A Look Into Our MED Instead of Meds Class!

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What is MED Instead of Meds?

Med Instead of Meds was created by a group of nutrition and health professionals from NC State University and NC Division of Public Health. 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. We are passionate about providing people with the information and tools needed to make delicious meals for themselves and their families. We too are on this journey with you to transform our eating to the Med Way.

MED Instead of Meds Class Series

Figure 1. Participants prepare Mediterranean dishes of Salmon and a Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad as they learn how to change their eating habits to eat the Med Way during the MED Instead of Meds Series.

In the Classroom

Salmon cooked in the air fryer with a Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad is just one one of the many simple, delicious Mediterranean recipes in the MED Instead of Meds Series, which began last week.

Salmon with Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad

Figure 2. Salmon with Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad

Benefits of Salmon

Salmon is a fish that is very low in saturated fat and a great source of protein, which helps our body to repair and build tissues. When cooked, salmon has a flaky, smooth and buttery texture with approximately 30 grams of protein per 4 ounces. Salmon is also known for being rich in heart healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids), that are essential nutrients for brain and heart health. 

What is Tabbouleh?

Tabbouleh is a popular dish in the Eastern Mediterranean region typically consisting of finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, mint, onion, sweet pepper, and bulgur wheat, that is seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Tabbouleh can be prepared quickly and is an excellent choice for a side dish. In our class, we replaced the bulgur grain with cauliflower, which has less carbs and is more budget friendly. See the recipe below to try it for yourself.

Air Frying

Benefits: An air fryer is a small kitchen appliance that circulates hot air around food. Air fryers use less oil to fry foods and create a similar taste and texture. Using an air fryer to cook significantly reduces overall calorie intake (70-80% less) compared with deep-frying.

Cooking our salmon in class using the air fryer proved to be fast, easy and delicious with minimal clean up! We started by preheating the air fryer basket for 3 minutes and seasoning the salmon with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and smoked paprika. We cooked the salmon at 400 degrees F for approximately 10-12 minutes and a nice crust had formed on the outside to give a flavorful texture. Participants commented on how they liked that the air fryer method is time-efficient and uses less energy compared with heating a stove-oven.

Disadvantages: There are some disadvantages with using an air fryer. With high temperatures, heating at a rapid rate, it is good to be mindful that it is much easier to burn foods using the air fryer method. Also, due to its small size it can be challenging to cook for a large family.

Alternative Method: If you do not have an air fryer or you are cooking for many people, using your oven to bake salmon is a great alternative. Place seasoned salmon on a foiled cookie sheet and bake at 400°F for 12-15 minutes ensuring that your salmon reaches an internal temperature of 145°F with a food thermometer.

For more information on air fryers, check out Extension’s Air Fryers 101 Homegrown episode below:

Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad Recipe:

  • 1 head of Cauliflower
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1-2 cups chopped firm tomatoes
  • 4 chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  1. Using a box grater or food processor, grate the head of cauliflower.
  2. Place in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and lemon juice in and mix well to combine.
  3. Prepare the remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine with the cauliflower mixture.
  4. Serve at room temperature or cold.

      *Place left overs promptly in the refrigerator and use within 7 days.

For more delicious Mediterranean Recipes, visit the MED Instead of Meds website and find tips on eating the MED way! If you are interested in receiving a notification on when the next MED Instead of Meds Class Series will begin, send an email to Marlana Baker, Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, at marlana_baker@ncsu.edu or call our office at (828)837-2210 ext. 5.


Farmed Salmon vs. Wild Salmon


Salmon Nutrition 


MED Instead of Meds: About Us