The Mediterranean diet has consistently been named one of the healthiest diets in the world by health professionals and dietitians for years.1 It has been shown to help protect against heart disease, promote brain health, support weight loss, and support more stable blood sugar.2
The Mediterranean diet is based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It is rich in legumes, nuts and seeds, and olive oil. While red meat is included occasionally, the diet largely consists of lean proteins including poultry, eggs, and seafood. Sweets, sugary and high-fat foods are kept to a minimum, or enjoyed on special occasions.
In this article, we’ll show you delicious ways you can incorporate some Mediterranean diet meals into your breakfast and provide tips to make it easy to start adding some of the healthy principles of the diet into your lifestyle.
What to Eat for Breakfast on the Mediterranean Diet
The beauty of this diet is it is an overall healthy eating plan that is flexible and includes a variety of healthy ingredients. Adopting a this diet style is largely a matter of mixing and matching different foods to balance protein, fiber, and carbs.
Based largely on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, there are unlimited possibilities for starting your day off with a delicious Mediterranean diet breakfast. Start by selecting from a variety of whole grains and combine them with different fruits or vegetables, and lean protein to come up with some delicious breakfast ideas.
Here are ten easy Mediterranean breakfast ideas to start your day with.
10 Healthy Mediterranean Breakfast Ideas to Try
Blueberry Overnight Oats with Greek Yogurt
Oatmeal for breakfast is the ultimate belly filler. Because its high fiber content makes it satiating and filling. This whole grain fits perfectly into a Mediterranean diet eating plan and getting it ready the night before makes it an easy breakfast for any day of the week.
Place ½ cup of old-fashioned oats in a 12 oz. mason jar and stir in ½ cup of milk of your choice, (almond milk, soy milk, or regular milk), and ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt. Add some fresh or frozen blueberries and stir well. Cover tightly with a lid and place the jar in the fridge. Your oatmeal is ready to enjoy after 8 - 12 hours.
Berry Yogurt Walnut Yogurt Bowl
Yogurt bowls (or yogurt parfaits) have become all the rage, and it’s easy to see why! They are quick to prepare and you can put whatever ingredients you like most together, and enjoy a spoonful at a time. Plain Greek yogurt provides protein which helps fill you up and the berries and nuts add some fiber that is also satiating.
This blueberry and raspberry walnut smoothie bowl only takes a few minutes to make and it’s delicious. Just top a bowl of plain or vanilla yogurt with a handful of blueberries and raspberries, some chopped walnuts, and mix in a teaspoon of chia seeds.
Have you heard of Shakshuka? It is believed to have originated in North Africa and is a staple breakfast item in many Mediterranean countries. It’s a tomato and onion-based dish with eggs that poach in the liquid. A traditional Shakshuka is made with peppers, onion and tomatoes, but you can add almost any vegetable to it to make it your own.
Shakshuka is pretty simple to make. Sauté some onions and garlic in a large skillet or cast-iron skillet. Add some sliced bell peppers and a couple of cans of diced tomatoes and cook until bubbling. Make a couple of wells in the tomato mixture with a spoon and crack an egg into each well. Cover the dish and let the eggs poach in the tomato juice.
Serve it with a side of whole grain bread and you have a delicious breakfast perfect for a weekend morning. It’s rich and hearty and loaded with veggies and protein.
Spinach and Goat Cheese Frittata
Frittatas are an easy weekend breakfast. Made with eggs and a little milk and some cheese you can add any vegetable to it for an easy and delicious Mediterranean-style breakfast. They are typically made in a cast-iron skillet but any skillet (or round pie dish) will work.
For a 10-inch skillet, use 6 eggs and ¼ cup of milk. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Sauté ½ cup of chopped onions in 2 teaspoons of olive oil in the skillet. Add 6 cups of chopped baby spinach and sauté until it cooks down. You can add red peppers or diced tomatoes for some color if you’d like.
In a large bowl break the eggs and whisk them with milk and a little salt and pepper until they are frothy. Pour the eggs over the spinach and onions and cook until the eggs start to set. Top the mixture with ½ cup crumbled goat cheese and place in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked through.
A Smoked Salmon Sandwich with Feta
Seafood is a large part of the Mediterranean diet and smoked salmon fits right in. The American Heart Association and Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020, recommends eating two seafood meals a week to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 3,4
Adding smoked salmon to breakfast is an easy way to enjoy one more seafood meal a week. Add it to a whole-grain English muffin with fresh baby spinach, sundried tomatoes, and feta cheese and you have an easy breakfast sandwich you can take on the go. Spread a little pesto on the English muffin to add a little extra burst of flavor.
Avocado Toast with Smoked Salmon, Fresh Dill, and Capers
Smoked salmon is also delicious paired with avocado. The creaminess of the avocado tones down the saltiness of the smoked salmon and capers in this simple recipe.
Toast a slice of whole-grain bread. Mash ½ an avocado and spread it on top of the toasted bread. Top the avocado with a few slides of smoked salmon, and a sprig of dill, and top it with a little plain greek yogurt and some capers.
Mediterranean Breakfast Avocado Toast
People used to avoid avocados because they are high in fat, but we now know that they are packed full of nutrients. Avocados are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, and healthy monounsaturated fat. The green edges are full of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that help support your eyesight and brain health. A number of studies have shown that people who replace some fat in their meals with avocados have reduced LDL and total cholesterol levels.5
That’s part of what makes this breakfast so appealing. Spread avocado on whole grain toast, then top it with crumbled feta cheese and some diced roasted red pepper. Add a fried egg if you’d like and some crushed black pepper.
