Eating the 'Med' way has many health benefits

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Beef mushroom taco with mango salsa has all the flavor, but less fat than the typical beef taco.


By Ellen Owens
Pasquotank Extension

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Over the course of any given day, week, or year, individuals consume foods and beverages in combination—an eating pattern. An eating pattern collectively represents what individuals habitually eat and drink, and these dietary components act synergistically in relation to health.

The 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a critical tool for professionals to help Americans make healthy choices in their daily lives to help prevent chronic disease and enjoy a healthy diet.

One key recommendation of the Dietary guidelines is to consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level.

A healthy eating pattern includes:

· A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups-dark green red and orange, legumes (beans and peas) starchy and other

· Fruits, especially whole fruits

· Grains, at least half of which are whole grains

· Fat-free or low fat dairy including milk, yogurt, cheese and/or low-fat soy beverages.

· A variety of protein foods including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds and soy products.

· Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits: Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars and sodium.

The Mediterranean style eating pattern incorporates the basics of healthy eating that are traditionally practiced in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The good news for those who love food is that eating the Med way is not only healthy, it is delicious and satisfying.

How can you begin eating the Med way? It’s a matter of making a few simple changes to your regular meals and snacks. Today, we’ll focus on just one: Changing Your Protein. Replace red and processed meats with plant proteins, seafood, and white-meat poultry. Try what is referred to as a “Med-flip.” Flip your burger by making beef burgers with half mushrooms or try another meat. Our first example uses fish instead of ground beef for a tasty treat called Salmon Burgers. Here’s the recipe:

Salmon Burgers


· 1 pound of salmon, skin and bones removed

· 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (more if you really like ginger)

· ½ tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

· ½ tablespoon Sriracha (or other hot sauce, adapt this for your heat preference)

· 2 – 4 tablespoons chopped green onions

· A few grinds of fresh black pepper

· 1 egg

· ½ cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs

Grapeseed, canola, or other vegetable oil for cooking the burgers


1. Process salmon, ginger, soy sauce, Sriracha, green onions, and pepper in a food processor until well blended. Place the salmon mixture in a bowl.

2. Stir in the egg and panko.

3. Make 4 patties from the mixture.

4. Refrigerate for an hour or so (optional).

5. Lightly oil a non-stick skillet.

6. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side.

7. Test internal temperature to 145º-150º F.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 burger; Calories: 239 calories; Carbohydrates: 11 grams; Fiber: 1 gram; Protein: 28 grams; Fat: 8 grams; Sodium: 328 mg

Another delicious recipe that can help you switch your protein is Mushroom Beef Tacos. This taco filling is flat out delicious. You will love it. It may sound difficult but it is really not that time consuming. You can make a double batch as it freezes really well. Serve on corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, lime wedges, and our Ginger Mango Salsa. Here’s the recipe:

Mushroom Beef Tacos


· 4 cups (approximately 8 ounces) white mushrooms

· 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

· 1 large onion, finely chopped

· 2 tablespoon homemade taco seasoning

· 4 tablespoons tomato paste

· 1 pound ground beef (97% lean), cooked and well-drained (can also use turkey or chicken)


1. Chop the mushrooms finely. This can be done in a food processor.

2. Cook the chopped mushrooms in a hot skillet over medium-high heat until well done and no moisture remains, approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.

3. Heat the oil in the skillet and add the onions. Cook for 1-2 minutes stirring frequently.

4. Add the taco seasoning and the tomato paste. Stir to combine.

5. Add the cooked mushrooms and the cooked and well-drained hamburger.

6. Add a little water if needed for everything to be well combined. Serve on corn or whole wheat tortillas.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 4 ounces (½ cup); Vegetables: ½ cup; Calories: 98 calories; Carbohydrates: 9 grams; Fiber: 5 grams; Protein: 10 grams; Fat: 5 grams; Sodium: 288 mg

Ginger-Mango Salsa


· 1 mango, diced

· 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

· 1 jalapeno, minced

· 2 teaspoons minced fresh mint

· Juice from 1 lime (approximately 1½ tablespoons)

· Pinch of salt


1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

2. Serve immediately, or chill until serving.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: ¼ cup; Fruits: ¼ cup; Calories: 20 calories; Carbohydrates: 5 grams; Fiber: 1 gram; Protein: 0 grams; Fat: 0 grams; Sodium: 20 mg

For additional recipe ideas, contact the Cooperative Extension Center, 1209 McPherson Street, Elizabeth City, 338-3954. You can also contact Ellen Owens, County Extension Director via email: ellen_owens@ncsu.edu.