228: Tips For Adding The Anti-inflammatory Mediterranean Diet Into Your Routine w/ Suzy Karadsheh

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The Mediterranean Diet is one of the world's healthiest ways of eating, and for good reason! There's a large body of research touting its benefits which is why I think it's a great place to start from if you're looking to make smart shifts in your diet for the benefit of your skin.

This does not mean that other traditional cuisines aren't as good for your skin, by the way. After careful consideration, it seems like a great place to start if you're looking to make changes that could be gradual rather than some sort of change that many find unsustainable.

While it focuses heavily on plant-based foods with lots of healthy fats, it also balances everything with lean sources of protein — which you must recall, protein intake is crucial to helping your skin and your health!

If you're not sure where to start, my guest today is an absolute expert to help inspire you to try some new recipes and encourage you to get back in the kitchen to start cooking!

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | Subscribe on Android

Suzy Karadsheh is the founder of TheMediterraneanDish.com, the leading site for modern Mediterranean cooking and lifestyle.

She has been featured on ACCESS, Barron’s, Today, HuffPost, as well as Good Housekeeping, Well and Good, Food Network’s Delish, Shape, Pure Wow, The Kitchn, and more.

Suzy was born and raised by the shores of the Mediterranean in Port Said, Egypt, and now and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, their two daughters, and dog Max. .

Join us as we discuss the basics of the Mediterranean Diet, and some practical tips for incorporating it.

Has changing the way you eat helped your skin? Let me know in the comments!

In this episode:

  • What is the Mediterranean Diet?
  • How to get started eating the Mediterranean way
  • How to choose extra virgin olive oil
  • What is za'atar?
  • Tips for making fresh parsley last longer in the fridge


“We eat more of the vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains. We focus a lot on healthy fats. So my fat of choice to cook with is extra virgin olive oil. We do more fish than most other cultures do.” [2:46]

“Eat with the season, use whole foods and above all, share.” [8:30]


Find Suzy online

Check out Suzy's FREE Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan

Italian Sausage and Lentils with Fennel

Mediterranean Spinach Stew with Chickpeas

Homemade Basil Pesto

More Mediterranean Diet resources

Follow Suzy on Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Pinterest


228: Tips For Adding The Anti-inflammatory Mediterranean Diet Into Your Routine w/ Suzy Karadsheh FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Hi, Suzy. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm excited to have you here. It's a real honor, to be honest with you, because you have such an awesome website.

Suzy: Oh, thank you. I'm so happy to be here. I've looked forward to our conversation for a while. So thanks for having me.

Jennifer: I know. And one of the reasons, for everybody listening who knows that I don't talk a ton about diet, the reason that I wanted to have you here is because you have such an amazing resource in terms of the Mediterranean diet. And I think that a lot of people have heard of it, right? It's usually, as you were sharing with me before this interview, it's usually one of the top diets that's suggested in general, especially at the beginning of the year. What diet should you eat? Mediterranean diet. And there's a lot of research to show why it has so many benefits to it and really positive aspects from all different, from anti-inflammatory, et cetera.

Jennifer: But I wanted to talk to you about the practical nature of what the Mediterranean diet actually is. So for people who know the name, what is a Mediterranean diet in terms of food and your plate and what you're going to be buying at the store?

Suzy: Yeah. So I'm going to start off by telling everybody that I hate the word diet, so let's just-

Jennifer: Me too.

Suzy: Put that out there that really people who were born and raised on this diet, like I was born and raised on the shores of the Mediterranean in Egypt. I ate that naturally. I grew up with it. So people from that part of the world really never refer to it as a diet. It's just the way that we live and we eat. So I prefer referring to it as the Mediterranean way of eating, but I understand that here, culturally speaking, the word diet is what we use. So I'll speak a little bit to what it is and how I follow it personally, as a person who was born and raised on it.

