The Mediterranean diet is consistently regarded as one of the healthiest eating patterns you can follow and for good reason. Multiple studies back this up. Yet Greek and Italian food usually gets all the credit.
Rich and delicious Turkish breakfast(Getty Images)
After all, they were among the first countries Ansel Keyes and his colleagues studied in the 1950s. This groundbreaking seven-country study is the first to compare diets and lifestyles in different countries to the incidence of cardiovascular disease. The results of this 50-year survey provided the framework for what is now known as the Mediterranean diet.
But it’s important to remember that there are 22 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. There is no one ideal Mediterranean diet. Each country has its own cultural heritage and traditional foods, but they are rich in healthy fats, vegetables, whole grains and seafood, which are the cornerstones of the Mediterranean diet.
Non-European dishes such as Middle Eastern and West African dishes are often overlooked as part of the Mediterranean diet, but not because they are less nutritious. They were simply not included in the early studies. However, the time has come to shine a light on other Mediterranean countries to broaden the cultural diversity of the Mediterranean diet.
turkish mediterranean diet
One Mediterranean country that I would like to see more recognition for is Turkey, or the country now officially known as Turkiye. I recently returned from a trip to Istanbul, the ancient city that connects her two continents, Europe and Asia. It is literally where East meets West. We were lucky enough to experience firsthand the incredible cuisine that is widely recognized as one of the most diverse and delicious cuisines in the world.
Turkish food is a fusion and refinement of food from the Middle East, Central Asia, Greece and Eastern Europe. Due to its Ottoman heritage, Turkish cuisine has influenced the cuisines of neighboring countries and regions around the world. Today, Turkish cuisine is recognized as one of the “three great cuisines of the world” along with French and Chinese cuisine.
Turkey has a very vibrant food culture, many of which have been inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. From the country’s famous Turkish coffee, to traditional flatbreads (lavash, katilma, czyupka, yufka) baked in bags or on round metal plates. , stone kiln or cauldron.
From kebab parlors, seaside fish sandwich boats, street food to Michelin-starred restaurants, it’s worth visiting Turkey just for the great culinary experience. Artfully designed with deep-hued spices, dried fruits, roasted nuts, colorful olives and Turkish delicacies, the world-famous Spice Bazaar is his one of our favorite places.
Here are some of the foods I enjoyed during my visit to Istanbul and how Turkish flavors and cultural foods can be incorporated into a Mediterranean-style meal.
Turkish cuisine is inherently healthy and highly seasonal, with many dishes centered around fresh ingredients from the country’s rich, fertile soils. You will find a diet rich in plants. Cook it alone or combine it with a small amount of meat for more protein.
Eggplants were a staple food and were enjoyed cooked and enjoyed in many ways: skewered into kebabs, stuffed with rice and meat, smoked and pureed for dipping, or braised in olive oil for salads.
Grain dishes are also popular, such as the spicy bulgur salad with red chili paste and tomatoes, and the rice pilaf with chickpeas and bulgur pate.
Salads and side dishes we enjoyed included beets, cucumbers, purslane, celery, celery root, zucchini fritters, artichokes, green beans, tomatoes braised in olive oil, and tahini dressing. The accompanying white bean salad is another popular vegetable dish.
Vegetables are also popular street foods, such as grilled corn (misir) and giant baked potatoes (Kumpir) with toppings such as grated carrots, red cabbage, mushrooms, olives and pickles. Warm roasted chestnuts and fresh almonds on ice are also popular street foods.
Turkey is famous for breakfast, which is usually the largest meal of the day for Turkish people. In Sapanca city we enjoyed a traditional Turkish breakfast inspired by the Silk Road. The Silk Road was an ancient trade route connecting the Western world with the Middle East and Asia, providing a constant stream of travelers.
The meal starts with scrambled eggs, fresh bread and a fresh vegetable platter. Next, sour cherry jam, local pine honey, tahini with mulberry molasses, churned butter, clotted cream, spicy cured beef sausage, cheese, red pepper paste, fresh herbs, and an assortment. Stunning local specialties such as olives are served on the table. Freshly brewed tea in a tulip-shaped glass cup is served with breakfast.
Turks love soups, which have played an important role in Turkish food culture for hundreds of years. Soups are often served during meals and even as an appetizer for breakfast.
A variety of soups, or corvus, serve festivals, holidays, weddings, illnesses and mourning. As with most dishes of Turkish cuisine, soups are prepared in different ways in different regions of Turkey. We enjoyed red lentil soup, baked eggplant soup and pumpkin soup during our visit.
