Learn to cook and eat the Mediterranean way

Olive oilThe Mediterranean way of cooking and eating is increasingly regarded as a great option for those seeking a more healthy diet, to cut food bills and for cooks of all abilities. Mediterranean food can be simple to prepare and relies more on the combination of flavours and quality of ingredients rather than on expensive gadgets or complex techniques.

The Mediterranean Diet is considered one of the healthiest in the world which is ironic as it developed in an area where stretching out the family budget with only a few pennies was almost an art in itself!

Traditionally many Mediterranean family meals were prepared in huge pots, with a seemingly never-ending list of ingredients that were cheap and plentiful, grown in the garden or foraged from the wild. These recipes combined all manner of ingredients such as pasta, rice, pulses (such as lentils) and whatever vegetables were readily available or in season and finished with a generous helping of herbs or spices. (Check out my Minestra recipe for a typical example!) It was a great way of ensuring that however humble the ingredients, the family would eat well (every Mediterranean mother’s abiding preoccupation!) not just one day but two or even three. The taste of these rustic stews actually improves with keeping-so not only good wholesome cooking but also cost and even time saving.

Of course there is more to Mediterranean cooking than gargantuan stews (known in Spain as “cocina de cuchara” as you only need a spoon to eat it.) Over the coming weeks I will reveal how cooking the Mediterranean way is:

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Learning to cook is a vital life skill which is fast disappearing in the UK. 

Did you know that:

one in 10 people can only cook 3 meals without a recipe book, whereas the previous generation could cook 20?

– few people under 30 know how to make a stew or turn leftovers into a meal? (Good Food Channel, 2011 survey)

I strongly believe that everyone should learn to cook because it can be such an enjoyable, creative and sociable activity. It can also provide the skills and know how to fall back on in hard times. Making a soup from leftover vegetables costs pennies but is warming and nutritious and only takes minutes to prepare. (See Meals in Minutes)

Did you know:

  • The UK spent around £2.6 billion on ready meals in 2012, double the amount than that of France and six times as much as Spain? (BBC 2013)
  • The average evening meal cooked from scratch  has now fallen to one meal a week in the UK? (Euromonitor 2011)
    (http://www.bestfootforward.com/press/2013/07/16/revealed-consumer-behaviour-barriers-sustainable-food-future)

This seems strange given the popularity of cookery programmes and cookbooks being at an all time high! Fried boquerones A lack of time is cited as the other reason for the decreasing numbers cooking from scratch.

Did you know that the average time spent preparing an evening meal in the UK now down to 8 minutes?

But what better way to wind down than preparing something delicious to eat?  It really doesn’t have to take hours. This website aims to help buck the trend by revealing how rewarding cooking can be.  Neither lack of skills, time nor budget need be a barrier to cooking from scratch.

In Cooking without Tears there are lots of step by step recipes and tips for easy cooking inspired by Mediterranean ingredients and know-how.  Or click on Recipes for a range of tasty dishes to suit all ages and palates based on personal recipes and information gleaned from living and working in the Mediterranean.  I hope it will provide inspiration and guidance so you too can enjoy cooking and eating the Med way- with all the ebullience and zest for life that characterises the region-olé!

Please feel free to contact me with any queries or suggestions.

© (Suzette McDaniel Don’t Burn The Onions) Unauthorized use and /or duplication of this material without express written consent from this blog’s author/and or owner is strictly prohibited.

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