The Mediterranean Pantry

The Mediterranean Pantry

You’ve likely already heard about the Mediterranean Diet, considered by many physicians and nutritionists as the healthiest diet in the world. Not surprisingly it’s quite similar to a diabetic diet-featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, breads, fish, and small amount of very lean meats. Recently New York Times columnist Jane Brody wrote about the Mediterranean Diet once again gaining momentum among cardiologists, and cited studies in its favor from Harvard Medical School and John Hopkins. This is the way that we both cook having done so since the early 1990s when Nancy Harmon Jenkins wrote her best selling cook, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Recently she also wrote The Essential Mediterranean. Both books are on sale in our bookstore and deserve more than a quick look. Unfortunately the second book does not have nutritional information, but the first one does and you can easily figure out the exchanges or just count the carbohydrates. If you need help in figuring the exchanges, look at the Exchanges Made Easy article in our July 2003 “cooking tips.”

Here’s what you’ll find in a Mediterranean Diet pantry:

Vinegar: balsamic, fruit-infused, herb-infused, red wine, white wine, sherry, malt, rice wine, cider

Cooking Sprays: butter-flavored, olive oil, vegetable Oils canola, olive, safflower, sesame.

Not necessary, but nice to have for added flavor: almond, avocado, grapeseed, hazelnut, and walnut

Grains: stone-ground yellow and white cornmeal, couscous, kasha, millet, rolled oats, instant polenta, quinoa, rice-white, basmati, brown, quick-cooking and wild

Beans and Legumes: dried beans-black, cannellini, chickpeas, navy, pinto and white, lentils-brown and red

Pasta: angel hair, bow ties (farfalle), lasagna, linguine, penne, rotelle, spaghetti, ziti

Baking Needs: unbleached all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tarter, cocoa powder, salt and kosher salt, vanilla extract, sugar, brown sugar, honey, baker’s spray (combined with flour).

Also suggest: spoon-for-spoon sugar substitutes.

Canned and Packaged Goods: no-salt-added tomato paste, no-salt-added canned tomatoes, canned pumpkin, unsweetened fruit juices, fat-free no-salt-added chicken and vegetable broth, cannelloni, garbanzo (chickpeas), navy, pinto, white and black beans, no-sugar-added fruit spread, no-sugar added dried fruits, evaporated skim milk, powdered buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauces, regular and coarse ground Dijon mustard, dry red and white wine for cooking, cognac for cooking, dry sherry for cooking, rum for cooking, sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed), capers, dried chiles, dried mushrooms

aDried Herbs and Spices: ground allspice, basil, bay leaves, dill, caraway seed, celery seed, chili powder, ground cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ground cumin, curry powder, fennel seed, fines herbes, ground ginger, marjoram, dry mustard, paprika, peppercorns, poppy seeds, crushed red pepper flakes, rosemary, sage, saffron, savory, sesame seeds, thyme

In the Freezer: frozen no-sugar-added fruits and berries, filo dough, bread dough, unsalted butter, nuts, vegetables in bags, multi-grain breads and rolls, pita

In the Refrigerator: part-skim Parmesan cheese, fat-free mozzarella cheese, fat-free ricotta cheese, fat-free cream cheese, reduced-fat tub margarine, fat-free sour cream, fresh ginger, lemons, limes, oranges, other fresh fruit in season, scallions, fresh herbs and parsley, salad ingredients, fresh vegetables in season, tomato paste in a tube, anchovy paste in a tube, egg substitute, eggs, skim milk

Miscellaneous: Garlic; shallots; onions-white, yellow, sweet and red, potatoes-red, Russet, and Yukon Gold, sweet potatoes