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8 Delicious, Metabolism-Boosting Mediterranean Diet Recipes

By Summer Rylander
January 3, 2022
Image credit: Olive & Mango

The beauty of the Mediterranean diet is that it’s really more of a lifestyle than a structured eating plan. By taking inspiration from the eating habits of those who live in countries along the Mediterranean sea — think Greece, Cyprus, Italy, and Spain, among others — we can enjoy a nutritionally rich, varied diet based primarily on vegetables, nuts, legumes, and fish. 

Because the Mediterranean diet tends to avoid excessive amounts of processed grains and refined sugars, it’s a great fit with the Clean Plates ethos. What’s more, research suggests that eating according to Mediterranean diet principles may lower the risk of certain cancers, help to avoid cardiovascular disease, and boost metabolism. Plus, it’s delicious! High-quality olive oil, fresh produce, whole grains, flaky fish… what’s not to love? 

In the spirit of wholesome eating without sacrificing pleasure, here are some of our favorite metabolism-boosting Mediterranean diet recipes.

1. Spiced Lamb Bowl

Spiced Lamb Bowl

Image credit: Fox and Briar

Lamb makes frequent appearances on the Mediterranean table, but if working with lamb chops or roasting large pieces of meat isn’t your first choice for home cooking, minced lamb can be a great solution. But feel free to substitute turkey, chicken, beef — or even crumbled tofu — if you prefer. Warm spices and fresh herbs come together to create a fragrant mince, which you can serve over turmeric rice as the recipe calls for — or swap the rice for bulgur, barley, farro, or quinoa. Hummus, feta, and diced vegetables create a compelling texture and complete a satisfying meal.

2. Turkish Bulgur Salad

Turkish Bulgur Salad

Image credit: Cookin’ with Mima

Bulgur is a glorious grain. It’s hearty, healthy, and quick to prepare — even factoring in the 30-minute soaking time. This bulgur salad recipe includes jalapeno, pomegranate molasses (if you haven’t worked with this ingredient before, it’s sure to become a new favorite!), and lots of vegetables and spices for a nutritious dish that makes a great side dish (and would make an excellent main topped with a grilled chicken breast or poached egg). 

3. Mediterranean Chicken Skillet

Mediterranean Chicken Skillet

Image credit: Healthy Fitness Meals

This skillet dish looks deceptively creamy, but closer examination reveals that almond milk and gluten-free flour are the keys to this savory, satisfying meal. Thanks to sundried tomatoes (underrated and due for a comeback, if you ask us!), capers, lemon juice, and artichoke hearts, you’ll enjoy big Mediterranean flavors with the convenience of one-skillet cooking.

4. Lemony Orzo Salad

Lemon Salad

Image credit: The Mediterranean Dish

Orzo is a tiny pasta, but this traditional ingredient can be easily replaced by more-nutritious wild rice. This recipe incorporates fresh herbs, tomatoes, onions, and capers for a flavor-packed dish that can accompany anything from roasted salmon to grilled chicken. Want to keep it dairy-free? Skip the feta. Don’t like kalamata olives? Swap in black olives, or just leave them out entirely. This is truly a versatile, make-it-your-own salad!

5. Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Image credit: Delicious Meets Healthy

There are near-endless variations on tuna salad, and it’s easy to understand why it’s so popular. Canned tuna is affordable and readily available, it’s an excellent source of lean protein, and it incorporates well into just about everything. This recipe eschews the typical, heavy mayonnaise binder and lightens things up with olive oil, lemon juice, chickpeas, and crunchy vegetables. Enjoy this tuna salad on its own, or create healthy wraps with romaine or iceberg lettuce leaves.

Read next: These Are the Healthiest, Tastiest Brands of Canned Tuna on the Market — and We’ve Tried Them All

6. Mediterranean-Style Baked Cod

Mediterranean-Style Baked Cod

Image credit: Olive & Mango

Baking fish eliminates the stress of having to carefully monitor a frying pan, and this one-pan dish makes cleanup a breeze. Flaky cod (or the white fish of your choice) is the star of the show, while capers and olives provide a tangy bite and tomatoes, artichokes, bell pepper, and garlic serve up a big hit of veggies. We’d serve with a simple fennel salad to balance the flavors (and provide some extra fiber).

7. Mediterranean Lentil Soup

lentil soup

Especially comforting during colder months, this healthy lentil soup requires minimal prep while delivering a high-fiber, protein-rich meal. If you don’t have any red wine vinegar on hand, a squeeze of lemon will provide a satisfyingly acidic kick. This is a great, complete meal when paired with a dish like the kale salad featured below, or a side of barely-wilted baby spinach with sliced garlic and olive oil. 

8. Kale Salad with Dates and Pine Nuts

Kale Salad with Dates and Pine Nuts

Image credit: Aegean Delight

A lemon-tahini dressing ties together this simple, nutritious salad — as if naturally sweet, juicy dates and crunchy pine nuts weren’t enough. Just don’t skip the kale massage, which helps tenderize the leaves and create a more enjoyable bite. A few shavings of Parmesan or crumbles of feta would be welcome here, too, or to make it a complete meal, grilled chicken breast or a pan-roasted fish fillet.  

Summer Rylander is a freelance food and travel writer based in Germany. Find her on Twitter and Instagram

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