Mediterranean Delight With Grilled Halloumi & Tomato Salad

Grilled Halloumi and tomatoes in a bowl

The Mediterranean way of life is filled with flavoursome and delicious foods.

The Mediterranean diet, a culinary tradition rooted in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, is acclaimed for its diverse and balanced approach to nutrition.

Characterized by high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, and moderate fish, poultry, and dairy products like halloumi cheese, this diet stands out for its minimal reliance on processed foods and red meat.

Numerous studies underscore the prominence of the Mediterranean diet in health and longevity discussions. These investigations often highlight the diet’s role in reducing the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and neurological disorders.

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Cardiovascular Benefits

Cardiovascular diseases remain a leading cause of mortality globally, but the Mediterranean diet offers a beacon of hope.

A landmark study, the Lyon Diet Heart Study, demonstrated a significant reduction in recurrent heart attacks among individuals adhering to a Mediterranean diet.

The diet’s cardiovascular benefits are largely attributed to its high content of monounsaturated fats, primarily from olive oil, and its abundant use of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods. The integration of foods like halloumi, a cheese known for its rich protein content and moderate fat, complements the diet’s heart-healthy profile by providing essential nutrients without excessive saturated fat.

Neurological Advantages and Longevity

Emerging research suggests a compelling link between the Mediterranean diet and neurological health, including a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and slower cognitive decline.

The diet’s emphasis on plant-based foods and healthy fats contributes to maintaining brain health, potentially influencing longevity. The high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in the diet are thought to combat oxidative stress and inflammation, key contributors to neurodegenerative diseases.


Woman in a field of tomatoes
A woman in a field of tomatoes

The Power of Tomatoes

Tomatoes, a staple in the Mediterranean diet, are renowned for their health benefits. Rich in lycopene, a potent antioxidant, tomatoes offer protective effects against certain types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer.

Lycopene’s role in reducing LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure further bolsters the cardiovascular benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Moreover, the versatility of tomatoes, whether consumed fresh, cooked, or as part of sauces, ensures their consistent presence in the Mediterranean culinary palette, enhancing both the flavour and nutritional profile of the diet.


Four stacked slices of Haloumi Cheese
Four stacked slices of Haloumi Cheese

The Role of Halloumi

Halloumi, a semi-hard, unripened cheese traditionally made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, is a delightful component of the Mediterranean diet. Its high melting point allows for a unique culinary application — grilling or frying without losing shape or texture.

Nutritionally, halloumi is a valuable source of calcium and protein. While it is higher in fat and salt than other dairy products, consumed in moderation within the context of the Mediterranean diet, halloumi contributes to the diet’s overall nutritional richness and taste diversity.


Embracing the Mediterranean Lifestyle

In conclusion, the Mediterranean diet transcends mere eating habits, representing a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle. Its benefits, supported by extensive research, extend to various aspects of health and well-being, including cardiovascular health, neurological vitality, and potential longevity.

The diet’s emphasis on fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients like tomatoes and the inclusion of culturally specific foods like halloumi cheese cater to the palate and contribute to the diet’s health-promoting properties. Embracing the Mediterranean diet, therefore, could be a key strategy for those seeking a balanced, enjoyable, and healthful way of life.

Greek Grilled Halloumi Tomato Salad

Greek Grilled Halloumi & Tomato Salad

Take a trip down the Mediterranian road and make this simple salad any time of the day
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Cuisine Greek
Servings 6
Calories 375 kcal

Ingredients
  

What you need for the croutons

  • 4 slices bread thickly chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 

For the salad

  • 6 Baby cucumbers sliced 
  • 2 cups Cherry tomatoes halved 
  • 225 g Halloumi 
  • 2 Cloves garlic 
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Red onion thinly sliced  
  • 2 tbsp Fresh mint coarsely chopped  
  • 2 tbsp Fresh basil coarsely chopped  
  • 2 tbsp Red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Instructions
 

For the croutons

  • Heat oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the chopped bread in a baking dish, drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt, then toss until evenly coated.
  • Place the tray in the oven and bake until golden brown and crunchy on the outside. This will take approximately 13-15 minutes; turn the croutons halfway through so they brown evenly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool

For the salad

  • Place the sliced cucumbers in a colander, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt, and leave to drain. 
  • In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with about ½ teaspoon of salt.
  • Smash and peel the garlic cloves and combine with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl; leave to rest. 
  • Pour off excess liquid from the tomatoes. Add the drained cucumbers, red onion, fresh herbs and two tablespoons of vinegar, and mix well to combine. Remove and discard the garlic cloves from the olive oil and add the oil to the tomatoes. 
  • Add half the croutons to the salad and toss so they absorb the liquid. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, and vinegar to your liking. 
  • Slice the halloumi about ¼-inch thick, then cut into bite-size pieces. Heat the remaining one tablespoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high.
  • Cook the halloumi on both sides until golden-brown and crusty, approximately 1 minute per side. Add the halloumi to the salad and the remaining croutons, mix gently and serve immediately.  
  • Tip: Halloumi is a type of Mediterranean cheese available in blocks at cheese shops and in the dairy section of many supermarkets. 

Video

Notes

The Mediterranean diet has gained immense popularity in recent years for its numerous health benefits and delicious culinary traditions. Inspired by the dietary patterns of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, this eating plan emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods, abundant fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and moderate consumption of fish, poultry, dairy, and red wine. In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind the Mediterranean diet’s popularity, explore its proven benefits, and provide relevant research supporting its positive impact on health.

The Mediterranean Diet’s Popularity:

The Mediterranean diet has garnered widespread attention due to several key factors:
Health Benefits: Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated its association with reduced risk of various chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. These findings have piqued public interest and contributed to the diet’s popularity.
Flavorful and Varied Cuisine: The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fresh, whole ingredients and relies on herbs, spices, and olive oil to enhance flavors. The cuisine is known for its rich textures, vibrant colors, and diverse dishes, making it both delicious and satisfying.
Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly: The Mediterranean diet promotes the consumption of seasonal, locally sourced foods, which aligns with sustainable and eco-friendly practices. Its emphasis on plant-based foods also contributes to reduced carbon footprint and less strain on natural resources.

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet:

Extensive research has highlighted several health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet. Here are some key advantages:
Heart Health: A landmark study called the PREDIMED trial demonstrated that individuals following a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts had a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes. The diet’s abundance of monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants are believed to contribute to this protective effect.
Diabetes Prevention and Management: Several studies have shown that adherence to the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Additionally, for individuals already diagnosed with diabetes, the diet has been associated with better glycemic control, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced cardiovascular risk factors.
Cognitive Health: The Mediterranean diet has been linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. The combination of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and healthy fats found in this diet may help protect brain health and preserve cognitive function.
Weight Management: The Mediterranean diet is not explicitly designed for weight loss, but its emphasis on whole foods, fiber-rich vegetables and fruits, and healthy fats can support healthy weight management. Studies have shown that adhering to this diet is associated with a lower risk of obesity and may aid in sustainable weight loss.
Consider eating more Mediterranean based meals and see what a difference it makes in your life.
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Keyword Cleaneating, delicious, dietfood

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