Cooking series introduces ‘Med Instead of Meds’ diet

Published 6:25 pm Friday, January 10, 2020

Banana oatmeal pancakes; basil, shrimp and tomato pasta with feta; cucumber avocado salad — this is just small sampling of the fare offered on what’s being called the healthiest diet out there. Accessing these recipes doesn’t require signing up with a diet plan or purchasing a book. They are on North Carolina State Cooperative Extension’s website, part of the Med Instead of Meds program, which is encouraging people to eat well and eat healthy with this take-off on the Mediterranean Diet.

“This is what is being proclaimed as being the best diet to feed ourselves to prevent chronic disease,” said Louise Hinsley, family and consumer sciences extension agent at Beaufort County Cooperative Extension. “For those of us who are thinking about making some dietary changes, it’s based on the guidelines that are set up by the (Centers for Disease Control). If people are diabetic, this will be a diet that works; if you’re pre-diabetic, this will be a diet that works; if you have heart disease, this will be a diet for you.”

Hinsley is launching the program in Beaufort County with a seven-class cooking series introducing the Med Way and covering such topics as “Change Your Protein, Meal Planning,” “Make Your Grains Whole, Label Reading,” and “Swap Your Fats & Snack on Nuts and Seeds, Right-size Your Portions,” along with trying out some of the Med Instead of Meds recipes.

“It’s hands-on. We’ll be divided up in teams, and we’ll be cooking and sampling,” Hinsley said.

The Med Instead of Meds diet was created by a group of nutrition and health professionals from N.C. State and the North Carolina Division of Public Health, and led by Dr. Carolyn Dunn, head of N.C. State’s Department of Agriculture and Human Sciences. It promotes eating more plant-based proteins, such as beans and legumes, opting for seafood and white meat instead of red meat, eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts and seeds.

According to the website, eating the Med Way has been proven to decrease the risk of some forms of cancer; proven more effective than a low-fat diet for weight loss; to protect against cognitive decline; to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes; and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 60%.

“Eating the Med Way has been proven to protect against chronic illness. In some cases, eating the Med Way may even result in decreasing medications taken for blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. Hence the name Med Instead of Meds,” reads the Med Instead of Meds website. “We are passionate about providing people with the information and tools needed to make delicious meals for themselves and their families.”

Registration for the Med Instead of Meds class is open until Jan 15. The seven-class series costs $20, which will cover groceries for the cooking/sampling demonstrations, Hinsley said. Classes will be held at the Beaufort County Extension Office from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 16, Jan. 30, Feb. 13, Feb. 20, March 12, March 26 and April 9.

“It’s exciting,” Hinsley said. “It think it’s going to be fun. That old 4-H background in me says we’ve got to have a good time.”

For more information about the series and registration, call Louise Hinsley at 252-946-0111 or email