Expand your palate with new spices, vegetables, or cooking techniques. Here are six of the healthiest global cuisines to get those taste buds out of a rut and back on the open road of healthy living.
It can be tough to stay inspired trying to eat a balanced diet. Often we fall into the mind trap of believing the best kinds of foods are the ones we’re actively trying to avoid. One of the best ways to liven up your plate is to explore healthy cuisines from other countries and regions.
These are the traditionally healthiest global cuisines
It’s important to remember we’re not talking about the modern westernized offspring of these cultures. These classic culinary practices focus on fresh, readily available ingredients with high concentrations of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.
Preparation techniques tend to be quicker, and processed foods are basically nil. Many of these cuisines focus on longer meals, smaller portions, and mindful social eating . Even the healthiest global cuisines will have their own guilty pleasures and delicacies as well, so don’t forget to watch out for sugary or fried favorites.
A South American staple, Peruvian cuisine combines preparation techniques and ingredients from Spain, Africa, China, and France with spices, vegetables, and fish unique to the many differing regions of the country.
Ceviche, Peru’s national dish, is a delicious and simple combination of raw fatty fish, lime juice, onion, salt, and Peruvian aji chile peppers. Their national beverage, Chicha Morada, is an antioxidant-rich health tonic made from boiled purple corn, pineapple, and cinnamon.
Characterized by cooking techniques that eschew oil in favor of steam or broth based methods, the traditional Vietnamese cuisine is rich with fresh veggies, wild seafood, and herbs like Thai basil, red chili, cilantro, and mint. Rice is served with nearly every meal as either a steamed side, noodles, or congee – a rice paste.
Dishes like Pho include herbs and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants, aid digestion, and incredibly nutritious! While portions trend toward the larger, these recipes usually have a low fat content and simple preparation that let you eat until you’re satisfied without feeling caloric guilt.
Tapas, perhaps Spain’s best known style of cuisine, are a series of small and varied entrees shared by hand at the dinner table. While this practice encourages diverse nutritional content, social eating, and portion control, there’s more to the benefits of the Spanish culinary tradition than just tapas.
Much like in the mediteranian diet, raw vegetables, olives, citrus, and fresh seafare in hearty rice-based dishes like paella provide natural vitamins and minerals that keep the body moving.
The key to Indian cuisine is spice – both in its distinct flavor palate and its health benefits. Traditional Indian fare uses negative flavor pairings to contrast and accentuate combinations of spices, making each dish full and complex.
These same spices, like curry powder and turmeric, have been proven to reduce cancer risk and inflammation, as well as encourage organ health. Due in part to the prevalence of Hinduism, meat in the authentic Indian style trends toward chicken, lamb, and seafood. Vegetarianism is also quite popular in many areas of India, so vegetable curries are common.
Japanese cultural cuisine in the Washoku or Okinawa tradition includes staples of raw sea vegetables, rice, unprocessed soy products like tofu or miso, shiitake mushrooms, and fatty fish.
Like traditional Vietnamese cooking, there’s an emphasis on steam-cooked or stir-fried dishes. Healthy social eating practices like “Hara Hachi Bu” (“eat until you’re 80% full”) and “Shoku-dogen” (“food is medicine”) encourage self-discipline and promote respect for foods that provide our bodies with the nutrients they ask for.
Southern Greece and Crete in particular are known as the birthplaces of Mediteranian cuisine, a style that relies on fresh seasonal ingredients and fatty seafood as its major source of protein.
Like other healthy global cuisines, the Greek diet focuses on minimally processed or raw dishes that include antioxidant rich vegetables like eggplant, grape leaves, and tomatoes. Vegetable dips and spreads like hummus or melitzanosalata encourage portion control, and are served with pita bread, which is made with unrefined whole wheat.
Notice a pattern?
All six of our healthiest global cuisines have a few things in common: they use natural, local ingredients in recipes which are mindfully designed to heal your body as well as fuel it. A variety of spice, flavor, and color keep the eye and the palate on its toes. There’s a higher focus on the preparation of the meal, as well as the social rituals around it.
As the world and our food become more and more industrialized, these traditions mix and meld with less healthy processed or fried foods, but their roots remain. Street food, marketplaces, small restaurants, and countless cooks at home keep the world’s healthiest cuisines vitalizing and refreshing.
Upcoming Farm to Fit
Meals From Regional Cuisines
The westernized classic with some mesoamerican spirit. Firm corn tortillas stuffed with green chorizo, onion & bell pepper, egg, oaxaca cheese, and salsa fresca.
Shrimp and Grits
Breakfast, lunch, or dinner? With andouille sausage, trinity, and white cheddar grits , this American South staple is perfect for any time of day.
Signature Aji Amarillo Pork Tenderloin
Peruvian perfection. Fall-apart tenderloin marinated with bold yellow aji peppers, served with no-rice pilau and sweet-savory grilled pinapple.
Skewer roasted chicken topped with pesto. Alongside delectable risi e bisi (rice and peas) and roasted kabocha squash, this light but filling Itallian dinner is perfect for the last days of outdoor dining this year.
Argentinian Sirloin Steak
Tender, marinated sirloin topped with a bright dollop of chimichurri sauce and served with churrasco veggies and couscous. A satisfying South American supper.
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