Suzy: So first off, the Mediterranean lifestyle or eating the Mediterranean way really just focuses more on whole foods in general and far, far less of anything that is processed. So that's the first thing that is a distinguishing thing about eating the Mediterranean way. We don't eat a whole lot of processed food. But understand that there's not anything, there's not a list of dos or don'ts on eating the Mediterranean way. So we talk about the Mediterranean diet pyramid, which is just a good resource that people can kind of check out and look at on our site. Basically the base of the pyramid, we eat more from what's the widest part of that pyramid, which is the base. We eat more of the vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains. We focus a lot on healthy fats. So my fat of choice to cook with is extra virgin olive oil. We do more fish than most other cultures do. So we do lean protein from fish and some poultry and a lot of nuts.

Suzy: And really at the very tip of the pyramid, which is what we eat less and less us of, you'd find heavier things like red meat or things of that nature. Again, we actually do eat everything. There's not anything on the pyramid that we don't eat. It's just a matter of how much of each over time even. And it's not about one given meal or one given day, but it's cumulatively over time, if you switch to eating this way, you would just be eating the Mediterranean way.

Suzy: So what that looks like for me, as a home cook and a mom, it looks more like this three… Times a week or so, at least, we will eat a vegetarian meal, completely vegetarian. Everything on the plate is vegetable oriented. And the lucky thing is, because we eat a lot of grains and legumes, those are very hearty items that keep you very satisfied and don't leave you hungry. And so you can have a vegetarian meal that is filling and exciting even, with just loads of flavor because of the different spices that we use. We're big on garlic and citrus and things of that nature that kind of just give your meal that extra pop of flavor. So three times a week we'll do vegetarian, at least my family does. Couple times a week we'll do fish or seafood. And once a week we'll do poultry and maybe we'll do something with meat as well. So it's not like we completely avoid anything. It's just that we lean more toward vegetarian and a little bit more in the seafood area than other cultures do.

Jennifer: And when we say Mediterranean, what does that mean in terms of the region? Is it basically every, kind of wrapping right around the Mediterranean Sea?

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: Is that what sort of defines the different flavors and flavor palate, I guess?

Suzy: Yeah, that's a great question. So eating the Mediterranean way is basically adopting the foods of the people of the Mediterranean basin. So the country surrounding the Mediterranean, and there are quite a few of them. And the exciting part is they each come with their own flavor makers. So I grew up in Egypt, and so we ate a lot of just north African flavors, so bold and so just warm and hearty, but also we had Middle Eastern influence because of where we lived. And so that's kind of just the exciting part about being from that part of the world is you got to eat a lot of different flavors. So yeah.

Jennifer: Very cool. Well, I think the one thing I do want to clarify for everybody, and I think it's important. So if you are listening to this right now and you heard Suzy mention citrus. And for you, maybe somebody with eczema might have an issue with citrus. That's okay. Think about what you could start to integrate in. Even though you might not be there yet on your journey, or if you have a particular say allergy, it's okay.

Jennifer: I think one thing that I really have come to appreciate about having relatives… Like my sister and I are really the second generation that was born in the United States. So we still have very strong roots with our… My grandparents were first generation born here and they cooked everything from scratch. And the one thing that I did learn was there's a lot of creativity. There's rules, but there's also the creativity of when you can break the rules.

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: So don't be afraid and definitely don't feel bummed out. If you go and check out a particular recipe that's in this style and you're like, oh, I can't do this and I can't do that. I just can't make it. How do you invite people into the conversation about getting started in trending in this direction? Are there certain recipes on your website that seem to be really easy ways in for people to also get used to the different flavor profiles, as opposed to just like white rice-

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: With some butter on it?

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: Like the more blander kind of… I feel like American food, in many respects, is blander. And people are like, I don't like spice. I don't like spicy food. But I think we don't fully understand that spice can add a lot of beauty and experience and depth to a dish.

Suzy: Yeah. And nutritional value as well.

Jennifer: Yes.

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: Yes.

Suzy: Yeah. Well, so that's a really great point because, people ask me all the time, I don't know where to start with the Mediterranean diet. And I have some resources on themediterraneandish.com. Under that Mediterranean diet tab, people can just look through. And there is one resource in particular that kind of talks about how to follow it or simple ways to enter to this way of eating. And I always share the three principles that I live by as a person who grew up on this kind of diet. And that is eat with the season, use whole foods and above all, share. So those are my personal Mediterranean diet principles that have just really guided my cooking over the years.

Suzy: And so I always just focus on, okay, when you go to the store, one simple thing that you can do is just look for what's in season. That's a great place to start. You mentioned that not everybody can eat everything because of different conditions. And that's great, but the lucky part for us is there's always so much that's in season at a time. So if there's something that you can't have, then just move on to something else. So it's a great way to just begin to be aware as you are in the store to, as you're browsing the groceries and whatnot, looking for what's in season, which is usually cheaper, it's more colorful, looks better to you. So I always start there. Just try to incorporate things that are in season and kind of partake of that God given creation around us, right? So just a really simple thing to do.

Suzy: Another thing, I always advise people… If you're somebody who loves eating American staples, like things that we all love, try to kind of just try to see if you could do something similar, but that has a more Mediterranean feel to it. So for example, if you love fries, let's just say that, if you love fries and you know that it's not something you should be having or whatever your condition is, and you want to switch to something a little bit more along the lines of the Mediterranean lifestyle, you're going to probably try something like baked Greek fries, kind of tossed in extra virgin olive oil and they're baked in the oven and finished with some seasoning and some parsley and whatnot, some herbs, as opposed to a lot of salt. Or you could try a sweet potato fries, which is another thing, also tossed and extra virgin olive oil and also baked as opposed to fried.

Suzy: So there are just simple… I would look for simple ways to begin to kind of experience eating the Mediterranean way without completely depriving yourself. We never really want to tell people, no, you absolutely cannot have fries. And I have had fries, just American fries. It's not a big deal. But if I'm cooking them at home, I'm going to make them the Mediterranean way and I'm going to toss them in extra virgin olive oil and cook them in the oven as opposed to deep frying them. So-

Jennifer: And I want to ask you, because you've mentioned olive oil a few times.

Suzy: Yes.

Jennifer: And I feel like in the United States we use a lot… Like when you go to the grocery store, there's a lot of different oils, number one.

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: A lot of it's the not so hot, like canola oil and some of these other cooking oils that aren't great. We have avocado oil, which is nice for some higher heat baking and whatnot. But olive oil, ultimately that extra virgin olive oil is amazing. Do you want to talk a little bit about, do you know the difference between what just olive oil and extra Virgin olive oil is? Why should someone look for extra Virgin olive oil as opposed to just whatever the cheapest option is on the shelf?

Suzy: Yeah. Yeah. Well, so we've been on that quest for a while. Because as you probably saw on our site, we do sell our own olive oils and such and spices. And that's because for that particular reason. When you'd go at the grocery store, you are looking at a lot of olive oils and you don't know which is the real deal and which is a blend of different oils. And it may have just a small percentage of olive oil, but it's not fully olive oil. So beginning with just reading your label really well. So if you want extra virgin, the acidity level would be well below 1%. Well below 0.8 even, so 0.8%. So our olive oils are like 0.125, .25%, as far as the acidity level. We've got different ones, but you want to look for that if you're looking for extra virgin.

Suzy: We also look for the harvest date. That is not usually available to you, but if you go on our site, every olive oil that we have, it tells you when were these olives picked, harvested, and then when were they bottled. And then you can just see how fresh it tastes, as opposed to what you can find in the store. And single origin olive oil versus an oil from different parts that's a blend. So there's just a lot of different things that one wants to look at. And just be sure that you're getting it from a resource that you know people are buying from, and it's not just sitting on the shelf. So that's kind of my advice. Now extra virgin olive oil has a higher smoke point than most people know.

Jennifer: Really?

Suzy: Yeah, it does. So it really just depends on the quality of the oil. So if you just buy the average stuff off the shelf, and you're like, my goodness, I can't cook with this stuff. It's because it's not the real deal. So extra virgin olive oil probably has a smoke point above 400.

Jennifer: Really?

