Eating the European Way: Diets and Dishes from the Old World

For millennia, simple people in Europe – peasants, shepherds, and fishermen – struggled to survive. While feudal lords dined on grilled meat every day, lower classes had to make do with basic foodstuffs: grains and olive oil, berries and legumes, fish and shellfish. Out of this daily battle a myriad of unique local traditions emerged: they are all delicious, but some are particularly good for you.

According to the prestigious Bloomberg index of healthiest nations, 14 out of the top 20 are European, with Italy heading the list. Together with Spain, Greece, and Cyprus (all in the top 20), Italy is famous for its so-called Mediterranean diet. Let’s look at a few recent books covering this and other star culinary traditions of Europe.

Mediterranean Diet for Beginners: The Complete Guide – 40 Delicious Recipes, 7-Day Diet Meal Plan, and 10 Tips for Success – Rockridge Press, 2013

Numerous studies have proven that the Mediterranean diet goes miles to prevent cardiovascular disease (see here, for example). With its heavy reliance on olive oil, whole grains, seasonal vegetables and fruit, legumes, and fish and seafood, this diet features little red meat (traditionally food for the rich). Seasonal produce is preferred, and red wine is consumed often, but in moderation. In this cookbook you will find the scientific basis for the Med diet, as well as 40 easy-to-follow recipes and a 7-day diet plan. It is a great introduction to this ancient culinary tradition that will surely leave you eager to learn more!

Beyond the Mediterranean Diet – Layne Lieberman, 2013

Apart from Italy, Switzerland and France have also made the Bloomberg top-20. People in these countries enjoy long lives and great health; and yet, they indulge in pasta, cheese, croissants… This book mixes engaging narrative of the three countries’ food habits with some dietary science and over 50 recipes that are easy to cook and very satisfying. You don’t have to cut out all the tastiest things to stay healthy; you just need to learn the century-old eating secrets of Europe’s longest-living nations!

The New Nordic: Recipes from a Scandinavian Kitchen – Simon Bajada, 2015

The New Nordic diet is one of the rising European stars: it has a lot in common with the Med diet, but with a twist. Rye flour instead of wheat, rapeseed oil instead of olive oil, fish from the North Sea, lots of root vegetables and berries (such as cranberries and bilberries), legumes… Little red meat, but lots of organic seasonal produce. Studies have shown the Nordic diet to reduce cholesterol, the risk of heart disease, and even inflammation, as well as promote weight loss. The recipes in this book, while easy to prepare, provide many interesting combinations and unusual yet delicious tastes.

Balkan Comfort Food: Home Cooking From The Heart – Jas Brechtl, 2016

Among all the legumes, fish, and whole grains, sometimes you need to treat yourself to something hearty and irresistible, like grilled meat, a beef stew, or an eggplant parmesan. That’s where the Balkan cuisine excels: it is immensely satisfying yet simple. In this book, you will find over 50 delicious recipes from Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, etc., which will make any family meal unforgettable. Reward yourself for all the hard work you’ve done for your body!

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