Tasting Mediterranean

Wine & Olive Oil

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Eat like the Portuguese!

In the southern Portuguese region Alentejo, the residents know all about the pitfalls of resolutions. Despite this, they live throughout the year in a healthy and well-balanced fashion. And the best part of this is: it always tastes so delicious; just like being on holiday!

The month of January is the time for New Year’s resolutions: to eat more healthy foods, to get back into shape, or possibly even shed a couple kilogrammes. But by the time March rolls around – at the latest – most of these good intentions have gone by the wayside. All too frequently, folks plan on going to the gym too often, and there is very little pleasure to be found in the tedious diet recipes. And then it’s all over rather quickly for the healthy lifestyle.

In the southern Portuguese region Alentejo, the residents know all about the pitfalls of resolutions. Despite this, they live throughout the year in a healthy and well-balanced fashion. And the best part of this is: it always tastes so delicious; just like being on holiday!

Here are our ten tips for the Mediterranean lifestyle:

Eating like you were on holiday

There has already been a great deal written about the Mediterranean diet; it isn’t anything new. And actually, this is not really a diet in the traditional sense, but rather a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. For centuries now, people in the Mediterranean corner of the world – and particular in the southern Portuguese region Alentejo – live in perfect harmony with the products of nature. Their traditional cuisine features fresh fruit, ripe vegetables, grains, nuts, fish and just a small proportion of red meat. The dishes are refined with a variety of aromatic herbs, and olive oil is used as the predominant fat. The Mediterranean lifestyle is thus healthy and delicious at the same time. And what’s more, it is very easily integrated into everyday life. We have compiled a list of the ten most important tips for healthy cooking with a Mediterranean twist:

The Mediterranean Lifestyle in brief:

1.     Use more extra virgin olive oil! People in the Alentejo use olive oil, primarily: they drizzle it on bread instead of spreading butter; they use it as the salad dressing and they cook with it. And this is certainly good, because olive oil is rich in healthy fatty acids and antioxidants.

2.     Eat more fish! Folks in the Mediterranean region eat far more fish and other seafood, instead of consuming red meat. Fish is rich in minerals and proteins, and contains little fat. Salmon, tuna and sardines are also good sources for omega-3 fats.

3.     A handful of nuts provides a healthy and delicious snack. Nuts not only deliver quick energy, they also contain abundant mineral materials like potassium and magnesium. So they provide perfect nutrition for the nerves!

4.     Season your dishes with herbs instead of with salt. Cooking with fresh herbs such as thyme, basil or mint is an essential element of Mediterranean cuisine. Garlic is also a popular source of flavour, with bread, meat and fish. But not only this: garlic also figures also as a medicinal plant that exerts a positive influence on blood pressure, appetite and the immune system. 

5.     Eat more fruits and vegetables. In the Alentejo, the natives prefer to dine seasonal and regional. They serve what has just ripened, and they have brought it home from the farmers’ market. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

6.     Reach for whole grains instead.  Whole grains and cereals contain far more minerals, vitamins and dietary fibres than ordinary processed grain.

7.     Try peas and beans. Peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas provide truly good sources of proteins, minerals and dietary fibres; in Mediterranean countries they are consumed in hearty stews, purées and dips.

8.     Eat less red meat! In the Alentejo, folks certainly enjoy a hearty meat dish from time to time, but not every day.

9.     A fruit salad for dessert.  In the Alentejo the natives treat themselves to coffee after lunch – ‘Um café, se faz favor’ – and along with it a plate of fruit. There will be a colourful platter with various types of fruit in the middle of the table, and everybody happily helps themself.

10.   A glass of red wine with the meal! Folks certainly enjoy a glass of wine with lunch or dinner, but hardly ever on its own. Wine is, rather, part of pleasant and convivial gatherings at mealtimes.