Suzy: Yeah. So I think people just don't know that. People really do think you can not cook with it. And the other thing too, yes, it probably might smoke a little bit quicker than other oils, but it actually does not do anything to the actual tastes or the characteristics of the oil itself. Just from a safety standpoint, I turn down my heat a lot if I see anything of that nature. But I mean, don't quote me on this. Just go look. You'll see a lot of good research on it. And for a long time, conventional wisdom is like, no, don't cook with extra virgin olive oil. Well, it really depends. It really depends what oil you're working with. And I'm not ever going to advocate, like if you're not comfortable cooking with that oil, don't. It's fine. There are other options. But that's what I personally choose to work with. I also bake with it all the time. So the quality matters.

Jennifer: The quality does matter. And I will will say, over the last couple of years, especially in watching different videos on TikTok and Instagram about cooking, because obviously many of us have had to cook a lot more than we had to-

Suzy: Yeah. Yeah.

Jennifer: In years past.

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: I've also come to realize and appreciate adding olive oil to, for example, when I make a marinara.

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: Closer to the end-

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: It's just adds this amazing creaminess to the sauce that I just, I didn't know. So there's a lot of really easy tricks and tips-

Suzy: Ways to incorporate. For sure. And honestly, so I use olive oil to finish a lot of my food too, just like you mentioned. So a lot of my soups, I'll finish it up with that. So in the end, if you want to add just a touch more of that luxurious taste to your food, it's a great way to do it. And I bake my fish in it. I finish my fish with it, with olive oil. So definitely if you're not are about cooking with it, you can at least use it as a finishing oil so that you can partake of those benefits of the raw oil and without cooking it, which is great, which is the best thing you can do.

Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely. Are there any favorite, I don't care so much about carbs per se, but some of the less carby, not potatoes, any of the more non starchy veggies that you absolutely love that maybe people in the US shy away from, because we just don't have as much exposure to them that the next time someone listening to this right now goes to the grocery store, they can be like, you know what, I'm going to do an experiment. I'm going to try that because I heard Suzy talking about this vegetable and I'm going to give it a shot.

Suzy: Yeah. Well, so that's interesting you mentioned that. It's not that there's any particular vegetable that we eat a ton of. I eat a lot of eggplant. That's just because I grew up with it. And a lot of people here have a hard time cooking with it. And I don't know, as far as carbs go, if it's a higher carb or lower carb. So that's not really my area of expertise. But we do a lot of, what's very Mediterranean to me would be like eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers. We do a lot with cauliflower, which is very, very good.

Jennifer: Very trendy too, right now. Oh my gosh.

Suzy: Yeah. Very trendy. But really eating the Mediterranean way, it's an ancient way to eat, but people are just now kind of capturing the idea of like, oh, cauliflower is actually tasty and there's so many ways to cook it. And so I love to do a roasted cauliflower and kind of jazz it up with some spices, from like cumin and turmeric to Za'atar. So it's really taking an ingredient that you might be familiar with, but just giving it a Mediterranean makeover with some other additional delicious flavors.

Suzy: But the thing that I can think of that people don't use that we use differently in the Mediterranean is spinach. So here you might see spinach quite a bit in a salad. A handful of baby spinach leaves, great for a salad. But people don't cook with it very much. Do you find that to be true? Actual dishes that are spinach driven?

Jennifer: Yeah. Not very much. I can think of an Indian dish. Usually that paneer dish has spinach it. And the only other thing I can think of it, and it's not an American thing, is sometimes they'll stuff ravioli-

Suzy: Right.

Jennifer: In Italy with spinach.

Suzy: Yeah. So over in the Mediterranean, we find a lot of ways to use something like spinach. So for example, I have a recipe for a spinach stew with chickpeas.

Jennifer: Oh, interesting.

Suzy: It's an entirely vegan recipe, but you wouldn't know that because it's very, very rich itself. So we'll cook with it as opposed to just throwing it as a last minute thought and oh, here, here's a bag of spinach, let's do a little salad with it. Which is absolutely great if you can incorporate it. But you can actually make it the main meal.

Jennifer: Interesting.

Suzy: The thing that I love about eating the Mediterranean way is that none of the veggies are off limits in terms of turning them into the main, the star dish of the show. And I just love to do that. So I have more vegetarian recipes on my site than any average site you might go to because we can take a simple veggie and layer the flavors and layer in some nuts or whatever to give it more excitement, I guess.

