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Let’s talk about New Year’s resolutions

I DON’T LIKE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS but I LIKE THE IDEA OF A FRESH START

January is a month filled with brand new resolutions, big promises, and a lot of talking about “new year, new me”. I have never liked all of these talking about setting big plans for the year ahead and judging yourself for what happened in the past.

From both a general point of view and in terms of “healthy resolutions”

Can you see the difference from

“I want to lose weight so I will do a diet in January”

and

“Lately I have been eating too many sweets because I look for them every time that I’m stressed, so I want to use the idea of January as a fresh start to both find a way to de-stress and try new healthier snacks”

=> the idea behind the first one is looking for a quick fix without questioning the resolution or asking yourself why you should do that and how you feel now or which benefits you will get from accomplishing this goal

=> read again the second sentence. Can you see how this one is not only more complete but is already getting you on a different pathway and motivates you to ask yourself more questions about that idea of losing weight?

  • You don’t need to COMPARE yourself to others.
  • You need to be focused on what really matters TO YOU.
  • You don’t need to fit into a general resolution but what you should do instead is create INTENTIONS with a non-judgemental approach.

Big, bright and shiny resolutions are definitely attractive

But WORKING ON YOURSELF is so rewarding in the long term!

It’s the first week of a new year, I don’t feel guilty for what I have done or not done, eaten or not eaten during the last year or month… instead, I am trying to focus on all the positive things and on my motivation to take care of myself on a DAILY BASIS. I have learned great lessons from my mistakes and I am ready to celebrate every little progress that will come.

* I am ready to celebrate myself, my body, health, and well-being
* I am focusing on my strengths and working on letting go of what is holding me back
* I am committed to reminding myself anytime that I will feel lost that I AM ENOUGH

Join me on starting the new year with this SELF-LOVE revolution!

Remember:
it’s not about “new year, new me” – you just need to have a better look inside you and… BE READY TO SHINE!

Chiara x

p.s:⠀
NEED HELP IN PUTTING ALL OF THESE THINGS TOGETHER? –>  There are ONLY 7 places still available on my 90-day program with a 10% OFF from the regular price! Hurry up, OFFER ENDS on the 10th of January.

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* a better understanding of your body needs
* a new perspective on food (from simple fuel for your days to real nourishment)
* a renovated relationship with food AND yourself
* a new approach to grocery shopping and cooking
* more attention to your health and well-being
* the help that you need to set personal goals that actually fit into your lifestyle and needs

FALL IN LOVE WITH TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF⠀

More you work on yourself, more it’s easy to PUT YOURSELF FIRST.⠀

When you start to feel great, you find a completely new strength, and when you are motivated by a deep sense of self-love, your life is completely turned upside down.⠀

YOUR STARTING POINT: click HERE to know more about my program and apply to get your spot.

 

Mince Pies

I have finally decided to make my own version of these cute little tarts. I always want to create recipes that we can truly enjoy at home, not just something good for sharing a pretty picture, so I needed to come up with a combination of taste, festive feeling and obviously an attention to the nutrients (such as using almond butter, fresh mandarin peel, and whole grain spelt flour – not using extra sugar in the filling or on top, etc). To get the most out of this spiced filling, serve them warm – the ginger, cinnamon and mandarin peel give a perfect festive taste to these mince pies with a healthier twist.

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Ingredients
(makes 12-14 mince pies)

for the filling:
2 medium-sized apples (sweet, preferably cooking apples)
4 tbsp raisins
1 ½ tbsp almond butter
juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 mandarin (peel)

for the dough:
180 g whole grain spelt flour
25 g butter (or olive oil, 4 tbsp)
1 level tbsp dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
nut or oat drink

on top:
coconut flour

To prepare the filling:
mix the grated apples (use apples grated in small pieces, not in a paste, or finely chop them) with the other ingredients and mix well. Among other ingredients listed, there’s the peel of a mandarin: use an organic one, washed and peeled – for the filling you will need the peel finely chopped. Place the mixture in a jar and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours – you can even prepare the filling 1 day in advance.

To prepare the dough:
in a bowl, mix the sugar with the melted cold butter and cinnamon. Start adding the flour and allow it to absorb all the liquid mixture (you will get a sort of crumble). Start adding some nut or oat drink in small portions – mix well with your hands and check the dough, before adding more liquid. You want a final result that doesn’t stick to the bowl or your hands. Cover the dough and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using it.

You can use a muffin tray to make the mince pies if you don’t have one for small tarts. To cut the dough, I have used a 7.5 cm round cookie cutter for the base and a little star-shaped cutter for the top. Prepare the dough more or less thick depending on what are your preferences. Cut the rounded base for each pie and place it in the baking tray, add approx 1 tbsp of mince meat (filling) and then add the little star on top. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until they start to turn golden.

Better served warm – sprinkle on top with some coconut flour. Do you have some leftover filling? Use it on top of your bowl of porridge or yogurt!


