Monthly Archives: June 2014
If we combine the concept of Mediterranean Diet with star summer dish in Spain, results can not be more clear: Andalusian gazpacho. This “liquid salad” or cold vegetable soup, whatever you want to call, gathers some of the healthier market ingredients: tomato, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic, as well, of course, the irreplaceable olive oil. Its ingredients provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and oleic acid.
Recent studies support its many properties. For example, a study conducted recently over a year by the Center for Biomedical Research in Red-Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERobn) claimed that eating gazpacho regularly can help reduce blood pressure. 25% of the adult population suffers from high blood pressure and is one of the main risk factors for heart diseases. Its high content of carotenoids, vitamin C and polyphenols are responsible for the product to be heart healthy.
But it has not been the only other study conducted a while back in the U.S., by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), claimed that consumption of gazpacho increases significantly amount of vitamin C in the blood and reduces the molecules associated with stress.
Gazpacho brings a lot of fiber, from the pepper, cucumber and onion, mostly. This large amount of fiber is responsible according to some scientific studies, their benefits in preventing certain types of cancer, including colon cancer. In addition, lycopene, a carotenoid responsible for the red color of tomatoes, protects against oxidative stress, or what is the same, from the harmful effects exerted by free radicals in the body. The lycopene content is greater the red, ripe tomatoes are, as in the case of those used in the preparation of gazpacho. Cucumber sterols are excellent in reducing cholesterol and vitamins A, B and C help the immune system. If we add the diuretic and purifying action of the onion, which is able to regulate blood sugar levels and strengthen the defenses, and the resulting anti-inflammatory properties of garlic, couldn´t be better. Last but not least, the contribution of monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil regulate cholesterol levels too.
Picking ripen full flavor tomates is really important to be successful when we prepare gazpacho because tomato is the main ingredient of the dish. Summer farmers markets offer a great opportunity to find the perfect tomato for our dish. Extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar will guarantee a perfect gazpacho too.
Therefore, today I want to bring the typical gazpacho recipe that is the summer parties star in Spain
• 1 kilo of ripe tomatoes and very red
• 500 g green pepper
• 500 g of cucumber
• 200 g Onion
• 1-2 cloves of garlic
• Olive oil
• Sherry Vinegar
• Hard Pan
• Cold water
The amount of ingredients is very relative and depends a little taste of the consumer. There who likes stronger, and prefer to use more amount of garlic and onion, and others prefer more predominant flavor of cucumber or pepper.
The preparation is simple: cucumbers and other vegetables all washed and chopped and passed through the blender until pureed peeled. Hard bread a bit is soaked and added to the mash. Water is added to taste (as you like it more or less thick) and season with salt, oil and vinegar (also to taste).
You can serve garnished with chopped vegetables like more tomato, cucumber, green pepper, onion or bits of bread.
A few months ago I was lucky enough to be invited as a speaker to the University of Washington Public Health School to talk about The Yummy Bull project. My mini talk was part of another conference, Marketing the Mediterranean Diet, presented by Ana María Gómez Bravo, a UW teacher specialized in historical aspects of cooking.
This travel to the past was quite interesting, and a path full of discoveries for the audience.
In fact, until the 16th century, European diet was a lot more similar among the different countries than it is today. However, drastic changes in the English diet as a result of new parceling of the land in the form of enclosures, a loss of access to farming and gardening in cities during the Industrial Revolution and a negative view of food and pleasure as a result of new Protestant views, created a culinary barrier between the North and the South of Europe that It´s being smoothed in the last decades.
The most interesting carachteristic of Mediterranean Diet is that its origin comes from a crossroads of cultures including citrus and rice from Asia brought by Muslim traders and tomatoes, chilies and potatoes from the New World.
Another key factor is that Mediterranean meals are made to enjoy food, better if It´s in great company as this pyramid shows:
Ironically the Mediterranean Diet was the diet of the poor, who couldn´t afford buying read meat and sugar, a pricy spice in that time. Today challenges are totally different, In fact red meat consumption is so common, much more that It should be in a healthy way. Today processed foods and loss of quality to make food more profitable are the challegenes to face. Food should be healthy, tasty and minimally processed whenever possible.
The pillars of Mediterranean Diet
- Food should be free of harmful contaminants.
- Methods of food preparation should be simple and practical. You should not have to be a gourmet chef to prepare a healthy and delicious meal.
- Sources of food should be sustainable. This includes consideration of the environmental consequences of food choices including energy use, water use, waste production, soil conservation and preservation of open space.
- Traditional food flavors and food ways and diversity of ingredients are a part of our cultural heritage and should be preserved in that way.
- A shared meal, with consciously chosen food, in the company of friends or family, is one of the foundations of civilization and one of life’s greatest pleasures.
Apart from the pillars from the Mediterranean Diet that Dr. Bravo explained I would like to add some false myths that we want to “erase” through our Yummy Bull project.
- Extra Virgin Olive oil is a luxurious product.
- You can´t cook with Olive Oil, only toss your salad
- Wine is unaffordable. Young people don´t drink wine.
- Wine will make you gain weight.
- Mediterranean traditional plates are long/ difficult to prepare
- Cooking from scratch is more expensive than visiting the Frozen products aisle.
- Eating fish and seafood is expensive and boring