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A Mediterranean Approach to Flavorful Living
Date:9/2/2009

HUNT VALLEY, Md., Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Warmth and passion have lured people to the sunny Mediterranean for centuries. Rich flavors, the promise of health and vitality and a lifestyle that celebrates friends and family around the table have attracted many chefs, nutritionists and health-minded Americans to the Mediterranean Diet since it was introduced to the United States in the 1990s.

Recently, the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was updated to showcase the role of herbs and spices, placing them at the heart of every meal for the flavor and health-promoting antioxidants they provide.

"Updating the pyramid to emphasize herbs and spices was an easy choice, considering the role they play in the flavor profile of Mediterranean cuisines," said K. Dun Gifford, President of Oldways, a nonprofit food issues think tank. "There is also a growing body of research linking herbs and spices, and their high levels of antioxidants, with an array of promising health benefits."

Exploring the flavors of the Mediterranean can be as simple as opening the spice cabinet. Familiar favorites like Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme and Red Pepper/Paprika are mainstays in Mediterranean cuisines. These herbs and spices are also part of the group of Super Spices, highlighted by McCormick for their high levels of antioxidants - as impressive as some of today's "super foods," like colorful berries and leafy green vegetables. For example, just one-half teaspoon of oregano has as many antioxidants as three cups of fresh spinach.(1) Since dried herbs and spices no longer contain the water of fresh produce, they offer a big antioxidant punch in a very compact package.

Savor the Flavors of the Mediterranean - No Passport Required

The Mediterranean way of eating epitomizes the rich culture and cuisine of the nations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, including Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Morocco and others. It encourages eating a variety of fresh foods including:

  • Fruits and vegetables such as citrus, grapes, pomegranates, garlic, eggplant and broccoli
  • Legumes such as beans, peas and peanuts
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat flour and bulgur
  • Healthier fats like those found in olive oil, nuts like almonds and walnuts, and seafood
  • Moderate amounts of red wine

It's easy to incorporate herbs and spices into the bountiful flavors of the Mediterranean with simple tips like these:

  • For a Greek vinaigrette dressing, stir 1/2 teaspoon Oregano Leaves and 1 to 2 tablespoons reduced fat feta cheese into 1/2 cup bottled vinaigrette dressing.
  • Thyme brings out the flavor of mushrooms. Saute 1 pound sliced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Thyme Leaves.
  • Make a delicious Mediterranean roasted chicken. Before roasting, brush chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle all over with 2 teaspoons crushed Rosemary Leaves, 1/2 teaspoon Thyme Leaves, Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.

Embrace the Mediterranean lifestyle by sharing a meal with family and friends featuring flavorful and antioxidant-rich foods. Start with Mediterranean-Spiced Artichoke Bake, a lighter version of the traditional dip, enhanced with the addition of several Super Spices. For a satisfying main dish, try Tomato Florentine Pasta Bake or Mediterranean-Style Stuffed Peppers. And, Thyme and Cinnamon Poached Pears make for a healthful dessert with both sweet and savory notes to finish the meal.

In an effort to help Americans add Mediterranean foods into daily meals, Oldways developed the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in 1993 to graphically represent the lifestyle's food groups and recommendations. Herbs and spices were incorporated in the most recent redesign of the pyramid. Visit www.spicesforhealth.com for more recipes, tips and information about the Super Spices.

About McCormick

With an extensive network of researchers, trend experts, chefs, home economists, food technologists, and sensory analysts, McCormick & Company, Inc. keeps its finger on the pulse of flavor. McCormick was founded in 1889 in Baltimore, Maryland. Today it is a global leader in the sale of spices, herbs and seasonings. McCormick sources high quality ingredients from far-reaching destinations to bring a world of flavors to consumers.

About Oldways

Oldways is an internationally-respected non-profit, changing the way people eat through practical and positive programs grounded in science, traditions, and delicious foods and drinks. It is best known for developing consumer-friendly health-promotion tools, including the well-known Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.

Oldways also creates and organizes a wide variety of other educational activities, conferences and materials about healthy eating, drinking, lifestyle and the traditional pleasures of the table. Its educational programs are for consumers, scientists, the food industry, health professionals, chefs, journalists and policy makers.

(1) Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods - 2007, Nutrient Data Laboratory USDA, November 2007, www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata/ORAC.


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SOURCE McCormick & Company, Inc.
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