Start Off With a Med Salad

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If you’re looking for a more healthful way of eating as you start the new year, consider the Mediterranean Diet. This involves eating the traditional way people who live in the Mediterranean region do.

Eating a Mediterranean-based diet can help protect you from developing chronic
illnesses such as some forms of cancer, decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes and
managing blood pressure. Eating “the Med way” can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve eye health and protects against cognitive decline. The Mediterranean diet is also more effective than a low-fat diet for weight loss in overweight and obese individuals.

N.C. Cooperative Extension Service and NC State University has developed program that called Med Instead of Meds. This program focuses learning to eat a Mediterranean diet. The name of the program comes from the concept that eating the Mediterranean way can help you eat well and reduce your need for medications for blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Avery Ashley, our Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent, here in Brunswick County will be offering a series of in-person classes based on this Med Instead of Meds curriculum. at the Rourke Library in Shallotte. These classes will be held February 12,19, 26 and March 4 from 10:30 a.m. until noon each day. They’re calling the classes Med Not Meds. You can register at the Rourke Library in Shallotte or on the library’s website. Seating is limited.

If you want to get a head start on these classes, you can visit the Med Instead of Meds website. They offer a series of videos that take you through the six basic concepts of the Mediterranean diet. These include eating foods you may think as too high in fat or unhealthy, including nuts, olive oil, olives and how grains. The website shares how these foods can be part of a healthy diet along with fruits, vegetables, seafood and whole grains. There are also many great recipes that can help you incorporate these concepts into your everyday eating.

2 food volunteers mix together ingredients for the salad

EMFV Jane Kulesza (left) from Oak Island and Lori Van Horn from Ocean Isle Beach combine the ingredients for the salad.

In anticipation of these upcoming classes, our Extension Master Food Volunteers were recently in the Extension Demonstration kitchen in Bolivia testing recipes to be demonstrated and sampled in these classes.

One of these recipes is a simple salad that is creamy, crunchy and packed with flavor. It’s a Kale Arugula and Farro salad. Kale gives this salad hearty bulk while the arugula provides a light peppery flavor to the background. Farro, an ancient grain with a slightly nutty and chewy texture, provides the salad with a contrast of texture and filling whole grains. If you don’t know about farro or can’t find it at the store you could use any whole grain here-

 EMFV Lori Van Horn from Ocean Isle Beach adding the arugula to the kale for the salad

EMFV Lori Van Horn from Ocean Isle Beach adding the arugula to the kale for the salad.

–such as brown rice, quinoa or barley. Creamy feta and crunchy almonds round out the salad to perfection. Top with a simple, homemade Citrus Salad Dressing to bring all the flavors together. It was a winner!

Kale Arugula and Farro Salad

  • 2 cups cooked farro
  • 1 bunch kale (packaged baby kale will work, too)
  • 1 box (5 ounces) arugula
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Citrus Salad Dressing

  • 3 lemons, juiced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Cook farro according to package directions to yield 2 cups of cooked grain.
2. Once cooked, chill farro.
3. Wash and remove ribs from kale.
4. Chiffonade kale into small strips.
5. Combine the farro, kale, and arugula.
6. Dress with Citrus Salad Dressing.
7. Top with almonds and feta.

EMFV Jane Kulesza from Oak Island preparing the greens for the salad.

EMFV Jane Kulesza from Oak Island preparing the greens for the salad.

This recipe makes 8 servings. Nutrition Information: 190 calories per serving. This
includes 15 grams of fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams dietary fiber with 0 grams
added sugar.

Source: Med Instead of Meds,

Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be reached at NC Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-2610 or by email at