Taste of the Mediterranean

Food finds at the national restaurant association show

 
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We are always inspired by the creative meals that restaurants are dishing up and while we were at the Biggest Restaurant Show on Earth back in May, we found (and tasted) so many Mediterranean foods that are popping up in restaurants all over the country.

Here's a couple of our favorite Mediterranean finds:


Falafel + Hummus EVERYWHERE!

 
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It seemed like every aisle at the show had a falafel or hummus vendor. Which was nice for us since we’re kind of obsessed with these two foods. And, we're seeing hummus pop up on the appetizers and starter sections of restaurants all over the country (though we could probably make that an entire meal!).

Why we love falafel and hummus: both have a base of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) that when blended, provide a smooth, creamy texture and mild flavor. Besides filling you up, they are packed with antioxidants, protein, fiber, folate, iron and phosphorus - key nutrients that support a healthy heart, immunity and strength. We were excited to sample a newbie to the scene - green chickpeas. They were a refreshing cross between edamame and sweet peas and likely to become the next "it" food.

 

 

Za'atar Spread

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This zesty blend (from Zesty Z) of olive oil, thyme, sumac, oregano, sesame seeds, and salt brings so much flavor to any meal or snack. We're excited to add it to traditional foods like scrambled eggs and pasta salad and of course sprinkled on our beloved hummus.

We we love Za'atar spice blend: besides the bright taste, it's loaded with antioxidants from the herbs and spices,  which can help contribute to a healthy heart and lower risks of certain types of cancer.  Za'atar is typically made with a base of thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and salt and pepper. Variations include adding oregano, marjoram, cumin, coriander and chili flakes.

 

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

 
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The never ending table of slow roasted tomatoes, peppers and grilled artichokes. While any of these would be great on top of a pizza, stuffed into a pita, or piled on a burger - they were tasty on their own. Slow roasting combined with the simple additions of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and oregano brings out the natural sweetness of the veggies.

Why we love roasted tomatoes: tomatoes have lycopene (a powerful  antioxidant that gives fruits and veggies their red color), which is best absorbed when tomatoes are cooked and eaten with a little bit of fat like extra virgin olive oil. Eating foods high in lycopene have been shown to help inflammation, support heart health and reduce certain types of cancer.