June 3, 2014

Now, the New Nordic Diet

Later this summer, I’ll cruise north up the coast of Norway, exploring the fjords and experiencing the midnight sun.

I’ll likely be experiencing something else, too, in the fancy shipboard dining room: the New Nordic Diet.

Ten years ago, chefs and food professionals from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland convened to define a new dietary regimen that would be healthier than the traditional northern fare. The old standards have typically included lots of meat, smoked fish, and dairy.

As described in the June 2014 edition of the University of California’s Berkeley Wellness Newsletter, the New Nordic Diet puts the focus on simplicity, affordability, seasonality, and sustainability. It avoids food additives and minimizes waste.

What’s on the Nordic plate these days? Look for plant foods that are often foraged, cabbage, root vegetables, dark greens, whole grains like rye and oats, apples and pears, and berries like lingonberries and bilberries. Yes, fish – like salmon and herring – are still on the menu, as you’d expect. So is wild game such as low-fat elk, and dairy, though not in such abundance as before.

The New Nordic Diet features wild foods – here’s where the “foraging” comes in – like mushrooms, moss, nettles, and garlic. Your platter might also include a small pile of ants. Yes, insect protein: simple, affordable, seasonal, and sustainable.

Positive Study Results
In 2013, the Journal of Internal Medicine described a study that showed how the New Nordic Diet – compared to the old northern diet and also standard western fare -- lowered cholesterol in people with cardiovascular risk factors.

Other studies have shown that the diet lowers blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity. Two studies – one reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – showed that people following the New Nordic Diet lost significant amounts of weight, and without restricting calories.

North vs. South
The medical endorsements for this diet sound a bit like the raves we’ve heard for years about the Mediterranean Diet. It’s no surprise: both are predominantly plant-based regimens that highlight fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, and unsaturated vegetable oils (olive in the south, rapeseed up north).

The Mediterranean and New Nordic Diet are also similar in what they avoid: refined grains, added sugars, fatty red meats, and processed foods generally.

In addition to these lists of “include” and “exclude,” the New Nordic Diet offers a basic philosophy: prepare simple meals with local ingredients. With the proliferation of co-ops and farmers markets, following that guideline gets easier and easier to do, no matter where you live.

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Here's the "Manifesto for the New Nordic Kitchen"
As Nordic chefs we find that the time has now come for us to create a New Nordic Kitchen, which in virtue of its good taste and special character compares favourable with the standard of the greatest kitchens of the world. 
The aims of New Nordic Cuisine are: 
1. To express the purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics we wish to associate with our region.
2. To reflect the changing of the seasons in the meals we make.
3. To base our cooking on ingredients and produce whose characteristics are particularly excellent in our climates, landscapes and waters.
4. To combine the demand for good taste with modern knowledge of health and well-being.
5. To promote Nordic products and the variety of Nordic producers – and to spread the word about their underlying cultures.
6. To promote animal welfare and a sound production process in our seas, on our farmland and in the wild.
7. To develop potentially new applications of traditional Nordic food products.
8. To combine the best in Nordic cookery and culinary traditions with impulses from abroad.
9. To combine local self-sufficiency with regional sharing of high-quality products.
10. To join forces with consumer representatives, other cooking craftsmen, agriculture, the fishing, food , retail and wholesale industries, researchers, teachers, politicians and authorities on this project for the benefit and advantage of everyone in the Nordic countries.
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Here's the menu at Noma, a classic New Nordic restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Here's the menu at Acme Restaurant in NYC. It's considered one of the hippest New Nordic eateries in America.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Norway. I live in Norway, but did not know of a new nordic diet. Today came a report that says 52 % of the people in norway are obese.
Thank you for an interesting blog.