Nordic Cooking with Siggi

nordic cookingDo you ever RSVP “yes” for an event thinking it’s a good idea at the time, then regret it later when it’s time to actually GO to the event and you really just want to go home and put on your jammies? That’s sort of how I was feeling about going to a Nordic cooking class last week, since when I signed up for it I didn’t know I would be fresh off of two back-to-back conferences. But don’t back out on my commitments, and I strongly suspected that once I was actually AT the event I would be glad. How true that was!

The event was sponsored by Siggi’s yogurt, which as my patients know is the only pre-sweetened yogurt I recommend, both because of its quality and because it’s (sadly) the only lightly sweetened yogurt on the market that doesn’t rely on artificial sweeteners. Plus, I am in love with their pumpkin spice flavor. (I am generally anti-pumpkin spice, other than pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie, so this is saying something.) Their orange and ginger flavor comes in a close second, according to my tastebuds.

Siggi’s yogurt is Icelandic skyr, which is similar in texture and protein content to the Greek yogurt that most people are familiar with. When Siggi Hilmarsson moved to the United States from Iceland in 2004, faced with super-sweetened American yogurt, he became homesick for skyr, so he asked his mother to send him her recipe, and the rest is history. Siggi went from making skyr in his home kitchen and selling it at farmers markets to moving his new business to a dairy plant in upstate New York. Below is the man, himself.

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Anyway, some 20-odd dietitians from the Seattle area gathered at Blue Ribbon Cooking School, a really lovely space on Lake Union. (If you live in Seattle and like to take cooking classes, check out their offerings.) The boats on the lake were a lovely backdrop to the good food and wine:

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I was already vaguely familiar with Nordic cuisine, as their has been some research on the health benefits of the Nordic diet. Like many of the world’s healthiest diets, traditional Nordic cuisine emphasizes local, seasonal and sustainable whole foods. The emphasis is on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and smaller amounts of high-quality meat. What’s not to like?

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We got a tutorial on how to fillet a whole wild Pacific salmon. The idea was to not make it look like it was cut up with a chainsaw, but I have a feeling that if I tried it, it would in fact look like I used a chainsaw. I’ll leave it to the professionals!

My table prepped a delicious roasted veggie dish (rutabagas, fingerling potatoes, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, celery root, butternut squash and onions (ingredients pictured at the top of the post) and a warm wild mushroom salad. So beautiful:

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We also enjoyed a sweet potato mash and herby yogurt sauces as accompaniments. Delicious and nutritious…the kind of food that leaves you feeling happy, satisfied and energized.

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The good news is that Siggi’s yogurt is becoming more and more available. In Seattle, not only can you find it in the expected places (Whole Foods, PCC Natural Markets and Madison Market) but also Safeway, QFC, Red Apple, Albertsons and City Target. I saw in an email the other day that the vanilla flavor will be available at Starbucks. Hooray!