Monthly Archives: July 2013

Don’t skip your (Mediterranean) breakfast

Elena Fernandez

The idea that breakfast should be the most important meal of the day is reaffirmed more than ever with the results of a new study, which concludes that skipping breakfast may increase the risk of heart disease, according to a study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The researchers analyzed data from food frequency questionnaires and health outcomes achieved for 16 years (1992-2008) of 26,902 male health professionals (45-82 years). Men who reported that they skipped breakfast had a 27% increased risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who reported they didn´t.

Desayuno mediterráneoThe profile from non breakfast eaters is: younger, more likely to smoke, employed full-time, single, performed less physical activity and alcohol drinkers. In my opinion, skipping breakfast is another bad habit linked to a risky and unhealthy way of life. A dangerous cocktail that moved and shaken can led you easily to the Emergency Room.

Men who eat late at night (eat after going to bed) had a 55%  increased risk of coronary heart disease than those who did not. However, the authors were not very convinced that this is an important public health problem because few men in research reported this behavior.

During the study, 1,572 men suffered cardiac issues. “Skipping breakfast can lead to one or more risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which can lead to a heart attack at the time,” said Leah E. Cahill, director of the study and postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health of Harvard University in Boston.

“Eat a good breakfast every day – advised Cahill -. Incorporate many kinds of nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. For example, the addition of nuts and chopped fruit in a bowl of cereal or oatmeal in the morning is a great way to start the day. ”

A Mediterranean breakfast is a great alternative to Dr. Cahill suggestions: toasted bread with olive oil, light cheese or ham, a squeezed orange juice and a latte is the best and tasty way to begin your daily routine.

corazón

Prosciutto IS NOT Serrano ham

Elena Fernandez

Serrano ham… no Spaniard has grown up without this delicacy. In fact, if you opened  every Spanish fridge I bet you could find ham (jamón Serrano) in 85% of them.

That’s why we find it SO  difficult to live without  ham when we reside in the US. We know the price here is completely unaffordable but we simply can’t help buying and buying it. And don’t try to fool your Spanish kids with Italian or German ham. They will spit it out with no mercy.

jamones

When I was living in Miami I bought my ham in Milam’s supermarket in Sunny Isles. The first time I ordered “Serrano ham”  at the counter the sales clerk asked me: “Do you mean prosciutto?” After one second of complete astonishment, I began to shake my head like the girl in The Exorcist: “No, no, prosciutto IS NOT Serrano ham! I want Serrano ham, please”

In theory, prosciutto IS like Serrano ham. Both come from the pork’s leg and the process is the same, as you can read at Wikipedia. But the final product is pretty different. I prefer Serrano ham because it is more cured, saltier and more intense in flavor and scent. And because I´m Spanish, of course!

Yes, I know. You´re not a Spaniard. You can live without ham. You have lived without ham. And you´ve lived really happy. And it´s super expensive ($25 per pound). But… you should give our national treasure an opportunity for a special occasion. Because it  is healthy, the preparation is a no brainer, and it´s simply delicious.


Healthy ham
Serrano ham has a high composition of proteins and minerals and a high content of monounsaturated fat (50%), a powerful antioxidant and is a good friend of your heart. After undergoing the dry-cured process, ham is high in minerals such as sodium, iron, potassium and phosphorus too. Incorporating it into your diet in moderation is a really good option for quick and tasty meals.

And what about the calories? Don´t freak out! 3,5 ounces of ham are half as caloric as a cookie and less caloric than white boiled rice too.

Don´t overcomplicate

piquitos matiz

Less is more when you want to enjoy Serrano ham. No sauces (please!), no spices, no preparation needed. The best way to enjoy ham is with toasted Italian bread, you could find it at every supermarket, extra virgin olive oil and natural tomato squeezed on the top. But you can garnish it with melon or grilled asparagus if you want to prepare a complete meal. Are you in a rush and guests are coming home? Serve ham with picos, a kind of Spanish little grissini made with olive oil too.

The wine. Yep, you´ve paid a lot for your ham so you want to be savvy with the wine… I recommend a Spanish red wine made with garnacha grapes, like Borsao Tinto Selección 2011. You can find it for less than $10 and the quality is really good.

After enjoying your Serrano ham maybe you will wonder Can I cook it diced in other recipes? Or What about trying the Iberico Serrano ham (much more expensive)? So yes you can. Yes, maybe one day you will indulge yourself and you will buy Iberico Serrano ham. But this is another story… and another post.

Where you can find… (Greater Seattle area):

Serrano ham

The Spanish Table

Metropolitan Market

Picos Matiz

Metropolitan Market

Garnacha red wine

QFC (not in every supermarket)

Metropolitan Market

Total Wine

Really interested in Serrano ham? Find more info here