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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Nordic Diet course

As some of you know, I've been fascinated with the Scandinavian approach to food ever since visiting the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis and its outstanding FIKA cafe. I wanted more, which back in Traverse City meant I would need to learn to make it myself.

So far, my experiments in Scandinavian cuisine have been guided by chef Trina Hahnemann's book, The Nordic Diet, which describes a healthy approach to eating featuring foods native to the Scandinavian countries and provides 75 recipes.

As of yesterday, I'm ramping up my education and practice in this cuisine by starting a 4-week class on Coursera from the University of Copenhagen, The New Nordic Diet: from Gastronomy to Health. The lectures so far are a little dry, but the course comes with recipes and I'll be trying those. If any of you want to join me in the class, it's free! 

Aside from the deliciousness being achieved by creative chefs reinventing this traditional and long-overlooked cuisine (remember, Noma in Copenhagen is considered the top restaurant in the world), the Nordic diet offers a guideline for those of us in northern latitudes who want to improve our health, but not at the expense of the environment.

Often my dietary plans have conflicted with the contents of the CSA box or the offerings at the farmer's market. For about half of the year, beginning now, root vegetables are the local produce most available, so a low-carb diet isn't a great fit for a northern locavore. I've also often been frustrated by some seasonal cookbooks by chefs who live in places where asparagus and tomatoes apparently appear in the market at the same time.

The Nordic Diet approach helps me merge my locavore goals with my health goals. The primary difficulty is that fish and shellfish are not as available to me as they are to the Scandinavians. Sure, I have fish from Lake Michigan, but concerns about mercury pollution prevent me from making it a significant part of my diet.

I'll be reporting back over the next few weeks with the most helpful things I learn. I hope you like beets!

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