Showing posts with label rabe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rabe. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is among the healthiest in the world. When I lived in the States I was a really bad eater. I loved all that junk food that is so popular in the States and that is really bad for your body. I loved all the fast food places with my favorite being Arby's, close second Taco Bell and coming in third Dairy Queen. My college roommate and I would stay up late studying and then make a trip down to the 7-11 and buy ranch chips and dip and just snack on those while studying. Our last stop on the weekends after going out would be either the local 24 hour diner or the pizza place at 2:00am before going to sleep. We had terrible eating habits. Then we decided that we wanted to start the South Beach Diet and that lasted like a whole 2 weeks and then we just threw in the rag and gave up.

When I moved here I was left with no Arby's, no Taco Bell, no Chinese, no Ranch dressing nada. There was instead an abundance of fresh organic veggies that I had never heard of before like rabe, chicory, leopoldia comosa or lampascioni. I hated all of those things. My aunt would come home every day from the piazza where she would buy fresh vegetables from the farmers that would sell their produce in crates picked fresh from their land. My Aunt goes to the piazza every morning and buys fresh fruits and veggies for the day. It is so much cheaper here than in the States too. She would make soups using fresh garden vegetables and fresh fish. They would make pasta dishes with fresh octopus and muscles and every day after lunch they would have fruit. In summer it would be peaches and fresh figs, in the winter there were apples and oranges and tangerines.
And when they cooked they wouldn't drench things in butter but they would "drizzle with olive oil" and lemon juice or vinegar and when I told them about how Red Lobster makes the best shrimp scampi and lobster with a delicious buttery garlic sauce they explained that if the fish is fresh, it should never be covered up with condiments. The fish gets covered in condiments when it is frozen and has lost its "sapore di mare" or "taste of the sea".
So I learned to eat fresh steamed sea bass with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh parsley. Butter pretty much got substituted with olive oil for everything and red meat was not as easily accessible as fresh fish. The meals were simple but genuine and it took me a while to get accustomed to it. A tomato and carrot salad served on a "frisa" which is a type of hard bruschetta soaked in water to soften it up was the dinner of choice of many of my relatives. (side note - I hate those frisa's by the way...It's been over 10 years since I've been here but do not give me a raw tomato on anything or else I will throw it back at you - end side note).
This is a frisa in the photo above. It has the shape of a bagel but is very hard and tastes like hardened bread. It gets soaked in olive oil and water and is usually topped with a tomato salad that can include carrots, onions or olives.
I have SLOWLY gotten accustomed to eating more greens and fruits and cooking with olive oil as opposed to butter. And I also have been eating much less red meat since living here. I have always, and still do to this day, LOVE a good rare steak. I am a meat and potatoes girl at heart and will always be but I know that it's not the healthiest way to eat and I have really grown to appreciate how good oven roasted bell peppers and spicy roasted zucchini and pizza stuffed with chicory and capers can be.
This weekend we made a delicious pasta dish that I would have never in my right mind have eaten when living in the States....but I can assure you that today I go nuts when someone makes this for me and it's a dish that gets made a lot in my house. It seriously has become one of my favorite pasta dishes. My honey doesn't care much for it because all he really wants is tomato pasta (ugh.) but he'll eat it from time to time.
This is a typical recipe of the Apulia region which is located in the "heel of the Italian boot". It is a simple pasta with broccoli rabe which I know they sell in the States because my mother makes it a lot and I know she finds it easily over there.
Broccoli rabe has A TON of health benefits. It is rich in glucosinolates, which the body converts to cancer-fighting sulforophanes and indoles. Studies have shown that these compounds are particularly effective against stomach, lung, and colon cancers, and recent studies have documented that it protects against breast and prostate cancers as well.

Just a 3 1/2-ounce serving of broccoli rabe provides your body with more than half the daily requirement of vitamins A and C, which fight off dangerous free radicals that can cause damage to your body's cells and are both rich in antioxidants. The dark green color also indicates that it is a good source of folate, which protects against birth defects and heart disease, as well as potassium, fiber, and calcium.

I won't elaborate on the recipe step by step because it really is very elementary. You must first clean the rabe and wash them well. Cut off the thick ends. The pasta gets boiled together with the rabe in the same pot. The rabe gets put in first and left to boil for about 10 minutes and then the pasta gets thrown in.

Once the pasta is cooked it is transferred to a pan in which you heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a clove of garlic, about 3 anchovies in oil and a cut up jalapeno pepper.

Make sure to save some water from the pasta and rabe and add a little to the pan.

Mix everything well and serve with a glass of red.

I also made a beautiful loaf of bread that day and it was soooo good warm from the oven.
(Ti ringrazierò sempre per i tuoi preziosi consigli Alessandra.)

I know that the pasta might not look very appetizing and I'm sure that if I was still in college and someone showed me that picture I would probably say "Eww no thanks" but trust me when I say that if you force yourself to eat more greens, in the end, your body asks you for them and you become hungry for them. That's what happened to me. The more I ate junk food, the more I wanted it and now the more I eat greens, the more I want those and the less I want junk food. Its funny how our body works isn't it?
Be healthy and love your body.