Ideally we can live in a joyful and relaxed relationship with food and with the home and ultimately reclaim the taste and the pleasure of cooking. This is the natural approach to cooking in the testimony left to us in her newspaper articles by Francesca Marotta.
Marotta’s first bit of good advice is to take each step in the preparation of the meal slowly. Sure, it takes more time to carefully choose the best ingredients to prepare a lunch, but all of it is merited. When cooking, all of the senses must be involved, from cutting to mixing and heating the ingredients.
Do not consider using foods that damage the environment or are ethically questionable (to obtain caviar it is necessary to squeeze the eggs from the pregnant female fish). Also do not use foods that are out of season.
The dictates to follow are those of natural cuisine, as explained by Francesca Marotta for LifeGate when she wrote about the way to make the preparation of food a rewarding, healthy and creative experience.
Balance, variety, simplicity, fantasy tradition: natural cooking could be summed up with these five words. The model of natural cuisine that we propose does not necessarily reflect a one-sided view of cooking and food (only macrobiotic, only vegetarian, only raw food and so on), instead her model proposes a curious and lively attitude, proffered by one who passionately loves food and the cooking. Cooking by natural means, in our opinion, is to use the greatest possible amount of information, experience and knowledge, without dogmas or prejudice and to make each recipe a little masterpiece of taste and health. The material from which to draw is immense: from regional traditions to ethnic cuisines, from ancient recipes to modern cuisine, all of which are using the best techniques of preparation, those that ensure the enhancement of the nutritional content and taste.
The fundamental rules of natural cooking
• Choose quality ingredients: organic food, for example, in addition to being healthier because it has no pesticide residues, it is also richer in vitamins and minerals and more flavorful and fragrant.
• Reduce cooking time: prolonged cooking reduces the vitamin and nutritional content of food, and sometimes makes food less digestible. For example, raw cabbage is digested in two hours, while it takes four to five hours for cooked cabbage to be digested.
• Avoid fried, browned and burnt foods: overcooked fat can be harmful to the liver and the intestine; the parts of the browned or blackened food (especially if protein) may form carcinogens. When preparing a fried onion or other vegetables, put vegetables in a cold pan at the same time as the oil and then turn on the heat. In this way, the cooking temperature is kept low and the fat will alter the food less.
• Cooking with extra virgin olive oil is the best from the nutritional point of view, it is an antioxidant and anti-cholesterol when cooking, it offers good resistance to the production of toxic substances, it is very flavorful and so very little is needed for seasoning the food. What could be better than that?
• Leverage synergies among nutrients: for example, the beta-carotene of carrots is absorbed much better (almost four times as much) if the carrots are seasoned with oil or butter. Therefore it is much better to have your salads with dressing.
• Do not waste the nutrients, for example, when cooking with whole grains, it is better to add only a little bit of water, so that all of it is absorbed, in that way precious vitamins and minerals are not lost in excess cooking water.
• Use fresh condiments: it is the most practical and easy to add flavor, for example, add them to a plate of pasta tasty, making it more digestible, and very rich in vitamins and minerals.
• Plentiful use of herbs and spices, add towards the end of cooking: in addition to aiding digestion and better preserving foods, they reduce the need to use salt and provide a huge variety of appetizing and creative combinations. Just say no to tasteless, monotonous and depressing cooking, go-ahead and use the imagination.
Natural cooking, which enhances food from the point of view of taste and health, follows a few simple rules that can guide us towards a gradual change of habits without too much suffering and expand our culinary horizons.