On March 7, ambassadors, diplomats and food industry professionals gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center for the Annual Mediterranean Diet Roundtable Ambassador’s Breakfast. Representatives from over 10 embassies were present including Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, The European Union Delegation, Greece, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, and Turkey. This conference is an inspirational networking opportunity for scientists and food industry leaders to discuss the current dietary trends in America and what is becoming the “new normal” all while enjoying a delicious MDR standard-approved breakfast curated by our talented culinary team. Some of the dishes showcased at the event included Atayef Pancakes with ricotta dates and cardamom honey, OSH-e Sabz-e Shirazi, served with fresh, crispy pita bread and a Pomegranate Cider Shooter with diced apple.
The lineup of speakers at the event included Andrew Gelfuso, Vice President of Trade at TCMA and Director of the World Trade Center Washington, DC, H.E. Marios Lysiotis, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. and Phil Kafarakis, President of the Specialty Food Association and creator of the Fancy Food Show – the largest specialty industry event in North America and the premier showcase for industry innovation where guests can experience and taste the future of food.
Andrew Gelfuso kicked off the discussion with welcome remarks honoring his partnership with the Mediterranean Diet Roundtable team and his excitement to explore how ancient daily living traditions from the Mediterranean region can provide solutions to chronic modern health epidemics while creating new avenues for diplomacy and opportunities for trade.
Phil Kafarakis gave insight into what is happening in the food industry today and what will be trending in 2019. Commenting on how consumer dynamic is drastically changing, “Food has become more than just a meal, it is now a culture and makes us who we are. You can’t go on social media today and not see a picture of food. In fact, pictures of food is the absolute number one driver in content on Instagram."
“Today, people are spending big money at the gourmet healthy food stores like Whole Foods because they have dietitians on the floor recommending products to buy. This is becoming the new normal and people are beginning to expect it.” According to Kafarakis, rose water, avocado powder, banana flour and cauliflower are the next big food trends for 2019.
The Mediterranean diet is based on traditional foods of countries such as Italy and Greece where the population has shown exceptional health when compared to Americans, including lower risk of harmful diseases. As scientists continue to research this particular diet, they are continually discovering new health benefits. According to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013, the Mediterranean diet can aid in weight loss and help prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes and premature death.
The Mediterranean diet consists of versatile items and is not limiting like many of the recent fad diets.
Eat your Fruts & Veggies!
Your goal should be to eat about 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Switch to Whole Grain
Ditch the white bread and fruit loops and switch to a heart healthy whole grain loaf and cereal such as Cheerios and Wheaties.
Spice Up Your Life!
Instead of seasoning your food with salt, try using spices and herbs to transform a flat dish into something extremely flavorful and rich in health-promoting substances.
Say Goodbye to Butter
try substituting butter for healthy fats such as olive and canola oil. This may seem hard at first, but flavored olive oil can actually make for a great dipping sauce.
Stock Up on Fish
For a balanced diet, eat fresh fish once or twice a week. The healthier the fish, the better. Your best options are tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring.
Nuts are a great way to keep you full and nourish the body with necessary fiber, calcium and vitamins. Stock up on almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts for a quick and easy, on-the-go snack.