(Guest Blog: DedeMed) Mediterranean All Year!


by Denise Hazime

Are you living a Mediterranean Diet? May was Mediterranean Diet Month, but why only 1 month out of the year, we should make Mediterranean Diet month every month. Everyone keeps talking about the Mediterranean Diet and how beneficial it is. Dr. Oz talks about it on his show and references recipes from his Turkish background. WebMD says “A delicious Mediterranean eating plan can help protect against heart disease, diabetes, cancer – even help with weight loss.” And it’s not even a fad diet, it’s just a way of introducing a lot of flavorful healthy ingredients into your daily food plan. It’s the way millions of people have been living for hundreds of years.


Some ingredients that are very prevalent in Mediterranean Cooking are tomato products.


I grew up in a Lebanese kitchen and my mother always uses tomato products. She makes stews with tomato based sauces out of tomato sauce and tomato paste, while incorporating healthy vegetables that are sauteed in olive oil with garlic and onions…all of which are cancer fighting and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. There are an array of recipes in Mediterranean Cooking that call for tomato sauce, tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, even ketchup. I always keep a pantry full of these items to cook with any day. The antioxidant benefits of lycopene are the agents that fight against many cancers and more than 80% of the lycopene in American diets comes from the consumption of tomato products making processed tomatoes the number one source of lycopene.


One good thing about the Mediterranean diet is that grilling is a big part of it. I love grilling because you don’t need to use as much fat and the grilling adds so much flavor on it’s own. You can grill anything from lamb chops to fish to vegetables with just a little bit of olive oil. But if you really want to enhance the flavors then marinating is the way to go. One of my favorite recipes is Shish Tawook, grilled chicken skewers. The boneless chicken cubes are marinated in a medley of garlic, lemon juice and best of all tomato paste and ketchup. You can marinate it for as little as 1 hour and still taste intense flavors.




SHISH TAWOOK (chicken skewers)


  1. 2 boneless chicken breasts about (2lbs)
  2. 3 cloves minced garlic
  3. 1 tbs tomato paste
  4. 2 tbs ketchup
  5. 1/4 cup yogurt
  6. 1/4 cup lemon juice
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 1 tsp paprika
  9. 3 tbs olive oil for cooking


Cut chicken into 1/2 inch cubes, add all other ingredients except olive oil. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours.  If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 5 minutes so that they don’t burn on the grill. Next skewer the chicken and you can add some fresh veggie in between if you like.  Drizzle the chicken with the olive oil. Make sure the grill is hot, place the skewers on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side for a total of 9-12 minutes. If you don’t want to cook them on the grill, there is another option.  Heat a pan to med/high heat, add 3 tbs olive oil then add chicken, cook uncovered for 5 minutes on each side or until moisture has evaporated and chicken is lightly browned.  This chicken goes great with my garlic sauce recipe or my brown rice recipe.
Mediterranean cuisine specialist Denise Hazime acquired a love of cooking at a very young age. Growing up in a large Lebanese family steeped in culinary tradition, she was exposed early on to a wide range of cooking techniques from her mother, who taught her the essentials for preparing all types of Mediterranean dishes. As a child, if she wasn’t in the kitchen helping her mother cook, she was in front of the TV watching Julia Child and Jeff Smith on the Frugal Gourmet. For more recipes go to www.DedeMed.com