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Bring Joy to Mealtimes by Dining Together: Benefits of a Mediterranean lifestyle

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(Family Features) The renowned Mediterranean Diet, celebrated for its myriad benefits, has been rated as a top diet in the world for years. 

Recognizing the benefits of the foods included in the Mediterranean Diet, it’s important to broaden the understanding beyond its ingredients to embrace the elements of the Mediterranean lifestyle, which also contribute to these benefits. Essentially, it’s not just about what you eat; it’s also about how you enjoy it and with whom you share the experience.

Nutrition, physical activity, sleep and togetherness comprise this balanced way of living, with preparing, eating and enjoying food together being key elements of the Mediterranean lifestyle. You can immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit of the Mediterranean lifestyle simply by inviting friends or family to gather around the table for a meal – like a family favorite pasta dish.

The benefits of gathering around the table are abundant, ranging from fostering stronger connections and communication among family members to enhancing overall well-being. In fact, first-of-its-kind research conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota and supported by Barilla, the world’s leading pasta maker, demonstrates that people experience greater happiness when they share meals with others, highlighting the importance of togetherness.

Published in “Families, Systems, & Health,” the research shows a strong positive correlation between how often people gather around the table during mealtimes and enhanced connectedness, reduced depressive symptoms and an improvement in overall mood.

Semolina pasta is a staple for many people in the Mediterranean region, playing a significant role in culinary history and making it a favorite ingredient in dishes aligned with the Mediterranean lifestyle and gathering around the table. For example, these recipes for Cellentani Caprese Pasta Salad and Linguine with Zucchini Carbonara are perfect for sharing, whether you’re hosting friends and neighbors or enjoying a meal with someone special.

A high-quality, minimally processed carbohydrate, semolina pasta is naturally low in sodium, a good source of fiber and contains a variety of micronutrients.

“Eating together is a joyful and important practice of the Mediterranean lifestyle that truly contributes to overall well-being,” said Michele Lefebvre, registered dietitian nutritionist and manager of nutrition and well-being at Barilla America. “As a traditional yet versatile food, pasta brings a sense of nostalgia to meals as people gather together around the table and connect in an impactful way.”

Visit barilla.com/recipes to discover more dishes that can help you follow the Mediterranean lifestyle.

Cellentani Caprese Pasta Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 7

  • 1 box Barilla Protein+ Cellentanii pasta
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, mixed color, halved
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 8 basil leaves, julienned
  • 2 cups small mozzarella cheese balls, halved
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Bring large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Drizzle pasta with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place on sheet tray to cool. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl, combine tomatoes, lemon juice, basil, remaining olive oil and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add pasta and stir.

Linguine with Zucchini Carbonara

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, julienned
  • 1 box Barilla Linguine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Bring large pot of water to boil.
  2. In bowl, mix egg yolks, 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese and milk. Season with salt, to taste. Set aside.
  3. In large skillet, heat olive oil and cook zucchini.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.
  5. Mix pasta in pan with zucchini. Add egg yolk mixture and 2 tablespoons cooking water. Combine well.
  6. Add remaining cheese and mint; mix. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.