The New Nordic diet rules!

Mediterranean diet, low larb, paleo diet… these things come and go. One thing remains: we need to eat something. I have been happy to find out that the New Nordic diet that is based on “the food triangle”, a thing we learn since our childhood here in Finland, is not the hottest hot in terms of diets and one of the healthiest too.

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Image: Valtion ravitsemusneuvottelulautakunta

The New Nordic diet doesn’t ask you to eat strange things or avoid this or that. It just  means eating a lot of vegetables, fruit and berries, consuming full grain products, some fish and chicken, milk products too and only a bit of a red meat. Suits me well – the ingredients familiar for every Finn!

I am not going to get involved with nutrition – others do that much better but I decided to make a post inspired by these good news. So this is in honor of the Finnish nature and what it has to offer.

We here in the Nordic countries definitely have abundance of good and fresh ingredients we can (though humbly we are) proud of! Despite of all the previous, I am going to continue to consume olive oil, feta cheese and all the rest of the Mediterranean goodies at the same time 🙂

blueberries in hands

Antioxidants straight from the forest!

The berries are one of the best things in Finland. When I was living abroad, my suitcase was always full of lingonberry and lingonberry jam. My treat in the weekend mornings was a lingonberry-banana-smoothie which I sipped carefully and with satisfaction.

Nowadays those berry smoothies are no longer only weekend luxury. I try to start my every morning with a berry smoothie. One of my favorites is a smoothie mixed of Turkish yoghurt, milk, red currants, home apples (the hard work in the fall pays off now!), banana, a piece of fresh ginger and one spoon of honey. This drink also keeps the doctor away!

nordic breads and filds

Rye bread was my second personal import article during my years in Israel. May the gluten critics say what they like, I trust the real Finnish rye bread with a decent layer of good butter 🙂

salmon

fish on deck

Smoked fish, salt-cured fish, grilled fish… I love fresh fish in every form. What would a summer be without the lovely fish we have.

kantarelli mushrooms

And what would be lovelier than to carry home a basket full of mushrooms from a forest in the fall? The top chefs globally acknowledge the good quality and aroma of our forest mushrooms.

mixed forest mushrooms

milk

I believe that what ever you eat, you enjoy it!

And for those interested in the New Nordic diet, there is plenty of articles and research writings about the subject, here just a couple of examples.

http://sciencenordic.com/better-health-nordic-diet

http://www.medindia.net/patients/lifestyleandwellness/nordic-diet.htm

Spiked up

vibram icers_MG_6970

This post is a homage for the diehards who live up north.
For a southern born sardine like myself, walking on ice once sounded like a bad dream. Well, I found myself eventually living up north and as an outdoor person, yes, I often find myself walking on icy roads or paths during the long winter season. I have tested a few different systems before but this ” Vibram Icer’s” makes these slippery hikes almost fun.
I wished I had eyes in my back to witness the faces of people that I passed by last weekend in Seurasaari. Equipped with these sharp spikes attached to my hiking boots, armed with walking poles, the old sardine transformed into a 4 x 4 drive salmon, who no more will be defeated by the slippery uphills!

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Matka 2015 – the largest travel event in Northern Europe is on!

It is January and time to go to Matka 2015, the travel event in Helsinki. The exhibition opened up today for the public. Here are our tips and greetings from the professionals’ day.

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These lovely Greek ladies represent Greece in Stockholm, Stavroula Skaltsi and Alexandra Saranditi, welcome in Finland! So nice to meet you!

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The destination breakfast offered coffee and something to grab for early birds. An important event where many of our trips start.

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Matka 2015 represents many exotic destinations but we shouldn’t forget our wonderful capital Helsinki which has become a great food city in the recent years. Here Laura Saksala, Visit Helsinki Communication and Press Officer, gave restaurant tips for her home neighborhood Kallio:

Lie Mi, a small fast food style place inside Siltanen, a restaurant located in Hämeentie, offers nice atmosphere and good Vietnamese food.

Kolmonen makes simple but good food from good, Finnish ingredients. Go here especially for lunch.

Ravintola Keidas serves the best croissants in Helsinki according to Laura. She also goes to Keidas for lunch.

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Eevakaisa Mölsä knows Turkey’s hidden pearls and will give you her best tips.

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Japan Airlines opened last year a route between Japan and Finland.

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Emel Arzu, the director of the Turkish tourism office in Helsinki would travel to Alacati, Izmir. A beautiful place with narrow streets and boutique hotels.

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My next destination seems to be Madrid and a Spanish course!

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Finnair flight attendants offered drinks and food.

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The Cuban stand has a beautiful poster.

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Brasil and Iguazu on my dream list. One day…

Other tips for the travel event:

– The famous instagram professionals Daniel and Samuel Taipale will be speaking about how to take the perfect travel picture on Sat Jan 16 at 1 pm (Sun & Sea- stage).

