It’s become a healthy habit I can’t break -- starting a meal with lots of Mediterranean spreads. With a crowd of hungry guests, a table set with an assortment of appetizing spreads and salads, along with the requisite items for dipping keeps the hungry wolves at bay while I’m busy in the kitchen finalizing the rest of the meal.
During Passover, when every meal starts with matzo, you really need something extra to make it special. Cream cheese and butter are nice, but they are dairy, lack nutrients and add extra fat and calories that we definitely don’t need on the holidays. That’s why the Mediterranean diet is so popular with nutritionists and dietitians everywhere. Eggplants, peppers and tomatoes are in abundance and the spreads are tasty, low-fat and healthy.
Tomatoes hit the antioxidant jackpot. They are very high in Lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to cancer prevention. Tomatoes are also high in Vitamin A and C and vitamins that help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Eggplants are excellent sources of iron, calcium and fiber. Eggplant also contains important phytonutrients with antioxidant activity. Eggplant has been found to improve circulation, prevent cancer and lower bad cholesterol.
You can get all these health benefits with Mediterranean Salads, either store bought or homemade including Spanish Eggplant, Turkish Salad, Matbucha, Babaganoush, Vegetarian Liver, Caponata, Roasted Eggplant, and Grilled Eggplant.
Don't stop at just topping your matzo either. For a fantastic appetizer idea, you can create platters of veggies filled with spreads like I did here and keep your carbs down too. I also made amazingly easy Stuffed Mushrooms with Veggie Liver and Spanish Eggplant Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms.