If you’re just starting out on the Mediterranean diet, then there are a lot of different foods to try that you might not be used to.
If you or someone who you’re following the diet with is a picky eater, then it can make following a menu a little more difficult.
This article contains some of our favorite ways to help picky eaters on the Mediterranean diet.
1. Start Small
The Mediterranean diet pulls influences from a lot of different countries and regions like Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, North Africa and the Middle Eastern.
These use lots of flavors and ingredients that you probably aren’t accustomed to. Therefore, it’s best to start with a small portion – say, a Turkish bulgur pilaf and pair that with a typical meal you might eat instead of rice.
Over time you can incorporate more recipes and dishes once you become more familiar with the taste.
2. Incorporate Familiar Foods
You don’t need to overhaul everything at once to follow a Mediterranean diet. You can instead try incorporating familiar foods in new and exciting ways.
For example, you can try some hummus or tzatziki to dip your vegetables in, or try pita bread instead of your usual loaf.
This is a great way to get youngsters eating healthier whilst not pushing wholesale changes onto them.
3. Find Substitutes for Foods You Don’t Enjoy
Don’t feel like you need to follow Mediterranean recipes exactly as they’re written on the page.
If there are particular foods you don’t like the taste of, try and find some alternatives you do like.
- Roasted red peppers can replace olives, particularly if you don’t like the bitter taste of olives.
- Chickpeas can match the subtle, nutty flavor of mushrooms.
- Try different types of fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines or trout if there is one you don’t like that appears in a recipe.
4. Focus on Flavors You Like
Since the Mediterranean diet takes inspiration from lots of different cuisines, you’ll end up experimenting with lots of different spice profiles.
For example, if you like a Moroccan twist on your meals, cumin and cinnamon can make for a delicious Moroccan-style chicken. Or you can use za’atar to spice up your eggs Middle Eastern style.
Try cookbooks from different regions to find common spice and food combinations, then experiment a little and find what works for you.
5. Try New Foods in Different Contexts
If you don’t like a particular food on its own, you may find you actually enjoy it when it’s part of another dish and it blends into the other ingredients.
Fatty fish is something that’s encouraged regularly on the diet, but many don’t like the taste on it’s own.
However, our Moroccan fish tagine is a good example, where the fish is easily interchangeable since the majority of the flavor comes from the spices like saffron, nutmeg and ground coriander.
Feta cheese is another good example, where it really shines in a Greek salad and provides the tanginess these recipes need.
6. Experiment with Spices
Spices are an excellent way to add tons of flavor without adding extra calories.
Different countries and different spice profiles and combinations. However, if you’re just starting out, stick to some of the basic Mediterranean spices and what they add to your dishes. For example:
- Paprika: to provide some extra heat
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground cumin
Over time you can start trying different combinations and figure out in what dishes you like them.
7. Keep an Open Mind
The Mediterranean diet is one of the most recommended diets not just because of its health benefits, but also because it is one of the most sustainable and people don’t fall back into old habits.
A big reason for this is that the focus is on making food enjoyable and not a chore.
One of the most common responses to our 28 day Mediterranean diet plan is how much they enjoyed the food, despite it being very healthy (as seen below!)
Obviously, you will have some preconceptions before starting it, but you should give new recipes and dishes a try occasionally. If it doesn’t work out, then you’ll know for next time.
Tasty Mediterranean Recipes for Picky Eaters
These are some of our favorite recipes for the Mediterranean diet if you want to get started. They aren’t too complicated and the ingredients and flavor profiles used aren’t too exotic.
This Italian salad is a great beginner point if you want to try some different types of lunches.
It’s hearty, but full of healthy ingredients and uses different types of spices within the red wine vinaigrette like oregano and dried basil that bring out different flavors that you might not be used to.
These Mediterranean turkey burgers are a different take on your classic burger. It’s full of Mediterranean flavors like sun-dried tomatoes, Greek tzatziki sauce and creamy feta cheese.
Reducing your red meat intake and eating lean protein like turkey is a common theme within the Mediterranean diet, and this burger is a great alternative to food you’re used to eating.
The Mediterranean diet is known for its soups and this is one of the best! It’s a Greek chicken soup with a creamy taste without actually having to use cream, keeping it lean and healthy.
It has different cooking techniques and uses a lemon-egg mixture that gives it extra zing. Give it a try and you’ll surprise yourself!
Shakshuka is a classic Middle Eastern dish that poaches eggs in a tomatoey base with herbs, spices and vegetables.
It’s a very versatile dish, so if you have any particular preference when it comes to what vegetables you like, you can easily add them in.
We’ve used eggplant (aubergine) in this dish, but use whatever you fancy! It also uses some different spices like paprika and cumin, which are two of the most common spices you’ll find.
To Sum Up
Just because you’re a picky eater, doesn’t mean you can’t start enjoying the Mediterranean diet.
For all its health benefits, it’s also a tasty diet to try. Start things slow and start introducing new spices and foods alongside your everyday meals before trying different types of cuisines altogether.
After a while, there’s a good chance you’ll love this way of eating – just keep an open mind!