Looking for new ways to make eating well enjoyable? There’s a wealth of strategies utilised around the globe to do just that – we’re here to unpack a few of our favourites. These simple tips and tricks make following a whole foods diet that much easier, not to mention delicious!
Now we’re not going to dive into crepes, croissants, baklava or gyoza here – although there is a place for all that in moderation! We’re instead looking into the mindful attitudes towards food and eating from a number of countries around the globe – while each may differ in terms of principals, favoured ingredients and philosophy, we’ll see the common denominators of whole foods and a strong involvement in the preparation and cooking processes.
In the hustle and bustle of modern life, where fast food and convenience often take the forefront, there's much to be gleaned from the culinary traditions that have withstood the test of time. While the dishes may vary, a common thread unites these global cuisines—variety and whole foods. It's a reminder that, regardless of our geographical location, cultural background, or culinary preferences, the essence of well-being lies in the abundance of fresh, unprocessed ingredients and a mindful approach to enjoying them.
France: The Art of Savoir-Vivre
Balance and Moderation: In the realm of French cuisine, the key to a healthy lifestyle lies in balance and moderation. The French embrace the concept of "savoir-vivre," emphasizing the enjoyment of food in the company of loved ones. Meals are an unhurried affair, allowing for mindful eating and savouring each bite. Incorporating fresh, seasonal ingredients and sipping on a glass of red wine in moderation are hallmarks of the French approach to well-balanced living.
Japan: The Zen of Washoku
Flavour Combinations and Variety: Japanese cuisine, known as Washoku, embodies the principles of balance, harmony, and variety. Meals feature an array of colours, textures, and flavours, with an emphasis on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Portion control is inherent in the traditional Japanese bento box, allowing for a diverse and nutrient-rich array of foods. Incorporating staples like fish, rice, vegetables, and fermented foods, Washoku promotes not only physical health but also a sense of mindful appreciation for each meal.
Greece: The Mediterranean Diet
Olive Oil and Abundance of Plants: The Mediterranean diet, exemplified by Greek cuisine, is celebrated for its heart-healthy qualities, with Ikaria in Greece having made it to the blue zone list of longest-living populations. Ikarians regularly surpass their centenarian milestone – doing so while staying mostly free of diseases like dementia. One of the staple healthy fats in this diet is olive oil, which boasts anti-inflammatory properties and has been found to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Oleic oil is the active fatty acid which is responsible for these heart-healthy benefits and, as such, it’s no surprise that research also shows that olive oil plays a role in balancing blood sugar levels. The diet emphasises an abundance of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, offering a rich source of antioxidants and fibre. Lean proteins, such as fish and poultry, complement the array of plant-based foods, creating a delicious and nutritionally robust eating style.
India: Spice and Ayurvedic Wisdom
Spices and Ayurvedic Principles: Indian cuisine is a tapestry of flavours and spices, each with potential health benefits. The use of spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander not only adds depth to dishes but also contributes to anti-inflammatory and digestive properties. The Ayurvedic principles of balancing different tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent) in each meal guide the creation of well-rounded, nourishing dishes. Embracing a variety of colourful vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins, Indian cuisine exemplifies the fusion of taste and wellness.
Mexico: Colourful and Nutrient-Rich Fiestsa
Vegetables, Legumes and healthy fats: Mexican cuisine is a vibrant celebration of colours, flavours, and nutrient-dense ingredients. Vegetables, legumes, and corn form the foundation of many dishes, providing essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Salsas made from tomatoes, onions, and peppers add a burst of freshness, antioxidants and vitamin C – when paired with the healthy fats of avocado, we see a boost in nutrient absorption. The emphasis on fresh, local produce and traditional cooking methods contributes to a nourishing and satisfying eating experience.
From the leisurely dining philosophy of France to the mindful variety of Japan and the heart-healthy traditions of Greece, each country offers a tapestry of healthy eating strategies. By embracing the diverse culinary traditions of the world, we not only savour delicious flavours but also glean inspiration for cultivating our own well-balanced and culturally rich approach to nourishment. Bon appétit, itadakimasu, kali orexi, swaad anusaar, and buen provecho!
Mediterranean Greek Salad with Quinoa and Grilled Haloumi
- For the Salad:
- 1 cup cooked quinoa (cooled)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1 cup red and yellow capsicum, diced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- For the Grilled Chicken:
- 100 g haloumi, sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For the Dressing:
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a bowl, mix olive oil, dried oregano, dried thyme, salt, and pepper.
- Marinate the haloumi in the mixture for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat a pan with some olive oil on medium heat then, once heated, add the haloumi until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes per side. Let them rest before slicing.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red capsicum, red onion, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, honey (if using), salt, and pepper.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine.
- Top the salad with slices of grilled haloumi.
- Serve the Mediterranean Greek Salad immediately.
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