Get Heart Healthy with a Mediterranean-Inspired Pacific Northwest Diet

by Tina Marsh Begg, MS, RD, CD ***

The health benefits associated with the traditional Mediterranean diet are no secret:  lower risk of heart attack, lower cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. But have you ever wondered how to adopt a more Mediterranean diet given the (often cold and gray) Pacific Northwest climate? Surprisingly, many foods found in the traditional Mediterranean diet have alternatives found right in our backyard. 

iStock_000016218804Small[1]The traditional Mediterranean diet is rich in minimally processed foods with an abundance of plant foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. Only modest amounts of red meat are consumed while seafood plays a very prominent role, especially oily fish like sardines and mackerel. A great Pacific Northwest alternative to these Mediterranean fish is, you guessed it, SALMON!  

Salmon sourced from the cold waters of the Pacific (Washington, Alaska and British Columbia, Canada) is an excellent source of the same heart-healthy fats found in abundance in the Mediterranean diet. Strive to include oily fish in your weekly diet when in season. 

Round out your meals with an array of colorful seasonal vegetables or greens with an extra-virgin olive oil dressing and a side of herbed whole grains. Enjoy this with a small glass of Washington state red wine with your dinner meals. 

End your meals the Mediterranean way: fruit-based desserts (think Northwest berries) with slivered nuts and a hint of sweetness from honey.   

Roasted Salmon with Fresh Herbs

  • 2 pounds skinless salmon fillet, wild-caught
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cup scallions, minced, white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup Washington state dry white wine (such as dry riesling or pinot gris)
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • lemon wedges, for serving 
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Place salmon in a ceramic, glass or stainless-steel roasting pan and sprinkle with two small pinches salt, generous amount of pepper. 
  3. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice and drizzle evenly over the salmon.
  4. Let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.  
  5. In a small bowl, mix together scallions, dill and parsley. Scatter the herb mixture over the salmon, turning it over so that herbs cover both sides of the salmon. Pour wine around the salmon fillet. 
  6. Roast the salmon for 10-12 minutes, until almost cooked in the center (or thickest part). Remove salmon from oven and cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and allow salmon to rest for 10 minutes. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Tina Marsh Begg, MS, RD, CD, is a nutritionist with the Virginia Mason Cardiac Wellness Clinic.


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