Eat Like An Egyptian
What if I were to tell you that you can enjoy some of your favorite foods and still reap incredible health benefits? No, unfortunately, potato chips and ice cream don’t really count. (Though we are happy to report that food discovery platform Elmenus recently revealed that rolled ice cream is the most liked food invention of 2016 among Egyptians!) A Mediterranean diet provides the heart-healthy sustenance necessary to lead a long, happy life. Let’s start off with a few discernable facts.
The base ingredients used in preparing authentic Mediterranean dishes are typically rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamins. Mediterranean fare relies on a vibrant blend of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, herbs, spices, fish, olive oils and the occasional glass of red wine. That’s right – despite the perception that many people may have of Egyptian cuisine, the ingredients are not too far off from those used in traditional American dishes. Now if that hasn’t sold you, maybe this will. Cognitive vitality is largely determined by the types of foods we consume. Most notably, Egyptian foods are said to have a profound impact on the slowing of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Given the effect on mental acuteness, one could say that opting for a Mediterranean diet is the smart choice.
Egyptian food takes the cake, or the Basbusa, as one of the healthiest global cuisines. Following a meta-analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults, the Mayo Clinic reported that adherence to a Mediterranean diet greatly reduces mortality rates. If avoiding death isn’t a good enough reason to make the dietary shift, consider a recent study that found a high-fat Mediterranean diet to be more successful in helping with weight loss than a low-fat diet in which the participant avoids fat altogether. Eat fat, lose weight – you read that right. As diet fads fade in and out from one year to the next (Atkins, Dukan, Paleo) there seems to be one depressing trend: they all advocate abandoning your favorite foods in favor of low-carb, low-sodium, low-fat blandness. That’s precisely why you should opt to follow tradition over trend. It’s like we always say: #EatLikeAnEgyptian.
A healthy diet requires monitoring more than just what you eat, but why and how you eat it. According to the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, core components to healthy eating include consistent physical activity and taking the time to share meals with others. In contrast, the average American eats one in five meals in their car. We get it – you’re busy with work, preparing for finals, and binge watching House of Cards (May 30th!) However, gradual changes to your dietary habits will leave a lasting impression for years to come. Health conscious, fast-casual eateries, like Taza, may just be the key to conquering this life-enriching change.
As with any diet, every change should be made in moderation. Try to consume seafood at least twice a week while lessening your intake of red meats and sweets. As previously noted, vegetables are one of the key ingredients in Mediterranean dishes because they lend to the fresh and flavorful components that the cuisine is known for. It won’t kill you to try a vegetarian meal once or twice a week (quite the opposite if you buy into the low mortality rate statistic). Begin by building each of your meals around beans, whole grains, vegetables, fragrant herbs, and spices. Now that we’ve covered all the bases, allow us to walk you through a day of healthy Egyptian eating with Taza’s very own menu.
Breakfast: A fluffy 2-egg omelet with warm seasoned ful beans
Lunch: A tender chicken Shawarma, served on freshly baked pita with baby spinach, tomatoes, and tahini
Snack: Crispy pita chips to dip in Hala’s Garlicky Hummus (vegan-friendly!)
Dinner: Egyptian Kushari, a savory bowl of seasoned lentils, rice and elbow noodles topped with a tangy red sauce, garbanzo beans and caramelized onions
Dessert: Baklava with crunchy walnuts (probably not the most health-conscious option, but we couldn’t resist.)
Unfortunately, it would be impossible to cover each of the plentiful benefits of Mediterranean food in one short blog post. Egyptian cuisine is rich in flavor and history alike, including a large influence over many American-diet staples. For many health enthusiasts on-the-go, hummus has become the chic lunch option of choice. Hummus is a dip or spread made from chickpeas or other beans, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and garlic, often with a variation of other spices thrown in. That reminds us, did you know that in many Middle Eastern countries, hummus is a subject of a great deal of political contention? Well, that story is for another day. Until next time, step out of your food comfort zone and stay Taza-Riffic.