Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition

A dietitian is an expert in nutrition and dietetics. Dietitians help people understand the link between food and health by making dietary choices to optimise health and lifestyle. They have a key role in the management of diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, malnutrition, and food allergy and intolerance. Dietitians also work in the prevention of many diseases and conditions through nutrition education, health promotion and advocacy. You may work in patient care, community nutrition and public health, consultancy and private practice, the food industry, food service and management, research and teaching.

The Cretan Mediterranean Diet

Many people think of the Mediterranean diet as one type of diet that contains lots of olive oil, grilled meat, pasta and bread. However, there are many different Mediterranean diets, probably about 30 different types, as there are many countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. All these different diets vary in the amount and type of fat, type of meats, type of dairy foods, amount of pasta and bread they contain. The main ingredient that is common to all Mediterranean diets is extra virgin olive oil.

The traditional Cretan (or Greek) Mediterranean diet is considered in scientific circles as the archetypal Mediterranean diet. It was first described by epidemiologist Ancel Keys and co-workers in the 7-Countries Study of the 1960s (Keys et al. 1980. Seven countries : a multivariate analysis of death and coronary heart disease. Harvard University Press). This important study showed that people from the Island of Crete in Greece had the lowest rate of death from heart disease compared with other countries in the study and this protection from heart disease was due to their diet.

Many other studies since the 1960s have shown the benefits of the traditional Cretan Mediterranean diet for protection from many chronic diseases and promoting longevity. The traditional Cretan Mediterranean diet consists of a high intake of vegetables (particularly leafy greens) and fresh fruit, wholegrain cereals, (mainly sourdough bread rather than pasta), olive oil as the main fat in the diet, cheese in moderation (particularly goats cheese), yoghurt, nuts, more fish, less meat, and moderate amounts of wine with meals.

The 10 Commandments

The following 10 "commandments" form the basis of the Cretan Mediterranean diet:

  1. Use olive oil as the main added fat (aim for around 60 mls per day);
  2. Eat vegetables with every meal (include 100g leafy greens and 100g tomatoes, and 200g other vegetables/day);
  3. Include at least two legumes meals (250g serve) per week;
  4. Eat at least two servings of fish (150-200g serves) per week and include oily fish (for example salmon, swordfish, mackerel, sardines)
  5. Eat smaller portions of meat (beef, lamb, pork and chicken) and less often (1-2 per week);
  6. Eat fresh fruit every day and dried fruit and nuts as snacks or dessert;
  7. Eat yoghurt everyday and cheese in moderation;
  8. Include wholegrain breads and cereals with meals (limit portions if watching your weight);
  9. Consume wine in moderation (one standard drink a day, which is about 100 mls), always with meals and don’t get drunk. Try and have a couple of alcohol free days a week;
  10. Have sweets or sweet drinks for special occasions only

Typical Cretan daily diet

A typical Cretan daily diet would be as follows:

Breakfast:

  • Slice wholegrain bread with chopped tomatoes/red onion/olive oil and herbs.

Lunch:

  • Baked fish with boiled potatoes and boiled leafy green vegetables (dandelion/ endive)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Red wine

Dinner:

  • Thick bean and vegetable soup.
  • Slice wholegrain bread
  • Greek salad: tomato/ cucumber/onion/ olive oil/ herbs + sm piece feta cheese
  • Fresh fruit

Snacks:

  • Baklava* (*only once per week)
  • Natural yoghurt
  • Dried figs/walnuts/roasted chickpeas /sultanas

Recipes

There are a variety of dishes that can be created as part of the Cretan Mediterranean diet. Recipes for some of these dishes can be found below.

Dakos (Greek Bruschetta) Recipe

Ingredients

One slice (thickly cut) crusty wholemeal sourdough bread
OR ½ round barley rusk
One medium ripe tomato (120g)
One small red onion (60g)
One teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon crumbled goat’s milk feta or myzithra
1.½ teaspoon fresh or dried oregano Salt, pepper

Method

1. Lightly toast the bread
2. Finely dice the tomato and red onion
3. Add the olive oil to onion and tomato, season with cracked pepper and salt
4. Spread the mix onto the lightly toasted bread and garnish with crumbled feta and fresh ordried oregano.

Serves One
1. Myzithra is a traditional Greek unpasteurized

Fassoulada (classic Green bean soup) Recipe

  

Ingredients

3 cups white canelli beans 750g dried (can also use caned onions (300g)
2 whole white or brown finely chopped onions (300g)
2 cloves finely chopped garlic (20g)
3‐4 whole diced carrots (250g)
3‐4 stalks celery finely sliced (250g)
1 tin tomato puree (440g)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (120ml)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped
Salt, pepper and oregano

Method

1. Soak dried beans overnight (no need to soak if using canned beans)
2. Place the beans in a large pot (at least 5 litres capacity) and add 3 litres of cold water.
3. Bring the beans to the boil and simmer for half an hour (if using canned beans don’t need this step).
4. Add all the ingredients (onion, garlic, celery, tomato puree, olive oil) except carrots and fresh parsley and allow to simmer for another 30 minutes
5. Add the carrots and the fresh parsley and simmer for another 30 minutes.
6. Serve with a little chopped fresh parsley as garnish.
Tip: If you are using canned beans you can go straight to step 4 and add all the ingredients together and cook the soup for an hour.This recipe is suitable for freezing.
Serves Six

Briami (slow cooked vegetable bake) Recipe

    

Ingredients

4 medium potatoes peeled and cubed (500g)
One large red capsicum sliced (150g)
2‐3 whole eggplants cut into thick cubes (500g)
4‐5 zucchinis or courgettes sliced (500g)
3‐4 flowerets of broccoli (150g)
¼ medium cauliflower – cut into small flowerets (150g)
2 whole white or brown finely chopped onions (300g)
2 cloves finely chopped garlic (20g)
1 tin tomato puree (440g)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (120ml)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped
Salt, pepper and oregano

Method

1. Wash eggplants, trim the stalks and cut cross‐wise into 5 mm thick slices. Place in a bowl of cold salted water for about 20 minutes to draw out any bitter juices. Remove from water and pat dry.
2. Trim, wash and dry the zucchinis and slice them.
3. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes.
4. Chop onions and finely slice garlic.
5. Preheat oven to 180oC.
6. In a large frying pan heat the oil over high heat and lightly stir fry all the vegetables(eggplants, zucchinis, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum and parsley), try not to brown, and season with salt, pepper and oregano. Pour the vegetable mixture into an ovenproof dish. Leave the frypan with juices from vegetable mixture for cooking the sauce.
7. Lightly sauté the onions and garlic in the same frypan as the vegetable mixture and add the pureed tomato and season with salt, pepper. Add 2 cups water to sauce (500ml) andsimmer for 10 minutes.
8. Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the vegetables in the ovenproof dish, cover with aluminium foil and bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes.
9. Check the vegetable bake every 10 minutes to ensure there is sufficient water for the vegetables to cook.
10. Serve with steamed rice.

Serves Six

 

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