Cruise the Mediterranean 

No, that’s a sea. You can’t eat like a sea.

But the Mediterranean diet — with lots of olive oil, nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables and fish — has been shown in medical studies to seriously reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other nasty ways to go.

You know, heart disease? That thing that causes more than a quarter of the deaths in Oklahoma every year?
Unfortunately, Oklahoma is 5,000 miles or so from the Mediterranean. Which might explain why your uncle never tries to take his boat out there on the weekends.

Thankfully, Oklahoma City restauranteurs have stepped up to the plate and started filling said plate with lots of delicious, heart-healthy Mediterranean favorites.

At Travel by Taste Deli and Market, 4818 N. MacArthur, owner Parviz Rezaian said his eatery doesn’t only do Mediterranean food, but it always aims for simple, healthy, high-quality food.

“One way we’re different is our falafel,” he said. “Ours is gluten-free and made in-house. It’s harder to make, but the result is worth it.”

One of his favorite dishes is the eggplant dip, which starts with sauteed eggplant and adds in yogurt, spices and a specially made onion-mint garnish for the top.

The key to his business, he said, is repeat customers. Whether they come for the filet of lamb kabobs from New Zealand or they’re vegetarians looking for a healthy, flavorful meal, Rezaian said customers always know he’s going the extra mile.

Happy heart
One of the city’s oldest and favorite spots for Mediterranean food is Zorba’s Mediterranean Cuisine, 6014 N. May. Sure, you can get gyros and beef kabobs, but there are plenty of healthy options, too.
The Persian salad ($3) is a mix of cucumber, tomato, onion and bell pepper soaked in lemon juice, olive oil and lots of flavorful herbs.

The hummus trio ($7) gives diners a choice of traditional hummus, spinach hummus and roasted red pepper hummus and plenty of grilled pita bread for dipping. If you’re gluten-free, ask for the pita bread to be replaced with fresh veggies.

For something really filling, the lentil and potato stew ($9.50) is chock full of flavor and will leave you sated.
For Andy Slagle and Fred Foroozan, co-owners of the Mediterranean Grill, 7868 S. Western, owning their own restaurant was a dream that came true about five years ago.

Slagle credits his brother-in-law, Foroozan, with the authentic recipes. And while its biggest seller is usually gyros, the aim is to keep it healthy by using lean meats and offering lots of salad options.

Another authentic touch? Homemade soups. The dahl adas is a spicy red lentil and potato stew that’s almost always on the menu, with a few other options available on different days.

Terrific taste
But if shawarma and falafel sound intimidating, Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, 1389 E. 15th in Edmond and 4130 Northwest Expressway, owner Ed Lynn said he’s looking to make Middle Eastern food accessible to everyone.

“A few years ago, I couldn’t have told you what the Mediterranean diet was all about, but now I’m addicted,” he said. “Some people don’t know the cuisine, but that’s our opportunity to introduce them.”

Whether you’ve been chowing down on hummus and baba ghanoush for years or you just discovered a pita last week, Lynn said he’s confident everybody will find something to love at Garbanzo, which offers falafel, steak and chicken kabobs and shawarma and plenty of vegetarian options.

However you go about it, everybody ought to try some Mediterranean food. Not only is it healthy — an estimated 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease might be prevented in people at high risk by switching to a Mediterranean diet — it just tastes so good.

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