Practical Nutrition would like to introduce Joe Stapleton!
Hey there everyone! My name is Joe Stapleton. I’ve been working with Practical Nutrition for a couple of weeks now and am exited to be able to contribute my first blog post! So to keep things official, I’ll start with a little about me: I’m a Master’s Student and RD to be (both to be completed in June, yippee!) with a B.S. in Nutritional Science. I’m also a NSCA certified personal trainer and love absolutely everything about health and wellness! My love of nutrition and fitness spawned from my own personal experiences in the Marine Corps, in which I learned through the rigors of military life (sometimes the hard way) just how important it is to keep our bodies functioning at an optimal level, because you never know just what life is going throw at you!
Enough about me though. Without further ado, here is some information that will hopefully help YOUR journey to optimal health and wellness…enjoy!
One of the diets generating a lot of buzz around both the scientific and the foodie communities lately is the Mediterranean diet. Don’t let the word diet fool you though, this is no fad. The Mediterranean diet sprang from the observation that mimicking the typical diet consumed in the Mediterranean area led to a reduction in incidence of heart disease and obesity, despite the macros of the diet being high in fat and accepting of moderate alcohol (red wine in particular). Essentially, the diet consists of eating mostly plant-based foods, with the majority of grains being whole. While high in fat, the fat comes mostly from oils and nuts. Fish and poultry are emphasized over red meat, and herbs and spices are used much more significantly to flavor dishes rather than salt. The ‘Mediterranean diet Pyramid’ is shown below to give a visual representation of the relative proportions.
The one thing about this diet that we would tweak here at Practical Nutrition though would be the significance of protein. As longtime readers/clients already know, over here at Practical Nutrition we like to skew our intake a little more in the direction of lean, organically sourced (if possible) protein. Increasing the proportion of lean protein in the diet has shown benefits for the athletic population (more efficient muscle recovery), the elderly (staving off sarcopenia and bone loss), and those looking to lose or maintain their weight (through extending the period of satiety before feeling hungry again). So we love the idea of the Mediterranean diet, and the data looks great regarding its effect on many chronic diseases, but don’t forget to keep up your intake of lean protein!
So to celebrate this fantastically simple way of looking our food, today we’re providing a recipe for a delicious chicken, green bean, corn, and farro salad with goat cheese. With the relative proportions of ingredients, the use of the ancient Tuscan grain farro, and the inclusion of goat cheese, this makes for a decidedly Mediterranean dish. Just a little aside on farro by the way: this grain reportedly was what kept the Roman Legion’s bellies full during their long marches whilst conquering southern Europe (Spartan Race fuel, anyone?), is quick to cook, and each serving provides both 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber, wow! It is wheat derived, but has decidedly less gluten than other wheat products, so those that are gluten conscious shouldn’t worry (for those readers that are gluten-free or Celiac, simply swap out the farro in the recipe for brown rice, still delicious!).
- 1/2 cup semi-pearled farro
- 12 oz skinless boneless chicken breast halves
- 12 oz green beans, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 cups yellow corn kernals
- 3/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp minced fresh marjoram
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp minced shallot
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- Boil farro in a medium saucepan until just tender (about 20 minutes). Drain, set aside to cool.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet on medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cook chicken in skillet until golden brown, roughly 8 minutes each side. Allow to cool and cut into 3/4 inch cubes.
- Cook green beans in a saucepan of boiling water until crisp-tender (about 4 minutes). Drain and rinse.
- Mix chicken, farro, and green beans in a large bowl. Add corn and green onions.,
- Combine 2 tbsp oil, marjoram, and sea salt in a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar, shallot, and mustard. Pour over salad, toss to coat.
- Sprinkle with goat cheese just prior to serving. (this recipe is great chilled or room temperature!)
- To really capture that Mediterranean vibe, serve with red wine. Cheers!