He’s in! Now what do I feed him?

My husband recently agreed to give a Mediterranean-style meal plan a try.

What do I mean by “Mediterranean-style?” Here’s Livestrong’s take:

“The Mediterranean diet pyramid looks different from other food pyramids. Social eating and physical activity sit at the base, supplying the foundational piece of the regimen. Research has shown that, traditionally, people in Mediterranean countries spend more time preparing, eating and savoring their food, and took their meals in the company of others. Contrast this with the American habit of eating fast food alone or on the run, in a car or at a desk.

Plant foods like fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, olive oil, herbs and spices make up the next largest slice of the Mediterranean pyramid — the nutritional base of the diet. These foods form the core of each meal.

Fish and seafood come next, eaten about twice a week. Poultry, eggs and dairy in the form of cheese and yogurt are eaten in moderate portions on a daily or weekly basis. For example, one review of research on Mediterranean eating suggests about four eggs a week. At the very top of the pyramid — meaning you eat them only sparingly — are red meat and sweets. Preferred beverages include water, as well as red wine, in moderation.”

Phew. I still get to enjoy wine.  : )

While I typically favor a plant-based diet, my spouse is a carnivore by nature, happiest with a burger, cheese steak, or sub in-hand. Whether it’s my incessant preaching, or influence from others isn’t a concern. Keeping him enthused is.

Given the outside temps — it’s currently 11 degrees here in Potomac, MD — a hearty yet healthy soup seems like the perfect way to win him over. The recipe below is an adaptation of Sarah Britton’s Four Corners Lentil Soup. Enjoy.

Lentil, leek, & lemon soup (serves 4 – 6 and freezes well)
1 T avocado or olive oil
1 bag Trader Joe’s frozen sliced leeks, thawed
2 T jarred, minced garlic
1 T fresh ginger paste
1 T ground cumin
1/4 t cayenne or chipotle pepper
1 15 oz. can diced low sodium tomatoes
1 thinly sliced organic lemon*
1 c red lentils, picked over and rinsed very well
4 c low sodium vegetable broth
fine sea salt
maple syrup or honey to taste
optional: chopped cilantro, flat leaf parsley, spring or diced sweet onion for garnish

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and ginger, and sauté for 5 minutes, until soft being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the cumin and the pepper, and stir for another minute or so, until fragrant.

Add the undrained can of tomatoes, 3 slices of lemon, and the rinsed lentils. Next add the vegetable broth and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are soft. Add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup or honey to balance the flavor, if desired.

Serve hot, garnished with the cilantro,  parsley, or onions and topped with a slice of lemon.

*a special thank you to the lovely and talented Stella Kalinina for bringing a bag of her homegrown lemons to our lunch in LA last week. Smuggled home in my carry-on, it’s a welcome dose of Cali sunshine on this cold wintry day.