New Year, New You: 5 Croatian Superfoods & Healthy Recipes for January

As the festive cheer fades and the crisp air of January brings resolutions and a renewed focus on health, Croatia offers a delicious and nutritious options to kickstart your healthy New Year. Forget bland detox diets – Croatian cuisine, brimming with fresh, seasonal ingredients and bursting with flavour, makes healthy eating not just doable, but downright delightful.

Embrace the Croatian superfoods:

Black Truffles of Istria: These prized gems, unearthed from the forests of Istria, are not just luxurious; they’re packed with antioxidants and immune-boosting properties. Drizzle truffle oil over grilled vegetables or pasta, or shave fresh truffles onto creamy polenta for an unforgettable indulgence.

Dalmatian Olive Oil: Liquid gold from the sun-drenched groves of Dalmatia, this oil is rich in heart-healthy fats and antioxidants. Use it to dress salads, drizzle over roasted fish, or simply enjoy it with fresh bread for a taste of the Mediterranean.

Honey from Krk: Renowned for its unique floral notes and therapeutic properties, Krk honey is a natural sweetener and immune booster. Add it to your morning yoghurt, stir it into herbal teas, or use it to glaze roasted vegetables for a touch of sweetness.

Figs from Dalmatia: These sun-kissed fruits are a natural source of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Enjoy them fresh, dried, or incorporated into jams, chutneys, and even savoury dishes like stews.

Wild Herbs: Croatia’s diverse landscape boasts a wealth of wild herbs like rosemary, sage, and oregano, bursting with flavour and health benefits. Add them to soups, stews, roasted vegetables, or homemade bread for a fragrant and nutritious boost.

5 Croatian Recipes for a Healthy & Delicious January:

  1. Zagrebački gulaš (Hearty Beef Stew):


500g beef chuck roast, cut into cubes

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp Hungarian paprika

1 tsp dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 (400g) can diced tomatoes

4 cups beef broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 cup red wine


Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Brown the beef cubes on all sides in batches, then set aside.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to the pot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant.

Stir in paprika, thyme, and bay leaf, and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the browned beef, tomatoes, broth, and red wine (if using). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1.5-2 hours, until the beef is tender.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with whole-wheat dumplings or brown rice for a complete meal.

Wine Pairing: Plavac Mali – This robust red wine complements the rich flavors of the stew with its bold tannins and notes of dark fruit.

  1.  Brodet from Split (Vibrant Fish Stew):


1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup white wine

4 cups fish broth

1 lb mixed white fish fillets (cod, haddock, snapper)

1 lb shellfish (mussels, clams, shrimp)

1/2 cup chopped bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped zucchini

Fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, until slightly reduced. Add white wine and simmer for 1 minute.

Pour in the fish broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add fish fillets and shellfish, cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and shellfish is opened.

Stir in bell pepper and zucchini, cook for another 2-3 minutes, until tender-crisp.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread.

Wine Pairing: Pošip – This crisp white wine with its notes of citrus and white flowers perfectly complements the light and flavorful broth of the Brodet.

3. Istrian Maneštra (Vegetable Minestrone):


1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 cup chopped green beans

1 cup chopped kale or Swiss chard

1 can (400g) diced tomatoes, undrained

4 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup dried pasta (small shapes like ditalini or elbows)

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: fresh Parmesan cheese


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, celery, and carrot until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add green beans and kale/chard, cook for another 3-4 minutes, until slightly wilted.

Stir in diced tomatoes with their juices and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add pasta and cook according to package instructions, about 10 minutes, or until pasta is tender.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese (optional).

Wine Pairing: Malvazija – This light and aromatic white wine with its floral notes enhances the fresh flavors of the vegetables in the Maneštra.

4. Paški Sir and Grilled Vegetables:


200g Paški sir, sliced

2 bell peppers, sliced

1 zucchini, sliced

1 eggplant, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

Fresh rosemary sprigs

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Toss vegetables with olive oil, rosemary sprigs, salt, and pepper.

Grill vegetables for 2-3 minutes per side, until tender-crisp.

Arrange grilled vegetables on a platter and top with slices of Paški sir. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and fresh rosemary for garnish.

Enjoy this simple yet elegant dish as a light lunch or a flavorful appetizer.

Wine Pairing: Teran – This bold red wine with its unique peppery bite cuts through the rich creaminess of the Paški sir and complements the grilled vegetables.

5. Krafne (Croatian Doughnuts):


2 cups all-purpose flour (or a whole wheat blend)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm milk

1 egg

2 tbsp melted butter

Vegetable oil for frying

Fruit jam or icing sugar for filling/dusting (optional)


In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm milk until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add the yeast mixture, egg, and melted butter to the flour mixture and knead until a smooth dough forms. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out doughnut shapes with a doughnut cutter or a round cookie cutter with a smaller circle cutter in the center.

Heat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or large pot to 350°F (175°C). Fry doughnuts for 1-2 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Let doughnuts cool slightly before filling them with fruit jam (using a piping bag) or dusting them with icing sugar.

Wine Pairing: Prošek – This sweet dessert wine with its notes of honey and apricots provides a delightful counterpoint to the sweetness of the Krafne.

Bonus Tip: For an extra dose of Croatian superfoods, try adding a drizzle of truffle oil to your goulaš, a sprinkle of dried Krk honey to your maneštra, or a few fresh figs to your grilled vegetables. You can also explore local farmers markets and shops to discover even more unique and healthy ingredients.

Beyond the delicious food, remember to move your body and embrace the outdoors that Croatia offers. Take a brisk walk along the stunning Adriatic coast, hike through the rolling hills of Istria, or simply enjoy a cup of herbal tea on a sunny balcony. With a focus on fresh, local ingredients, mindful movement, and the natural beauty of Croatia, your January can be a delicious and healthy journey to the New You.

So ditch the bland detox diets and embrace the vibrant flavours and superfoods of Croatia. This January, nourish your body and soul with the taste of the Mediterranean, and discover that healthy eating can be a delightful adventure.


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