Last week, we introduced you to Ireland, which is an ideal post-Christmas detox destination. Of course, this isn’t the only country that’ll help you snap out of your food-induced Christmas coma. Europe is full of health-conscious nations, whose attractions and nourishing cuisines are ideal for getting rid of your post-holiday blues.
Next up on our list: Sweden! This country is notorious for its wholesome food, which explains its minute obesity rate (11%) and long average life expectancy (81 years). Let’s talk about what’ll tempt your taste buds as you’re strolling through Stockholm or enjoying the sea views in Gothenburg.
While the Swedish diet often lacks fruits and vegetables, it’s laden with healthy fibres and grains. A prime example of this is Knäckebröd, a crispy flatbread that’s been around for centuries. Although this easily preserved bread was originally eaten by the poor, it’s now a staple in 85% of Swedish households. Consisting of yeast, water, salt, grains and lots of rye flower, Knäckebröd is rich in phytoestrogens and antioxidants, and is recommended for sustaining normal blood sugar and cholesterol levels. What’s more, it goes with anything and everything – why not try it with eggs, jam or some smoked salmon?
Just like other Scandinavian countries, Sweden is big on one food in particular: fish in all shapes, sizes and savours, which are fantastic sources of protein, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. But while you shouldn’t be surprised if you encounter varieties that you’ve never even heard of, you’ll find that herring stands head and shoulders above all other fish. If you’re not eating it pickled, fried, cooked, smoked or even raw, you’re doing something wrong – because all varieties are exceptionally tasty!
Along with trying the traditional and most famous dish of soused herring (Matjes), which is often enjoyed in a roll, don’t hesitate to treat yourself to S.O.S. (Smör, Ost och Sill), which consists of herring (either pickled or breaded and fried), cheese and butter on Knäckebröd. This combination may sound a bit strange, but trust us: you’ll pity those who’ve never been introduced to this delectable dish once you’ve tried it. Oh, and don’t forget to cleanse your palate with aquavit, a spicy, strong and authentically Scandinavian spirit. Skål!
3. Ärtsoppa & Pannkakor
For many Swedes, not a week goes by without slurping a bowl of Ärtsoppa, a yellow pea soup that’s customarily served every Thursday in preparation for the Christian Friday Fast. Thanks to its nourishing ingredients, this dish is the perfect addition to any detox – in addition to yellow peas, it makes use of onions, mustard and sometimes leftover pork, making for a very flavourful soup that’s high in protein, fibre and vitamins.
Although the soup is surprisingly stodgy on its own, the best part of this traditional meal is the thin, crepe-like pancakes, known as Pannkakor. These toothsome treats are usually served for dessert, and are coated with lingonberries – a Swedish favourite that also has anti-inflammatory properties.
You may not hear “yummy” and “nutritious” in the same sentence very often at home, but the two go hand in hand in Sweden. Start your post-Christmas purge on the right foot by combining scenic sightseeing with healthy eating on your next winter getaway.
Want to hear about other European detox destinations? Look out for part 3 in our series.