The best part about studying the Mediterranean Diet in Italy is having the chance to test it out. Over the past few weeks, I have tried to incorporate various aspects of the Mediterranean Diet into my daily routine.
For instance, I have switched to using olive oil as the primary fat for cooking and eating. At home, I would switch between using vegetable or olive oil for cooking, being slightly more reserved with the latter due to the higher price. However, after learning about the health benefits of olive oil, I am now much more inclined to spend the extra money on this product.
Meat has become a lesser component of my diet and I have begun enjoying more beans instead, which are actually very popular in Tuscany; pasta e fagioli, or pasta and beans, is a classic dish there. Additionally, beans have a lower impact on the environment and are easier on my wallet.
I have also learned to be a bit more creative with meal planning, adopting the mentality of cucina povera. New dishes are born out of what happens to be in the pantry, ensuring nothing goes to waste. Hence, eggs, vegetables, and pasta have become a staple meal for me this week, and mixed nuts with banana and milk replaced my daily bowl of cereal this morning.
Eating in season is another aspect of the Mediterranean lifestyle I have tried to abide by, though this is pretty easy to do in Italy. In fact, if a fruit or vegetable is not in season, it is likely not available at the grocery store. This might seem disappointing to some, but fruit and vegetables are much more delicious when eaten this way. I am lucky to be in Italy in the summer, when there is an abundance of succulent peaches, juicy tomatoes, and delicious eggplant.
Finally, I have tried to incorporate a daily walk into my routine. Although an evening stroll is more common (la passeggiata), I have taken a liking to roaming about Ascoli in the morning, when the city is just starting to wake up and the temperature is slightly cooler.
I hope to continue pursuing a more Mediterranean-style diet upon my return to the United States!