Yes to fried food and chocolate, but it is also important to eat inulin and turmeric. Dr Chiara Manzi explains how to combine and cook foods so as not to give up anything, to be healthy and stay in shape or get back in shape.
Good food is one of the most popular “vice” of Italians, who tend to indulge in small sins of gluttony quite often, only to feel guilty about their figure or well-being. Some foods are often considered unhealthy, but in reality they are not so bad for you, and if you include them in your diet in the right way, they can be trusted allies for your well-being.
As explains Dr Chiara Manzi, Italian nutritionist and university lecturer, Europe’s leading expert in Culinary Nutrition:
“While it is true that everyone should adopt a varied and balanced diet based on their own needs, and that in case of pathologies or food sensitivities, it is always advisable to consult your doctor, I believe the time has come to absolve those foods or cooking methods that have long been unfairly ‘accused’ of being unhealthy“.
“The Mediterranean Diet, which does not exclude any food or macro-category, is now considered the best diet, and since 2010 has even been included in the UNESCO list of Intangible Heritage of Humanity. With Culinary Nutrition, we have a kind of evolution of this type of diet. Recent studies have shown that by combining ingredients in a certain way and following certain cooking procedures, we can eat everything we love without depriving ourselves of anything, including pizza, fried food and chocolate“.
In her latest book, ‘”Cucina Evolution. In forma senza dieta“, published by Art Joins Nutrition, Dr Chiara Manzi explains in depth the basic principles to follow in order to have a diet that excludes nothing, allowing us to stay healthy and in perfect shape. To amplify the benefits, the doctor also recommends bringing to the table some foods that (perhaps) are still unknown and rarely eaten.
- Yes to pasta and pizza, even with refined flour, but add soluble fibres
Carbohydrates are often demonised, especially those made from refined flour. Whole-grain products, which are richer in fibre, are preferable, but we must admit that taste is often compromised. Think of a soft cake, which would be less leavened, or a plate of carbonara, it’s certainly not the same thing! The solution, therefore, is to add long-chain inulin, a soluble non-digestible fibre which boosts the microflora and does not alter the taste. The dish will be rich in fibre, tasty and with a lower glycaemic impact.
- Extra virgin olive oil, a panacea in raw form, which can also be used in cooking
EVO oil is a vegetable fat, but just as with sugar, there is not just one type. It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which protect the heart and arteries, vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that combats cellular ageing, and polyphenols, which improve intestinal microflora. This does not mean, however, that we can drizzle our dishes with oil. Remember that it is still a fat and excessive consumption is not recommended. In addition, each tablespoon provides 90 kcal. So let’s use it in the right quantities to add flavour to our dishes, without overdoing it.
- Yes to cooking
Let’s dispel the myth that raw food is healthier. While this may be true for some foods, which may lose some of their nutrients during cooking, it is not true for others. Some foods are less nutritious when eaten raw, such as carrots: only 5% of carotenoids are absorbed when eaten raw!
- Eggs, fully acquitted of the “cholesterol crime
A number of researchers have dispelled the myth that eggs are fattening and increase cholesterol. In particular, a group from the University of Sydney found that eating up to 12 eggs a week did not increase either weight or cholesterol. Without reaching these quantities, eggs have proteins of high biological value and important micronutrients such as vitamin A, B12, folic acid (important in pregnancy), iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Finally, the yolk is rich in lecithins, which reduce the intestinal absorption of cholesterol.
- Chocolate, a sin of gluttony you can always indulge in
Chocolate is often used as a reward or to cheer oneself up, thinking that it should only be eaten rarely to avoid gaining weight or thinking that it is bad for you. On the contrary, 70% or more dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which can regulate blood and lymphatic microcirculation, help protect small veins, protect the liver and strengthen the immune system. As long as you don’t take it with dairy products because casein prevents the intestinal absorption of flavonoids. On these grey winter afternoons, therefore, let’s not deny ourselves a cup of hot chocolate, perhaps replacing milk with water, or treat ourselves to a tasty hazelnut spread, choosing those low in sugar and fat and enriched with inulin.
- Fried, good and healthy if you do it this way
All diets prohibit frying, despite the fact that it is a method of cooking that preserves many vitamins and, if done properly, can contain less fat than a large salad. If you follow these steps, 100 g of fried food coated in rice flour will absorb about 4 g of oil: The oil must be abundant (1 litre per 100g of product) and at a constant temperature of 170°C; before frying the food, leave it to cool in the freezer, it will absorb half the fat; the fried food must be drained well and then blotted three times with absorbent paper; finally, avoid the formation of harmful substances such as acrylamide, a carcinogenic substance which forms when breadcrumbs turn from golden to brown.
- Turmeric and black pepper, the spices that reduce the waistline
This winning pair has the power to reduce your waistline. Curcumin has many positive properties: it lowers cholesterol, inhibits the formation of fat cells and helps mood, but its intestinal absorption is very low unless it is combined with piperine from black pepper, which stimulates the intestinal villi and increases assimilation up to two thousand times. So add this winning pair to your recipes, from breadcrumbs for schnitzel (use egg white, turmeric and black pepper) to jam.
- Less lactose, more well-being
When preparing desserts, it is better to choose lactose-free products (milk, ricotta, mascarpone…). While maintaining the same nutritional values as milk with lactose, it is much sweeter and allows us to add less sugar. It contains a mix of sugars, glucose and galactose, which is twice as sweet as lactose.
- Erythritol, the natural 0-calorie sweetener that keeps you sweet
This natural sweetener belongs to the polyol group and is obtained by fermenting sugars naturally present in fruit and other plant-based foods. Unlike other polyols, it has zero calories and no laxative effects. It is 70% as sweet as ordinary table sugar and has no aftertaste as stevia does. It does not affect blood glucose or insulin levels, making it suitable for people with diabetes, and it does not cause tooth decay! Use it in place of classic white sugar in your desserts and you can treat yourself to a little pampering without the guilt.
- Inulin, the friend of every dish
There are several types of chicory fibre available on the market, but only the long-chain type (Inulin Excellence) has a neutral taste and is able to lower the glycaemic index of recipes and reduce the absorption of fats and carbohydrates, while also cutting calories! It is a prebiotic that increases the density of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in our intestines, reducing the load of harmful bacteria. From pasta dishes to main courses and even desserts, adding Inulin Excellence to every dish you prepare will immediately give you a dish that is richer in fibre, healthier and also suitable for those who need to lose weight.