It can be hard to find a diet that fits naturally into your lifestyle—which is why so many people love the Mediterranean Diet. Instead of focusing on counting calories or carbs, it aims to create an eating plan that mostly consists of whole foods you already eat, like fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and whole grains. Research has shown that the Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk of heart disease by limiting the intake of unhealthy fats and red meat. Instead, the diet focuses on making smart choices when it comes to the types of fats you eat—think olive oil and nuts.
If you are considering, or are already on, the Mediterranean Diet, you might feel like it’s time to try a few new meal options. All of these recipes can be easily prepped ahead of time and use similar ingredients, making it easy to grocery shop and plan.
Breakfast: Date and Nut Overnight Oats
Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Refined carbs like those found in white bread, baked goodies and junk foods, are frowned upon when on the Mediterranean Diet. Most—if not all—of your grains should come from whole grains like oats, whole wheat and brown rice.
In this overnight oat recipe, steel cut oats are steeped in water and left to soak overnight. In the morning, add a splash of skim milk and top with brown sugar, diced dates and walnuts. For a more filling breakfast, serve alongside an all-fruit smoothie.
Try the recipe: Date Nut Overnight Oats from The View From Great Island.
Snack: Hummus With Tomatoes and Cucumbers
Hummus from the store can be acidic tasting and gritty, but not this recipe, which will be your new, go-to. This hummus is velvety smooth and topped with a colorful salad made from cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and lemon juice. Hummus can be prepared Sunday afternoon and will last in the fridge the entire week. Serve with whole wheat pita or cucumber slices (the low-carb option) for a heart-healthy snack.
Try the recipe: Hummus Heaped with Tomatoes and Cucumber from Smitten Kitchen.
Lunch: Mediterranean Bento
Turn what would typically be a snack into a full lunch when preparing meals for the work week. Add feta cheese and olives to your leftover tomato and cucumber salad to create a hearty, vegetarian Greek salad to complement this Mediterranean bento. Serve alongside lean protein, like grilled chicken or turkey, whole pita triangles and grapes for a perfectly portioned meal that’s under 500 calories per serving.
Try the recipe: Mediterranean Bento Lunch from Eating Well.
Dinner: Whole Roast Tilapia With Lemon and Herbs
In this whole roast Tilapia recipe, keeping the Tilapia whole prevents the fish from drying out and makes this an easy one-pan recipe. Add fresh flavors like lemon and herbs to the fish’s cavity and season the Tilapia skin with oil, salt and pepper before putting it straight into the oven. For those new to cooking a whole fish, here’s a quick guide to cooking times.
Have leftovers? Substitute tilapia in this Mediterranean Tuna Salad and toss with artichoke hearts, olives, peppers, onion and low-fat mayonnaise for tomorrow’s lunch.
Try the recipe: Whole Roast Tilapia from Food and Wine.
Dessert: Yogurt Bark
This make-ahead Yogurt Bark is the perfect ending to any meal. The yogurt bark is low in sugar and can be customized for everyone in your household. Here’s a list of 16 different yogurt bark recipes for when your sugar craving hits.
Try the recipe: Frozen Yogurt Bark from My Fussy Eater.
Mediterranean meal-prep can be easily achieved week-to-week by sticking to these two guidelines: buy whole foods and avoid unhealthy fats and red meat.