Create your holiday menu at home: bring a taste of Europe to your kitchen this summer

shutterstock_216988255 woman cooking in kitchen Aug16Whilst many of us may be travelling abroad this summer, some of us with be sticking closer to home with a ‘staycation’. And if that’s you, why not create the tastes of holiday by making traditional holiday food at home? From tapas to mezze, seafood to pasta, European countries provide a wide range of delicious and nutritious dishes which taste just as good at home!

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her favourite foods from five of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

SPAIN

Ever popular on the destination list, Spain also provides a wealth of delicious recipes. The traditional Spanish tortilla can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner either with some salad and warmed olive bread or just on its own. Its main ingredient is eggs (you’ll need about six eggs to feed four people), a fantastic ingredient in any dish as it is one of the most complete sources of protein. This means you’ll feel fuller for longer and energy levels will be sustained throughout the day because blood sugar levels are stable.

shutterstock_217423210 spanish omelette tortilla Aug16Dice and cook some potatoes and then fry until lightly brown. Remove them from the pan and fry off some onions and garlic in olive oil. You can also add other vegetables such as peppers and mushrooms and fry alongside the onions and garlic. Put the beaten eggs and potatoes back into the pan and cook slowly for around 20 minutes. It will be well worth the wait, and you’ve produced a delicious and satisfying meal that can be enjoyed any time of day!

GREECE

A lovely, fresh Greek salad is always a welcome treat and this one is ridiculously easy to create at home, plus the health benefits are immense. All the ingredients provide a wide range of antioxidants to support your immune system and to help keep that ageing process at bay.

shutterstock_133631465 greek salad Aug16All you need is some crisp lettuce, ripe vine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, peppers, feta cheese and olives, all chopped and mixed together. Mix up some dressing using olive oil, red wine vinegar and a little oregano and you’ve just brought some wonderful Greek spirit a little closer to home!

TURKEY

If you’re looking forward to eating ‘al fresco’ this summer, then serving a traditional Turkish mezze is always going to be popular – there’s something for everyone. It’s up to you how complicated you want to make it so here are some ideas to start you off.

shutterstock_107711207 aubergine and pepper salad Aug16Have a large plate filled with some cold meats, hummus, tzatziki, some lovely fresh olive bread or crispbreads, plus of course a range of olives. In Turkish cuisine, aubergines (also known as eggplants) feature heavily, so why not make this delicious aubergine salad. For this particular recipe, roast the aubergines whole in the oven with some whole red and yellow peppers, for around 30 minutes. Once they have cooled, cut them open, remove all the seeds and then chop or slice. Add some chopped parsley, together with some salt, crushed garlic and some vinegar and mix all together. This is a delicious addition to your mezze plate and you’ll be getting plenty of fibre, vitamins, C, K and B6, together with some trace minerals to boot. Delicious and good for you!

ITALY

There are two dishes that we always associate with Italy – pasta and pizza. However, fresh pasta can be tricky to make, and the British summers are not always that warm, so another suggestion is to create minestrone soup – a typical Italian dish which is super healthy, filling and easy to make at home.

shutterstock_81711964 minestrone soup Aug16All you need to do is to fry some carrots, onion, celery, chopped potatoes and garlic for around 10 minutes until lightly browned. Then add some tomato puree, a tin of tomatoes and vegetable stock and cook until all nicely bubbling and soft. To finish off add a tin of cannellini beans, and some cut spaghetti, lightly boil until the pasta is cooked through and you’ve got a really healthy lunch, or starter for your evening meal, that the whole family will love. Minestrone soup is packed full of vitamins, and it’s also a great way of getting children to eat more vegetables in a more appetising way.

FRANCE

French cuisine is full of gastronomic delights; there’s certainly no shortage of ideas for French dishes that can be easily made at home. A well balanced diet supports a healthy lifestyle, and whilst we should be following a healthy diet most of the time, we should always allow ourselves a little food treat now and then – and what’s more decadent than a traditional French crepe?

shutterstock_286031603 crepes Aug16The basic recipe follows a normal pancake mixture using flour and eggs, but try adding a pinch of cinnamon for a little twist. Cover the bottom of a frying pan with a thin layer of the mixture and cook on the hob for a couple of minutes per side, then transfer to a warm plate. In France, they often use Chantilly cream with a fruit filling of your choice – how about sliced banana and raspberries? If cream is too much of a guilty pleasure, you can always swap this for some almond nut butter which is equally delicious and also provides you with some healthy omega 3 fats at the same time.

So, if you’re at home this summer enjoy your ‘staycation’ and make it a real foodie ‘vacation’ by mixing up your usual weekly menu and cooking up your favourite European holiday dishes. As they say in Spain, Salud!

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