Fresh Fridays 
November 1, 2013
  Vol. V, No. 18     
Holiday Desserts superimposed on a photo of baked pears stuffed with walnuts and raisins.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner and the winter holidays coming up fast, the hunt for the perfect holiday desserts has begun. Unadorned fresh fruit serves as daily dessert in the Mediterranean Diet, but during special occasions sweets are welcome additions to the table. Here are a few ideas for incorporating Mediterranean Diet ingredients and principles into your holiday treats:

  • Replace butter, margarine, shortening, or lard with olive oil or other healthy nut and seed oils. Our friends at the North American Olive Oil Association recommend using olive oil not only to reduce saturated fat content, but also to keep baked goods moist. And the vitamin E in extra virgin olive oil helps cakes stay fresh longer. For the most pronounced flavor and most health benefits, use extra virgin olive oil. But if you do not want the fruity flavor, try using regular olive oil. Use this conversion chart to make the switch to olive oil in your favorite recipes:


Olive Oil

1 teaspoon


1 tablespoon

2 teaspoons

2 tablespoons

1 tablespoons


3 tablespoons




cup + 2 tablespoons

⅔ cup



cup + 1 tablespoon

1 cup



  • Seek out recipes that rely on fruit's natural sweetness. Fresh fruit, dried fruit, and fruit purees like applesauce can all be used for making dessert in different ways. Hearty fruits like apples and pears work well as the centerpiece of a fall or winter dessert. Fruits like fresh or dried dates and figs compliment chocolate well and add sweetness without reliance on refined sugar. Some people like to replace some of the oil (usually up to half) in their recipes with applesauce, mashed bananas, or other fruit purees like peach, prune, or pear.      
  • Incorporate nuts into your holiday baking. Like fruits, nuts can play a starring or supporting role in your recipes. Use them as a main component, like in the Baked Walnut-Stuffed Pears below, or as a more subtle means of adding richness, texture, and flavor such as by adding nut flour to a pie crust or using chopped nuts in a crumble.

Click on the titles or photos below to link to the recipes. 

12 Great Ways to Use Artichokes. 
Check out our newest 12 Great Ways... resource! We are introducing a new resource each month on the Oldways Table Blog.

Olive oil production can be completed from start to finish using only mechanical processes, without the aid of chemicals. In fact, the International Olive Council definition for virgin olive oils specifically states no added heat or chemicals can be used in production. (Source:

Learn more about olive harvesting and olive oil production.
Travel with Oldways.

Photo of sunflower field with a brown building in the background from Umbria. 
From our base in Perugia we'll fan out on day trips to discover the food, wines, artisinal products, art, and ceramics that make the region of Umbria so special. 

Contact Abby Sloane at 617-896-4875 or [email protected] for more information.      
Win a Book! The Oldways 4-Week Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan.

Congratulations to Fresh Fridays reader Cynthia Leeser, the winner of our October Mediterranean Diet Pyramid Anniversary book give-away!

With the holiday season fast approaching many of us are on the lookout for new recipes to bring added flare to the holiday table. Mediterranean dishes add color, flavor, and a welcomed healthy note to the season's indulgences.

Share with us a Mediterranean-inspired recipe fit for the holiday table for your chance to win a copy of The Oldways 4-Week Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan.

Entering to win is easy: Just share your recipe with us by posting a comment on our Facebook page, tweeting us @Oldwayspt, posting in our new Oldways Forum, or emailing [email protected].    
Carrot Cake         

This moist, flavorful cake is a favorite at the holidays, but works just as well to celebrate special occasions any time of year. The rich, creamy filling and fluffy cake are a heavenly combination!   

Recipe and photo courtesy of International Collection        

Filled with the goodness of crunchy walnuts, this baked pear recipe is sure to be a favorite at any holiday. Make variations by changing the type of dried fruit.

Recipe and photo courtesy of California Walnuts

This sweet treat relies on the natural sweetness of dates, remains moist thanks to olive oil, and takes advantage of the rich flavor of whole wheat flour. 

Recipe and photo courtesy of Bard Valley Natural Delights 
Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be.   

To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit:     

 Mediterranean Foods Alliance (MFA)        



Oldways logo
Let the old ways be your guide to  good health and well-being.       



Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter 

Find us on Pinterest   

Oldways Bookstore
Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well by Sam Sifton. 
Find everything you need for planning, cooking, and serving a spectacular Thanksgiving meal with Sam Sifton's Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well.

Find inspiration for more homemade treats in Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe    

Support Oldways.Make a donation today!

Contribute online, or call Abby Sloane at (617) 896-4875 to make your tax-deductible gift by phone.