When Oldways, a dietary think tank, introduced the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in 1993, extra-virgin olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and kalamata olives were hard to find.
Fifteen years later, the key ingredients are available in nearly every supermarket and the Mediterranean eating style is widely recognized as the gold standard for optimum health, endorsed by the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization.
“The science coming out of the universities and research institutions continues to support its healthfulness. It's one of those things that have not been a fad,” says Dun Gifford, founder and president of Oldways in Cambridge, Mass.
In the traditional diets of Greece, Crete and southern Italy, people typically consume olive oil as their principal fat, rounding out their diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, fish, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Daily exercise and moderate red wine consumption are also an important part of the lifestyle.
This Greek Salad pays homage to the Mediterranean Diet, with a slight modern twist: fat-free feta. Fat-free feta is a fairly new product showing up in many dairy cases alongside the blocks and crumbles of plain, reduced fat and multi-flavored versions. “It has the same taste, flavor and texture,” Gifford says. “I don't think reduced-fat or fat-free feta i a bad thing; it's just a part of modern living.”
Skip the fat in the feta, and you have room to add a few more lovely ripe olives.