How to make your breakfast more Eastern Mediterranean
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It’s no secret that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest in the world. It’s full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats like olive oil, and seafood and lean protein. Following a Mediterranean diet can contribute to improved weight loss, better blood glucose levels, reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
A great way to start the day is by cooking up a Mediterranean breakfast, specifically Eastern Mediterranean. Breakfasts here are filled with fresh seasonal produce, healthy sources of protein, tasty pastries and flatbreads and delicious flavour profiles from a mix of spices and herbs. We’ve put together some tips and ideas on how to make your mornings more flavourful with a taste of the Eastern Med.
Although eggs for breakfast isn’t a new concept, many Eastern Mediterranean countries take egg dishes to a whole other level. Turkish eggs or cilbir are poached eggs served with yoghurt and a spicy red pepper butter. Another Turkish breakfast favourite is menemen, which is a one pan dish of scrambled eggs, tomato, green peppers and spices like ground black pepper and red pepper. This is similar to strapatsada, a tomato and egg dish found in Greece and Cyprus, and Middle Eastern shakshuka, which is eggs poached in tomato sauce and peppers. Can’t stray too far from your eggs and avocado? Try cracking eggs over slices of avocado, sprinkling them with feta and baking them until the yolk is done.
Variety is the spice of life – rather than having the same breakfast each morning, change things up through the week. The great thing about Eastern Mediterranean breakfasts is the variety of food on the table. Typical breakfast spreads include eggs, cheeses, meats, yoghurt, honey, breads, seasonal fruits and vegetables like figs, pears, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives – a fantastic way to get your five a day in. Eating seasonal fruit and vegetables also means you’ll be getting more nutrients as the produce is fresher. Not to mention they taste better and cost less!
No, we’re not talking about baked beans. Eastern Mediterranean countries have a lot to teach us about beans for breakfast. Ful medames (also spelt foul muddamas) is a stew of fava beans served with olive oil, cumin, chopped parsley, garlic, lemon juice and chilli pepper. Considered Egypt’s national dish, it’s also popular throughout the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean countries. Chickpeas are another ubiquitous bean found in Mediterranean cooking. They’re used to make hummus and falafels, which can also be eaten for breakfast. Alternatively, toss up a quick salad for a healthy start to your day. This Mediterranean bean salad packs chickpeas and white beans with feta cheese for a protein packed breakfast.
It’s time to put down the plain white bread and swap it out for the delicious variety of Mediterranean breads. Pittas and flatbreads make a regular appearance on the breakfast table and are used to scoop up dips or egg dishes. In Turkey, the famous simit bread is sold on every street corner and is a breakfast favourite. This circular bread looks similar to a bagel and is usually encrusted with sesame seeds or sometimes poppy seeds. Gozleme is another Turkish breakfast item. This savoury flatbread can be stuffed with various meats like ground lamb or beef, vegetables like spinach, mushrooms or peppers, and a variety of cheeses like feta. Try this easy gozleme recipe for your next breakfast.
We love an excuse to lie in – especially when science says we should. Studies have shown that skipping breakfast or having it later in the day is beneficial for your gut bacteria. The longer the time period between dinner and breakfast the next morning, the more time this gives for the bad bacteria to starve, which happens more quickly than good bacteria – allowing the good bacteria to colonise. In some Eastern Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Cyprus, people only drink coffee first thing and start eating mid-morning. If you have the time in the morning, this is the perfect opportunity to make pastries like Cypriot cheese-filled flaounes. You can even incorporate your regular lunch sandwich and make it more Mediterranean. Sabich is originally Middle Eastern but popular in Israel, and consists of fried aubergine and hard-boiled egg, alongside tomato, cucumber, hummus and tahini all stuffed into a pita.
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