Dr Barry Sears’ latest book, The Mediterranean Zone, is packed full of recipes, meal ideas and healthy eating habits that combine the Mediterranean style diet with the principles of the Zone Diet. No matter what time of year, following the simple trick of balancing lean protein and colourful carbohydrates can help reduce inflammation in the body. This not only helps you achieve hormonal balance and maintain a healthy weight but improves immune function and helps ward off many common diseases, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
By staying in ‘the zone’ you needn’t worry so much about restricting food or counting calories – and if you do give in to starchy carbohydrates or sugary treats, you’re only a few hours away from getting back into the healthy, anti-inflammatory zone. Never is temptation more difficult to resist than over the Christmas period, so here are some tasty foods you can enjoy over the festive season and stay ‘in the zone’!
Choose several items from each category. Garnish your dishes with pomegranate seeds, cranberries and sprigs of rosemary for a festive, holiday look. Holly and poinsettias are toxic plants. It’s best to keep them off the table, especially when children are around.
Meats, fish, eggs
Deli style turkey
Lean deli-style ham or prosciutto
Poached wild-caught salmon, served cold
Sardines (packed in water)
Herring (avoid those with added fats and sweeteners)
Shrimp cocktail platter garnished with lemon wedges
Tuna salad: Canned water-packed tuna, drained and mixed with some olive oil and capers
Egg whites filed with hummus (discard yolks)
Vegetables and Salads
Crudites; colorful peppers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and cherry tomatoes, served with a dip of plain yogurt with garlic powder, lemon juice, salt, pepper and herbs mixed in.
Fennel salad: Toss 2 heads raw fennel thinly sliced, 1 chopped green apple and two chopped stalks celery with a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, 1 minced clove garlic and salt and pepper
Cherry tomatoes, halved and tossed with a little olive oil, torn basil and cracked pepper
Antipasto platter of roasted red and yellow peppers, a variety of olives, marinated mushrooms, pepperoncini, artichoke hearts, marinated asparagus spears, cherry peppers and bite-sized ovals of fresh mozzarella (avoid items packed in oil)
Caprese salad: Slices of fresh mozzarella and flavourful tomatoes layered overlapping on a platter and topped with torn basil and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
One bottle each of extra-virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar with spouts appropriate for drizzling
Peppercorns in a grinder
Crumbled reduced-fat feta
Sparkling water, plain or a variety with fruit-flavored essences added (avoid sweetened water)
Water with thinly sliced lemon served in a drink dispenser
Lemon and lime wedges
Ice bucket filled with spring-water ice cubes
Fresh pears cut in thick wedges, served with reduced-fat fresh goat cheese
Assorted varieties of grapes paired with several-reduced fat cheeses
Oversized strawberries served with the green tops on raw or roasted almonds, marcona almonds, spiced or curried almonds, macadamia nuts and cashews (avoid those with added fats and sweeteners)
An assortment of herbal teas — ginger, peppermint and chamomile are good choices, also the candy-cane green teas
Baked custard — If desired, serve raspberries or sliced strawberries alongside as a topping.
Makes 8, 1-block servings of balanced protein, carbohydrate and fat. Serve warm or cold.
2 whole eggs
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups 2% milk
A few dashes of ground nutmeg
Optional, you can substitute 4 egg whites for the two whole eggs, giving a total of 8 egg whites in the whole recipe.
1. Preheat oven to 325F/160C.
2. In a large mixing bowl using a whisk vigorously beat together the eggs, agave syrup and vanilla.
3. Whisk the milk into the egg mixture.
4. Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish.
5. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.
6. Bake at 325 in a pan of hot water for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the custard comes out clean.
For more information on the Zone Diet and the health benefits of anti-inflammatory food buy The Mediterranean Zone, available now as paperback or ebook.