Not only is Italian food delicious, bursting with flavour and traditionally accompanied by a glass of wine, the Mediterranean diet is also recognised by UNESCO as one of the healthiest in the world.
The Mediterranean food pyramid encourages us to relish carbohydrates, drink alcohol daily – in moderation – eat less meat and more fish and eggs for protein, and to eat more beans and legumes. Recent research shows that this diet cuts the chances of those at risk of heart attacks or suffering strokes by an incredible 30%.
Sounds easy – and delightful – enough.
Start healthy eating with focaccia with caramelised red onions...
Since Catherine Fulvio, owner of Ballyknocken House Cookery School in Ireland, TV presenter and food writer, married her Sicilian husband, Claudio, she has become enamoured with the Italian food and culture, where, she says, people live to eat rather than eat to live.
She believes the Mediterranean diet is the answer to long-lasting health and happiness and so has structured ler latest cookbook, Eat Like An Italian, like the Mediterranean food pyramid, with an introduction and tips scattered throughout about adapting to the healthy, leisurely lifestyle.
The Irish chef, who has presented several of her own series on TV, says she hopes that "we too can embrace this lifestyle and food culture by enjoying our very own local, seasonally fresh produce, prioritising our mealtimes, making them routine and including our friends and family, taking daily exercise and a drink in moderation".
No Italian cookcook would be complete without a host of pasta dishes, and Catherine shares more than 100 new 'recipes for the good life' which include all types of pasta, from fettuccine and linguine to farfalle and pappardelle. Try the mouth-watering favourite, pappardelle with ragu.
Catherine's tip – the book is sprinkled with nuggets of her cookery wisdom – is to try shredded slow-roasted pork.
You can change the way you think about cooking by looking for recipes under sections such as Bread, pasta, rice & couscous, Fruit, Nuts, beans & legumes and Fish & shellfish. Stunning food photography and lifestyle shots taken in the home of Slow Food, Turin in Italy, are bound to make these dishes simply irresistible.
Healthy fish dishes are also included in the cooking tome, like tuna with white beans and artichokes.
Sear the tuna to the point of medium rare, which firms it up on the outside but leaves a soft and flavoursome meat on the inside.
Embrace la dolce vita. Take a leaf out of Eat like an Italian, and follow one of the healthiest diets in the world...
Eat like an Italian is on sale now. ballyknocken.com