Vegetables and fruits, olive oil and dairy products.
Vegetables, fruits, dairy products, olive oil, EVOO, daily consumption, local product, macro-nutrients, cardiovascular health, balanced diet
The perfect combination should follow the guidelines of the pyramid of Mediterranean food that places vegetables and fruits in its base, low fat and fermented dairy products as a high quality protein complement and olive oil at the core.
Vegetables and fruits offer a wide variety of flavours, smells and nutritional content. Mediterranean countries have a splendid diversity in all the seasons of the year. Ways of consumption, cooking techniques used (raw or cooked) or the way of keeping produce can change their texture and flavour, as well as their main nutritional properties. For instance, onions and garlic, spicey or raw, acquire sweet nuances when cooked.
From a gastronomical point of view, dairy products give you a sense of fullness, juiciness, smoothness on the palate, a delicate flavour of fresh milk and a nice touch of acidity.
Olive oil also gives you a sense of fullness, juiciness and smoothness in your mouth, although their flavours can be quite different regarding freshness, spiciness, bitterness, etc.
In order to establish a healthy combination of this group of food, we should take into account the right amount of each product, the way of preparing them (raw or cooked), the moment of consumption (breakfast, lunchtime or dinner) and other aspects that have to do with the flavour, presentation, combination of the food. This latter aspect leads to a more agreeable and pleasurable consumption without nutritional implications.
Some advisable combinations could be:
• Whole meal toast of bread with olive oil, rubbed with garlic, tomato and fresh cheese.
• Whole meal toast of bread with sweet potato, cinnamon, cottage cheese and olive oil.
• Bowl of fruits, sweet potato, spelt wheat and yoghurt
• Oat porridge with nuts, raisins and cane honey.
Lunch and dinner:
Vegetables with cottage cheese, almonds and aromatic herbs oil.
• Traditional Andalusian crackers with salmorejo, a purée consisting of tomato and bread, olives, fresh cheese in olive oil and Iberian ham.
• Tomato soup, violet carrots and peppermint yoghurt.
• Ajoblanco cold soup made of bread, crushed almonds, garlic, water, olive oil and salt, with fresh cheese and sweet paprika, olives and beetroot.
These are just proposals that have to take into account the availability of local produce and the right season when they are grown.
Regañá or Andalusian crackers can be swapped for bread, cottage cheese can be swapped for fresh cheese, violet carrots for beetroot and salmorejo for gazpacho, etc
A diet based on vegetables and fruits provides high biological nutrients since they are rich in minerals (phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, potassium, iron, etc.) vitamins A, B2, B12, C, etc. fibre and antioxidants. Consuming them prevents cardiovascular diseases and some types of cancer, among other advantages. Link to module 2, unit 2, basic level.
Five daily rations are advisable, preferably raw, bought locally and seasonal, which will provide more nutrients, freshness, flavour and aroma. In addition, it will favour the local economy and it is environment friendly.
Aromatic herbs and species, as well as other seasonings from this group, like for example lemon juice, ginger, garlic, paprika, etc., help to reduce salt consumption, which is perfect to reduce arterial hypertension.
Apart from all the advantages, that consuming olive oil has for our health, preventing coronary, cancer-causing, neurological, intestinal disorders, etc.; olive oil is also used in body and hair hygiene in shampoo, gels, facial masks and creams.
Olive oil is also used to keep canned food or in brine because of protects them from aerobic microorganisms.
Dairy products have a high nutritional value where proteins are essential, though more information about them is necessary for a right consumption. Cured cheeses have more proteins but also more fat and salt. Therefore, it is advisable to eat cheeses low in fat, like fresh cheese, for example.
An advisable consumption pattern could be:
• Children: 2 or 3 rations per day.
• Adolescents, menopause, old-age: 3 rations per day.
• Pregnancy, breastfeeding time: up to 4 rations per day.
Our intestinal flora benefits from low fat cheeses and fermented milk (yoghurt) because of their content in life microorganisms.
Beef tomato: grown in Spain, Italy, Portugal…They are huge, have a rough surface, weight about 300 grams, fleshy and sweet. Best eaten raw. There are other kinds of tomatoes with similar characteristics, like the Rosa de Sorrento, Naples, Italy.
Violet garlic from Pedroñeras, Spain, or white garlic from Polesano, Italy, both with protected origin denomination. It has antiseptic, antibacterial and cleansing properties.
Spanish romaine or oreja de burro lettuces, with a light bitter flavour and hard leaves. Others, like the red chicory from Treviso, Italian, with hard leaves, bitter and very digestive or the Belgian endives, crunchy and fine, very aromatic and bitter, perfect to eat raw, blanched or caramelized and grilled.
Blood orange Tarroco, very tasty and sweet, is the variant that contains more vitamin C due to their fertile soils around Mount Etna, Sicilly.
Olive oil, the fruit of the olive tree, is the healthiest vegetal fat and among their variants, the olive extra olive oil is the purest due to the process of obtaining it and it has got the best nutritional and gastronomical properties.
Olives are popular and can be eaten like table olives, prepared with different seasonings depending on their origin and in different states of maturation, from green to black. Among their variants:
• Manzanilla, fleshly, no bitterness and a bit spicy.
• Gordal or Bella from Spain: huge, quite fleshly, intense flavour.
• Other variants: Nocellara from Belize, Negra de Gaeta or Italian pearl.
Among low fat cheeses we have to mention:
• Fresh cheese payoya goat: found in the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga. Despite being fresh cheese it is unique, with a touch of rosemary or aromatic herbs and an intense butter texture.
• Olavidia cheese comes from Guarroman county in Jaén. It is a traditional goat cheese, with lactic fermentation. It was awarded the best cheese in the World´s Cheese Awards 2021. It contains a thin layer of vegetal coal in the middle and has a fruity flavour.
Dairy products can affect people who are intolerant to lactose and people who are allergic to milk protein, so their consumption can be substituted by vegetal milks (soy, oat, rice, almond, etc.)
Fatty, cured and salty cheeses favour overweight and higher levels of cholesterol and hypertension so their consumption should be moderate. We should avoid processed cheeses, grated and melted cheese, cream cheese and similar, because they contain a high level of salts and chemical additives.
Dairy products in general should be kept refrigerated to avoid microorganisms.
Fruits and vegetables should be kept refrigerated in right place in the fridge and they should be washed carefully before being eaten.
Olive oil should be kept protected from light, kept covered and avoid big temperature variations to prevent oxidative rancidity. Even though it has no expiry date, it should be used within nine months.