WANT TO LEARN HOW TO STAY FOCUSED AND ON TRACK IN THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE OF THIS TIME OF THE YEAR? Download my FREE guide “Staying healthy during the holidays” HERE

Holiday Gift Guide

For your wellness enthusiast friend, for your loved ones, for yourself. My holiday gift guide that will hopefully make everybody happy.

I always need to be connected somehow with the gifts that I’m making, feel that there is a reason why I’m choosing that option, and from a general point of view, I don’t feel that need to buy just because I need to. So, here there’s my brief wellness-inspired list – put on some Christmas songs, prepare a cup of hot chocolate (spiced, like this one) and have a look at some of my favourite gift options! Chiara x

BOOKS

Green Kitchen Travels – packed with interesting recipes from all over the world (vegetarian/vegan)

Green Kitchen At Home – for the everyday healthy cooking (vegetarian/vegan)

Veggie Hotels – for anyone passionate about veggie food and travel

Tartine Book n°3 – a must-have for anyone interested in sourdough bread and baking

The Cultured Club: Fabulous Funky Fermentation Recipes – recipes and techniques for the fermentation enthusiast or the newbie

Grown & Gathered – learn more about growing, cooking and connecting with the food that you put on your table

 

HOME AND SELF-CARE

Manduka yoga mats, towels, props, and clothing – great quality and a particular attention to the environment

SuperBee Wax Wraps – reusable beeswax wraps

Grown & Gathered shop – reusable bags for your grocery shopping and storage bags

Kinvara Skincare – selected ingredients and combinations to nourish your skin

Samaya Ayurveda Skincare – ayurvedic-inspired formulations to take great care of your skin

Brookfield Farm and The Bearded Candle Makers – natural candles

Velona’s Jungle b&b – why don’t give the gift of a stay in the heart of Florence? A b&b with a particular attention to the design of their rooms, the history and nature around the city – but also with an attention to the environment and veggie-friendly.

And last, but not for importance: give the gift of an Ashtanga Yoga course to a newbie or give the gift of a package of classes at their favourite shala to your loved ones who are already practising. For those of you in Dublin, check out: Ashtanga Yoga Ireland and Ashtanga Yoga Dublin.

 

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Velona’s Jungle b&b

 

 


 

Want to start improving your lifestyle immediately and get clear on your goals? Click here to book today your FREE DIET EVALUATION CALL

5 ways to boost your immune system

How can I boost my immune system? How can I help my body during the cold season? These are recurrent questions that may pop into your head as soon as the weather start changes and seasonal colds start to spread around. The most important thing that I’d like you to focus on even before reading about these simple ways to boost your immune system is that you should take good care of your immune system all year long! This means following a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis and help your body to stay strong and healthy from a general point of view.

It’s funny how many people as soon as they get the flu, they start buying oranges and taking vitamin C supplements, but until the day before they were barely buying fresh fruit and vegetables… Start thinking about your health and well-being in terms of PREVENTION – do your best every day to stay healthy with simple little steps!

Here there are 5 simple tips related to the immune system that will help you to get a much clear idea of the choices that you can take every day.

1) IMPROVE YOUR GUT HEALTH

The immune system and gut are strongly linked and approx. 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. What you aim for is a healthy gut that will help your body to deal with pathogens (that can cause illness) – both for prevention and to have a faster recovery when you get sick. Treat well you gut with PRObiotics and PREbiotics: the first ones are “good” bacteria that live in your gut and the second ones are the food for probiotics.

Probiotics rich foods are for example yogurt (look for one without added sugar or other ingredients that should not be there, and preferably organic), kefir, kimchi, kvass, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, sourdough bread.

Prebiotics are found in small amounts in several foods, but good sources of them are for example garlic/onions (and the other foods in the same family), Jerusalem artichokes, and chicory.

2) GET YOUR ZINC

Zinc is a mineral strongly related to the immune system (through white blood cells). You can find it for example in pumpkin seeds, nuts, chia seeds, shellfish, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, pulses, sesame seeds, dried mushrooms, flaxseeds, wheat germ.

3) GET YOUR VITAMIN C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help you to support your immune system. It also helps you with its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. You can find it for example in lemons, grapefruit, oranges, mandarin, peppers, dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, papaya, berries, pineapple, mango, kiwi, apples, Brussels sprouts.

Vitamin C will also help you in taking good care of your skin – your first defence against infections.

4) KEEP IRON IN MIND

It’s important to maintain optimal iron levels in our blood not just from a general point of view, but also to strengthen our immune system. So don’t forget about iron-rich foods such as for example meat, fish, dark leafy vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, cacao powder, whole grains, dried apricots, sundried tomatoes, broccoli.

5) DE-STRESS DAILY

Chronic stress can weaken our immune system and makes easier to get any bug around. Find an effective way that works for you to de-stress on a daily basis and go for it! Make it part of your everyday life – no matter how your schedule looks like!