Jennifer: A little more body-

Suzy: Yeah. A little more body.

Jennifer: A little more goodge. And feel like it's a fancier meal than just vegetables.

Suzy: Yeah, for sure. We do the same with zucchini. I see a lot of people here will maybe they'll grill the zucchini or just simply bake it plain or whatever. But I grew up with it. It could be a main meal. We would stuff it with a rice mixture and just cook it stuffed. So I think just approaching veggies with a new open mind to all the possibilities you could use this low carb veg that whatever you choose to do and what are some ways that you could play with it.

Jennifer: Play with them. I love that. I also, I've been trying to encourage clients too to check out fennel.

Suzy: Mm-hmm (affirmative)!

Jennifer: Not a lot of Americans eat fennel, but-

Suzy: Yes!

Jennifer: It's so good roasted or on top salad.

Suzy: Yes.

Jennifer: Not a ton on a salad. You got to have a balance-

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: But it adds so much amazing crunch to a salad.

Suzy: Yeah. Well, because if it's raw, raw fennel kind of tastes like licorice and it can be a little bit too much for somebody. But the other day I played with it and added some chicken sausage and lentils and made this… Which is actually a recipe that I'll be posting later, like end of December. But so lentils and fennel and can sausage all together in one big pot. The best. It's like crazy. And you don't think about it. It's like really, you would not think, okay, lentils, okay, fine. Fennel… But together, it's great. And the fennel ones cooked is a little bit less bitey, I suppose.

Jennifer: It's a little less intense.

Suzy: It's a lot more tamed and there's a slight sweetness when you cook it. Cabbage similarly. A lot of people don't know what to do with cabbage. And even if you just simply roast your cabbage, cut it up into slices and roast it in the oven. And when it comes out, jazz is up with a little bit more extra virgin olive oil and your flavor maker of choice and you've got yourself a great dish. And I think cabbage is one of the lower carb items.

Jennifer: It is.

Suzy: I think so.

Jennifer: It definitely is. It's just like, I love encouraging everyone, and this is good for myself too. You're making me remember, oh yeah, I could do this. I could that. This is why it's fun to have conversations about food. But also too, even if, for example, you guys all know who are listening, I'm gluten free.

Suzy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jennifer: There may be grains that could be on Suzy's website-

Suzy: Right.

Jennifer: That might not be gluten free, but that's okay. You can always substitute things out. Or you just, like she was saying, if that doesn't work for you, keep looking, you'll find another recipe that'll work.

Suzy: Yeah, for sure.

Jennifer: And especially too, if you want to integrate in more plants into your diet, because you tend to lean more towards meat and then carbs because you're like, all right, I'm doing sweet potatoes and a hamburger or something. This is a great way to say, okay, let me try of once a week… This is what I suggest. I'm like, once a week, you go to the grocery store, try a vegetable that you've never had before.

Suzy: Right.

Jennifer: You could find a recipe. You could look on Suzy's website and find a recipe and give it a shot. And start experimenting. Give yourself that permission, once a week, to start doing that. You never know, that recipe might become a new weekly staple or every other week staple. And now you start expanding your diet and finding new flavors and flavor combos that you really love. I did want to ask you about Za'atar, because I feel like that's a spice… I don't know if that's a spice. I actually don't fully know what Za'atar is. I know it's spice that comes from more Middle Eastern countries.

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: I've had it in Persian food, I believe. What is Za'atar. And for everybody listening, it's Z-A-A-T-A-R.

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: In case you haven't seen it written before.

Suzy: So in Arabic it's Za'atar, which is hard to say. Za'atar is a… I think it's life really. So it's basically a blend of Mediterranean wild thyme, toasted Sesame seeds and a dash of sumac. It is earthy, tangy, bold, all the things in just one tiny bottle. So there's Za'atar, the actual herb, that grows in the Middle East. And then there's the blend that we use here, that's more readily available, that we have on our site as well, is just like the dried herb mixed in with toasted Sesame seeds and a little bit of sumac.

