The Plant-Based Mediterranean Wallet

The Mediterranean Wallet

Americans constantly correlate a healthy lifestyle to expensive foods. This is not always the case. Yes, fresh foods, like produce for example, are normally higher in price compared to canned foods, or foods with a longer shelf-life.

Studies have shown that adopting the Mediterranean Diet helps reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attacks, amongst other chronic health disparities. The lifestyle stresses the importance of plant-based meals. One major ingredient in the diet is olive oil. The introduction of olive oil into the diet has been determined, to aid in feeling fuller long or the feeling of satiety.

Studies have also shown that an increase in plant-based meals can lead to a decrease in food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined as a lack of access to nutritional foods for at least some days or some meals for members of a household.

Researchers conducted a study to emphasize the use of simple, plant-based recipes and olive oil, following a Mediterranean diet pattern. A number of participants commented on how inexpensive a Mediterranean-style diet was.  So, the study approached a local food bank about designing their study using food pantry items for the program’s recipes.

Most people, who attempt at putting together a nutritionally balanced menu for their family or household, spend the bulk of their budget on meats, poultry, and seafood. These items, specifically lower-fat versions, tend to be the most expensive items someone will see on their grocery store receipt. Low socioeconomic status families will normally purchase these items first, leaving little left in the budget for healthier fruits and vegetables.

The researcher on the study explained that if the focus of the shopper could be changed to eliminate foods that are not needed to improve health from the shopping list, a healthy diet can be more economical.  Certain foods that could be crossed off that grocery store list include meats, snacks, desserts, and carbonated beverages/sodas.

The first 6 weeks of the study consisted of cooking classes where instructors prepared quick and easy plant-based recipes that incorporated ingredients like olive oil, whole grain pasta, brown rice and fruits and vegetables. The participant’s progress was tracked for 6 months after the conclusion of the cooking program.

One particular benefit for those attending the 6 week cooking class was that they were provided with groceries that contained most of the ingredients discussed by the class facilitators. The chosen ingredients provided to the participants would allow them to make 3 of the discussed recipes for their family members.

Once the classes were over, the researchers collected grocery receipts throughout the remainder of the study. Analysis of these receipts showed a significant decrease in overall purchases of meats, carbonated beverages, desserts and snacks. This was particularly interesting to the research team as they never offered instruction to the participants to avoid buying these items.

The further review of the grocery receipts showed that each household enjoyed an increase in the total number of different fruits and vegetables consumed each month. Participants cut their food spending in more than half, saving nearly $40 per week. The study also found that the reliance on food pantries decreased as well, indicating a decrease in food insecurity.

The research team also found that the cooking program had unexpected health benefits as well. Almost one-half of the participants presented loss in weight. This was not an objective in the study but, raised a few eyebrows. The study also showed an overall decrease in BMI of the participants.

Overall, this study shows that a plant-based diet, similar to the Mediterranean Diet, not only contributes to an overall improvement in health and diet. The study also highlights how a plant-based diet can contribute to decreasing food insecurity in America.

Plant-Based Med Diet Can Be Easy On the Wallet

6-week Cooking Program on Plant-Based Recipes

plantbased diet

food inse

med dietmed diet cooking class

Tigers May Hate Cinnamon But We Don’t

A balanced diet doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Some natural flavors will give your menu a healthy, tasty kick.

What’s In There?: A two-teaspoon serving of cinnamon has 12-15 calories. Cinnamon is a good source of manganese, calcium, iron,  and fiber.

Pros: Cinnamon was long used as a medicine in ancient times because of its anti-clotting and anti-microbial properties. Its scent has also been shown to boost brain function.

Choosing and Storing: You can purchase cinnamon in stick or powder forms. Sticks tend to last longer, but the powder has a stronger flavor. Store cinnamon in cool, dry place. Sticks can be kept for up to one year and powder for six months. Unless you entertain an army of applesauce eaters, stick with smaller quantities.

Using: Start your day off by adding cinnamon to your toast or oatmeal. Or add some spice to a black bean burrito with a dash of cinnamon. Beyond everyone’s favorite toast and pie recipes, cinnamon can be used to kick up your curry or add flavor to black bean burritos.

Synonymous with cold weather treats such as hot apple pie and homemade applesauce, cinnamon’s fame isn’t just for its flavor. The spice’s medicinal qualities have been well-documented. Cinnamon’s essential oils are considered anti-clotting and anti-microbial and shows promise in improving insulin resistance.

Here are 10 health benefits that are associated with cinnamon:

  1. Lower Cholesterol
    Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.
  2. Blood Sugar Regulation
    Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.
  3. Yeast Infection Help
    In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.
  4. Cancer Prevention
    In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
  5. Anti-Clotting
    It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
  6. Arthritis Relief
    In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
  7. Anti-Bacterial
    When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
  8. Brain Health
    One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.
  9. E. Coli Fighter
    Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.
  10. High in Nutrients
    It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.

    Cinnamon comes in different forms!!