I’ll be getting to my point shortly, stay with me here.
For the past 5 weeks I’ve been completing an online nutritional course. Mainly for own benefit, I’m not claiming to be a bona fied expert, It was something to get myself stuck into after the lull of Christmas. It was a very interesting course (most of it) and it explored the aims of the New Nordic Diet and to see if it had any glorious health benefits. Like I said, I’m not an expert but I’m guessing that living off a diet of fruit, vegetables, wholegrain and foraging (FORAGING) for berries would probably do most people some good. Everything must be local to Nordic countries, which meant that the food you’d be eating would be seasonal too. Lots of fish and wholegrains such as rye are consumed, but very little meat. Meat, as I’m sure you’re all aware, is incredibly bad for the environment. I’m not preaching, you all eat whatever the hell you want, but I’m now a fully fledged veggie (I ate fish, once in a blue moon ate chicken) after completing that weeks reading.
As much as I wish I lived in Denmark, I don’t. One of the aim’s was that this kind of lifestyle can be adapted to wherever you live. You have the Mediterranean diet, for example, all local, fresh and seasonal. I can see many, many advantages of following a ‘diet’ (a term i’ll use loosely) like this. Not only would you be losing weight healthily (or maintain your weight healthily), you’re improving your overall health, it’s sustainable and most importantly, loads of efforts were made to make the foods super tasty. Take Noma.
It sounds all very well and good, and I’ve been asked whether I’d follow this lifestyle myself. Here’s the tricky bit. I’m all sorted where the fruit, veg, berries, nuts, seeds and wholegrains are concerned and I try and support local businesses as much as I can (which has become a little bit more difficult in the midst of a house move and a budget, but we’re getting back to it, I promise). I’m all for seasonal produce, it takes a bit of time and effort to research but it’s something I’d reeaallly like to get stuck into. However, there are many many foods that aren’t identifiable with Nordic countries, or even here in the UK if you want to see it from that perspective. We’ll use lemons as an example. Lemons do not grow here because unfortunately we don’t have a glorious Mediterranean climate, we have a cold and rainy one. The New Nordic Diet states that I must ensure to source food locally, so instead of lemons I could forage for a herb giving off the same scent and taste as one. Forgive me, but this is what I cannot get on board with. I have a job, I have to travel to and from said job for hours upon end, I now live in the countryside but before I lived on estate in the West Midlands. I will not be finding any lemon-verbena on an estate in the West Midlands. I doubt i’d be finding it other than in my local Waitrose. Does that count? What am I going to add to my gin & tonics??
I do my best in trying to be better person. The new year hasn’t exactly brought me great joy thus far and so I’m feel deflated and not much like a good person at all. This course, although thoroughly interesting and, for the most part, agreeable, made me question whether I wasn’t doing enough to support local and seasonal produce. I’m not and I could probably do a lot better. One of my aims this year was trying something new each week, which has worked well so far as we’ve been cooking meals that aren’t our norm, but now I have a new aim. Although I won’t be swapping my lemons for foraging through the wilderness for alternative herbs, I will be making more of a conscious effort to buy seasonal produce.
After all the talk about lemons, I thought i’d post a recipe showcasing the best of them. Not so much local, but lemons are at the best throughout January, February and March and they add a little bit of sunshine throughout all the doom and gloom of the beginning of the year. I’ve seen quite a few recipes for lemon and pistachio cake recently, two ingredients that I love equally as much but had never tried together. I’ve had a couple of mishaps with the appearance due to a mysterious disappearance of my traybake tray and my oven not cooking at an equal temperate but despite them looking a bit sad and broken, they’re really light and delicate.
- 1 cup high quality white chocolate chips, melted
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup plain flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 100g/ 2/3 cup unshelled, salted pistachios. Chopped
- Preheat the oven to 175C and line a deep baking tray with parchment paper.
- Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and eggs. Set aside.
- Melt the butter and the chocolate chips carefully, and then fold into the flour mixture.
- Fold through the chopped pistachios and pour the batter into the prepared tin.
- Smooth over the top with a spatula and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. The longer you leave them, the more ‘cake-like’ in texture.
- Leave to cool completely before removing from the tray.