Every spring, the same story. The light changes, the temperature rises, we look in the mirror and see the image of a tired person with a dull complexion. The problem is that it’s very easy to say, but rather difficult to put into practice, isn’t it? You are not alone.
For a good part of my life, I chased (unnecessarily) the idea of waking up to a lot of coffee. I don’t know how you do it … I didn’t really need anything. Never tried?
Coffee on one more tea is of no use against this chronic super work fatigue (yes, I tell you from experience). Instead, what can solve the problem is to undertake a correct lifestyle, based on physical activity and healthy nutrition (also this, I tell you from experience). Let’s be honest: during the winter we rightly let ourselves go to animal proteins, dips, and sweets? I understand you – on the set of Cortese for the Guests I eat pasta, meat, and desserts practically twice a day. Good for appetite, not as good for metabolism.
My method for better cooking
To turn on the metabolism and turn off the inflammations that our body produces when we are under pressure and eating badly, the only way is to follow a regime. Not a diet (this would be the prerogative of the doctor) but a new way of cooking and preparing meals, which can make you feel good. It works with me for 6 years now. And I’m happy to feel good in my body knowing that in 18 months I will have turned half a century.
Alongside the dishes of our Italian tradition also some more exotic recipes, which come from places where many raw vegetables are used, cooking techniques with less fat, fast and healthy.
I have never been a big fan of healthy cooking, as it has been understood for many years: not very creative and decidedly tasteless. The kitchen of the house when I was a girl was pretty pushed (my family is Tuscan from the mother) and having made my course of gastronomic studies in Paris, the idea of cooking something steamed was, for many years, combined with the idea of a recovery period. Obviously, I was wrong.
I will not tell you that you must become a vegetarian (unless you wish to do so and are ready for this step). But I can’t even tell you that eating the classic five portions of fruit and vegetables every day is enough to feel good. Least of all to be in shape. What is needed is to follow a correct lifestyle, which starts from the need to practice physical activity and to adapt our kitchen, with cooking techniques to develop dishes that encourage you to be eaten and that can be prepared quickly and simply, to home, for the whole family.
Steam, wok, cocotte, grill, bleaching
These are my five favorite cooking techniques when I think of healthy cooking. I can add the oven – which is essential for some preparations (the box and the desserts, for example)
Steam cooking, done with the classic baskets (metal or bamboo) or with the pressure cooker, is one of the ones they use most often. If the raw material is of quality, the resulting dish is anything but trivial. Don’t think about the steamed sole that your mother made you when you were a child. We can go further. Think of colored vegetables cooked for a few minutes in order to remain colorful and crisp, and then seasoned with mustard sauces, citronette, flavored oil, fresh herbs, seeds. Or a very fresh steamed fish steak with lemon and sesame seeds. Chicken breast left to marinate and then steamed to finally be glazed with miso and soy sauce.
Steam cooking, especially done with a good pressure cooker, is very fast and has the advantage of being able to cook without adding fat, and the natural preservation of a greater percentage of vitamins in vegetables.
The wok is an oriental cooking technique that uses a particular rounded pan, heated at high temperature. I love prepared in my dishes: unique dishes that combine different vegetables with chicken or meat, but also shrimp or other fish. The advantage of waking up is that very little fat is used, generally oil (olive oil, but also of seeds, such as sesame). The food is cut into pieces the size of a bite and then blasted quickly in contact with the hot metal, to cook it leaving it al dente.
Cup cooking is a legacy of my French studies. Most people associate it with braised beef and meats cooked with a lot of gravy. In reality, the cast iron cocotte is perfect for cooking with little fat, because this metal is an excellent heat conductor, and the lid, of a decidedly heavy size, retains the steam of the food inside, speeding up cooking and carefully intact the flavor. I love cooking chicken (also whole) and fish (especially salmon and cod fillets) in the cocotte. But I also prepare the pane, which thanks to the cup is very crunchy [this cooking technique is called a pane in the Dutch oven, you can find my recipe here].
In general, when you cook with the cast iron cocotte you put much less oil (or fat) and you use the internal steam to have faster cooking. The food is therefore very tender, tasty, decidedly healthy. During cooking, to increase the flavor, use spices. Instead, when cooked I always add fresh herbs.
The grill is part of those cooking techniques first enhanced and then demonized. The “black” part that is burning is the contact food on the grill would in fact be carcinogenic. I always try to grill without exaggerating and, above all, avoid the classic mistakes that can be made when using this type of cooking. Both a cooker grill and an electric grill can work. Both must be heated very well so that the food remains in contact with the hot surface for a short time. Never grease the grill, butter to grease the ingredients (slightly). You can grill vegetables and fruit, fish and meat. Grilled is cooking that concentrates the flavor and leaves a pleasant smoky aroma. However, avoid ruining the health effects of this way of cooking by adding packaged sauces.
Bleaching is a technique of cooking in water that requires replacing the classic boiling for vegetables. In France, it is used a lot, here in Italy less, because it leaves the vegetable al dente. In addition to preserving the nutritional properties, bleaching also leaves the color intact. If you are used to soft green beans that turn rotten green … change the system. For 1 – 3 minutes in boiling salted water (exactly what we used to cook pasta). Then drain it with a skimmer or a colander and pass under a jet of cold water, finally depositing what we have bleached in a bowl of water and ice. RESULT? Brilliant, crunchy vegetables, much more beautiful, and much healthier. You can pass them in a pan with 1 tablespoon of oil for 1 minute. Then add to taste: salt, lemon, fresh herbs cut with a knife.