– Don’t miss Bhutan which has a representative for the first time. The country lets in only around 60 000 tourists annually which means that you can see the country as it is. Other new comers are Uganda and Madagascar.

www.matkamessut.fi

or click here for the English version.

Eating in Athens

 

Tavernas, cafes, bars, street food, markets. Yummy! Athens is just the right place for a foodie!

We were on a food trip in Athens just before Christmas and after coming home I had to have my usual rye bread & butter diet as usually after food trips. This is my own way to calm down after eating too much delicacies.

plaka athens

The neighborhood of Plaka is a very beautiful and romantic place. You can easily spend there one evening just wondering around, eating. Or the whole afternoon like we did with our local friend Dimitra. We sat in a traditional taverna called Psaras, ate, drank and most of all, laughed a lot!

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In the market hall about which I already made a post and in its surroundings you can find really nice small delis and restaurants. In this lovely Armenian deli you never have to buy anything without knowing what you get. You collect small tastings on a place, sit next to a long, wooden table and enjoy. Then you buy what you really like.

street musician athens

An organ grinder in the pedestrian street. And roasted chestnuts.

athens restaurants

Don’t miss a nice portion of souvlaki while in Athens. The Greek street food is tasty and good quality.

athens on december

It was funny to see all these Santa dressed Athenians walking around when the temperature was the same as in the Finnish summer.

journalist group

Our group consisted of a local food journalist Angela, a Moscow based food magazine editor in chief Dimitri, Rose Mary, a food critic from Berlin and my Finnish colleague Mika Remes.

athens metro

The metro was packed! It is the most practical way to avoid the traffic jams of the big city. Or to move around when the streets are closed and no cabs available because of the demonstrations like when we were there.

athens street image

helexpo maroussi athens

There is a big food festival held twice a year in Athens: in the summer and just before Christmas. The festival is open for both food professionals and foodies. The best thing were the generous tastings – you could really get to know new tastes. I loved especially the bottarga (dried gray mullet roe packed in bee wax) with different taste combinations such as lime zest. I carried home a big bag of lamb and goat milk cheese – so good!

wine tasting

This is our local host Dimitris in a wine tasting. What a concentration!

food and cooks

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We spent a fun evening at Safka, a Nordic restaurant owned by Marika Koskinen and her brother Samu Koskinen.

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You can see the passion both in the place and in the food. Samu goes back and forth between Helsinki and Athens and carries loads of Finnish delicacies on the way.

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Like smoked rain deer as in this dish.

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The last dinner was at Tudor Hall, a stylish restaurant just next to Syntagma square. Once again too much eating as we couldn’t resist the delicious food.

athes by night

We ate many times in restaurants with an Acropolis view. A visit to Acropolis wasn’t part of our program but on my last evening I decided I will make a hop of my own to the famous hill. And it was definitely worth seeing this birthplace of civilization.

acropolice athens

Stuffed eggplant with chicken and tahini

As usual after enjoying all the great traditional dishes of the holiday season, it feels right to try something new. Here is my improvisation of a stuffed eggplant, inspired by our last visit to Athens.

stuffed egplant ingredients

Stuffed eggplant with chicken and tahini

Ingredients

  • Ingredients for 4-5 portions.
  • 3 eggplants
  • 500 gr Chicken breast
  • Za’atar or oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Fresh parsley
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Lemon
  • Tahini
  • Small sweet tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Chicken marinade:
  2. Chop the za’atar, rosemary, onion and garlic.
  3. Add honey, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Slice each chicken breast into 4-5 pieces
  5. Put the chicken into the marinade and let stand for 1-3 h.
  6. Slice the eggplants lengthwise into about 1 cm thin slices.
  7. Gently brush them on both sides with the spicy oil of the marinade.
  8. Heat the oven to 220° C
  9. Place the oiled eggplant slices on a baking tray and bake them in the oven for about 15-20 min. until they get nice golden brown colour.
  10. Chop the left over pieces of the eggplant to very small pieces.
  11. Take the chicken pieces from the marinade and wipe them above the bowl with your fingers. Do not throw away the marinade, as you will need it later!
  12. Fry the chicken lightly on a frying pan in olive oil (Do not overcook, as the dish will go on cooking in the oven.)
  13. Remove the chicken from the pan. Mix the chopped leftover eggplant into the marinade and then cook the marinade in the frying pan until the onion and garlic get some colour. Now mix the fried chicken again with the cooked marinade.
  14. Roll the chicken pieces into the eggplant slices starting from the wider end of the eggplant.
  15. Place the rolls in an oven dish.
  16. Cut the small tomatoes to round slices and place one on each roll.
  17. Cook in the oven 200 ° C for about 30 min.
  18. While the dish is in the oven prepare the Tahini:
  19. Mix 1 dl Tahini with about 1 dl water
  20. Add some lemon juice, salt and finely chopped parsley
  21. The tahini sauce can be put on top of the whole dish or be served separately.
  22. Serve with rice as a main course or by itself as an appetizer.
http://sweetchili.fi/en/stuffed-eggplant-chicken-tahini/

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