Lifestyle

3 healthy longevity recipes from Professor Luigi Fontana

Professor Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D. is a highly skilled physician scientist who is recognised as the leading world expert on longevity. He shares 3 longevity recipes from his latest book with Citro. Photography by Bonnie Savage.

Professor Luigi Fontana’s latest book, Manual of Healthy Longevity and Wellbeing, sets out the Modern Longevity Diet, his version of the traditional Mediterranean diet linked to longevity and less chronic disease.

It goes like this. Vegetables, fruit, legumes like beans, chickpeas and lentils, minimally processed wholegrains, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil form the basis of this diet, with fish or shellfish two or three times weekly, small amounts of cheese and a few eggs each week, and meat and sweets only occasionally.

What makes this eating style so good for us?

It helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, contributes to a healthy gut and reduces two processes linked to ageing and disease.

One is oxidative stress, caused by low levels of antioxidants, which can damage cells and DNA.

The other is chronic inflammation - invisible low grade inflammation in the body caused by factors like unhealthy diets, obesity, smoking and stress, which contributes to many chronic diseases, Fontana explains.

“Getting more of our protein from plant sources has a number of advantages - legumes, wholegrains and nuts are high in fibre which helps good gut microbes to thrive - and many of these microbes produce substances called short chain fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory. These foods also contain plant sterols which help reduce cholesterol and reduce absorption of carcinogens. Unlike meat, they’re also low in saturated fat.”

Professor Fontana recently was invited to join the University of Sydney as the Leonard Ullmann Chair of Translational Metabolic Health and Director of the Healthy Longevity Research and Clinical Program at the Charles Perkins Centre. He was for many years Professor of Medicine at Washington University,

The recipes below are an edited extract from Manual of Healthy Longevity & Wellbeing by Luigi Fontana, published by Hardie Grant Books. The recommended retail price is $36.99 AUD and is available in-stores nationally.

Citro also features longevity tips from Professor Fontana in our free 10 lifestyle swaps for longevity gains guide.

TUNISIAN GRILLED MECHOUIA SALAD RECIPE

SERVES 6  •  PREPARATION TIME 20 MINUTES  •  COOKING TIME 25 MINUTES

6 medium tomatoes, halved
4 red capsicums (bell peppers), halved and deseeded
1 large jalapeño chilli, halved and deseeded
3 small red onions, halved (skin on)
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons capers, chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper

A simple dish from the Mediterranean of grilled vegetables is enhanced with Tunisian flavourings of chilli, spices and herbs.
Heat a chargrill pan or barbecue chargrill plate over a high heat and grill the tomatoes, capsicums, chilli and onions until the skin is blistered and blackened, about 10–20 minutes. Place the vegetables in a large bowl and cover with a plate to allow them to steam in their own heat for 15 minutes.
Peel the skins off the vegetables, reserving the juices left over in the bowl. Coarsely chop the vegetables and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the reserved juices, the garlic and capers.
Toast the caraway and coriander seeds in a small dry frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes until they become fragrant. Grind them into a powder in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Combine the spices with the olive oil and lemon juice, then add to the chopped vegetables and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

VARIATIONS
You can garnish this dish with fresh parsley or coriander (cilantro), a hard-boiled egg, peeled and cut in quarters, half a cup of cooked tuna or a handful of olives.

ROASTED VEGETABLES AND COUSCOUS

SERVES 4  •  PREPARATION TIME 30 MINUTES  •  COOKING TIME 30 MINUTES

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
¼ butternut pumpkin (squash), peeled, deseeded and cut into 2 cm (¾ in) pieces
½ eggplant (aubergine), cut into 2 cm (¾ in) cubes
1 zucchini (courgette), cut into 2 cm (¾ in) pieces
140 g (5 oz/¾ cup) couscous
½ red onion, finely sliced
½ red capsicum (bell pepper), roughly diced
150 g (5½ oz/3⅓ cups) baby rocket (arugula)
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vegetables of all kinds can be tray-baked in a little olive oil. Vegetables can include parsnips, carrots, onions, asparagus, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgette) and many more. Sprinkled with herbs like thyme and rosemary and ground black pepper or dried chilli, with garlic cloves scattered among the veggies, it is a delicious and warming dish that can be eaten on its own or mixed with a grain such as couscous.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Pour the olive oil in the bottom of a deep baking tray. Add the pumpkin pieces and toss. Bake for 10 minutes, then add the eggplant and zucchini, so all the vegetables are in a single layer, and roast for a further 20 minutes, or until cooked. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, combine the couscous and 185 ml (6 fl oz) boiling water in a bowl, mix with a fork, cover with a plate and leave to stand for 7 minutes. When the vegetables are done, fluff the couscous with a fork. Mix together the roasted vegetables, onion, capsicum, couscous and rocket. Dress with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season to taste.

BAKED PUMPKIN AND FETA FILO PIE

SERVES 4  •  PREPARATION TIME 10 MINUTES  •  COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 10 MINUTES

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) butternut pumpkin (squash), peel removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
4 free-range eggs
8 sheets filo pastry
salt and freshly ground black pepper
120 g (4½ oz) feta cheese, or diced mozzarella cheese

You can also make this pie with greens, by replacing the pumpkin (winter squash) with a bunch of spinach or kale that has been lightly steamed.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Coarsely chop the pumpkin into chunks of about 2.5 cm (1 inch) and place in a baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked. Set aside to cool. Leave the oven on.
In the meantime, heat a frying pan over a medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sauté the onion until softened and beginning to brown. Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl to cool. When cool, add the rosemary and mix in the cooled pumpkin.
In another bowl, beat the eggs well. Season with salt and pepper.
Layer the filo in a 23 cm (9 in) round pie dish, basting lightly with the remaining olive oil. Leave some of each sheet of filo hanging over the edge of the pie dish by about 10 cm (4 in). (This will be folded back over the pie when the dish is filled.) Add the cooled vegetables to the filo-lined pie dish. Pour over the egg and crumble over the feta or mozzarella cheese. Fold the edges of the filo over the pie. It doesn’t need to cover the dish.
Bake for 40 minutes until nicely browned and the middle has set.
Serve slices with a green salad.

The information on this page is general information and should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Do not use the information found on this page as a substitute for professional health care advice. Any information you find on this page or on external sites which are linked to on this page should be verified with your professional healthcare provider.

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