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Introduction to the Mediterranean Diet (Friday, 1/24/2020)

Breakfast - Lemon Scented Almond Granola
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ cup whole almonds
Pinch sea salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil 
½ cup honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¾ cup dried apricots, diced (or any other dried fruit)

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine lemon zest, brown sugar, oats, almonds, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon together.  Mix well.
  3. In a small bowl, combine olive oil with honey/ maple/ or agave, and vanilla, mix well and then drizzle into dry oat mixture.  Mix well.
  4. Pour mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, stir and return to bake for another 10- 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool. As the granola cools, it will crisp up.  Break the granola into chunks as desired and store in an airtight container for 1- 2 weeks.  Prepared granola can also be stored in the freezer. 

Lunch - Falafels with Yogurt Dressing on Greens
Makes 12 falafels
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 cup dried chickpeas, rinsed, picked over and soaked for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator
½ cup roughly chopped red or yellow onion  
½ cup packed fresh parsley leaves
½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, or use all parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and coat a “half sheet pan” baking sheet with ¼ cup of olive oil, making sure to cover the whole pan. 
  2. Drain chickpeas and place them in a food processor with remaining ingredients.  Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and process until mixed well.
  3. Using your hands, shape the falafel into 2 inches wide by ½ inch thick patties and place on the prepared sheet pan. 
  4. Bake falafels for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for another 10- 15 minutes or until golden brown. 
  5. Refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze as for 3- 4 months.

Salad with Yogurt Dressing - For Salad
Mixed greens
1 Roma tomato diced, or grape tomatoes
½ red onion diced and soaked in water for at least 20 minutes

For Dressing
1 ½  cups Greek yogurt 
1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice 
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Persian cucumber, grated and squeezed dry  
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ tablespoon fresh dill
½ tablespoon of fresh mint, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a bowl and toss. 
  2. Combine all the ingredients for dressing in a bowl, mix well, season to taste and serve over falafels and greens.

Dinner - One-pot chicken and farro
Serves 4
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil split in half
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup diced onions
2 large cloves garlic minced
4 ounces cremini mushrooms sliced 1 cup farro 
1-pint grape tomatoes halved, 2 cups
2 cups chicken broth
1 sprig fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
pinch of black pepper
2 handfuls baby spinach
Shaved parmesan for garnish (optional)

  1. Heat half the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven until hot, season chicken with the paprika, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper. 
  2. Cook chicken in oil just until brown, do not cook through, remove from pot and set aside.
  3. Add remaining oil into pan and heat until hot, add onions and garlic, cook just until onions are translucent, do not allow to brown.  Add mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms have released their liquid and you have cooked it out. 
  4. Stir farro, tomatoes, and reserved chicken into pot and add broth.  Top with oregano sprig and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. 
  5. After 30 minutes, the liquid should have been absorbed by the farro, if not, continue cooking, turn off the heat, and stir in the baby spinach.  Remove the oregano stem if you used fresh.  Garnish with parmesan before serving if desired.