Do you feel sluggish, stripped of energy and lethargic after a large dinner? Instead of putting you into a restful sleep all it really does is cause you a heartburn and make you feel terribly bloated. But given that the whole day you are tied to work, dinner is one time when you let your hair down and bond with your family over some good food and good conservation! But are we doing it the right way? The Nordic Diet Plan shows us how to nourish our bodies in the right way and dinners play a huge part in keeping our health right as rain! All this while breakfast played the chief protagonist and lunch and dinner usually played second fiddle. Not anymore, because this article would justify the reason we should give dinner the attention it truly deserves!
Important Functions of Dinner
Recent research has substantiated the fact that in order to lose weight and prevent unsightly fat from accumulating in the abdomen and other areas, we must ensure we eat right at dinner time. If you are shaking your head in disbelief check out the following points how dinner impacts our body to a great extent.
- Fuelling the body right – I’m sure most of us have heard the notion that dinner can in more ways than one provides the right degree of fuelling for the body. Instead of skipping dinner altogether as many of us do in order to lose weight, eating right would mean getting the combination of protein, carbohydrates and fats right, as you would not be anywhere close to your kitchen for another ten hours. In order to keep your blood-sugar levels steady and sleep peacefully. Eat dinner, and eat it on time.
- Eat dinner to sleep right – Another myth busted! As many nutritionists will have us believe that eating less will help us keep a tab on our weight, it looks like we need to eat dinner not only to keep out blood sugar levels steady but also to get amino acids, which apart from acting as building blocks for our body also act as neurotransmitters which send messages to our nervous system. It generally helps in making us feel good and contended about
- Serotonin is one such neurotransmitter which is released after food (which contains the amino acid tryptophan), the lack of which can cause disruption in our sleep, and also, a dip in our mood levels. And how in the wide world are we going to keep our serotonin levels in optimum condition? By eating carbohydrates of course! Before you dig into your big bowl of pasta remember that include good carbs like banana, nuts, seeds, chicken, tuna, turkey etc.
- Eat slowly and enjoy every bite -Eat slowly and chew your food to assimilate the nutrients well, and enjoy all morsels. As it takes time, about twenty minutes for the brain to register the fact that you are full, so you should give your body the time to understand the fact, the simple fact is if you don’t listen to the body you might end up overeating.
- Avoid caffeine right before dinner – Try and avoid caffeine like tea, coffee, and cocoa before dinner as these might keep you awake for long hours. If you want to sleep well then stop having such stimulants after 4 P.M.
- Avoid having too much fat at night – As it is difficult for the body to break down the fat it should be best avoided or should be part of an early dinner to digest it properly.
The Nordic Dinner, an Effective Plan to Lose Weight and Stay Healthy
Now that we are acquainted with the ground rules of the right time and ways to have dinner, let’s see how the Nordics are incorporating all the rules and making it a great diet plan to lose weight and also to lead a healthy life!
- Eat fresh and locally produced ingredients.
- Eat together and make dinner a time where meals can be shared and thoughts can be exchanged.
- Eat less; keep a tight rein over the appetite.
- Eat starchy vegetables like a potato at the time of dinner.
- Have a balanced meal with the right proportion of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
- Eat more vegetables and less of carbohydrates but do not eliminate carbohydrates altogether.
- Combine your healthy meals with exercises to keep your weight in check and your health in order.
If you incorporate all these essential points then you would be able to eat a healthy dinner and which would effectively lull you into a deep slumber. A deep restful sleep is not only restorative but therapeutic as well.
The Nordic Dinner Recipes
In order to incorporate the lifestyle changes a la’ the Nordic way of life, ere are a few recipes would give you ideas as to how to concoct a balanced meal for your family with the right combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Here are some healthy dinner recipes for you to try out.
Pearl Barley with Mussels
Barley is a whole grain and full of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is a staple in The Nordic Diet Plan and is deemed very healthy.
