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My home country of Sweden is one of the most advanced in terms of environmental and climate change policies. Pollution levels are practically at zero, almost all of the garbage is recycled for use as alternative energy, many people get around by bicycle, its social assistance program is one of the best in the world and both the consumption of organic food and the percentage of land dedicated to its production is constantly growing.
I’m of course very proud of Sweden and where I come from for all of these reasons and more. I feel very fortunate that I am lucky enough to get to spend longer periods of time there in the summer. It helps me get back to my roots and enjoy all of the customs. Although there are some of those customs that I take with me wherever I go.
So today, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite Swedish customs when it comes to food. I follow them no matter the country I’m in.
Everything is Seasonal
I prioritize my food selections on what is local and in season. These two things are key for a number of reasons. These days we live in a consumerist society and we have gotten used to buying anything regardless of the time of year and this has serious repercussions not only for the environment but also on the composition, quality, and taste of our food.
Of course, there are fruits and vegetables such as chard, lettuce, or carrots that grow naturally all year round, but others such as oranges, tomatoes, and peppers are seasonal.
Berries on top of berries
Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are very typical, there are many varieties and they are usually eaten alone or mixed in yogurts, cakes, or toast. Jams are also very common, I love them for their flavor and their incredible nutritional properties.
- High in antioxidantes
- Rich in vitamins C, B, E and minerals like potassium, iron, and phosphorous.
- Good for the skin and heart function
- Improves circulation and helps with water retention
Protein as the base of the diet
One of the things I like most about the Swedish diet is that it prioritizes protein consumption over carbohydrates. The most commonly eaten protein usually comes from wild oily fish: the most popular being salmon or Surströmming (salted and fermented herring). I recommend eating them often for their anti-inflammatory properties which are beneficial to the heart and nervous system.
And as far as meat is concerned: elk, reindeer, or veal are the most widely consumed. Have you ever tried meatballs in Köttbullar sauce?
In Sweden, taking a break is sacred.
In Swedish, this is called Fika and it is a custom where you take a break during your workday to enjoy some time and a chat with your colleagues while having a coffee or small sweet, which is typically a Cinnamon Roll.
Swedes prioritize the enjoyment of the small pleasures in life and it seems to work. Did you know that according to studies Sweden is one of the countries with the highest productivity levels while also having the lowest stress levels in the world?
Butter me up!
The majority of Swedish dishes have butter in them, and the results are delicious of course. We have to break the myth around butter being bad for you. I personally eat it daily and it gives me a lot of energy.
Using butter in moderation for cooking is a great way to flavor your dishes. It is a good fat rich in fatty acids that strengthen the immune system.
Dine early in Sweden
Dinner is perhaps the most important meal of the day. It is when the whole family comes together around the table to enjoy typical and hearty delicacies such as Kroppkakor, and potato dumplings stuffed with fried meat.
Dinner is usually at 19:30 (7:30 pm), really early compared to countries like Spain. This time schedule fits our biological clock better.
Eating dinner early is great for the body because after 22:00 (10 pm) the digestive system slows down and it becomes more difficult to digest what we eat after that time.