November 27, 2015
Vol. VII No. 24
In This Issue
Holidays Med Style

With Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday season is in full swing. It's a time of traditions, giving thanks, gathering with family and friends, and sharing delicious food. It's also a time to indulge, with gifts, decorations, quality time with loved ones, or maybe a nice bottle of wine. Cooking and enjoying the pleasures of the table with family and friends is an important part of the Mediterranean diet, and contributes hugely to good health. All too often we get caught up in the busyness of our daily routines, but the holiday season presents us with an opportunity to take a breath and treat ourselves to these little indulgences, Mediterranean-style.

Edible Gifts
Gifting food is popular during the holiday season in the Mediterranean, whether it's a bottle of homemade wine or some store-bought baklava. A little effort goes a long way for thoughtful homemade gifts. Canned homemade sauce, jam, and pickled vegetables are easy to transport and are usually made in large batches, perfect for sharing among several recipients. Try making homemade Italian biscotti or Middle Eastern date cookies for a sweet surprise. Alternatively, stop at a specialty foods store or the international section of your grocery store to pick up a nice bottle of vinegar or extra virgin olive oil, some quality cheese, or a jar of Spanish olives. 

Quality Time 
For many people, spending an uninterrupted day with friends and family is rare, and usually happens on holidays. In the spirit of celebrating your shared time together, put together a mezze or tapas meal. Small plate sharing meals reduce the stress of holiday get-togethers because many dishes, like hummus or cheese plates, can be made a day or two before. Ask guests to bring a plate to contribute to the spread so that everyone can spend less time cooking and more time enjoying each others' company.

Cooking together is another satisfying way to spend quality time with loved ones. Many Mediterranean foods, like gnocchi and stuffed grape leaves, traditionally take a group effort to make from scratch. Working alone to make these time-intensive foods from scratch can be tedious, but with a group of friends, it's a chance to catch up and enjoy a delicious, rewarding meal at the end.

Splurging on Flavor
Fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds make up the base of the Mediterranean diet pyramid, and sometimes they need a little help from other ingredients to be prepared in delicious ways. In the spirit of the holidays, treat yourself to a pricier bottle of extra virgin olive oil or a special Mediterranean spice like saffron to flavor your meals. Try a new type of Mediterranean cheese, like ricotta or halloumi. If you usually stick to shrimp, pick up some salmon or scallops the next time you're at the fish counter. Splurge on a bottle of walnut oil for your salads. These flavoring agents will spruce up your cooking routine and make you savor your Mediterranean meals even more.

For more ideas to enjoy this holiday season, take a look at Oldways' Mediterranean Holiday Menus and the Oldways Nutrition Exchange (ONE) Healthy Holidays toolkit.

Click on a title or photo below to go to the recipe. 

Potatoes - mashed, baked, or scalloped - are a holiday staple, evoking memories of wonderful holiday meals with friends and family. Surprise and delight your guests this holiday season with a twist on bruschetta - swap toast for roasted potatoes!

Recipe and photo courtesy of the U.S. Potato Board

This dish pairs fresh Brussels sprouts and chickpeas with dried cranberries and walnuts for a crunchy, colorful addition to the holiday dinner table. Leftovers are easy to pack for lunch too. 

Recipe and photo courtesy of the American Pulse Association.

Just a handful of these walnuts, seasoned with a blend of Moroccan spices and a hint of sweetness, make for a scrumptious holiday snack that you can feel good about, thanks to plants of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber.

Recipe and photo courtesy of California Walnuts.

Oven-roasted butternut squash is delicious on its own, and naturally-sweet chopped dates and nutty slivered almonds make it a truly special side dish. Most of the cooking time is hands-free, so you can prepare the rest of your holiday meal while the squash bakes in the oven.

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)        





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   

Gift the Oldways 4-Week Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan
- Or, treat yourself!
Celebrating Italy
by Carol Field
At annual village festivals in Italy, the food is cooked in mammoth proportions and happy crowds sit and enjoy a communal meal that is a ritual of connection and neighborly love. In Celebrating Italy, Carol Field takes the reader to these exuberant civic feasts and highlights their very special and ancient recipes.

by Marie-Pierre Moine, Elisabeth Luard & Ghillie Basan
Bringing together authentic recipes from Italy, Greece, northern Africa, Provence, and the Middle East, Mediterranean
gives cooks the necessary tools to recreate the flavors of the Mediterranean in their own homes. It is a wonderful resource for families that want to eat fresh, fast, and healthy.

by Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton
From the award-winning authors of the Canal House Cooking series, Canal House Cooks Every Day is their first collection of recipes by home cooks for home cooks. This magnificent compilation celebrates the everyday practice of simple cooking and the enjoyment of eating --two of the greatest pleasures in life.