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You’ve heard me talk about food for the soul… now I am going to talk to you about my soul-home: Portugal. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work as a chef for retreats and private events all around the world and don’t get me wrong – I have been to a variety of spectacular locations but Portugal will always have a special place in my heart.

Portugal is somewhere I have been visiting for around 20 years and in all of that time it has remained authentic; the people, culture, location and cuisine. Oh and the fact that it only has 20 days of rain in 365 – how good does that sound? I spend around a week each month here. I actually spent the first 14 years of my life here on and off, so it’s no wonder this place feels like home. From a health and wellness perspective, Portugal is booming; holidays, retreats, hotels and even eco resorts are now common place. The abundance of visual beauty that exists never ceases to amaze me – food included.

Anyway, I digress – back to food!

The majority of the produce Portugal is famous for you will most likely already know about, especially if you have visited. The climate creates perfect conditions to grow some of the most incredible produce on the planet. You only need to spend a short amount of time driving around to witness the endless fields filled with fruit trees, as far as the eye can see. It’s breathtaking. These tress range from fresh, citrus trees to figs, almond and pomegranate trees. Cafes serve the freshest tasting OJ and the local markets offer a vast variety of foods to use in dishes. If you’re ever there, please visit at least one – you will be pleased you did.

One of my favourite ingredients is Carob. I can still remember the first time I tasted it as a kid in our garden; I was fascinated by picking it fresh from the trees. Years later, I’m now able to understand all of the health benefits and foods that you can create with it too.

Portugal is particularly renowned for its fresh fish, especially sardines. During barbecue season, you will see little cafes dotted around barbecuing sardines along the curb side–this will be some of the best tasting fresh fish you will ever try. Be sure to try any fish that has been adorned with the famous Piri Piri seasoning–it’s delicious!

Of course, we cannot forget the perfect accompaniment to such good food – wine! Portugal’s wine regions are renowned for their vast variety of great tasting, quality wine. These wines are often cheaper than water… Yes, really! Notably, Portugal has focused its efforts into producing an array of bio and organic wines, be sure to explore these if you’re a fan of wine.

Here’s a selection of wines, which are particularly popular:

  • Douro Reds
  • Alicante Bouschet

Four Whites:

  • Arinto
  • Encruzado
  • Antão Vaz Jaen aka Menía
  • Vinho Verde

So, now you have been given a peek into why I am so fond of Portugal, I would love to hear your experiences of this incredible country. Feel free to leave a comment or contact me via my website.

Until next time,

Jay x

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Author Jay Halford

I am a health-conscious chef specializing in plant-based cuisine that incorporates juice programmes, food programmes, online cooking courses, recipes and educational resources that inspire the pursuit of a healthier way of living. I believe that your diet is supposed to be your greatest ally, supporting you to feel strong, look good, think clearly and achieve your goals, nothing less. A consistent healthy plant-based diet does that 100% - and I am committed to helping you experience its real healing power so that once you discover it, you'll never want to look back.

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