Welcome to Eat Well Every Day

Welcome to Eat Well Every Day!

I've spent years researching nutritional information, food ideas and recipes, because cooking and eating - especially with family & friends - are some of life's great pleasures. And guess what- healthy food doesn't have to be boring! It can be exciting and delicious!


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Monday, January 9, 2012

Less Nutritionism, More Enjoyment

Rereading In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan’s analysis of the ‘Western Diet’ and food science and technology, I’ve realised, to my dismay, that I’ve been toeing the ‘nutritionism’ line in these blogs. That is, putting more emphasis on the importance of the individual macro- and micro-nutrients in each food, rather than celebrating the whole food for its wonderful qualities of taste, colour, ripeness, seasonal variety, and sheer enjoyment.

I apologise! As a health and science journalist, I have to admit I do like to know what individual food items contain, and their possible health effects on the human body. It pleases me to know that broccoli contains sulforaphane which switches on a set of antioxidant genes and enzymes in specific immune cells, which then combat the injurious effects of free radicals that can damage cells and lead to disease. (Broccoli Boosts Immunity.)

But that doesn’t tell you that cooked properly: lightly steamed and tossed with a little olive oil or melted butter, broccoli is “surprisingly delicious”, to quote a friend, or that picked at the peak of freshness when it will contain the maximum of its good nutrients, it’s a dazzling emerald green.

Similarly, I have written articles on the health benefits of following the so-called Mediterranean Diet. I've identified the individual nutrients in each of the food groups in the Mediterranean Diet, and their effect on our health. But did I mention how well all these foods go together? How the olive oil makes vegetables glisten and improves their flavour (as well as making them more digestible)? Did I say how beautiful the colours are, and the tempting aromas? I hope at least, that the photo I chose to go with the words gave you some idea of the sensuality of the food.

The Whole is Greater than its Components

I’m grateful to Pollan for reminding me that we humans don’t eat nutrients, we eat food. It’s a basic fact that we all know, but, sadly, an emphasis on ‘healthy eating’ and ‘healthy diets’, can all too easily lead to an emphasis on individual nutrients (nutritionism), and that can lead to relying on food supplements and packaged foods that carry health claims, rather than on real food that needs to be prepared and enjoyed. Real food that can be picked from your garden, or bought at a greengrocers, old-fashioned butcher or farmers’ market.

The Joy of Food

So, a New Year’s resolution for this blog. It’s called 'Eat Well Every Day', and I did mean well, both in the sense of ‘good health’ and in the sense of enjoyably and not expensively. So there will be more emphasis on the pleasure of the food I choose to discuss with you, as well as telling you what I know about the health benefits of each food. I made some good approaches in that direction back when I posted about my love of mangoes.

So, to the recipe:

It’s summer here in Sydney (at least some days), and figs, raspberries, mangoes, are all around, perfuming the air, and being utterly delicious just to eat fresh. Well, everyone knows how to eat fresh fruit, so here’s a recipe I have my daughter-outlaw to thank for. She made a huge dish of figs wrapped in prosciutto as part of our Christmas Day feast – figs gathered from the tree outside her front door. They were great on the day, and just as delicious (and messy to eat) for breakfast on Boxing Day.

Figs in Prosciutto

I’m not claiming this as an original recipe; it’s just one of many, many versions of this traditional Italian dish. Some versions stuff the figs with Gorgonzola, blue cheese, or brie, but I prefer to enjoy the perfect combination of roasted figs and slightly crisped prosciutto.

Large ripe figs, enough for each person to have at least two
An equal number of slices of prosciutto
Good olive oil
Small amount of real Balsamic vinegar
A baking dish large enough to hold the figs in a single layer.

Wrap each fig in a slice of prosciutto. You might need to hold them together with toothpicks. Stand the figs up in the baking dish. Drizzle a little good quality Balsamic vinegar over them, then brush each prosciutto slice with olive oil.

Bake at a little over 200C (400F) for 15-20 minutes, until prosciutto has melted a little and crisped, and the figs are cooked. These are just as delicious at room temperature as eaten warm.

Buon appetito

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