- 1 kg mussels
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ l. Apple juice
- 1 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. Rapeseed oil
Creamy pearl barley
- 2 shallots
- 1 tbsp. Rapeseed oil
- 300 g pearl barley
- 4 dl. Broth from the mussels
- 3 dl. Chicken stock (can be replaced with water)
- 300 g sectional beans
- ½ bunch of chervil
- 1 bunch of wild watercress
- 80 g of cream cheese, 15%
- Salt and pepper
Method: Prepare the vegetables and herbs.
Mussels – Rinse the mussels by scrubbing them thoroughly under cold running water. Discard any mussels that do not close after a tap on the kitchen table or if the shell is broken. Heat a heavy-based saucepan with rapeseed oil and fry the garlic (with its shell) at medium heat, until it turns golden. Add the mussels to the pan and pour in the vinegar and juice. Put a lid on and let the mussels steam for 5-7 minutes until they have opened up, and then remove the pan from the stove. Throw away any mussels that have not opened. Free the remaining mussels from their shells and pour the broth through a sieve and save it for later, use.
Creamy Pearl Barley – Chop the shallots and cook them over low heat in oil in a wide bottomed pan until they’re crystal clear. Add the pearl barley and fry it for a minute. Then add the broth from mussels, and let it simmer for 20 minutes until the pearl barley turns soft. If need be, add chicken stock or water (the consistency should be as wet porridge). Slice the beans and add them and the mussels to the barley for 1-2 minutes.
Serve the dish with cream cheese and chopped herbs and season it with pepper and salt. Serve it hot.
Fish is a very nutritious part of The Nordic diet and they use it for most of the recipes for its rich protein content and Omega 3 fatty acids.
- 500 g baking potatoes
- 250 g, leeks
- 2 tbsp. Rapeseed oil
- 8 dl. Chicken or fish stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 300 g hot smoked haddock (or other hot smoked fish like cod, hake or pollock, but mussels – fresh as well as smoked can also be used)
- 1 dl. Sour cream 6 %
- 1/4 bundle of chives and parsley
- Salt and pepper
- Good bread
Method: Peel the potatoes first and then cut them into cubes and wash the leeks thoroughly before slicing them.
Stew – Tip the potatoes and leeks into a large saucepan, and sauté them gently for a few minutes on low heat. Pour in the stock and bay leaves and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes and leeks are tender. Then remove and blend half of the soup and vegetables. Pour the blended soup back into the pan.
Break the smoked fish into large pieces, add it to the soup and bring to a boil.
When serving at dinner, season with sour cream and salt and pepper just before serving (do not let it boil or it will separate). Serve with chopped chives and parsley and some good bread on the side.
Nut Seed Bread
Seeds are full of essential vitamins and minerals. It is combined with the nutritious almonds and nuts which make this bread a terrific source of protein and fiber as well. And it is a valid answer to the question, how to increase your metabolism. This recipe would do just that, increase your metabolism.
- 100 g pumpkin seeds
- 100 g sunflower seeds
- 100 g almonds
- 100 g walnuts
- 100 g linseed/flax seeds
- 100 g sesame seeds
- 5 eggs
- 1 dl. (½ cup) olive oil
- 2 tsp. Salt
Method: In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients. Use the nuts, grains and seeds as they are, there’s no need to chop them. Cut out a sheet of parchment paper so that it just covers the bottom of a normal bread pan. Pour the bread mix into the pan. Bake the bread at 160 C (320 F) for about an hour.
Smoked Mackerel with Sour Cream
Mackerel is a very nutritious fish and can be pretty filling. Have it alone or with a piece of rye bread to make it a very good dinner option. It is a healthy combination of foods with protein.
- 1 (250-300 g) smoked mackerel (8.5 – 10.5 oz.)
