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19 Amazing Recipes from the Mediterranean: SparkRecipes SlideShow

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19 Amazing Recipes from the Mediterranean

By Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer

The Mediterranean diet is often touted as one of the best eating plans for weight loss and heart health--and for good reason. Packed with fresh ingredients, low in saturated fat, and full of flavor, this "diet" proves that eating right doesn't have to mean sacrificing taste.

Sauteed Chicken with Orzo

Simple sauteed chicken and vegetables get a flavor boost from fresh parsley and briny capers. Eating a variety of different-colored produce ensures you get a broad variety of vitamins and minerals.

Pasta with Spicy Shrimp

Whole-grain noodles and tender shrimp pair perfectly with a luxuriously rich, piquant sauce in this quick pasta dinner. Seafood is a lean protein, and it's a staple in most Mediterranean countries.

Easy Turkish Bulgur Salad

Pair hearty bulgur (cracked wheat) with loads of fresh herbs and a couple of special ingredients for a classic Turkish side dish. This salad is packed with fiber, which can help lower cholesterol.

15-Minute Fish with Parsley Pesto

Baked fish stays moist and flavorful thanks to a fresh parsley pesto. Herbs are often thought of as garnishes, but they are a low-calorie, fat-free way to add flavor and are bursting with health benefits.

Triple Mushroom Saute with Toasted Walnuts

Three types of mushrooms add depth of flavor to this simple side dish, while walnuts provide heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Tabbouleh Salad

Full of fiber and fresh herbs, this whole-grain salad is perfect as a side or light lunch.

Slow Cooker Northern Bean and Spinach Soup

Mediterranean dishes tend to use meat as an accent rather than a main meal component. This hearty slow cooker soup features just a small amount of sausage as a flavor enhancer, allowing the spices and veggies to shine through.

Simple Vegetable Stew

Caponata is a Mediterranean vegetable stew made with heart-healthy olive oil. Eat it as is, or atop toasted whole-wheat bread or pasta.

Chicken Soup with Basil Pesto

This homemade soup is ready in 20 minutes but tastes like it cooked all day. We won't tell if you don't--it still packs quite a nutritional punch!

Salmon with Pasta, Mushrooms and Peppers

Pasta is often targeted as an unhealthy food, but it can be a part of a heart-healthy diet when eaten in moderate portions. This salmon and pasta dish packs in a variety of vegetables, all dressed in a light pesto sauce.

Beet and Wheat Berry Salad

Combined with chewy wheat berries, a tangy vinaigrette and salty Parmesan, this beet salad makes for a light supper or substantial side. The bright purple pigment signals that beets are a great source of antioxidants.

Tomato Braised Fish

This easy fish dish is braised and flavored with a classic Mediterranean-style tomato, onion, and garlic sauce to make it lower in fat and salt.

Spanish Rice and Vegetables

This vibrant rice and vegetable dish is a budget-friendly version of paella, the rustic Spanish favorite. An herbed-citrus olive pesto adds color, boosts nutrition and intensifies the flavor.

Chicken Oregano with Sweet Peppers

Oregano jazzes up this quick chicken dish while a wine and tomato sauce with sauteed sweet peppers add a bright finish. The lycopene in tomatoes is said to lower cholesterol, among other health benefits.

Easy Steamed Fish Packets

Dinner's all wrapped up when you cook fish and veggies in parchment packets. This preparation method keeps food juicy and delicious with no added fat, allowing the ingredients to shine. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish two to three times a week to help heart health.

Baked Chicken with Garlic and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Garlic lovers, rejoice! This baked chicken recipe contains a whopping two heads, but the flavor mellows and sweetens when cooked. Garlic consumption has been linked to decreased risk of some cancers.

Easy Zucchini Parmesan

This quick and healthy zucchini parmesan recipe takes just minutes to prepare! And as a bonus, it's an easy way to get the kids to eat their vegetables. Pairing veggies with a modest amount of fat will help your body absorb their nutrients more efficiently.

White Beans, Spinach and Tomatoes over Linguine

One of our most popular vegetarian recipes, this 30-minute pasta dish is nutritious and easy to make. Beans, with their high soluble fiber content, lend creaminess without cholesterol--and can actually help lower "bad" blood cholesterol.

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

Delicious and quick, this easy fish dinner is a great way to get more seafood into your healthy meal plan. We think it perfectly reflects the Mediterranean diet's modest use of fats for flavor and nutrition.