Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Book review: The Nordic Diet

By Trina Hahnemann
Published by Quadrille

The Mediterranean diet, with its vibrant colours and rich flavours, is an icon of well-being and joyful eating. As an Italian, I can only verify this. As an Italian living in the UK, however, I can also verify the difficulty of finding bright red, sun-kissed tomatoes on British supermarket shelves. That is exactly why the ‘the Nordic diet’ is so beautiful: British and Scandinavian climates are relatively similar and the kinds of food that fill the pages of this exciting new book can be easily found in our local shops.

This glossy volume, published in January by Quadrille, is neither a cookbook nor a diet book per se. Chef Trina Hahnemann, who wrote The Scandinavian Cookbook in 2008, has created a guide to adopting healthy eating habits which, as the elegant front cover simply states, will allow you to ‘eat your way to health and happiness’.

Before introducing her simply delicious recipes, Trina outlines the fundamentals of the Nordic diet. These include consuming ‘balanced meals with an emphasis on whole grains and seasonal vegetables’ and ‘eating game, chicken or meat only 3 times a week at the most’. Her approach is not only healthy but environmentally friendly too. She spurs us to help reduce climate change and global warming by buying locally sourced products as well as using the car less in favour of walking or cycling.

A lot of importance is also given to more traditional aspects of the food culture. The Danish chef heartily recommends that we should cook from scratch all of our three daily meals, as well as in-between snacks. Home-cooking with fresh ingredients is essential to the success of this diet, as is the time taken to eat the food with friends and family. A modern lifestyle based on tradition, which has earned her the nickname of ‘Denmark’s Delia.’

The first section, informative and extremely helpful, is followed by Trina’s simple and mouth-watering recipes. Ideas for breakfast and light lunches, vegetarian dishes, fish and meat... the superb photographs by Lars Ranek make everything look so appetising that you will want to try out every single recipe, one after the other. Being a bread-lover I think I will be ‘adventurous’ and try making my own bread, indulging in smørrebrød (open sandwiches) or dunking it in one of the many inspiring soups.

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