A better-for-you change to eating habits.

Published 6:44 am Wednesday, June 20, 2012

(NAPSI)—For those people looking for a better-for-you change to their eating habits, the Mediterranean Diet, frequently touted by dietitians, includes foods that can boost overall health and even help prevent some diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Olives and olive oil, the main sources of dietary fat in the Mediterranean Diet, contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyphenols, which contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Incorporating these foods into your daily diet can have a positive impact on your overall health—without sacrificing flavor.

There are many small steps you can take to reap the health benefits of olives and olive oil while enjoying the flavor they bring to dishes. For instance, try replacing butter with olive oil, satisfying salt cravings with a few olives versus a bowl of chips, or choosing a side salad drizzled with an olive oil vinaigrette in lieu of French fries when dining out.

One easy, delicious recipe you can make at home is Edamame Hummus. Edamame, soybeans harvested prior to hardening, are used extensively in Asian cuisine and provide the foundation for this dip. Blend the protein- and fiber-packed edamame with olive oil, fresh kale or spinach, garlic and lemon juice and pair with pita wedges or crispy vegetables. The hummus can also be used as a better-for-you spread on sandwiches and wraps-perfect for a lazy day at the beach or an afternoon picnic.

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Opting for healthier choices throughout your day will make your heart and waistline say, “thank you.” For additional olive- and olive oil−inspired recipes, and for a full report on the health benefits of olive oil and olives, visit www.addsomelife.org.

Edamame Hummus

16 (2-tablespoon) servings

Total Time: 15 minutes

1 (13-ounce) bag frozen shelled edamame (soybeans)

¼ small onion, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled

½ cup firmly packed fresh kale or spinach

⅓ cup extra-virgin or plain olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Vegetable dippers or pita wedges, if desired

Combine edamame, onion and ⅓ cup water in large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer covered 8 to 10 minutes or until all the edamame is very tender. Remove from heat.

Pulse garlic in food processor until well chopped. Add kale; pulse until chopped. Add edamame mixture, including liquid. Blend until finely chopped. With machine running, add olive oil and lemon juice. Serve with vegetable dippers or pita wedges. Also great on chicken or fish.

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)