Suzy: And we use it in so many ways. Sprinkle some on your salad, a little bit on your fish, you might even make a crust of it for your chicken. And it's just really, really a great way to elevate a simple meal. And we do a lot with other different spices of this nature too. So yeah, Za'atar is becoming very popular now. And people have to laugh a little bit, like people from the Middle East. Like my mom and my mother-in-law are like, yeah, this isn't a new thing guys, but I'm so glad that you're catching on. It's delicious. And so, yeah. Yeah. I'm glad you asked because it's one of my favorite flavor makers.

Jennifer: And is there any other spices, like if somebody's kind of starting from scratch where maybe they have salt, black pepper, garlic, maybe some garlic powder in their drawer. And unfortunately some dried basil, which I feel like dried basil is never really that great.

Suzy: It's not that bold.

Jennifer: And some dried parsley.

Suzy: Yeah. Yeah. Well, so-

Jennifer: Is there any spices that, the next time they go to the grocery store, if they go online or they check out your website, what would be a good starter sampling of spices, maybe like five or six that they probably should add in their arsenal?

Suzy: Yeah. So we actually, we get that question a lot that we created a Mediterranean spice starter kit on our shop page. So when you're on themediterraneandish.com, if you hit the shop tab, you'll see all these options. And I recommend six of them. And I don't have them all top of my head right now. But I personally use Za'atar a lot. I use all spice. I use coriander and cumin together a lot. Turmeric, I love. I don't use garlic powder a whole lot because I'm more into fresh garlic, but some people can't have that. And that's okay. Like we said, you just do what you love.

Suzy: I also use a boatload of fresh herbs in my cooking. So I noticed like the one difference between how cooking the Mediterranean way and cooking any other way is that we don't use herbs just to garnish. It's not a pretty little thing of parsley at the end or anything. We really just throw in the fresh herbs as part of the meal. So I use a lot of parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano… Anything that is in season that's available to me, I will chop it up and use it, throw it at the end into whatever you're cooking.

Suzy: So it is really one of the joys of eating and cooking the Mediterranean way is that there are no limits to what you can use in terms of creating layers of flavor. Even things as humble as legumes. We eat a lot of lentils. And I know my friends are like, you're eating lentils a lot. I'm like, yeah. And they taste great. But usually people have this idea that they're just so bland and I don't know what to do with them, but then add in all these flavors and you've got yourself an amazing filling meal because of the plant-based protein in there.

Jennifer: Yeah. Any tips on cooking lentils and legumes so that they… I think sometimes people find that they feel kind of gassy, which yeah, that can be. That's a thing-

Suzy: I get that.

Jennifer: If you've got a gut issue, sometimes legumes, because they have FODMAPs in them could bother you. So if they don't work for you now, that's okay. That just means you need to do a little gut work. But it also does matter in how you prepare them. So any tips-

Suzy: It does.

Jennifer: For anybody listening on preparing lentils and beans that might make the experience a little better?

Suzy: Yes. Okay. I'm so glad we're talking about gassy things.

Jennifer: Don't worry, I talk about poop and sorts of stuff on this show.

Suzy: I mean, we're bean people, so we're probably the gassiest of people all the time, but it's fine. So, okay. I learned this from my mom. So lentils, you don't have to soak like you would other beans. So they don't need to be soaked overnight. And that's the beauty of them, because they're ready very quickly and you can just cook them, boil them in water and whatnot and just add any seasoning you want. So I do a lot of lentil soups on my site that people can start looking there. But cumin is one of the seasonings or the spices that I use whenever I cook with legumes. And that's because cumin has, it has to do with relieving that gas somewhat. So it does help.

Jennifer: Interesting.

Suzy: Yeah. And so you guys can look this up, like why should you use Cumin when you're cooking beans and you'll see all the things about it. So that's one trick. Like my parents, growing up, when they cook any bean recipe, there's always cumin in it. And that kind of helps-

Jennifer: Is it the ground cumin powder-

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: Or is it more like cumin seeds themselves?

Suzy: You can use either, but I use the ground.

Jennifer: Okay.

Suzy: So I'll throw a healthy bit of cumin in anything that to do with beans. And if you notice like Mexican food, because it's so bean driven, there's always cumin in there.

