When thinking of the Mediterranean, it’s easy to let the mind wander to a happy place — relaxing on a hillside with a beautiful view of the sea below, while munching on olives, a veggie plate and a little fish. Sounds pretty nice, right? Well, we can’t deliver the views, but the eating style of the region has been popular since the 1960s.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
Simply put, “The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating habits of southern European countries (mainly Italy, Greece, Spain), with an emphasis on olive oil as an important ingredient in a heart-healthy diet,” explains holistic nutritionist Kristen Ciccolini.
And it’s great for your overall health says dietician Kelly Schmidt, “The Mediterranean Diet is one of the most studied ways of eating and is highly recommended by many health organizations and institutions and even the US News & World Report consistently ranks the Mediterranean Diet as the healthiest diet overall.”
Who should try the Mediterranean diet?
It’s really for anyone trying to improve their overall health, says Schmidt. “Everyone trying to improve their health and diet can use the Mediterranean diet as a template and adjust elements of this way of eating to their needs,” she says.
Do you need any special tools for the Mediterranean diet?
“The beauty of the Mediterranean diet is it’s flexible and easy to follow,” says Schmidt. “A pressure cooker and slow cooker can help prepare stews, legumes and grains with less effort.”
Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker ($79.99; amazon.com)
This ultra-convenient cooker can create healthy meals in 70% of the time of other cooking methods.
Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker ($51.49; amazon.com)
Set it and forget it (until dinner time) with this handy slow cooker.
Lodge Preseasoned Cast-Iron Skillet With Assist Handle Holder ($42.95; amazon.com)
Schmidt also points out that “A cast-iron pan can assist in making a one pan meal.” If you can’t snag your grandma’s old cast iron, this pre-seasoned pan is the next best thing.
Smithey Cast Iron Cookware No. 12 ($200; food52.com)
Hefty enough to give a serious sear to your fish, this highly rated cast iron is another excellent choice for your healthy journey.
“I recommend getting a good knife set and cutting board if you can — you’ll do a lot of chopping with whole foods!” says Ciccolini. This top-rated set will have you chopping veggies like a pro!
Wusthof Classic Seven Piece Knife Block Set ($349.95; amazon.com)
Here’s another set from the chef-favorite brand, which comes with seven pieces and a wood block with 15 slots.
Deik Knife Set High Carbon Stainless Steel Kitchen Knife Set ($58.99; amazon.com)
This well-priced set is an Amazon shopper favorite too.
Wusthof Whetstone Sharpener ($39.95; amazon.com)
Keep your knives sharp with this editor-favorite sharpener.
Ironwood Gourmet Square Charleston End Grain Chef’s Board ($47.59; amazon.com)
This sturdy and attractive board will make sticking to your new eating plan easy.
Learn which kitchen items are worth splurging on
What kind of foods do you eat on the Mediterranean diet?
Wondering if you can follow this plan? Ciccolini explains what to expect, saying, “It’s essentially a whole-foods diet, focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, and poultry, as well as omega-3 and monounsaturated fats from seafood and olive oil.”
Brightland The Duo ($74; brightland.co)
Olive oil is a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and this set offers one oil for cooking and one for dressing and dipping — perfect for all those mezze platters you’re going to be making! Check out our review of Brightland olive oil here.
Thrive Market Organic Greek Olive Mix ($2.99; thrivemarket.com)
Snack on these savory olives cultivated in Greece without the use of pesticides.
Wild-Caught Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Box ($139.99; thrivemarket.com
Salmon is rich in omega-3s, and a big part of the Mediterranean diet. This box of high-quality salmon will keep you on track.
Saffron Road Falafel Crunchy Chickpeas ($6.99, amazon.com)
Saffron Road combined two Mediterranean favorites with their falafel crunchy chickpeas.
Siggi’s Icelandic Style Skyr Açai and Mixed Berries Nonfat Yogurt, 12-Pack ($45.50, amazon.com)
Greek yogurt — yogurt that has been strained to remove extra lactose and sugar, and high in calcium and vitamin D — is another staple of the Mediterranean diet.
’The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: 101 Easy, Flavorful Recipes for Lifelong Health’ by Serena Ball & Deanna Segrave-Daly ($11.78; amazon.com)
If you need to get inspiration and guidance to get started, this simple cookbook has simple recipes you’ll love.
Flafster Kitchen Skewers for Grilling ($19.99; amazon.com)
Get into the style of Mediterranean cooking with these highly-rated kebabs you can grill or roast meats and veggies on.
Old Havana Platter ($78; anthropologie.com)
Serve up all your yummy grilled veggies and meats on this stylish, summery platter.
Hamsa Mezze Server ($65; uncommongoods.com)
Or do a full mezze for the family or guests with these trays, inspired by the Hamsa symbol for protection.
Remember, it’s not just about what you eat, it’s about how you treat yourself overall. Says Ciccolini, “Just as important as food is the lifestyle, enjoying meals in community with others and staying physically active.”