely shredded cucumber with a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer. You may want to sprinkle a bit of salt over the cucumber to help pull the water out – you’ll want as little liquid as possible.
- In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine all sauce ingredients and whisk together.
- To serve: Place half of the rice and quinoa mixture in a bowl. Add toppings, then drizzle the tzatziki sauce over the top. Enjoy!
Want to make this delicious, nutritious recipe at home?
Click below to download a recipe card for this Mediterranean Grain Bowl recipe.