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January 7, 2010

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'Med' diet the key to losing weight

EATING less isn't the only way to weigh less. While starving yourself can help you shed weight, it isn't healthy and will only leave you with stronger cravings that you're more likely to cave in on than if you had eaten a moderate, balanced and healthy diet.

The key to losing weight and staying satisfied is to eat foods that are low in calories but high in bulk and fiber, like vegetables, whole grains (such as pasta and rice) and low-fat soups.

Add a reasonable amount of healthier fats, such as olive and nut oils, a bit of fish or other lean protein, and a modest amount of cheese and you have the backbone of the Mediterranean diet. It's not just immensely satisfying, it's also incredibly healthy.

The recipe for simmered Mediterranean vegetables and tuna is an excellent example of these tasty principals. Eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini are sauteed in olive oil, then simmered until tender. Chunky light tuna, chopped olives, capers and a small amount of feta cheese are stirred in at the end, then the whole stew is served over whole-grain pasta.

The dish by itself is a complete meal, but adding a salad never hurts.

Simmered Meditteranean vegetables and tuna

Start to finish: 35 minutes (20 minutes active)

Servings: Four

28-ounce (800-gram) can-diced fire-roasted tomatoes

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 small eggplant (3/4 pound (340 grams)), peeled and cut into sticks 1/2-inch (1.3-centimeter) thick and 2-inch (5 centimeters) long

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 small zucchini, cut into sticks 1/2-inch (1.3-centimeter) thick and 2-inch (5 centimeters) long

8 ounces (225 grams) whole-grain bow tie or other small pasta

6-ounce (170-gram) can water-packed chunk light tuna, drained and flaked

1/4 cup (60 milliliters) pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

1/4 cup (60 milliliters) chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

4 ounces (113 grams) feta cheese, crumbled


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes, reserving one cup (230ml) of juice. Set aside.

In a large non-stick skillet over high, heat the oil. Add the garlic and eggplant and saute until the garlic is golden, about one minute. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender, about five minutes.

Stir in the zucchini, tomatoes and juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until the zucchini is tender, about five minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package instructions. Drain well and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Stir tuna, olives, parsley and capers into the vegetable mixture. Cook, stirring until heated through. Gently stir in the feta cheese. Spoon the mixture over the pasta.

Nutrition information per serve (rounded to nearest whole number): 459 calories; 119 calories from fat; 13 grams fat (5 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 51 milligrams cholesterol; 61 grams carbohydrates; 27 grams protein; 10 grams fiber; 1,225 milligrams sodium.


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