Jennifer: Yes. So for anybody who's like, I don't know what cumin is. I've probably never had it. If you've eaten Mexican food, you've definitely had cumin.

Suzy: You've had cumin. You've had cumin. It's available.

Jennifer: You have. Yeah.

Suzy: Yes. Yeah.

Jennifer: Awesome.

Suzy: And also, another tip would be, if you're going to cook a bean from scratch and you're going to soak it overnight in water, dump that water out and cook it in a new water. That will help the gas issue a little bit because it would've released some of it in the water that you tossed out.

Jennifer: Yeah. I did want to add too, and this is going back to the herb issue, I think a lot of people's complaints initially is they buy those big bunches of fresh herbs at the store and then they don't know how to store them. They keep them in the bag closed and they get slimy and gross pretty fast.

Suzy: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's a great question.

Jennifer: Yeah. One thing that I can suggest, just from being a big gardener, and this is something you don't have to have a garden, you literally just need a window, is you could buy the plants themselves at a Home Depot or wherever.

Suzy: Yeah. A lot of grocery stores will have it.

Jennifer: And get at a box and put it right in your window. And you can mix them together or have two different little boxes or pots and grow them in your home. And then just cut off what you need instead of feeling like you have to buy this ginormous bunch. Like when I make a basil pesto, fine, I'm going to need a huge amount, but-

Suzy: Right.

Jennifer: You're not going to need a huge amount of… You're probably not going to use the whole parsley batch. You're probably not going to use the whole cilantro batch, unless you really love that flavor, in one dish. So that's just one tip. But do you have any other suggestions about making sure that the herbs don't go bad or slimy or something like that?

Suzy: Yeah. I'm like the parsley queen. I love parsley. So I always have a lot of it and I buy a lot of it. So how I keep an eye… I keep them in my fridge and they last for a couple of weeks. And I don't keep them in the bag. So when I come home, I'll wash and dry them really well. I'll snip the bottoms a little bit, but leave most of it, but just kind of give it a quick trim. Put it in a large glass with a little bit of cold water and cover it with any recycling, any bag that you have at home, like a plastic bag or whatever. If you have a better solution to cover them, that's fine. Then stick them in the fridge in that water. They will last me a couple of weeks.

Jennifer: Wow.

Suzy: And they will look just as if you were just clipping them off the actual plant. So for me-

Jennifer: So in water, and then put the bag… Do you put a rubber band around the glass or do you just leave it loose?

Suzy: No, you don't have to, you can just cover the leaves with the bag. And that allows it to breathe in the fridge. But also, the plant itself always looks very… And I probably have something in my fridge that I can show you if you want. So I always keep it that way.

Suzy: The only time that that does not work for me is with basil. And you touched on that a lot already. So basil, I do a couple different things with it. First you could blanch it and freeze it and that will keep the color on it good. Because you know it turns brownish black pretty quickly. And so if it was summertime and you were at the farmer's market and you couldn't help but come home with a lot of basil, blanch it real quick, that takes like 10 seconds in boiling water, transfer it to an ice bath and then from there just kind of tap it dry and store it in the freezer. And it's very easy to use from there. You could just take out whatever you want, whatever amount you want, and it will act like it was fresh.

Jennifer: And can you make a pesto from it?

Suzy: You can make pesto, which I've done. I make pesto and freeze it for later. So I have a great pesto recipe that… I can't wait for summer to come back to make it again. So if you want to turn it into pesto, that's a great way to do it. And I think a jar of homemade pesto maybe will be in the fridge for a good week if you want to use it over the week or you can freeze it for later.

Jennifer: Yeah. I freeze it in little baggies.

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: And then push out the air.

Suzy: Yeah, little amounts that you could use at a time.

Jennifer: And just to let everybody know, you can make pesto out of all different sorts of fresh herbs. You can make it with parsley. I also make it from carrot tops.

Suzy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jennifer: So you can make really good carrot top pesto as well. I thought you couldn't eat carrot tops.

Suzy: No, you can. Yeah.

Jennifer: I thought they were just animal food. And then I saw some recipes on it. The one tip I have for everybody, and I don't know if you would agree with this. I feel like you have to add some lemon, fresh lemon juice, and a little touch of honey. It just needs a little bit.

