April Try Me: Caprese Plate

The traditional Caprese Salad is a popular staple in Mediterranean cuisine. It typically includes fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. The nutrients and flavors provided in this dish help serve-up a power plate providing essential vitamins and minerals for optimal health and wellness.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet is well known for its role in health promotion and disease prevention by including a variety of healthy fats, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, plant-based protein sources such as nuts and legumes, whole grains, and fresh herbs and spices.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there is increasing evidence that following a Mediterranean diet can help counter diseases associated with chronic inflammation, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.

What’s in a Caprese Plate?

Mozzarella Cheese is a good source of protein, providing 6.3 grams per one-ounce serving. Dietary protein is an essential macronutrient responsible for building and maintaining bones, muscles and skin. Cheese also provides adequate amounts of vitamin B12, calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin B12 is water-soluble and required for neurologic function and red blood cell formation. Calcium and phosphorus are essential minerals needed for the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

Tomatoes get their bright red color from the phytochemical lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that is known for reducing inflammation and promoting cardiovascular health. They are also a rich source of vitamin C, an important vitamin required for healthy immune function and collagen production.

Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) is an abundant herb that is commonly grown all over the world. There are several different varieties including lemon basil, sweet basil, holy basil, Thai basil and purple basil. The pungent, volatile compounds responsible for the unique aroma of basil are also responsible for its antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties.

Olives and Olive Oil are excellent sources of monounsaturated fat with an optimal fatty acid profile high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is not synthesized by the human body and therefore is considered an essential fat that must be obtained through dietary sources. The healthy fat found in olives and their subsequent oil help increase the “good” cholesterol known as HDL cholesterol, while lowering “bad” cholesterol known as LDL cholesterol. Maintaining a healthy cholesterol ratio can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Be good to your heart and TRY the caprese plate!  This dish will be available at Brockway Dining Center on Monday, April 24th at dinnertime.

Olive oils available for the caprese plates were locally sourced from Brooklea in Fayetteville, NY.