Cranberry Walnut Granola
Dried cranberries, walnuts, and oatmeal - yes, please! This hearty granola is a perfect topping for a bowl of yogurt (or ricotta cheese!) and has less fat and sugar than store-bought granola. Make a big batch and store it in an air-tight container. It will last a couple of weeks.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl mix 2 cups of oatmeal, ½ cup of chopped walnuts, ½ cup of olive oil, ½ cup agave syrup, and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon together.
Press the mixture in an even layer on the sheet pan and place it in the middle of the oven. Bake the granola for 15 minutes and then remove it from the oven. Break it into pieces and distribute the mixture evenly on the sheet pan. Place it back in the oven for another 10 - 15 minutes. Place the cookie sheet on a rack to cool and stir in ½ cup of dried cranberries while the mixture cools.
Who doesn’t love a caprese salad? How about a breakfast caprese? Toast a hearty whole-grain English muffin and top it with a poached egg, chopped fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. This fresh Mediterranean breakfast recipe will keep you going all morning long and is a great way to get an extra boost of veggies into your day.
Mediterranean Scrambled Eggs
Quick and easy, just add some diced tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, and baby kale to your scrambled eggs and you’ve got a hearty and quick breakfast in no time. Chopped fresh parsley and basil will give this breakfast an added boost of flavor and nutrition too.
Need it on the go? Wrap it up in a whole-grain pita pocket.
6 Tips to Make The Mediterranean Diet a Lifestyle
The Mediterranean diet is more than just a diet. It is a lifestyle that incorporates food, activity, and maintaining active social connections. Yes, the food you eat is important—and the focus—but there are other things you can do to fully live a Mediterranean lifestyle that may improve your overall health. Here are 6 tips to help you start incorporating more of a Mediterranean lifestyle into your days.
Fill up on Fruits and Veggies
You may have noticed that the majority of the Mediterranean breakfast recipes in this article incorporated lots of fruits and vegetables. The Mediterranean diet is a plant-focused way of eating. While rich in fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grain foods are also a big part of the eating plan.
All are rich in fiber —an integral part of the Mediterranean diet— and has been shown to improve blood glucose levels, reduce insulin resistance and improve blood lipid levels.2
Limit Sweets, Refined Grains, and Saturated Fats
While this may seem like a no-brainer, limiting sugary foods, refined grains, and foods high in saturated fats is also encouraged. Keep the pastries and fried foods for very special occasions. A balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats for breakfast will keep you satisfied and give you more energy to get through your day.
Incorporate Daily Activity
Staying active is an important part of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to become a gym rat. Just find ways to move more often. Sure, hopping on the treadmill or elliptical are great things to do, but get outside and get some fresh air too.
Get up from your desk, take the dog for a walk, use the stairs instead of taking the elevator, and park your car further away from the store.
Focus on Friends and Family
Social connectedness is important for your overall mood and health. Research has found that people, especially older adults, who are more isolated and have fewer social networks were at an increased risk for depression and anxiety.6
Family mealtime helps everyone. One recent study that followed over 1000 people over 20 years found adolescents who regularly ate meals with their family and continued that into adulthood followed a healthier diet, were at a healthy weight and had fewer depressive symptoms.7
Whether getting together with close friends, volunteering, or just enjoying a daily meal with your family, being with other people may help improve your mood and your health.
A snack in between your meals is fine, especially if you feel hungry. It can give you an added energy boost and may also help keep your blood sugar more stable. Just choose a smart snack. A handful of nuts and dried fruit, some Greek yogurt, homemade granola, hummus on a cracker, or cut-up vegetables are delicious and smart snack ideas.
Enjoy Eating Out
Taking a break from the kitchen and enjoying a meal out is a wonderful treat. You can stay mindful of the Mediterranean diet principles and enjoy your experience. Choose a green salad, vegetable, or bean soup for an appetizer. Focus on seafood or poultry for your main dish and split a dessert with your partner.
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Topics discussed in this article:
- US News and World Report. Best Diets Overall 2022. https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall Accessed December 22, 2022.
- Sleiman D, Al-Badri MR, Azar ST. Effect of mediterranean diet in diabetes control and cardiovascular risk modification: a systematic review. Front Public Health. 2015;3:69. Published 2015 Apr 28. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2015.00069
- Rimm EB, Appel LJ, Chiuve SE, et al. Seafood Long-Chain n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2018;138(1):e35-e47. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000574
- USDA. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf Accessed December 22, 2022.
- Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(7):738-750. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.556759
- Wickramaratne PJ, Yangchen T, Lepow L, et al. Social connectedness as a determinant of mental health: A scoping review. PLoS One. 2022;17(10):e0275004. Published 2022 Oct 13. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0275004
- Berge JM, Miller J, Watts A, Larson N, Loth KA, Neumark-Sztainer D. Intergenerational transmission of family meal patterns from adolescence to parenthood: longitudinal associations with parents' dietary intake, weight-related behaviours and psychosocial well-being. Public Health Nutr. 2018;21(2):299-308. doi:10.1017/S1368980017002270