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Friday, March 7, 2008

Slow Food and eating healthy..

Slow food is really a healthy food concept that originated in Italy and now boasts chapters all over the world. It is what the original Mediterranean diet was based on. It is a concept of cooking food and eating food- slow. So as to promote the use of fresh foods and not processed foods when cooking and also to promote sitting down and taking time to eat your food in a slow manner.
I base most of my recipes on this since they follow the Mediterranean diet.
However, as far as low-cal slow food, here are some points to ponder:
*Slow food is recipes that are made in the original way using the original ingredients. So for instance you would not substitute fat free margarine for olive oil to make the recipe lower in calories. Fat free margarine has a lot of preservatives in it and the concept of slow food also promotes eating food in it’s' most original state. But you can use less olive oil in your recipe if it will still work. When I cook 'tomato sugo' (tomato sauce). I tend to use only a light touch of olive oil-1 tblsp. Most people tend to use 3 and 4 or more. This is not necessary as long as the other ingredients you use are first quality-fresh red ripe sweet tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh onions, and garlic. All the flavors complement one another and should be balanced and not be overdone.
*Slow food also promotes using artisan foods- foods that are literally handmade and not machine made or usually made in smaller production-not mass produced in a factory. So you couldn't use fat free mozzarella in a recipe and still consider it really slow food. You would have to use freshly made mozzarella and cut back the portion size or the amount you are using. You would not use fat free lower cal bread that is probably produced in a factory with loads of preservatives but a freshly made loaf of bread cut in thinner slices.
*Of course fresh fruits and vegetables are part of the slow food regimen and are all lower in calories than processed foods and healthy for you.

It is all about keeping true to the origin of the foods and even true to the traditional recipes that originated in the town the recipe originated from. So if you want to stay true to slow food and have lower cal foods- cut back on the ingredients like olive oil, cheeses and pump up the fruits and /or veggies. However you will be altering the recipes so it will not remain true to its origins. But it will give you a lower cal way to experience a version of it.

*Most cheeses in Italy are not extremely fat laden except for mascarpone which is absolutely delicious but loaded with calories and fat. Parmigiano-Reggiano is actually a naturally low fat cheese and is easier to digest because of the artisan way the milk is produced and the grasses that cows eat that produce the milk for this cheese.

*Also eating foods slower does force you to become fuller and you will generally not eat as much as you would if you ate fast. It also is healthier for digestion, so it does have an indirect effect on losing weight as well. Many diet programs teach you to eat slower.

However, also keep in mind that there have been studies done that show that eating less processed foods makes your metabolism work faster and people that do eat less processed foods burn calories quicker.
The slow food diet is a healthier diet not necessarily a low cal diet but natural foods are lower in calories in general than their processed counterparts.

If you would like more info or recipes, let me know. I have added one that is a lower cal version of Tiramisu. It is based on the classic version but lower in calories. Mascarpone cheese is so heavy in calories and fat that I thought it would be best to enjoy this dessert in a healthier way so I substituted fat free cream cheese and yogurt for the mascarpone cheese.

Tiramisu (light version)
(copyright, 2005,2006,2007, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, Maria Liberati)

*16 ounce package of savoiardi or ladyfingers
*1 cup espresso coffee with 1 tablespoon sugar
* ¼ cup powdered unsweetened cocoa
*1 tsp amaretto or anisette liqueur
*8 ounces of fat free coffee flavored yogurt
*8 ounces fat free cream cheese
*small piece of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)

Place espresso coffee with 1 tblsp of sugar or 2 packets of artificial sweetener in shallow bowl. Dip each ladyfinger in the coffee mixture for about 2 seconds. Then arrange biscotti-side by side to on a plate.
Place yogurt and cream cheese in bowl and whip together till well belndedwith hand mixer. Blend in liqueur.. Spread about 3/4 of yogurt mixture on top of ladyfingers. Repeat again and top with ladyfingers and then top with remaining yogurt mixture. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour. Right before serving, dust with powdered cocoa and shave some dark chocolate on top.

And of course for more recipes go to and purhcase your copy of the bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati. You will receive $5 off the retail price and free shipping and handling..

Ciao for now..


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