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp. Low-fat sour cream (or similar)
- 1 tbsp. Mayonnaise
- 2 tsp. Lemon juice
- Freshly ground pepper
Method: Remove the bones from the mackerel. Mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, the finely chopped red onions and pepper in a bowl. Pick the mackerel into pieces and add it to the dressing. Mix well.
Tip: Serve the mackerel salad with some bread like rye bread or nut seed bread.
Avocado cashew rolls
Avocado is full of good fats and good for your heart. Include this recipe in your menu to keep the heart in optimal condition.
- Avocado Egg Rolls
- 2 large avocados, diced
- 2 tbsp. Sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. Red onions, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. Cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 Red chili, finely chopped without seeds
- 1/2 lime, the juice
- Pinch of salt
- 6 pieces spring roll pastry
- 1 egg, beaten for brushing
- A little oil (canola or sunflower), for deep frying
- 1 dl. (1/2 cup) cashew nuts
- 2 cm (4/5 inch) ginger
- 1 dl. Olive oil
- 1 handful of cilantro
- 1-2 clove garlic
- 1 tsp. Pepper
- 1 tsp. White wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. White balsamic
- 1 tsp. Tamarind paste (can be replaced with some lime juice)
- 1/2 dl. (1/5 cup) honey
- A little bit of chili sauce
- Pinch of salt
Cashew dip: Mix all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until the dip has a nice consistency. It’s good if the dip has some larger pieces of cashew nuts. Season the dip with chili sauce and salt. Leave it in the fridge while you prepare the avocado egg rolls.
Avocado Egg Rolls: Mix the avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, chili and the lime juice in a bowl and then season it with salt. Put about 2-3 tablespoons of the avocado mixture at one of the corners of a sheet of a spring roll pastry. Fold the corner over the avocado mixture, and fold the two sides towards the center. Roll the entire spring roll pastry so it closes. Beat, an egg, and brush the-the corners. Leave the folded avocado roll on a plate with a slightly moist paper towel on top. Continue folding the rest of the egg rolls. Heat up a saucepan with frying oil. Make sure the oil is very hot. However, be careful hot oil is very dangerous and can catch on fire. Slowly submerge the egg rolls into the oil and fry them until they are nice and golden. When they are done, put them on a piece of paper towel on a plate.
Tip: Serve the avocado egg roll warm and crisp together with the cashew dip, to give a scrumptious twist to your dinner.
Cucumber Avocado Salad
A salad any time of the day is pretty nourishing and if you combine this recipe with whole-grain bread you could make your dinner a tasty yet healthy affair!
- 150 g sugar snaps
- 1 cucumber
- 1 avocado
- 1 pomegranate, the seeds
- 50 g peanuts (a handful)
- 1 red chili
- 5 cm (2 inches) ginger
- 3 tbsp. Olive oil
- 1 lime, the juice
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp. Honey
Salad: Rinse the sugar snaps and cut them into smaller bits. Halve the cucumber lengthwise and use a teaspoon to scrape out the inner core/seeds. Slice it into half-circles. Dice the avocado and remove the seeds from the pomegranate. Coarsely chop the peanuts. Mix all the prepared ingredients together in a nice salad bowl or plate.
Dressing: Cut the chili and scrape out the seeds. Finely chop the chili. Finely grate the ginger. Press the garlic cloves in a garlic press or finely chop it. Mix the chili, ginger and garlic with the olive oil, lime juice, and honey. Season with salt. Mix it well together. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix it all together. Serve right away.
The Nordic diet isn’t a diet which you can stick to for a while and then discard it to go back to your unhealthy ways. These healthy dinner ideas should give you the zest to cooking at home and rustle a nourishing meal for your family. Allow it to infuse into your system and try changing your eating pattern slowly and steadily. Eating less is the key and cooking fresh and locally bought ingredients is another. It’s hearty, nutritious and delicious. You don’t have to over season it to hide its flavors. Get back to the basics, nothing fancy, just a clever amalgamation of science and good old wisdom.