The Mediterranean-style eating pattern is shown to prevent disease and increase longevity. This Mother’s Day help Mom make the lifestyle changes that lead to ongoing health. Amy Riolo’s new diabetes-friendly cookbook—which is based on recipes she wrote for her own mother after she was diagnosed with diabetes—is full of quick, easy, and flavorful recipes she will love.
May is Mediterranean Diet Month, and with Mother’s Day just around the corner, most of us are busy planning the perfect present for Mom. The usual gifts of flowers and cards are nice ideas, but best-selling author, chef, television personality, and educator Amy Riolo says the greatest gift you could give your mother is helping her achieve lasting health.
“The best way to show love to your mother on Mother’s Day is by making a meaningful contribution to her life,” says Riolo, author of the American Diabetes Association’s The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition: A Flavorful, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking (American Diabetes Association, May 2019, ISBN: 978-1-580-40702-1, $22.95).”Let your mom know that you love her, and that’s why you want her to live a long, healthy, and happy life. Introducing her to the healthful and delicious dishes from the Mediterranean region is a great way to do just that.”
You’ve likely heard of the Mediterranean diet, which was recently named best overall diet of 2019 and has been shown to help extend your lifespan by roughly a decade. This eating pattern has also been linked to preventing heart attacks, strokes, certain cancers, and diabetes, and reducing inflammation. It may even help lower your risk of dementia by a third.
The Mediterranean eating pattern centers around seasonal produce, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy, and small amounts of meat and sweets. Riolo says that part of what makes this diet so successful is that people in the Mediterranean region consider food to be a friend and ally—a source of pleasure, nutrition, history, medicine, and tradition. When combined with lifestyle choices like communal eating and physical activity, the Mediterranean diet is believed to contribute to remarkable longevity in the region. For example, residents in Sardinia are ten times more likely to live past 100 than people in the United States.
Riolo says Mother’s Day is the perfect time to help your mother make the lifestyle changes that can give her a longer and more joyful life. Read on for three ways you can celebrate your love for your mom and help her start living a healthier life.
Prepare a delicious Mediterranean-style Mother’s Day lunch. Show Mom how much you love her by preparing her a special Mother’s Day meal. Offering a lunch that features delicious and healthy Mediterranean-inspired dishes is the perfect way to celebrate with your mom and the rest of your family. Not only is this a great time to enjoy healthy food, it’s also a chance to reap the benefits of communal eating, a long-upheld tradition in Mediterranean communities. Sharing a table and enjoying camaraderie with loved ones provides a sense of comfort, security, and stability. Below you’ll find a tempting sample lunch menu from the cookbook.
Give Mom a copy of The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition. Help your mother rediscover the joy of eating food that’s full of flavor while still being healthful. Riolo created many of the recipes in the cookbook after her own mother was diagnosed with diabetes. Full of more than 200 delicious, authentic, and naturally nutritious recipes, The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition guides you on a culinary journey through the flavors of Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and more. The recipes are quick and easy to prepare, and can be enjoyed by people with or without diabetes.
Help her stock a healthy Mediterranean pantry. A well-stocked pantry saves time, money, and stress, and makes it easy to eat more healthy meals. With a full Mediterranean pantry in place, Mom can whip up fresh and delicious dishes in just minutes. For Mother’s Day, treat her to a shopping trip and stock her pantry with the basics she’ll need to continue cooking healthy meals. (Please see the attached sidebar for a checklist of essential foods and products you’ll need to stock a ready-to-cook Mediterranean pantry.)
Ready to start planning an unforgettable Mother’s Day feast? Read on for a healthy and delicious menu to share with Mom and the rest of your family.
Swordfish Alla Ghiotta
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 Fillet | Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 25 Minutes
This is one of my favorite recipes to teach. I first printed it in my Italian Diabetes Cookbook. Since swordfish is not always stocked in American supermarkets, it’s a good idea to call ahead to find out when a shipment will be arriving and place an order. Pumpkin swordfish, tuna, haddock, and cod can all be substituted for swordfish when making this recipe. The swordfish also tastes great grilled with the sauce spooned over the top.
