Turkey is famed for its diverse culinary heritage, blending Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and Mediterranean influences into a rich tapestry of flavours. These traditional dishes offer a plethora of healthy ingredients, beneficial for any wellness-seeking food enthusiast.
- Kisir: This is a classic Turkish salad made from bulgur, tomatoes, garlic, parsley and mint. It’s high in fibre, low in fat, and packed with a multitude of vitamins and minerals.
- Lentil Soup (Mercimek Çorbası): A staple in Turkish cuisine, this hearty soup is rich in protein and fibre due to its primary ingredient, lentils. The addition of carrots and onions adds to its vitamin content.
- Dolma: Stuffed vegetables, commonly peppers, tomatoes, or eggplants, filled with a mix of rice, herbs, and sometimes lean meat. Dolma is a low-calorie dish that’s packed with nutrients from the vegetables and whole grain rice.
- Imam Bayildi: Translating to “the Imam fainted”, this eggplant dish is slowly cooked with olive oil, tomatoes, onions, and garlic, combining to make a low-calorie, high-fibre, and nutrient-rich meal.
- Piyaz: A white bean salad with parsley, tomatoes, and hard-boiled eggs, often dressed with a simple olive oil and lemon vinaigrette. It’s a great source of protein and fibre.
- Cacik: This yoghurt and cucumber dish is not only refreshing but also beneficial due to the probiotics in yoghurt and the hydrating nature of cucumber.
- Menemen: A Turkish-style scrambled eggs with tomatoes, green peppers, and spices like ground black and red pepper. It’s high in protein and provides vitamins from the vegetables.
- Manti: Turkish dumplings typically filled with ground meat. Opt for whole grain dough and lean meat for a healthier twist.
- Baklava: While this dessert is not exactly low in sugar or fat, when enjoyed in moderation, it can provide the benefits of nuts, including healthy fats and protein.
- Çay: This black tea is consumed in high quantities throughout Turkey. It contains antioxidants, and when consumed without sugar, it can be a healthy addition to your diet.
The Turkish diet, akin to the Mediterranean diet, emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins and healthy fats, which are all key elements of a balanced diet. Even their most famous street food, ‘kebabs,’ can be made healthy by opting for lean cuts of meat and by adding a lot of fresh vegetables. Remember to eat in moderation and enjoy the burst of flavours this vibrant cuisine has to offer.