April 07, 2011 by
It is obviously spring on our terrace, which is almost becoming as big as a garden. Marika planted even more herbs than last year (in addition to the many flowers, geranium and….the big lemon tree which already has one big lemon!). I think we now have them all.
Just name one and we have it: from bay laurel, sage, rosemary, parsley, LOTS of mint, to thyme and basil. At our parents’ garden we have: capers, chilly peppers, oregano, wild fennel and rucola (rocket).
Our guests who already attended our cooking classes in Puglia know how I and Marika love adding all the different herbs to our dishes…..even to cakes! This is something that we learned from our Nonna/Grandmother, who used to plant so many herbs and knew all the health benefits of each single herb: from treating a flu, a cold, to liver or stomach problems.
Cooking with herbs belongs to the Mediterranean culinary tradition: it is very common in all regions in Southern Italy. The first time I cooked for my friends in Milan (many years ago!) they were really impressed with all the spices and herbs I used: not just onion, celery and parsley; but also lots of oregano, sage, rosemary and wild fennel. All herbs that grow wild in our countryside.
Cooking with herbs is a very healthy way of preparing our food and eating. First of all, by using herbs and spices you add lots of flavors to your dishes, which allows you to reduce the amount of salt. This is something that Marika, as a Cardiologist, loves telling to our cooking students: adding herbs (and cutting salt!) helps lowering blood pressure and heart diseases.
Moreover, many herbs have lots of antioxidants, which are very good for our health but also to better preserve the food we are preparing.
March 24, 2011 by
A few days ago, I attended a very interesting dinner my Harvard Alumni Club organized in Milan. Umberto Veronesi was our dinner guest. He is the founder of the Veronesi Foundation, which carries on very important scientific research in order to fight cancer.
At the dinner he spoke about the scientific advances in genetics and their impact on hereditary diseases and predictive medicine. He told us that doctors and scientists strongly believe certain foods can be very powerful in order to prevent cancer. Still, there is not enough evidence; however, they are doing lots of research to demonstrate the importance of food.
Among the many food products he talked about, he said strawberries may be very powerful against cancer.
We already know about the many health benefits strawberries have. They are rich in phenols (anthocyanins) which make up the red colour and serve as potent antioxidants. Also a research from Harvard Medical School showed that strawberries may offer heart disease protection.
In addition to that, strawberries are an important source of ellagic acid. Veronesi’s team are studying the ellagic acid’s possible benefits against cancer.
After listening to this speech, I and Marika have been eating strawberries every day, in many different ways: at breakfast with cereals, at lunch and dinner with salad.
Pietro, the farmer from whom we buy all the ingredients for our cooking classes, grows organic and super tasty strawberries.
We like making a salad with a few drops of red wine or the very old balsamic vinegar. This is to enhance the phenols (anthocyanins) benefits. Then we decorate with a few mint leaves or basil.
Good healthy strawberries!