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups boxed no-salt-added chopped tomatoes, or canned no-salt-added petite diced tomatoes
3 Tbsp freshly chopped basil
1/8 tsp unrefined sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dash crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and well drained
1/4 cup green olives (such as Sicilian Colossal or
Cerignola), rinsed, drained, pitted, and roughly chopped
4 (1/4-lb) boneless swordfish fillets
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery and sauté until tender, approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook until it releases its aroma, but do not let garlic turn brown.
Stir in chopped tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, capers, and olives. Mix well to combine, and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
Carefully remove lid from tomato sauce and add swordfish fillets into simmering sauce. Cover and cook for 10–15 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
Transfer fish to a serving platter, top with sauce, and serve.
2 Nonstarchy Vegetable, 3 Lean Protein, 1 Fat
Calories from fat 80
Total fat 9.0 g
Saturated fat 1.9 g
Trans fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 45 mg
Sodium 450 mg
Potassium 890 mg
Total carbohydrate 8 g
Dietary fiber 3 g
Sugars 5 g
Protein 24 g
Phosphorus 350 mg
Healthy Living Tradition
In Sicily and Calabria, the ghiotta style of cooking has been around for centuries. In addition to swordfish, stockfish is also prepared this way. Celery, green olives, capers, and black pepper are essential to any ghiotta recipe. You can use the onion and caper variety of your choice.
Broccoli and Spinach Salad with Blueberries, Feta, and Buttermilk Dressing
Serves: 6 | Serving Size: 1 Cup | Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: None
I decided to offer this as an antioxidant-infused snack prior to a class and wanted you all to have it on hand for quick meals. Try adding leftover chicken, fish, or quinoa to make a complete meal.
1/2 lb fresh baby spinach
1 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 ripe avocado
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
1 clove garlic
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp poppy seeds
A few sprigs of fresh dill and/or other herbs
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place spinach, broccoli, avocado, blueberries, feta cheese, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl or on a large platter.
Place yogurt, buttermilk, garlic, lemon juice and zest, poppy seeds, herbs, and pepper in blender and blend to combine. (If not using a blender, ingredients can also be whisked in a bowl until combined.)
Pour dressing over salad and serve immediately.
½ Carbohydrate, 1 ½ Fat
Calories from fat 50
Total fat 6.0 g
Saturated fat 1.2 g
Trans fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 5 mg
Sodium 105 mg
Potassium 430 mg
Total carbohydrate 8 g
Dietary fiber 3 g
Sugars 3 g
Protein 6 g
Phosphorus 155 mg
Healthy Living Tradition
Combining broccoli with other superfoods such as blueberries and avocado is a great way to get more nutrients in your diet.
MangoMiSu (Mango Tiramisu)
Serves: 8 | Serving Size ½ Cup |
Prep Time: 5 Minutes, Plus at Least 6 Hours Chilling Time | Cook Time: None
The rich, indulgent flavors of traditional tiramisu are reserved for special occasions in Italy. This version combines yogurt, mango, and cooling cardamom for a light, uplifting treat that is perfect for a healthy indulgence any time of year. Keep in mind that the MangoMiSu needs to set for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight. Peaches and pineapple also work well in this recipe.
12 BelVita breakfast biscuits, golden oat
16 oz fresh mango cubes, or frozen and thawed, divided
2 Tbsp light agave nectar
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fat-free organic vanilla yogurt, divided
1/2 cup strawberries
8 fresh mint sprigs
Line the bottom of an 8-inch wide bowl with 4–6 biscuits, making an even layer. (You may need to break a few to get them to fit.)
Purée 8 oz mango cubes by placing them in a food processor and processing until liquid. Using a spatula, remove from food processor. Add agave nectar, cardamom, and vanilla to mango purée.
Pour or spoon half of the mango purée over the biscuits. Spoon 1 cup of yogurt over mango purée evenly. Scatter remaining mango cubes over the yogurt, reserving 1 Tbsp for garnish. Sprinkle the strawberries over the mangoes, and top the fruit with remaining 6–8 biscuits.
Pour remaining half of mango purée over the biscuits. Top with remaining yogurt, and smooth out to cover surface. Scatter remaining 1 Tbsp mango cubes over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight or until set.
Serve 1/2-cup portions in small dessert cups. (Alternative plating idea: To plate as 8 individual servings rather than using a large bowl, simply layer 1/8 of each ingredient in a glass dessert dish or wine glass.) Garnish each serving with a mint sprig.
