Therefore, we’ll look at Mediterranean food groups and what to be mindful of when shopping.
Choose conventionally grown seasonal vegetables with the lowest pesticide residues, such as avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, onions. For non-organic vegetables rinse them with tap water and dry with a towel to remove residual chemicals.
Frozen vegetables are fine. Sometimes frozen will contain more vitamins than “supermarket fresh”.
Some veggies are more likely to have harmful chemicals. As a result, eating produce high in pesticides may do more harm than good. When possible either avoid or buy the organic versions of produce on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list:
- Kale, collard and mustard greens
- Bell and hot Peppers
Fresh seasonal fruit is the best. Frozen or dried fruit without added sugars is also ok. Make sure you thoroughly wash and dry fresh fruit to limit pesticide exposure. Fruits are great as a dessert or a snack.
Aim to use them as little as possible or choose vegetables preserved in glass containers. Metal food cans are often lined with plastic, leaching hormone-disrupting chemicals. It may be difficult to completely avoid canned foods. So if occasionally you end up using a couple of cans don’t beat yourself up for it.
Read and understand the labels. Some of the preserved foods are loaded with sugar, preservatives and salt.
Go for a full-fat variety. Greek yoghurt – make sure it is unsweetened and has no added thickeners. You want healthy bacteria to thicken your yoghurt, not gelatine.
Go Free-range or organic when possible
Nuts and seeds
Buy tons of them.
Use in cooking and also as snacks.
Watch out for ‘roasted’ nuts, because most varieties are actually deep-fried. If you like them super crunchy toast a batch yourself. It takes only a few minutes. Throw them in a pan, or in an oven on high temperature till ready.
Grains and Bread
As much as possible, use whole-grain products. The least processed the better. Choose wholegrain bread over wholemeal; get steel-cut oats vs quick oats.
Avoid instant oatmeal in the sachets. You know, the ones you put in the microwave for 3 min. Additionally, they are often loaded with added sugars and flavourings. You say it takes a long time to cook steel-cut oats? Actually, if you soak them overnight it takes no time in the morning. Alternatively, if you have an electric multi-cooker set timer at night and have a healthy breakfast ready when you wake up.
*Extra virgin* olive oil is the main fat used in our Mediterranean cooking. Use generously especially on salads and in dressings.
Beans and legumes
Life gets busy and canned beans and legumes are more convenient. However, the same as with canned veggies, plastic from tin liners can leak hormone disruptors into your food. Aim to buy dry beans and legumes, soak them, cook them in big batches and freeze them.
Oily fish provides a great deal of Omega 3s. Choose wild fish over farmed. Frozen unprocessed fish is fine. You don’t need to buy prime fish cuts to get the benefit from fish oils. If you are a fan of fish heads, wings or fish bellies these bits usually are the oiliest bits, and therefore healthiest.
Herbs and Spices
To reduce toxin exposure try to grow fresh herbs yourself. Use organic spices when possible. Some studies found pesticide, phthalate and toxic metal residues in black pepper, basil, oregano, nutmeg, paprika, and thyme. Because you need only a tiny amount of spices, the impact of this could be low, but every little bit ads up.
Dressings, Sauces, Dips
If buying pre-made dressings, sauces, or dips first think if you can make them yourself. This is an easier way to control the ingredients, cheaper and more delicious.
If the food you buy has a label, read it. If there is an endless list of ingredients and you don’t understand what half of those words mean, as a rule, it is super processed food and better to leave it.