Health and Wellness

Go Greek with flavors of the Mediterranean

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Ziziki’s skewered lamb is topped with drunken mushrooms and grilled asparagus, and comes with a choice of sides including orzo, potatoes and salad. (MALLORY ASHCRAFT/The Daily Campus)

 

The Mediterranean Diet isn’t just another fad diet trend. It has been proven to support heart health and to help prevent certain types of cancers and other diseases, including diabetes. Centered around a wide variety of vegetables and healthy fats, the Mediterranean Diet is an age-old way of eating that has evolved to be not only naturally clean and healthy, but also delicious.

Ziziki’s, a Greek restaurant in Dallas, offers an authentic Mediterranean experience. The menu features classic Greek favorites such as gyros, souvlakis and mousakas, as well as other meat and fish specialties.

Some must-try appetizers include the Ziziki Bread, pita bread broiled with herbs and cheese, and the phyllo dough stuffed with spinach and feta known as spanakopita.

The gyro is of gourmet quality. Tender strips of free-range lamb are served over herb-grilled pita bread and topped with onions and Ziziki sauce, a yogurt-based sauce made with cucumber and mint. Ask for the sauce on the side so it doesn’t chill the meat, however, and be sure to ask for extra sauce (also recommended when ordering souvlakis).

The souvlaki includes a choice of skewered and grilled lamb, chicken, salmon, shrimp or veggies served over pita bread with onions and Ziziki sauce. The chicken souvlaki is simple and flavorful, and the lamb souvlaki is even more tender than the gyro. The shrimp souvlaki comes with a rich Bloody Mary sauce.

Both the souvlakis and the gyro come with delicious roasted red potatoes, which may also be substituted for a refreshing Greek salad. Larger entree-sized salads with optional lamb, chicken, salmon or shrimp are also available and make a very refreshing and filling meal. The versatile Ziziki sauce appears again as the dressing for the salads.

Some specialty dishes include beef short rib, pan-seared sea bass, lamb loin and Greek lasagna.

The lamb loin, tender and perfectly cooked, is served skewered with tomatoes and onions, and topped with mushrooms and asparagus.

The beautiful thing about Ziziki’s is that every dish is made from wholesome and fresh ingredients, making the food very healthy and satisfying — a general characteristic of the Mediterranean Diet and a nice contrast to other types
of restaurants.

Ziziki’s is more of a mid-price range dining experience (the food is worth the prices) and would be perfect for a nice dinner out. But there are also plenty of casual restaurants in Dallas that offer quality Mediterranean food for reasonable prices.

Kosta’s Cafe makes an excellent and authentic gyro (the portions are enormous). Fadi’s Mediterranean Grill has more Middle Eastern-style dishes such as shawarma and falafels. Fifteen dollars buys an all-you-can-eat Mediterranean feast complete with a choice of salad, vegetables, pita bread, dips and meat.

For eating Mediterranean every day, focus on a diet based mainly around vegetables, whole grains and beans. Incorporate extra-virgin olive oil when cooking and drizzle it over salads. Eat fish at least twice a week and consume poultry and red meat in moderation. Include dairy in the form of cheese and yogurt in small amounts and sweets on occasion.

Greek recipe: tzatziki sauce

Tzatziki sauce is a cold cucumber-yogurt dip flavored with garlic, olive oil and herbs. It is delicious for dipping grilled vegetables and pita bread, and is great for serving over homemade souvlakis and salads.

Ingredients:

1 medium English cucumber

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tablespoon finely chopped mint

1 tablespoon olive oil

Sea salt

Method:

1. Peel, seed and grate 1/2 of the cucumber. Drain in fine mesh strainer with yogurt for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Finely chop the remaining cucumber.

Stir into the yogurt.

3. Add the garlic, herbs and olive oil. Stir and season with salt to taste.

Serve immediately or refrigerate.

3 recommended
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