Your plate for life!
This lovely graph is the best I have found on healthy eating. I use it in every session of the Healthy Cooking Club, for it can be understood by all age groups – even adults get it!
What is Healthy Eating according to this plate? It really unites food that come under those three categories: SIMPLE/COLOURFUL/rich in HEALTHY OILS.
SIMPLE FOOD: The simplicity of this plate makes the basics of healthy nutrition clear and easy to grasp and no need to get bugged down in the details! All it says about drinking for example is that water is the only liquid you really need – though I would add one glass of wine every other day for optimal health (more on the “Lyon study” by Lorgeril et al. soon!)
To your good health!
COLOURFUL FOOD: The other important point is the large chunk given to vegetables: veggies of all colours and especially the brightly coloured ones that contain important vitamins and plant polyphenols which are the new buzz word in natural antioxidants. So the brighter the better: stock up on red beetroot, yellow peppers and blue aubergines! And of course bright oranges, purple berries and so on…
Include colours into your diet: also good for the mood!
HEALTHY OILS: Fat is good! Eating healthy fatty acids will insure your brain stays nourished and alert, your nervous system tip top and your skin (nails and hair) hydrated and supple for years to come. A fat-free diet by contrast has very detrimental effects on memory for example but also on your looks! Water and lipids are essential nutriments to keep a glowing, young looking skin and it is important to choose those oils carefully. The Harvard plate advertises olive oil and canola oil – which is the canadian/american name for rapeseed oil- as the best to choose but I also swear by the virtues of Ghee and use it sparsely instead of butter. Another lean and very commendable dairy fat is the ubiquitous “crème fraîche”, used a lot in French cooking and much leaner and digestible than full cream. My regular readers will notice that “crème fraîche” does feature heavily on this blog!
To clarify the “fat” issue, I include a table that shows why rapeseed and olive oil are the best oils to use. And why you should keep coconut and palm oil for the beach!
Our diet contains far more Omega 6 than Omega 3 and it is this balance our diet needs to address. So the best advice seems to be to take fatty fish over meat anytime and to learn how to include sardines, haddock, salmon and sometimes swordfish or tuna in our weekly shop (in that order too!).
It is important as you see above to choose your oils carefully. Olive oil and rapeseed have a particularly good balance of Omega 3 to 6 and relatively little saturated fat. Coconut and Palm oil on the other hand are very high in saturated fat and should be used very exceptionally, if at all. They feature heavily in any processed or industrial cooking. A special mention goes to linseed (or Flaxseed) oil : its high Omega 3 content gives it superfood status ; but its taste makes it difficult to include into normal cooking routines! It is worth using a tiny bit of it though in vinaigrette and mayonnaise where its distinctively “green” taste is hidden by the other ingredients… Alternatively, use spoonfuls of flaxseeds in your granola or cereal – with the added benefits of cleansing your colon at the same time. Those seeds are a great help to keep your digestive system in tip-top conditions.
I hope I have brought you some easy basics to include in your spring-cleaning diet but above all : do not forget to enjoy every mouthful… Food prepared with love and shared with people you like nourishes much more than just the body. Make sure you eat in nice plates, use bright and pretty ingredients and savour slowly each and every spoonful. Never eat angry, tired or in bad company. Try to make each meal a peaceful and happy experience. Even if it is just stealing half-hour to go and eat a nice fresh sandwich in the park. In fact eating outside is also a part of the much praised “Mediterranean diet”: for everything tends to taste so much better and to be so much healthier when taken “al-fresco”! Here below I am enjoying a yogurt and berries breakfast on top of a terrace in Venice. I am not just eating : I am also taking in the spring sun, loving the beautiful view and enjoying the warmth of a cup of tea , all of that in the fresh air… Salute a tutti!!!
Enjoying a breakfast with a view!
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