If you’re looking to increase your chicken repertoire,
Mediterranean-style chicken dishes are the ultimate in
flavor and elegance. Historically, chicken was very ex-
pensive throughout the region, and only kings, sultans,
and the upper classes could afford it. As a result, the
chicken recipes that were created were extravagant and
The term poultry refers to fowl such as chicken, turkey,
ducks, and geese. While each of these are eaten in the
Mediterranean region, it is chicken that is by far the
most popular today, and it is chicken meat that I have
focused on in this chapter. The recipes in this collection
hail from a wide variety of places in the region and
feature roasted, grilled, sautéed, and stewed dishes.
Eggs are another staple in the Mediterranean diet. In
the southern European portion of the region they are
eaten strictly for dinner, and sometimes lunch, while
the North African and Middle Eastern countries also
eat them for breakfast. Egg yolks are good sources of
omega-3 fats and protein. Although they were tradi-
tionally viewed as a meat substitute in many countries
because of their lower cost, there are many Mediterra-
nean egg dishes that are so savory, that they are often
preferred over meat. For best results, use organic eggs
from pasture-raised chickens.
Nutritional Benefits
According to the National Chicken Council, “Chicken
consists of high-quality protein and a relatively low
amount of fat. In addition, fat in chicken is mostly of
the unsaturated type, which protects against heart dis-
ease.” One 3-ounce (85 g) serving contains just 1 gram
of saturated fat and less than 4 grams of total fat, yet
is packed with 31 grams of protein, which is more than
half of the daily recommended allowance for adult
females. Chicken meat contains a significant amount
of B vitamins, which aid in metabolism, immune system
and blood sugar level maintenance, cell growth, and
nerve cell and red blood cell maintenance. It also
contains “iron (oxygen transport and cell growth) and
zinc (immune system functioning and DNA synthesis).”
For these reasons, chicken is a favorite among athletes,
dieters, and the health conscious alike.
A popular Mediterranean staple, the egg has gotten a
bad nutritional rap during the last few decades when
it was linked to increased cholesterol, heart attacks,
and strokes. Fortunately, several studies, including one
in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,found no
correlation between eggs and heart attack or stroke
risks in healthy people. On the contrary, it found that
the nutrient choline, found predominantly in egg yolks,
may reduce cancer risk.

Egg yolks also contain antioxidants known to prevent
macular degeneration. The high protein content in
eggs makes you feel full and satisfied longer than other
foods, which contributes to weight loss and enables
your muscles to repair after a workout. With large eggs
containing only 72 calories each and suited to a wide
variety of cooking styles, eggs are a natural choice for
the health conscious, and budget wary, foodies.

Wine in Moderation
The tenants of the Mediterranean diet allow for
wine in moderation. Red wine, in particular, has
been shown to have health benefits. For one,
it is fermented with its skin, which contains a
more concentrated amount of the antioxidant
polyphenols and flavonoids. These antioxidants
provide cardiovascular protection by preventing
blood clotting and reducing arterial plaque. As
a bonus, they prevent tumors from growing as
well. Most doctors do not advise patients who
currently abstain from alcohol to begin drinking
specifically for this benefit, because antioxi-
dants can be found in a wide variety of plant-
based foods. The Cleveland Clinic recommends
two 3½-ounce (104 ml) glasses of red wine
for men and one 3½-ounce (104 ml) glass for
women per day.
In many portions of the southern and eastern
Mediterranean, moderate amounts of local
wine are often enjoyed with meals. In North
Africa and other areas in the Middle Eastern
portion of the region, however, alcohol may be
restricted for religious reasons. Instead, locals
often enjoy a wide variety of healthful freshly
squeezed fruit “cocktails” and herbal tisanes,
which have health-promoting properties of
their own.