SOME INTERESTING READINGS ABOUT THIS TOPIC:

about vitamins and trace minerals:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17726308 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17922955
about probiotics and gut microbiota:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25481240 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24891972

NOW LET’S GET MORE PRACTICAL WITH A COUPLE OF QUICK RECIPES:

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Broccoli with mustard sauce and seeds

(x 2)
2 small heads of broccoli (save the remaining stalks to make a veggie broth)
2 tsp mustard
1 tbsp tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 handful of pumpkin seeds

For this salad, you can use the broccoli raw or cooked for a few minutes in a pan with a small amount of olive oil (chop them into small pieces). Prepare the sauce with mustard, tahini, lemon juice, and 1-2 tsp of water to help you to get a nice consistency. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan. Prepare a layer of broccoli in a plate and spread all over the sauce and seeds – otherwise, you can serve the broccoli in a bowl, dip them into the sauce and eat the pumpkin seeds as a side for extra crunchiness.

Spiced hot chocolate

(x 2)
120 ml cashew drink
3 tsp unsweetened cacao powder
1 piece of dark chocolate 80-85% (1 little square)
1/3 tsp cinnamon powder
1/3 tsp ginger powder
3 cloves
a pinch of cayenne pepper

Mix everything well in a small pot – leave on a medium heat for approx. 10 minutes, add the dark chocolate at the end and mix until it’s completely melted. Remove the cloves before serving.

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Pear and Nuts Crumble

Playing with oats… again! This time to make a naturally sweetened dessert that will be a great plan-ahead breakfast. I have a deep love for both granola and crumbles – this one has a great mix of nutty taste, spices and a little bit of crunchiness. There’s no added sugar and just a few simple ingredients – each of them a staple of many healthy eating pantries. I definitely try to have all the time oats, flour, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, spices, and fresh fruit in my kitchen.

Not only nutrient-packed but also a delicious and easy to make treat – it’s a win-win recipe!

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Pear and Nuts Crumble

Ingredients:

(serves 2)*
for the crumble:
3 tbsp rolled oats (choose the gluten-free option if needed)
1 ½ tbsp whole grain flour (any kind of whole grain flour will work well)
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 handful of hazelnuts, chopped
2 tsp almond butter
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lukewarm water
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
a pinch of salt

for the fruit layer:
1 large pear
a handful of raspberries
a splash of lemon juice
½ tsp cinnamon powder
a pinch of nutmeg

In a large bowl, mix all the things that go in the crumble – add the water as last ingredients (you will need enough water to allow the crumble to combine together but not to form one big piece).

Prepare the fruit for the bottom layer: chop in small pieces the pear and mix it with raspberries, lemon juice, and spices – mix well and place them in the single-serving pots (as you can see from the pictures, I have used a couple of oven-safe mini cocottes). Place the crumble on top of your fruit and bake in the oven at 180°C for approx. 20 minutes (check them from time to time ’cause the crumble tends to burn easily).

Serve as itself, preferably warm or with a dollop of yogurt or labneh.

*If you want to make these crumble in a larger baking tray, just increase the amount of ingredients.

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Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes

Such a tricky recipe! Using pumpkin into pancakes isn’t like using mashed or blended bananas. I had to adjust the batter a few times to get it right but, at the end, the result was delicious. If you add too much pumpkin or nut drink or both, they just remain too moist and not well cooked. So just go for roasted pumpkin, with less water, and check your batter step by step as you prepare it – I actually love this step: you learn to be more aware of what you are doing and how you prepare your food!

I have decided to top them with some tahini sauce (1 tbsp of tahini mixed well with approx. the juice of 1 lemon) and some fresh fruit. The nutty taste of tahini pairs well with the sweetness of these pancakes.

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Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients:
70 g cooked pumpkin (better if roasted)
120 g whole grain spelt flour
1 handful of pecans
1 tbsp date syrup
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coconut oil (measured solid)
a pinch of salt
a pinch of garam masala
1/3 tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp ginger powder
nut drink

To make the batter: in a medium-sized bowl, combine spices, date syrup, melted oil, pumpkin (make a puree of pumpkin+pecans with a blender, use the minimum amount of water necessary to blend it) – mix well with approx. 130 ml of nut drink. Let it rest for 5-10 min. Then add the remaining ingredients. Stir until there are no lumps. Add step by step more liquid when it’s necessary – depending on the pumpkin puree and the kind of flour that you are using. The batter tends to be particularly tricky due to the pumpkin, so learn how to check it step by step. Heat a frying pan, preferably a non-stick one, on a medium heat with ½ tsp of coconut oil. Use 3 tbsp for each pancake, moving the pan until the batter is evenly distributed. Cook each pancake until it can be easily flipped with a spatula. Keep the batter well mixed. Using these quantities, you will be able to make approx. 8/10 pancakes.

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