Yesterday I saw the news on the fact that the Mediterranean diet can help you live a longer life. I must tell you my friends this is not news to me. I wrote a book about it called The Italian Diet because I know the secret to looking and feeling great comes down to what you are eating! I even have people telling me on my Facebook that changing the way they eat has changed their life.
So what did the researchers tell us that I and nearly everybody in the Mediterranean already knows? That if you eat vegetables, olive oil, nuts, fruit, fish and whole grains you are gonna live longer...and it will be a happier life too my friends, I can tell you that.
Let's start with the vegetables, in Italy a meal is not meat and two veg. No, for us the vegetable is the king of the kitchen because we are always looking to eat food when it is at its freshest. I could dedicate an entire cookery book to vegetables but as I know you are all out on your barbeques enjoying the glorious weather just add a few slices of aubergine, courgette, peppers and even whole cherry tomatoes onto the grill. These taste completely different when they are grilled and just need a drizzle of olive oil to finish them off.
If like me you are trying to grow some tomatoes this year they should finally be ready after all this hot weather. Tomatoes don't need anything more than a little salt and a drizzle of Extra Virgin olive oil to taste at their best. This is what Italian food is all about my friends!
In your kitchen you need an Extra Virgin olive oil for dressings and one general olive oil for cooking. The more expensive oils really do taste better so buy the best one you can afford. Don't ever use Extra Virgin oil in cooking as heat destroys the fantastic flavour and nutritional values, so really you are wasting your money. Only use it in dressings and dips or as a finishing touch to your dishes.
I am sharing three of my favourite recipes that show what Mediterranean food is all about with you my Huffington Post UK friends. They promise maximum satisfaction from minimum effort...which is what all cooking should be about! But before I give you the recipes there are just two other things I want to say about this Mediterranean diet. Firstly, the researchers found that women on this diet lived an extra 15 years. Why is that? Because men love a woman with a good appetite and loads of curves! Ladies I beg you don't give up on the carbs...remember Sophia Loren once said 'everything you see I owe to spaghetti'...phewor!
Secondly, Italian food is family friendly. It's about slowing down and relaxing, taking the time to appreciate the simple flavours and making food from scratch every day. It's really not as hard as you might think and what could be better for your health than making time to sit down and break bread (or share a glass or two) with the people you love most. I really hope your gonna try these recipes and share them with your friends...embrace the Mediterranean diet and live 'la Dolce Vita'!
Tuna is the king of the sea but please make sure yours is sustainable skipjack or albacore and is line caught.
Tonno aglio, olio e peperoncino
Tuna steak with garlic, olive oil and chill
Serves - 4
4 x 250g tuna steak (about 2cm thick)
½ teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of water
1 and ½ tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove of garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
1 tablespoon of fresh oregano leaves (chopped)
2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaves parsley
2 tablespoon of capers in brine (drained and finely chopped)
Salt to taste
Preheat a griddle pan until smoking hot then reduce the heat to medium-high.
In a medium size bowl, whisk the oil with the water until thick and creamy. Whisk in the lemon juice with a few pinches of salt. Stir in the garlic, oregano, capers, chillies and parsley.
Lightly brush the tuna steaks with the spicy dressing and cook on the preheated griddle pan for 2 minutes on each side.
To serve, make a diagonal cut in the middle of the tuna steak so you get 2 pieces per portion. Place the pieces, overlapped, in the middle of a serving plate and drizzle over the spicy dressing.
This lemon sorbetto is the perfect desert after the full flavored Tuna and is great for hot summer nights.
Sorbetto al limone
Fresh lemon sorbet
Serves - 6
350ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice
100g caster sugar
Finely grate the skin of the limes and leave aside.
Squeeze the juice from the limes and place in a medium size saucepan with 1 litre of cold water.
Add the sugar and half of the lime zest into the same saucepan and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Stir occasionally.
Remove from the heat, pour in the lemon juice, mix and allow to cool. Once ready, pour into a flat container and freeze until crystals form around the edges.
At this point, stir the mixture vigorously with a fork and place it back in the freezer.
Repeat this process every 20 minutes over the next few hours until there is no liquid left in the container. The consistency that you are looking for is just crunchy with broken crystals of ice.
Once ready, allow the sorbetto to soften slightly. This will make easier to scoop.
Serve the sorbetto in tall glasses and decorate with the remaining lime zest on top.
One final recipe for you my friends. These breakfast bars are full of loads of healthy ingredients to help get your day started off right even when you are in a rush.
Gino's breakfast bars (Makes 14 bars)
50g dried mango
100g dried figs
100g dried apricots
50g sunflower seeds
60g wholemeal flour
50g porridge oats
4 tablespoons of runny honey
60ml apple juice
Place all the dry fruits in a food processor and blitz until roughly chopped.
Fold in the almonds, sunflower seeds, oats and flour.
Pour in the apple juice with the honey and roughly blitz.
Line the tray with greaseproof paper. Transfer the mixture into a baking tray and spread with a knife until approx 1cm thick.
Bake in the middle of a preheated oven at 190ºC for 20 minutes until golden brown.
Once ready, leave to cool and slice into bars.
All recipes are from the Italian Diet by Gino D'Acampo published by Kyle Cathie.
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