May Is International Mediterranean Diet Month

— Written By Meghan Lassiter and last updated by
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Meghan Lassiter, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center

Plate with salmon and lemon surrounded by fruits and vegetables

Ready to enjoy a way of eating that is great tasting, satisfying, and good for you? Then the simple and delicious Mediterranean way of eating may be right for you! A Mediterranean-style diet is a plant-based food plan full of delicious and affordable foods that are low in cholesterol and saturated fats and high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Join N.C. Cooperative Extension in celebrating Med Month by using the recipes, life hacks, and more from Med Instead of Meds.

Med Instead of Meds is a program and set of resources created by NC State Extension and the NC Division of Public Health to educate and provide tools that assist with eating the Med Way. Eating like those who live in the Mediterranean region has been shown to promote health. The Mediterranean-Diet has been extensively studied and is associated with promoting health and decreasing the risk of many chronic diseases including some forms of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. 

Steps To Eating the Med Way

  1. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day
  2. Replace red meat with plant proteins and lean proteins, such as beans, legumes, chicken breast, etc. 
  3. Choose whole-grain foods such as oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and popcorn often.
  4. Snack on three ounces of nuts and seeds per week. 
  5. Swap the solid fats like butter and margarine in your diet for olive oil. 
  6. Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
  7. Enjoy seafood at least three times per week. 
  8. Be physically active. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week.
  9. Drink red wine (this is optional).
  10. Limit yourself to no more than three servings per week of sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. 
salmon fillet with lentils and carrot

Salmon fillet with lentils and carrot

Recipe to Try

Lentils with Cumin Vinaigrette 


  • 1 cup green, brown, or red lentils 
  • 2 cups water or vegetable stock 

Cumin Vinaigrette

  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped  
  • ¼ cup olive oil 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  • Pinch cayenne 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 


  1. Place the vegetable stock or water in a large pot with the lentils.
  2. Cook over high heat until it comes to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cover. Cook until lentils are tender but not mushy—15 minutes to one hour, depending on the type and size of lentil. Drain and place in a large bowl. 
  3. Make the vinaigrette by heating the oil in a medium skillet. Add the shallots and cook on medium heat for one minute. Add the cumin and cook one minute more. 
  4. Remove from heat and add the vinegar, lemon juice, cayenne, and salt. Add the vinaigrette to the warm lentils and stir. Serving size ½ cup. Serves 4. Contains 229 calories, 7 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein, and 13 grams of fat.

View this on the N.C. Cooperative Extension – Brunswick County Center YouTube Page. 

Ready to see if the Mediterranean-Style Diet works for you? Last winter the FCS program offered the program to over 100 participants in New Hanover and Brunswick County. If you are interested in learning more about the program or being added to the waitlist contact Meghan Lassiter,

Meghan Lassiter is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at the N.C. Cooperative Extension – Brunswick County Center. She can be reached at 910-253-1620 or