The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are endless – so instead of rustling up the classic burger and slightly burnt sausages combination of a barbecue, why not swap it for a classy Mediterranean-themed affair?
A loaded charcuterie board, juicy white fish, and sweet fresh fruit are just a few of the highlights. But, the best bit? Many of the items can be made ahead, and the recipes are foolproof, even for a beginner. Promise.
So let your next get-together be Mediterranean themed. Your friends won't know what hit them.
1. Prepare a charcuterie board
Tasty, appetising and much easier than you might think.
Generally, a charcuterie board means no cooking time, so you have loads of time to spend being the best host you can be, and less time slaving over a hot stove.
How about taking things easy by setting out some chorizo and rosemary, and slice up some red peppers, to be then stuffing them with goats cheese. Easy, affordable and tasty. Ideal.
2. Dips go a long way
In possession of pesky friends that are peckish on arrival, with your patatas bravas still needing a good half an hour? Keep them quiet – sorry, we mean happy – with a vegetable and cheese dip, and a selection of breads, crisps or vegetables to savour it with.
Try this elegant, and easy roasted eggplant and feta dip, for an inexpensive and quick way to keep your friends occupied until the main event.
3. Replace butter and margarine with healthy oils as often as possible
The Mediterranean is amongst the healthiest in the world mainly because it steers clear of the saturated fats we use daily without even realising, and replaces them with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, like the kinds found in extra-virgin olive oil.
Other plant-based oils, such as canola or walnut oil, are also rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Try this method out the next time you're frying, you won't taste a difference and your jeans might even fit better!
4. Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables
The power of vegetables is truly astounding, and what's even more astounding is that most people still don’t get enough!
Instead of plates of fries, crisps or high in sugar snacks such a biscuits, how about laying out plates of different vegetarian dishes for your guests, Mediterranean style.
Pick vegetables in a variety of colours to get a range of antioxidants and vitamins. Try out this roasted Mediterranean vegetables recipe as a side-dish. Colourful, flavoursome and for sure to be an absolute winner.
5. Make the switch to whole grain
Try experimenting with real whole grains that are still in their whole form and haven’t been refined, such as quinoa. A staple in the ancient Incas’ diet, quinoa cooks up in just 20 minutes and fills you up for the whole day – the same goes for barley, which is jam packed is full of fibre.
This Mediterranean quinoa salad is the perfect side dish for everyone, incorporating all the good things your body needs into one convenient dish.
6. Snack on nuts
Because what could go better with a deliciously cold beer in your back garden?
7. Fruit for dessert
Looking for a way to indulge your sweet tooth, but not looking to overdo it? Try something a little different, and whip up a platter of fresh fruit for dessert. If your guests wish, they can drizzle honey on top for an extra kick.
Healthier, easier to prepare and wont leaving you feel bloated and overly full after a three course meal. Result.
8. And finally, keep things fishy
How about serving your guests this easy to prepare and delicious to taste Mediterranean fish and cous-cous? They'll feel great for eating it, you'll feel great for serving it, and it looks damn impressive. Good news all round.