Other popular soups, served hot and cold, are made with yogurt, chickpeas, beans, bulgur, tomatoes, wild nettles, mushrooms, almonds, black cabbage or collard greens and anchovies.
It’s a reminder of how nutritious, comforting, and affordable homemade soup can be. It’s also a smart way to start.
When you think of pickles, many people think of cucumbers. But they pickle all things Turkish and I couldn’t love it more.Istanbul is famous for his pickle his shop on a small side street in the city. The walls of the store are lined with brightly colored jars of carrots, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, peppers, okra, garlic, melons, apples, plums, watermelon skins and more.
They also sell pickle juice, a revered refreshment especially during the warm summer months. It is
While it’s hard to find the same kind of pickles in U.S. grocery stores, it’s not hard to make homemade pickles with virtually any type of vegetable. Quick Pickle Onions is a good place to start. Not only can it help with gut health, but it’s a delicious way to add a tangy pop of flavor to your dishes.
It was great to enjoy all the different Turkish dried fruits: dried figs, apricots, sultana raisins, dates, prunes, sour cherries, mulberries. I especially loved the large, bright orange Turkish apricots. Turkey is the number one producer and exporter of dried fruits in the world. In fact, more than 95% of his dried apricots imported into the United States come from Turkey.
Dried fruit was featured at every breakfast on the trip and was a central part of the meze, or appetizer course, served with nuts and cheese. are dried for the purpose of simmering in the winter. , quince, pumpkin, green walnuts, and even pine cones.
Dried fruit is often overlooked in America, but some people avoid it because they think it has too much sugar. Not all dried fruit manufacturers add sugar. While it is true that removing the moisture from the fruit makes the natural sugars more concentrated, the dried fruit is also more concentrated in fiber, nutrients and polyphenolic compounds. It’s easy to eat more calories than you did, so you need to be careful with the portions.
For snacks, combine dried fruit and nuts in salads and grain bowls, or serve hot oatmeal or overnight oats with dried fruit.
Olive oil is the flagship of the Mediterranean diet, but don’t forget olives. Turkey is one of the world’s leading producers of olives that grow along the coast from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.
An estimated 50 to 80 varieties of olives are grown in Turkey, some for table use and others for olive oil. Olives were served at every meal, including breakfast, and incorporated as an ingredient in several dishes. We enjoyed thinly sliced green olives with olive tapenade, pumpkin puree, za’atar and a warm spicy olive salad with fresh herbs.
For a filling, healthy fat snack, don’t miss olives. Explore different types of olives to add to salads, roasted vegetables, pizza and cheese platters.
nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are also deeply embedded in Turkish food culture. In fact, there are shops called kuruyemis that specialize in nuts and seeds, especially pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
Turkey is one of the world’s leading producers of pistachios, which are frequently used in Turkish pastries. Perhaps the most famous is baklava, made with bright green raw pistachios, which gives the pastry its unique color and flavor.
Sesame coating Turkish bagel simit. It is a signature street food sold on wheeled carts throughout Istanbul, and the sesame seeds are pureed to make the Turkish desserts tahini and havra.
When I saw tahini used during my visit, I was reminded of how superior this healthy fat ingredient is over hummus, which is used in dressings, sauces, dips and baked goods.
spices and herbs
Perhaps the most distinguishing part of Turkish cuisine is its emphasis on spices and herbs. Istanbul’s famous Spice Bazaar is a visual reminder of how much the country loves its condiments, from sumac and za’atar to pul and urfa beavers (Turkish red pepper flakes). This is one of the reasons why Turkish cuisine is loved all over the world.
While American restaurants typically serve just salt and pepper to the table, hotel food buffets offer a variety of flavors to customize, including dried chili flakes, thyme, oregano, fresh dill, mint, and parsley. I noticed there were multiple bowls of spices and herbs. In restaurants, the plates were often garnished with fresh herbs, providing a pleasing freshness to kebabs and other meals.Even the Turkish pizza called pide had fresh herbs piled high. .
During a visit to restaurant Murver, I discovered mesir, a paste of honey and 41 spices and herbs invented during the Ottoman period (1299-1922). He used mesir as a mesir and told us about an annual festival in Manisa, Turkey that celebrates this paste that was believed to have medicinal properties. It’s his one of the really fascinating things about Turkey. We respect tradition and blend the old with the new.
I found several brands of Turkish Mesir online. Many of them are described as Ottoman Mesir Maknu. Another way to add Turkish flavor to your dishes is with pomegranate molasses, a thick tangy syrup. Bottles are also available online and in well-stocked supermarkets.
It is applied to meat as a glaze, mixed into salad dressings and used for dipping dishes such as muhammara. This is a delicious Turkish dip made with roasted red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate molasses.