Italian food is sometimes demonized as being full of fat and carbs and overall the reason behind weight gain. On the contrary, Italians are very healthy! A lot of this is due to the amount of time they spend walking or being active but also because Italian food can actually be quite good for you. Most people don't know this but the Italians love to cook with fresh local ingredients, if it isn't grown or born within a few miles they don't typically use it.
Here in the US traditional Italian food has been adapted to include added cheese, jar sauce and pre-made boxed pasta. The reality is, Italians love to cook from scratch and the use of fresh ingredients is key to this process. Not only that, but wine is a beverage that is enjoyed in conjunction with a meal, it is not often that you will see Italians enjoying a glass of wine without some food nearby.
An interesting fact-One of the 5 Blue Zones in the world is in Sardinia Italy, now if you are not familiar with a Blue Zone it is a geographic area where there are ten times more people who reach the age of 100 per capita than in the US. These people are eating better, moving more and enjoying healthy, full lives until they eventually pass away of natural causes. One of the mainstays of the Blue Zone diet is a lot of vegetables and beans and very little meat.
One recipe that is a favorite of Nada's, made by her Mamma and very Blue Zone friendly is her Minestra di Farro.
This is a great meal for a cool fall evening and is easy to prepare, enjoy it and live longer! Minestra di Farro “Spelt Soup” Serves 4 3 ounces of spelt /or pearled barley 6 ounces dried red beans chopped aromatic vegetables (onion, carrot, celery) 1 tablespoon tomato paste olive oil salt and freshly ground pepper 1 - Soak the beans for at least 8/12 hours in 6 cups of salted, cold water. 2 - Transfer to a pot, and cook until the beans are tender. 3 – Transfer half of the beans to a food processor, and puree. Stir the bean puree back into the pot. 4 – In a skillet, warm 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the aromatic vegetables, and saute’ for some minutes until brown. Dissolve the tomato paste in a bit of water, add to the skillet and cook for another 10 minutes. At this point, add the broth with the beans. 5 - Season with salt and add the spelt and some boiling water if necessary, and cook for about 1 hour. 6 - Set aside to rest for about half hour before serving with olive oil, fresh ground pepper and crusty Italian bread.