Only a few days until Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) and it got me thinking about those amazing Israeli breakfasts of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, cheeses and yogurts and fresh squeezed juices, one of the highlights of any trip to Israel. America can learn a thing or two from our Israeli friends. Traditional Israeli cuisine falls within the Mediteranean diet that is well known for its many heart healthy benefits.
In Israel, people eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and very little meat. Most of the fat comes from olives, healthy oil, nuts and avocados. Hummus, made of chickpeas, tahini , lemon juice, garlic and olive oil offers a nice balance of protein and carbohydrates and includes plenty of fiber. It is easy to find in the United States with popular brands like Sabra and Tribe available on most grocers’ shelves or really easy to make on your own, like this delicious hummus recipe. It can be part of any meal, including breakfast. I was once talking to an Israeli who said he usually didn’t eat hummus for breakfast because it is so filling he wouldn’t be hungry for lunch. I wouldn’t mind a food that actually kept me full until lunch!
Like the rest of the Mediterranean diet, Israeli food is typically low in fat, rich in fish, lean protein, vegetables, fruits and beans. They also practice portion control. Israelis know how to use spices, herbs and seeds in place of sodium or fat to provide complex flavor. Search out Israeli foods like borekas filled with cheese, potatoes or vegetables, Jachnun (baked dough), Labane (a tangy yogurt spread) and Shakshouka (eggs cooked in a zesty tomato and vegetable sauce).
While personally I can eat Israeli for nearly all my meals, I am most inclined to try to eat Israeli food for breakfast. Chop up some cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers at the beginning of the week and enjoy with eggs, cheese, chickpeas, cottage cheese, yogurt or chummus for a filling, nutritious breakfast that celebrates Israel. Go easy on the chocolate spread, bamba and bissli and you’ll be absolutely fine! Happy Birthday Israel!