by Alba Papa-Grimaldi
Welcome to yeast and dairy free, low fat, low toxin cooking!
You have probably never read a cookery web site written by a philosopher before. But besides being a philosopher I am also a mother and a housewife, and this is how I have become so interested in food and its preparation. I would like to briefly tell you how I came to devise my recipes and my unique way of cooking. You will see that none of my recipes contemplate any frying, i.e. any overheating of fat. (By the way, if you happen to be also interested in philsophy click here for details of my work!)

Allergies and intolerances: Like many people I suffer from several of these so I have dedicated a lot of time and effort in creating food that tastes good but is yeast and dairy free. I have included some recipes with cheese though - the good thing about eating "allergy free" on a daily basis is that occasionally you can indulge. Also where you come across recipes that contain some cheese, e.g. mozarella, this can either be left out or replaced with a soya alternative. Dairy milk is easy to replace with soya milk, I find that the apple juice sweetened variety has the best taste.

Finally, and also very important - all of the recipes you will find are easy to follow and are economical: Imagine a full taste, yeast and dairy free, lasagne, prepared in about 30mins, only ~400 cals per portion and for £2 you can feed four!

Everybody should be made aware that heating foods to the very high temperatures involved in frying creates free radicals and harmful toxins which are responsible both for aging and more importantly are involved in the genesis of many types of cancer (see "
Diet changes..." and also the latest acrylamide scare). Let me say straight away that I would have never written a cookery book if it wasn't for the desire to share what I consider a precious knowledge actually passed onto me by my Neapolitan mother as I am going to tell you.

My origins are Italian, so I love food which keeps a very definite flavour after cooking and is made from fresh ingredients which are not masked by overwhelming spices or sophisticated cooking processes.

For many years I have been cooking for my family basic Italian dishes the traditional way: more or less what you find in cookery books on Mediterranean food. Until one day it dawned on me that this was not the way we used to eat at my family home in Naples during my childhood years. The various meat, fish and pasta dishes that we used to eat everyday were very tasty but they were also very light and refreshing compared to my cooking. I suddenly realized that my mother had eliminated from almost all the dishes any frying of fat in the cooking process. This was partly due to the fact that, being a doctor, she was very health conscious and only too aware of the hazard that the overheating of fat at high temperatures poses to our health, and let’s be honest most of the food that we eat every day contemplates this step in its preparation. After all, she used to say, we are only what we eat and breathe. And how easily we forget this basic fact! Besides, being a very busy woman she found it was much less time consuming, to prepare for example a Bolognese sauce by simply putting all the ingredients together and just let them cook, until the tomatoes have absorbed all the flavour of the vegetables and vice versa, whilst everything kept its taste and freshness intact. I assure you the end result was as delicious as the traditional way of cooking but with the added bonus of a much lighter and refreshing taste, and, of course, that in the meantime you could be doing something else.

Since the day of this realisation I started adapting and also creating new recipes following this principle, do not overheat fat, but also sticking to two most important requirements: that the food is 100% tasty and also easy to prepare, since I personally could not eat anything that is less than ‘saporito’ (full of flavour).

This kind of preparation only requires a few touches, depending on the type of dish, to make it at least as tasty as the traditional preparation involving frying. I believe and I feel quite passionate about it, that people who cook at home everyday should learn this way of cooking as they would benefit greatly from it - anybody would really. Without obviously becoming a fanatic about it as I, more than anybody, would never deprive myself of the pleasure of some chips or a Chinese stir fry when I feel like it. But then if most dishes can be cooked in a different and healthier way, it is even possible to indulge in these foods more often and without guilt, and espcially without the harm caused by the cumulative effects that these substances have on our bodies. And, since we are only what we eat and breathe, if we can’t always control the second we should at least be more responsible about the first.

Another important point I would like to make is that though these recipes were not devised for dietary purposes, they tend to be low calorie and low fat, as you will be able to see from the table that I have added to each recipe, but also highly nutritious and so very suitable for those who wish to slim in a healthy way and without giving up the pleasures of eating.

Finally this book is not devised for the bookshelf or the coffee table, to be picked up whenever you fancy something special and have extra time to prepare it. It contains recipes for everyday dishes most of which provide a complete meal and it should become a daily companion to healthy, easy and tasty eating. More importantly the real purpose of this book is not to give you these 20-30 recipes that you will follow when you feel like eating italian, but to teach you a method of cooking by giving you examples; a method that when you have tried out some of the recipes and got the hang of it you will feel confident enough to extend to other dishes. You will discover, like I have done, that most dishes can be cooked in a healthier way without losing their flavour. Buon appetito! And remember: to care for someones body is the first and foremost form of love.

©Alba Papa-Grimaldi, 2002