2 Carbohydrate, ½ Fat
Calories from fat 30
Total fat 3.5 g
Saturated fat 0.3 g
Trans fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 110 mg
Potassium 230 mg
Total carbohydrate 31 g
Dietary fiber 2 g
Sugars 19 g
Protein 4 g
Phosphorus 85 mg
“Getting healthy and staying that way means adopting a lifestyle that allows you to enjoy more nutritious homecooked meals and share them with the ones you love,” concludes Riolo. “There’s no better time than Mother’s Day to help your mom make a commitment to eat fresh and delicious foods that will keep her healthy and well for years to come.”
Starting a Mediterranean Pantry
Excerpted from The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition: A Flavorful, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking
(American Diabetes Association, May 2019, ISBN: 978-1-580-40702-1, $22.95)
Best-selling author, chef, television personality, and educator Amy Riolo says a well-stocked pantry saves time, money, and stress when you’re ready to cook. And most importantly, it encourages you to eat healthfully. This essential checklist contains all the ingredients you’ll need to prepare delicious and nutritious Mediterranean-inspired meals.
Items to Stock in Your Pantry
The following items are categorized by where they are found in grocery stores.
Active dry yeast
Cocoa powder, unsweetened
Flour, all-purpose, unbleached; barley; bread;
chickpea; semolina; spelt; whole-wheat;
Sea salt, unrefined
Beans and Legumes
“I prefer using dried beans and legumes, but if you are not used to using them, or might need them to be ready to use in a pinch, I recommend keeping canned varieties on hand as well,” says Riolo.
Black beans, canned, reduced-sodium
Cannellini beans, canned, reduced-sodium
Chickpeas, canned, low-sodium
Lentils (brown), canned
or dried, no-salt-added
Herbes de Provence (Dried)
Anchovy fillets, packed in olive oil
Artichoke hearts, canned
Bread crumbs, plain
Capers, packed in water
Olives, green, black, Kalamata, Niçoise,
Roasted red peppers, jar
Tomatoes, canned, low-sodium
(diced and fire-roasted)
Tuna, canned, packed in water
Granola, low-fat, almond
Nuts and Dried Fruit
Chestnuts, jar, whole,
roasted or steamed
Oils and Vinegars
Corn or vegetable oil, expeller-pressed
Nonstick cooking spray
Olive oil, extra-virgin
Vinegar, apple cider, balsamic, white, distilled
Pasta and Grains
Rice, arborio, basmati, medium-grain, wild
Whole-wheat pasta, spaghetti, penne rigate
Spices and Seeds
Cinnamon and cinnamon sticks
Cloves, whole and ground
Crushed red pepper
Green cardamom, ground and pods
“I prefer making homemade stocks and freezing them for future use,” says Riolo. “However, it’s also good to keep a few boxes on hand in a pinch.”
Chicken stock, reduced-sodium
Vegetable stock, reduced-sodium
Items for the Fridge
(Use local and organic if possible)
Cheese, Parmesan, Romano, mozzarella,
feta, and goat
Fresh Seasonal Produce
Yogurt, plain, fat-free
Items for the Freezer
“While I prefer fresh food whenever possible, a well-stocked freezer can help when you are short on time,” says Riolo. “In terms of nutrition, frozen items (without high-fat ingredients or excess sodium) are often a better option than takeout and delivery items, which can sabotage a healthy lifestyle plan.”
Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
About the Author:
Amy Riolo is the author of The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition: A Flavorful, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking (American Diabetes Association, May 2019, ISBN: 978-1-580-40702-1, $22.95). She is an award-winning, best-selling author, chef, television personality, and educator.
A graduate of Cornell University, Amy is considered a culinary thought leader who enjoys changing the way we think about food and the people who create it. Amy is a food historian, culinary anthropologist, and Mediterranean Diet advocate who makes frequent appearances on numerous television and radio programs both in the United States and abroad, including FOX TV, ABC, CBS, NBC, the Hallmark Channel, Nile TV, the Travel Channel, Martha Stewart Living Radio, and Abu Dhabi Television.
For more information about Amy, please visit www.amyriolo.com.
About the Book:
The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition: A Flavorful, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking (American Diabetes Association, May 2019, ISBN: 978-1-580-40702-1, $22.95) will be available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.