Suzy: Yeah, otherwise it might be too bitter.

Jennifer: Yes.

Suzy: Yeah.

Jennifer: Yes. But I like it. My husband was not so hot. I will say I also tried radish top pesto because I grow radishes in my garden. That was a little fibrous.

Suzy: Extra.

Jennifer: So I figured that out.

Suzy: Extra. Well, and I think that people who are switching to eating the Mediterranean way, it's a good point that you mentioned the fiber intake because it can be a little much. If you've eaten one way for a long time and you start, you suddenly just delve into this and every thing you're eating is… You're going to want to ease into it because you may find that your stomach is just not used to eating this much. Right?

Jennifer: Yes. [crosstalk 00:35:33].

Suzy: You would know more about this.

Jennifer: Well, from a gut microbiome standpoint, our gut flora is set up in a certain way.

Suzy: Right.

Jennifer: It's used to the diet that you have been eating. And unfortunately, if you drastically increase fiber, especially things that are in that FODMAP group, so the fermentable starches, you might notice, oh my goodness, my stomach feels really bloated. Like the legumes, if you all of a sudden really increase the amount of legumes-

Suzy: Yeah, like please don't eat beans four times a week. It's not going to serve you.

Jennifer: Right. And so for some people that might be great, but for somebody who's new to that, they may find that they've become incredibly gassy or their stomach feels bloated, that they don't just feel as well. And so you want to slowly increase the amount of fermentable starches that you add into your diet. Now mind you, it's not just beans. There's also really amazing foods like avocados and asparagus and other different veggies. And even some fruits, even berries, actually, are part of the FODMAP family. You just want to be mindful. That way you get used to integrating the fiber in without being like, oh my gosh, my body can't handle this. I just won't eat it at all. Can't do it. Slow, steady baby steps. Right? That's how we get there. This has been so much fun.

Suzy: Yeah. I can talk to you all day long. Really. Thank you for having me. This is really great. And I hope this is useful to someone out there.

Jennifer: I hope so too. I hope that too, for anyone listening to this, they can sense the level of joy and excitement that food can bring. Especially if they've been feeling really stuck and they're listening to all of these different people tell you, cut this out, stop eating this. This is toxic. This is bad for you. And you're like, what do I eat?

Suzy: There's a lot out there. There's a lot that can discourage us. But I think you touched on a great point, eating with joy and just doing what works best for you.

Jennifer: Yeah. And also too, I do want to mention you are going to have a cookbook come out later this year. So once that cookbook is available, we'll definitely put a link in the show notes to it. But in the meantime, for everyone listening, Suzy's website is amazing.

Suzy: Thank you.

Jennifer: It is a great resource.

Suzy: Thank you.

Jennifer: And I highly would encourage you to go check it out. Especially if you're looking for inspiration, you could bookmark different recipes and say, okay, once or twice a week, I'm going to try this. I'm going to try that and play. If you don't like it, it's okay. Worse things in life have happened.

Suzy: Yeah, for sure.

Jennifer: But you might stumble upon… I think it's important to give people the permission to not like something.

Suzy: Oh, yeah.

Jennifer: That's okay. But you might find that you don't like this particular thing cooked this way, but if you cook it with these spices and in a different fashion, like maybe you bake it instead of sauteing it, all of a sudden you love it. And that's okay. So be creative, allow for that margin of error. It doesn't have to be perfect. But once you get those creative juices flowing, I think you'll find that food can become exciting again. And so I'm just so grateful to have you here.

Suzy: Thank you so much.

Jennifer: Thank you so much. We'll have to figure out, I'd love to have you come back again sometime. Maybe we can talk about some more different herbs and just how to integrate food in.

Suzy: Absolutely. I would love to come back. Thank you for having me. I appreciate the time.

Jennifer: It was great. All right, everyone. Thank you so much. And hopefully we'll get Suzy back some other time. All right, thanks.

Suzy: Bye.

“We eat more of the vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains. We focus a lot on healthy fats. So my fat of choice to cook with is extra virgin olive oil. We do more fish than most other cultures do.”