If you ever come to Puglia and Southern Italy you will certainly notice that there are many people and women in particular who live up to 100 years and in very healthy conditions.
Certainly the slow and relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle has a big influence on this: everybody goes back home for lunch, eats with the family and takes a little nap before going back to work at 5pm.
However, the Mediterranean-style diet is one of the main reasons why women and people in general, live so long. One of the most important features of the Mediterranean diet and cuisine is that people eat a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats at every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner). What is extremely important is that, everything is eaten in moderation and that focus is on GOOD carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
In Puglia extra virgin olive oil is used almost for everything, even for sweets. Lots of vegetables are eaten at every meal. Proteins come from seafood and most of all from legumes which are eaten at least twice per week. Very little meat is used, sometimes once a week and always in small servings.
Lots of students attending our cookery courses are always impressed with the fact that we eat pasta almost every day and keep asking Marika, as a cardiologist, whether this is a healthy thing to do! Don’t we eat too many carbohydrates?
It is true that in Puglia and Southern Italy we eat lots of carbohydrates. However we mainly eat those with a low glycemic index. Pasta in Puglia is made with no eggs, but just with semolina durum wheat and water. Also, we eat lots of grains such as barley, farro and rye and lots of fruit.
A recent study led by the National Institute of Cancer in Milan, shows that there is an increased risk of heart attack caused not by a diet high in carbohydrates, but by a diet rich in rapidly absorbed carbohydrates.
This is a very simple and delicious recipe made with farro, a very good carbohydrate (which in English should translate into emmer).
FARRO WITH MUSSELS, TOMATOES AND EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
1 lb farro
2 lb black mussels
1 garlic clove
15 cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup parsley
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch black pepper
Cook the farro in water for about 25 minutes. Remove it al dente.
On the side pour in a sauce pan a few drops of extra virgin olive oil with the garlic clove and chilly pepper. After one minute add the black mussels and cherry tomatoes and everything cook.
Once the mussels are open, add the farro and finish cooking everything together.
Switch off the flame and add freshly chopped parsley, extra virgin olive oil and black pepper.
Eat right away!