05/02/2011 12:03 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2011

May Is Mediterranean Diet Month

According to the American Diabetes Association, 15.7 million people in the U.S. suffer from diabetes, and it is considered the sixth leading cause of death.

Perhaps it's time to jump-start your eating habits by adopting the Mediterranean diet.

You may have been hearing about its benefits for years, but do you really know what the diet involves? Unlike fad diets, the Mediterranean diet is not a temporary fix: it is a lifestyle.

Based on whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fresh fish, fresh fruit, olive oil and nuts, the Mediterranean diet has been praised by health officials as a diet rich in the nutrients that we all need. It was originally based on the dietary traditions of Crete, Greece, and southern Italy circa 1960 at a time when the rates of many chronic disease among populations there were among the lowest in the world, and life expectancy was among the highest even with just having basic medical services available.

Today we face many concerns over the growing epidemic of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. But research has shown that these problems can be eliminated by doing several things including eating a diet that is high in fiber and low in saturated fat.

That would mean adopting the Mediterranean diet and eating foods it recommends like this easy to make Farro Salad taken from my website, Ciao Italia.

You can read more about the Mediterranean Diet here.

Farro Salad
Servers 4 to 6


1 cup farro
1/4 cup Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup shredded arugula leaves
Grated pecorino cheese

The fast way to cook farro is to cover it with water the night before you plan to cook it; next day drain off the water and put the farro in a 1-quart saucepan. Cover it with fresh water and cook until it is tender but not mushy. This will take about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Farro can be cooked without pre-soaking, but will need a longer cooking time, about 30 minutes.

Pour the olive oil over the farro and mix it well to coat the grains. Stir in the salt and vinegar. Divide the farro among four salad plates. Sprinkle the arugula evenly among the plates. Place four tomato halves on each plate and sprinkle with the cheese.

Pass more olive oil at the table to drizzle on top.