Magnificent Mediterranean!

It was Alyona’s birthday yesterday and we had a small party at the office .Jyotsna , Alyona’s younger sister had come down with her son Manit for the party. The rest of the day went in meeting. Rajeev Matta, COO of our company is working and finalising the things for the launch of The Yellow Chilli, Ahemdabad which is scheduled next week .

It was just a week ago a thick cloud cover due to volcanic eruptions in Iceland disrupted air traffic big time in UK and Europe, our plans for a holiday in Portugal are still not fixed. But I am sure it will happen and we will enjoy the joys of Mediterranean food for a short while.

It is funny how everyone raves about the Mediterranean diet but the fact is that there is actually no formulated ‘Mediterranean’ diet! Well, the word Mediterranean actually covers an enormous variety of restaurants, cooking styles, ingredients, and ethnic influences. But what else can one expect because there are at least 16 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea! Diets vary between these countries and also between regions within a country. Many differences in culture, ethnic background, religion, economy and agricultural production result in different diets. But the common Mediterranean dietary pattern has these characteristics:

  • high consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds. The large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables in the Mediterranean diet play a number of roles in protecting the human body. Fruits are high in fibre and rich in nutrients that help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Among the protective substances are carotenoids and vitamins C and E.
  • olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source. More than half the fat calories in a Mediterranean diet come from monounsaturated fats (mainly from olive oil). Monounsaturated fat does not raise blood cholesterol levels the way saturated fat does.
  • dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten. They have plenty of access to the sea, so fish is found in plenty on the plates. That means they are getting loads of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acid
  • eggs are consumed zero to four times a week.
  • wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts.
  • grains are had in substantial quantities like in baguettes, pasta, polenta, couscous…all of these complex carbohydrates translate into loads of low fat energy.

But when you step out to eat in a Mediterranean eatery, do not think all you have to is reach out for the napkin, look ready to eat and immediately a heart friendly platter of vegetables and pasta will appear! A conventional restaurant meal can carry loads of hidden fat so understand that having pasta and salad in not really an assured low fat meal. But what you can do is request them to give the sauce on the side. And the grated Parmesan too, and even the salad dressing on the side. That way you could probably have a little control! Another popular Italian order is that of lasagna. Well, this too has some dark interiors! It is a high fat cheese dish with little pasta. Understand that having lasagna is like having equivalent calories of two huge burgers. One more much loved article is the garlic bread. It is typically sopping with oil or butter. Instead order plain bread, and if you must, apply a thin smear of butter on it. Just as yummy. Well, what about pizza? From the crust you get carbohydrates, from the cheese you get protein and calcium and from the sauce and vegetable toppings you get vitamins A and C. Most pizzas get a respectable 25 to 30 percent of their calories from fat. But be careful, add a meat topping and the fat count jumps above 40 percent!

But all things said and done, why not make these things at home because they are easy to dish out !

Chunky pasta and vegetable stew, Pan Pizza, Vegetable Lasagne.

Till I write again

Sanjeev Kapoor.

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