The Nordic Diet: Healthy Eating with an Environmental Bent

Earth-friendly food habits are the key to nordic cuisine’s greatest dishes.

  • Herbs and fish can often be found at the Nordic table.
    Photo by iStock/_LeS_
  • The cuisine of Nordic countries mirrors its subtle, grounded landscape.
    Photo by Simon Bajada
  • The typical Nordic meal might include whole-grain bread, meats, fish or other proteins.
    Photo by Stefan Wettainen

Modern Nordic cuisine, or “New Nordic,” is constantly evolving, and is a celebration of modern twists on ancient methods of cooking (from the lands of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), and of sourcing local ingredients — from foraging to fishing and hunting.

Mussels with Horseradish Cream Recipe
Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto) Recipe
Beer and Rye Cracker (Flatbrod Av Ol Og Rug) Recipe

The flavors are earthy, clean and subtle, often with soft contrasts of sweet and sour. Occasionally, Nordic foods can be a bit of a challenge to the palate, asking us to test our everyday ideas of how flavors work, and to suspend our preconceptions. New Nordic cuisine mirrors its landscape: raw, subtle, grounded, just like the vast treeless plains of Iceland or the rocky outcrops of the many archipelagos scattered around the coasts. The beauty of the region will creep up on you until you truly appreciate its harmony and subtle complexity, just like its cuisine.

Key Ingredients in Nordic Cuisine

Yogurts, creams, butters and cheeses are an intrinsic, everyday part of the Nordic diet. Of particular interest in the dairy category is a range of sour and fermented milks.

Flour is not limited to one variety; the list is long. Buckwheat, rye, whole-wheat and many other flours in a huge array of textures and densities result in a diverse selection of breads.

• With such a large coastline and with many inland waterways, fish and seafood feature highly. The varieties of fish found in the region (mainly oily and/or firm-fleshed) lend themselves well to traditional preservation techniques, such as brining, smoking, pickling and curing. Salmon and herring are the most common, but trout, shrimp and crayfish are also popular.

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