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Cafesano Italian & Mediterranean Bistro

Making Our Way Up the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

Incorporating Fresh and Flavorful Vegetables in the Mediterranean Diet

We’re in our third month of discussing the Mediterranean Diet. Mediterranean Diet Pyramid Focusing on Vegetables at Cafesano in Reston VAWe’ve already covered how following the guidelines can help you live a longer and healthier life.

This month we’re going to once again highlight a specific food group on the Mediterranean Food Pyramid.

We’ll explain the components of the featured food group and discuss the benefits of adding it to your daily diet. We will even help get you started with quick and simple recipes that feature that month’s food group.

We devoted last month to loving legumes and showed you how you can make your own roasted chick peas as a healthy snack.

Now we are focusing on fresh vegetables. The beginning of summer is perfect time for discussing which vegetables you should stock up on during the season, and even which ones to plant in your own garden.


The What & Why of Vegetables

When discussing vegetables as a food group of the Mediterranean Pyramid, it is important to note that you should avoid starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn and winter squash. It is also recommended that you avoid breading or frying vegetables, as this adds unwanted calories and unhealthy fats.

Even with that in mind, there is a wide variety of vegetables to choose from when following the Mediterranean Diet guidelines.

Recommended vegetables include standard fair like broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, carrots, onions and tomatoes. Root vegetables like beets, turnips, radishes and scallions are also great choices. This food group also includes lots of greens like arugula, collard greens, kale, and spinach. For less ordinary choices, look for eggplants, zucchinis, dandelion greens, leeks, and artichokes.

Did you know that eating a variety of vegetables can supply nearly all of your dietary needs, including:

  • Vitamin C – which helps the immune system and prevents clots from forming in the arteries.
  • Potassium – which helps control the electrical activity of the heart.
  • Fiber – which makes you feel fuller with less food, helping you maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Vitamin A – which helps eyesight and maintains cell growth and division.
  • Protein – which is needed to build and maintain healthy muscles.


10 Quick Ways to Add Healthy Vegetables to Your Diet


  • Swap your usual lunch for a small salad.
  • Snack on celery, carrots, or broccoli instead of potato chips.
  • Use sliced eggplant instead of noodles in lasagna.
  • Swap mashed potatoes with pureed cauliflower.
  • Try new pizza topping combinations like artichokes, arugula, and olives or kale, mushroom and red onion.
  • Instead of ground chuck, grill portabella mushrooms for burgers. (See recipe below).
  • Kabobs are a great way to add a variety of vegetables to a backyard BBQ.
  • Skip the bacon and eggs in the morning and make a green smoothie.
  • Use kale, spinach or cabbage leaves instead of tortillas when making wraps.
  • Add peppers – to everything: salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, soups, and other side dishes.


Did You Know?

  • Chili and bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and even Brussel sprouts have more vitamin C per serving than oranges!
  • Kale is a super vegetable because it has high amounts of vitamins A, K & C.
  • A serving of broccoli contains more protein than a serving of steak!
  • Based on a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, tomatoes are considered to be vegetables according to U.S. law.
  • Brussel sprouts are actually tiny cabbages and are listed as the world’s most hated foods, but are actually one of the most nutritious.


Real-World Recipes: Cooking with Fresh Vegetables

Iit would be hard to find someone living in the United States who hasn’t heard of meatless meats, tofurkeys, or veggie burgers. In an effort to cut down on red meats, whether for dietary reasons or global health issues, some food companies are ramping up production of meatless proteins that are designed to look and taste like the real McCoy.

Unfortunately, these usually come frozen, with an ingredient list a mile long and packed full of hard to pronounce words, and a hefty price tag. Worse, some of these don’t hold a candle to the real thing.

Well we’ve come up with an alternative to the big brand veggie burgers. Our recipe is fresh, easy and only has six ingredients. Best of all it tastes like a real steakhouse burger!


Best (Meatless) Burger You’ve Ever Tasted Recipe

Veggie Beet and Quinoa Burger with Avocado

First thing you will need is to roast some beets. If you’ve never roasted beets before, don’t worry. It’s so simple!

Just place a washed beet on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle some olive oil over it and add a bit of minced or chopped garlic. Then wrap everything up with the aluminum foil and bake it in the oven for about an hour at around 350⁰F.

During the final half hour of your beets roasting, you want to get started with the other half of the recipe. You want to sauté slices of large portabella mushrooms in a bit of olive oil with a splash of dry red wine and some minced garlic.

When both of your vegetables have been fully cooked, it’s time to assemble your burgers. Slice your roasted beets to about the same thickness as your portabellas. Alternating between mushrooms and beets, stack slices of each onto your favorite hamburger rolls.

Finally, add some feta cheese to the top of each burger.

You can add more vegetables to your veggie burger by topping it off with fresh arugula, onions, tomatoes, avocado or peppers.


Healthy Meals without Having to Cook

Cafesano Outdoor Patio View Reston VA


As the weather warms up, your kitchen may be too.

Take a break from cooking at home and enjoy dining at Cafesano.

Our restaurant in Reston overlooks beautiful Lake Thoreau – the perfect, peaceful setting for a midday break from work or a sunset dinner.

On the go? No problem!

Our Mediterranean takeout will hit the spot – delicious, filling meals that are ready when you are, thanks to our convenient online ordering system. We’ll even keep a record of what you ordered so your next order will be even easier and you can make eating healthy even faster!