In the mind of most people, Dessert is a forbidden word when they are on a diet. Well, not for the Mediterranean Diet followers. As it was stressed many times, the Mediterranean diet is a way of living and not a deprivation diet. Desserts are an integral part of the Mediterranean diet and there is an abundance of Mediterranean diet culinary recipes for nice, sweet and delicious Mediterranean diet desserts. In fact there are so many Mediterranean diet desserts that one would need a few years to taste them all.
It is often said that one of the best aspects of the Mediterranean diet is the fact that it incorporates desserts. Mediterranean diet desserts are plentiful and vary in composition, taste, smell and sweetness depending on the country of origin. There are Mediterranean diet desserts that known throughout the world and they can be found in all the regions of the Mediterranean Sea.
Mediterranean diet has been around for thousands of years and it is the result of no invention and of no creation of a single person. It is the result of the pass of many civilizations and ethnicities which passed from the Mediterranean region, interacted with each other and learned to live together using and utilizing the food sources of the area based on the climatic conditions and depending on seasonality. From the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to the Arabs and Turks all had their influence in the development of the Mediterranean deserts as they are known today.
Mediterranean diet sweets
The basic components of the Mediterranean diet sweets are: nuts, eggs, flour or phyllo pastry, fruits, milk and honey. There are many culinary recipes around for Mediterranean diet desserts. Some of the well known desserts of the Mediterranean region are: Baklava, Kataifi, Mahalepi, Sweet walnut, ekmek Kataifi, Greek yogurt with honey and nuts, Galaktoboureko, Panna cotta, Almond cake and Churros.
If one checks for the nutritional benefits of the basic components of Mediterranean sweets will find that:
- Nuts are a very good source of fatty acids and plant protein
- Honey is a source of carbohydrates, natural sugar such as glucose, vitamin B6 and certain amino acids
- Eggs are the source of protein, phosphorous and vitamin B12
- Fruits are the source of vitamins, the type depends on the fruit, fiber, and proteins
- Milk is the source of vitamin B12, Calcium, Vitamin D, Selenium, Phosphorous
Going round in the Mediterranean Sea we can identify certain characteristic sweets which are included in the list of the Best Mediterranean sweets.
Greece: The best Mediterranean diet desserts of Greece are considered to be the Baklava and Galaktopourekko. Baklava is made of nuts, phyllo pastry and honey or sugar syrup while Galaktopourekko has its basis the milk (gala in Greek means milk).
Turkey: The Turkish culinary cuisine has many well known dessert like the Mahalepi which is the traditional Turkish milk pudding, the baklava which is different than the Greek despite of the fact that they use the same ingredients, ekmek Kataifi made of milk cream, and the kunefe dessert made up of fresh white cheese, a basic component of the Mediterranean diet.
Lebanon: Lebanese desserts are well known all over the world for their refined taste and smell. In Lebanon you can find variations of Baklava, Mahalepi, Kataifi and other eastern Mediterranean diet desserts. Knafen is probably the best and the most well known dessert not only in Lebanon but Syria and Palestine. Knafen is made up of crushed phyllo pastry, pistachio nuts and ricotta white cheese.
Cyprus: Apart from the known eastern Mediterranean desserts in Cyprus you can find Soutzoukos which is made of nuts and solidified grape juice and Glyko which is a preserve of different fruits like watermelon, apricot, cherry, and fresh walnut.
Italy: Italy offers numerous desserts with the most known being the Panna cotta and Cassata Siciliana made up of Italian ricotta white cheese
Spain: In Spain we have Turron – the Spanish almond candy – made up of almonds and honey, the Catalan cream, the Spanish Churros and the almond cakes.
France: Probably the most well known French dessert is crème Brule while other known French desserts have as their basis fruits of the season, like the baked apple or the pear in wine.
The Mediterranean diet is a rich, all rounded and well developed diet and this is due to the fact that it has been developed over thousands of years despite of the various changes the original Mediterranean dessert recipes withstood the passage of time and are now spread all over the world and enjoyed by millions of people, followers and non-followers of the Mediterranean diet.