A New Year ~ A New Diet

fresh fruit - beyond the pasta - mark leslie

Got Fruit?

With the ever increasing popularity of my book Beyond the Pasta, I have been getting a lot of response from people wanting to know about the Italian diet.

Am I a dietitian? Nope, not by a long shot.

But having just returned from Italy, where I spent more time with the Stefani family, I have to admit that I did notice some things. First, fresh and minimally processed food is always the first choice. Next, including fresh, seasonal fruit as a part of every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – is routine. When was the last time you ate three pieces of fresh fruit a day? How about even one?

This year I am going to start focusing on “Bring Your Family to the Table” as my effort to focus in on the central theme of my book – simple, fresh food prepared with care and served around the table. It is here where, beyond your body getting refueled, your soul gets refueled, too. Of course, not every meal around a family table is going to be sunshine and lollipops, but it is the place where we all discover who we are, what we believe, what we don’t believe, and what we value as family, friends, a community, and a nation.

But before I get all “crunchy granola,” here is a video clip I made one afternoon after lunch while I was in Viterbo with the family. Enjoy –

And, in case you think that fruit is only important to this family, I have to tell you that every restaurant I ate in, whether in Siena or in Rome, I was always asked by the waiter if I would like “dolce o frutta” – “dessert or fruit” – after dinner. When was the last time you were offered fresh fruit as a dessert choice in an American restaurant? Hmm, I think we could learn something.

Buon Appetito and bring your family to the table~


About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at www.beyondthepasta.com and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

  1. LindyLouMacLindyLouMac01-22-2011

    I enjoy plenty of fresh fruit here in Italy, including at the moment our own delicious kiwi’s picked in December which will last through the winter.

    • Mark LeslieMark Leslie01-24-2011

      I am so jealous! The first time I was in Viterbo in 2005, I went to a WWII memorial near near Lago di Bolsena. There was an enormous kiwi orchard near the walking path to the memorial. I had never seen kiwis growing before. Bellissimo! Most recently, when I was in Viterbo, the family was enjoying their persimmon crop from one of the trees in their yard. I do have a small lime tree here at my house and it yields about 2 dozen limes in the fall and the two clementine trees did okay two years ago. Sadly, this year, we only yielded about 4 clementines. Disastro!

"Beyond the Pasta" is owned and operated by Mark Leslie. Unless otherwise specified all content, writing, recipes and photography is original and held in copyright through the Library of Congress. It may not be used without the express written consent of Mark Leslie.