Written by Registered Dietitian Nishti

The Nordic food movement has really taken off in the last decade. Not only have the Nordics long been associated with ideas of purity, nature and simplicity in areas such as design but also in their food. Emphasising seasonality and sustainability of ingredients, avoidance of food additives and minimisation of waste, it’s no surprise that people all over the world are joining the Nordic way of life.

Rye bread, oily fish, local fruits such as rose hip, root vegetables, and fermented products such as pickled foods, milk and cheese are commonly eaten in the Nordic nations including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland.

In this blog post I’m going to share with you healthy eating secrets from my homeland Denmark. 

So here we go…

Tip 1: Make Wholegrains Your Best Friends

A daily Danish diet isn’t complete without these foods.

Nothing comes close to Danish breads. Freshly made nutty wholegrain, wholemeal rye breads over shines your ordinary white loaf breads. Danish rye bread is packed with seeds and cracked wholegrains and the variety is vast. If you ever were to travel to Denmark, then please ensure you visit a traditional bakery. There is nothing like it!

The Danish diet is so high in wholegrains.

Unlike other countries, Denmark has a set recommendation for wholegrains. Wholegrains are the complete grain, with its entire nutrient! Unlike refined grains, nothing has been taking away! A diet high in wholegrains is great for your digestive system, your heart, your brain and your weight.

My choice would be: Replace most of your carbohydrates with wholegrain options. If you are unsure whether you are getting enough wholegrains then check this list out:

  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • Oats
  • Barley (not pearled)
  • Rye
  • Wholegrain pasta
  • Whole wheat products (bread, couscous)
  • Spelt bread
  • Corn

Ancient grains:

  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Kamut
  • Freekeh
  • Quinoa
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Teff

A word of caution: Brown bread isn’t necessarily whole wheat — the brown hue may come from added colouring! If you’re not sure something has wholegrains, check the product label or the Nutrition Facts panel. Look for the word “whole” on the package, and make sure wholegrains appear among the first items in the ingredient list. If you want to learn more about wholegrains please refer to my comprehensive video on Youtube. 

Tip 2: Create Open-Faced Sandwiches

Another perfect way to achieve a more perfect ratio of carbs to protein is by making your sandwiches open-faced also known as ‘smørrebrød’.  A typical Danish lunch consists of a slice of ryebread, a healthy dose of butter and generous touch of your favourite topping.

Typical combinations include herrings with chunky red onions and sliced gerkins, hard-boiled eggs with sustainable smoked salmon and caviar, roast beef with pickles (say yes to prebiotics!), onions and horseradish or how about liver pate with sliced beetroot and rocket. Cod roe on rye bread is my absolute favourite (packed with protein, vitamin A and D).

Tip 3: Get Your Skyr On!

Skyr – This creamy substitute to ordinary yogurt is high in protein, low in fat and sugar and has luckily become available in in the United Kingdom in most recent years.  Add berries on top and viola! There you have a high protein, low carb snack/dessert! (So, Nordic).

Tip 4: Think Sea, Think Food, Think Sea-food

Fish is a great source of protein and nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids (oily fish) and iodine (white fish). The benefit of including fish as part of our diet is clear and concise. By eating more fish, particular oily fish, you may reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, scientific evidence shows that for pregnant women, a diet high in fish may be the reason for longer gestation and that a low consumption of fish may be a strong risk factor for preterm delivery and low birth weight.

Most of the UK population don’t consume enough fish, particularly oily fish.
An adult size portion of fish is 140g. For children aged 1-4 it’s 47g and for children aged 4-6 it’s an average of 60g. An even easier way to explain this would be to use the hand method as a guide.  1 handful = 1 portion (your hand, your child’s hand etc.).

Picked Herrings on ryebread is a typical style lunch.

Other ideas: Sardines on wholegrain toast, homemade mackerel pate on oat cakes.

Which of these tips is your favourite? Please comment below and don’t forget to tag us in your posts on social media #nishtischoice

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