The heart-healthy Mediterranean eating plan is based on typical foods and recipes of Mediterranean-style cooking. Here’s how to adopt the Mediterranean diet.

Key components of the Mediterranean diet are

â?¢ Eating primarily fresh, local, and preferably organic plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
â?¢ Using healthy fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil
â?¢ Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour foods
â?¢ Limiting red meat to only a few times a month
â?¢ Eating fish and poultry once or twice a week
â?¢ Drinking a small amount of red wine

The diet also recognizes the importance of being physically active, and enjoying peaceful home-cooked meals with friends and family.
Here is a delicious recipe for polenta with heart-healthy Mediterranean roasted veggies.

Serves six

Ingredients

â?¢ One small eggplant, peeled, cut into quarter-inch slices
â?¢ Two small zucchinis, cut into quarter-inch slices
â?¢ Six medium brown mushrooms, sliced
â?¢ One sweet red pepper, seeded, cored and chopped
â?¢ Two to three tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
â?¢ Six cups water
â?¢ One-and-a-half cups coarse polenta (corn grits)
â?¢ Two teaspoons butter
â?¢ Quarter teaspoon cracked black pepper
â?¢ 250 gms fresh spinach, chopped
â?¢ Two Roma tomatoes, sliced
â?¢ Six dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in water to rehydrate, drained and chopped
â?¢ 10 ripe olives, chopped
â?¢ Two teaspoons oregano

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Directions

1. Heat the grill and position the rack 10 cms under the element.

2. Brush the eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and red pepper with one tablespoon of the olive oil.

3. Arrange in single layer on a baking sheet and grill under low heat. Turn as needed and brush occasionally with olive oil. When tender and slightly browned, remove from the grill.

4. Set the oven to 180°C and oil a 30cm ovenproof serving dish.

5. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and slowly whisk in polenta. Continue to stir and cook until the polenta separates from the side of the saucepan. Stir in the butter and season with black pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

6. Spread polenta onto the base and sides of the baking dish. Brush with one teaspoon of olive oil.

7. Bake for 10 minutes. While baking, blanch the spinach for three or four minutes, drain, and press between paper towels.

8. Remove polenta and top with spinach.

9. Layer sliced tomatoes, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and olives and cover with roasted vegetables.

10. Sprinkle with oregano and black pepper to taste.

11. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes. When warmed through, remove from the oven. Cut into wedges and serve.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-recipes/NU00422

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