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The Healing Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet for Stress and Anxiety

Updated: Apr 18

Recipe: Mediterranean Stovetop Chicken Cacciatore

Whole Vegetable Food Selection

There are many ways to manage the effects of stress on the body; one key element is being mindful of how we fuel our bodies.


Mediterranean diet recipes are a great way to fuel our bodies while also naturally reducing cortisol and increasing stress resilience.


Mediterranean diet recipes originate from regions such as Greece, Italy, southern France, Crete, Spain, and parts of the Middle East. The recipes are primarily plant-based and

A Balanced Plate Chart
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include whole grains, olive oil, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices, while Animal-based proteins are consumed in smaller quantities, and refined carbohydrates are generally excluded or limited in most recipes.

Most of us love our carbs, so the dietary adjustment may be challenging at first, but limiting the intake is beneficial to lowering stress and anxiety. Consuming refined carbohydrates and sugars causes a sharp spike in blood sugar, followed by a drastic drop. This drop triggers our bodies' stress responses and can even result in anxiety symptoms for many of us.

Another benefit is the Mediterranean diet has also been shown to be effective in improving the immune system, reducing inflammation, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

If you want to integrate the Mediterranean diet into your wellness plan, here is one tasty recipe to get you started.

Stovetop Chicken Cacciatore

Stovetop chicken cacciatore

What you'll need...


  • 1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs (bone in opt)

  • ½ tsp salt, divided

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • ½ large onion thinly sliced (onion of choice)

  • 4 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced

  • 1 sweet red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig

  • 1 (15oz) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes

  • ½ cup dry red wine (*optional - broth substitution)

  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • 3 tbsp flour

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 2 Hours | Serves: 2


*Substitute wine with chicken or vegetable broth or stock for those who abstain from alcohol

Get cooking...

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Pat chicken dry and season with a pinch of salt.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook on each side for approximately 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

  3. Add sliced onion, mushrooms, and pepper to the pan and saute for approx 5 minutes. Add rosemary, tomatoes, *wine, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and remaining salt. Stir to combine.

  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and easily pulls apart.

  5. Transfer one cup of the sauce from the pan to a bowl. Add flour and whisk well to make a slurry, ensuring no lumps.

  6. Increase heat under the pan to medium-high and slowly whisk the slurry back into the mixture. Stir until it comes to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens.

  7. If desired, remove the chicken from the sauce, shred it, and add it back to the sauce before serving. * Opt. Serve with zoodles (zucchini noodles), or if you're not quite ready to go carb-free, serve with brown rice or whole grain pasta of choice.

Nutritional Info:

Calories: 519 | Total Fat: 23g | Total Carbs: 37g | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 16g | Protein: 32 | Sodium: 485mg | Cholesterol: 120mg

Reminder: for those of us who don't always love cooking, it doesn't have to be stressful; it is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness and have some fun. Turn on some music, cook with a partner or friend, and enjoy the aroma of the food as it fills the kitchen. Feel free to make substitutions, like chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs, and add some black olives or capers. Don't be afraid to experiement a little bit.

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