Five ingredients for an healthy diet

Six out of ten Italians have reduced their food purchases, according to the results from a Coldiretti/Censis report. “The effects of the crisis: spend less, eat better.” Authenticity and cost are the two pillars of the paradigm of the contemporary consumer, who has developed with the dynamics of the crisis and adopted moderation and non-compulsive consumption as part of a new logic where quantity does not equal quality. As Coldiretti director Roberto Moncalvo explains, “this accounts for the return of ‘cucina povera’, which uses leftovers, smaller cuts, cheaper fish and even waste in order to save, and the comeback of shared meals as an important family ritual, as well as a social phenomenon that has seen increased deconstruction of meals and dining out.”
We are experiencing a return to past values, where authenticity is no longer taken for granted, and the rediscovery of homemade produce, certified organic and biodynamic products or simply natural products, which are consequently gaining greater importance. If on the one hand we are returning to past values, through a reinforced bond with the local area, whether city or countryside; on the other we are also witnessing the effects of globalization, which increase the appeal of culinary cultures from other countries and therefore the use of ingredients that come from abroad, creating gastronomical contaminations in many different areas.
With this in mind, here are 5 ingredients to keep an eye on in this new cultural-culinary paradigm.

  1. Extra-virgin olive oil

The use of extra-virgin olive oil to replace butter in pastry-making is increasingly widespread. It is important to choose the type of oil carefully in this case, since too strong a flavour might overpower the other ingredients or at least dominate organoleptic perception. The recipe will need to be altered if replacing butter with oil as, unlike butter, oil does not contain water so less will be required to obtain the same fat content.

  1. Guava

Guava is a fruit with a diameter of approximately 6-8cm and soft, edible skin that can vary from white to yellow, red or green in colour. The flesh can be white, yellow or salmon coloured, with many small hard edible seeds. The fruit has an extremely sweet yet slightly acidic flavour which makes it very refreshing. A ripe guava is soft to the touch and can be kept at room temperature for a few days. It can be eaten sliced in fruit salads and is excellent as a sweet preserve when the seeds and skin are removed. It also makes delicious juice. It is used to treat digestion problems thanks to its slight laxative and refreshing properties. In Malaysia, where it is widely consumed, it is thought that regular consumption of guava prevents and reduces hypertension and flu. Guava is a source of vitamins A and C, the latter is mostly concentrated in the skin and external flesh.

  1. Aloe

Well-known for its use in cooking, cosmetics and health care in general, Aloe boasts notable beneficial properties thanks to a high content of polysaccharides, vitamins, mineral salts and amino acids. It is mostly aloe juice that is used in cooking and pastry-making. The juice has analgesic, anaesthetic and healing properties and is known to re-epithelialize and rebalance pH levels and intestinal flora. These properties make it a valid treatment in cases of gastritis, stomach pain, haemorrhoids, rheumatism, halitosis, colitis and IBS. It is also an antioxidant. It is important to purchase juices that do not contain aloin and are therefore non-laxative to avoid suffering negative bodily effects after consumption. The juice should not be pasteurised as this will affect the polysaccharides which give aloe its beneficial properties.

  1. Jasmine

Jasmine originated in Asia but is now found in India, Persia, Mediterranean African countries, Europe and America. It is an evergreen plant, sometimes a climber, and can reach up to 10 metres in height. It has delicate, bright green leaves and white star-shaped flowers with an intense scent, especially at night. It is mainly cultivated for ornamental use in warm climates with mild winters where the temperature never falls below 5°C. There are approximately 200 different varieties, but the most common species used are J. officinalis and J. grandiflorum. Jasmine is a crucial ingredient in perfumery, especially used in the highest quality floral and oriental fragrances. It is used to a small degree in fragranced soaps. It is used in many aromas for food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, such as jasmine tea. Jasmine flowers are also widely used for infusions that are then used to flavour panna cotta, Bavarian cream, fruit compotes and creamy desserts.

  1. Goji berries

Goji berries, the fruit of a plant originally from the plains of China, Tibet and Mongolia, are recognised for their excellent energising and antioxidant properties. They strengthen the immune system, have a low glycaemic index and are rich in anthocyanin that tackles fatty deposits. Goji berries are a natural multivitamin, but it is important to check the packaging: transparent plastic packaging completely destroys their nutritional and antodegenerative properties. They are increasingly used in pastry-making, alongside other tropical berries with beneficial properties such as Açai, Chia and Maqui, to make snacks, chocolate bars, creamy yoghurt-based desserts or garnish small pastries. Easy to store, long-lasting, very nutritious and an excellent ingredient, this dried fruit should be one of the foods that we consume most often, being careful not to exceed the recommended dose.

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