Pancakes alla Zucca

(read in English)

Ogni anno aspetto pazientemente il ritorno delle zucche per aggiungerle all’impasto dei pancakes. Anche se in casa spesso usiamo cose come banane, rape o spinaci nei pancakes, non c’è niente che si possa paragonare al mischiare zucca, spezie e farina integrale.. è un’insieme di ingredienti che ha sempre un non so che di speciale!

Ci tengo a fare un appunto sulla ricetta, visto che quest’impasto tende ad essere un po’ più difficile da gestire rispetto ad altri. Ho provato varie combinazioni per questi pancakes (e ne proverò tante altre in futuro, visto che adoro improvvisare) ed anche questa ricetta ho dovuto prepararla un paio di volte prima di poter essere sicura delle quantità. Se aggiungi troppa zucca e/o troppo liquido, tendono a rimanere troppo molli e non si cuociono bene. Consiglio di utilizzare della zucca cotta al forno (per il contenuto d’acqua) e controllare l’impasto passo dopo passo – in realtà, questo è un passaggio che trovo molto istruttivo ed utile perchè ti aiuta ad essere più consapevole di ciò che stai facendo e di come prepari i tuoi piatti!

Io ho deciso di servirli con sciroppo di datteri e delle mele tagliate a tocchetti (saltate in padella per 1 minuto con un pochino di ghee e della cannella). Chiara x

Pancakes alla Zucca

Ingredienti

  • 100 g di zucca cotta (meglio se cotta al forno)
  • 80 g di farina integrale (grano o farro – usa la farina di riso integrale per una versione senza glutine se necessario)
  • 1 uovo
  • 1 cucchiaio di semi di lino macinati
  • circa 70 ml di acqua o bevanda vegetale (quelle alla nocciola, mandorla, o anacardi sono ottime in questa ricetta)
  • 1 cucchiaino di ghee o burro (ammorbidito a temperatura ambiente)
  • 1 cucchiaino di lievito per dolci
  • 1 cucchiaino di cannella in polvere
  • 1 cucchiaino di zenzero in polvere
  • un pizzico di pepe di Giamaica (puoi usare la noce moscata in alternativa)
  • un pizzico di sale

In una ciotola, mischia le spezie, l’uovo, il ghee, i semi di lino, e la zucca (prepara una purea di zucca frullandola con la minima quantità di acqua o bevanda vegetale necessaria). Inizia ad aggiungere la farina ed altro liquido se necessario (a questo punto avrai usato già una parte del liquido per frullare la zucca, quindi ne avrai solo una piccola part avanzata per l’impasto). Mischia bene con una frusta finchè non otterrai un impasto omogeneo e senza grumi. Avendo la zucca nell’impasto, è importante controllare la consistenza passo dopo passo. Scalda una padella, meglio se anti-aderente, su fuoco medio con 1/3 di cucchiaino di ghee. Usa circa 3 cucchiai di impasto per ogni pancake e cuocili da entrambi i lati finchè non si riescono a girare bene con una spatola. Continua a mischiare l’impasto anche mentre cuoci i pancakes (con queste quantità dovresti riuscire a prepararne circa 6).


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Pumpkin pancakes

(read in Italian)

Every year, I patiently wait for the return of pumpkins to add them into my pancakes. While at home we both love adding some mashed bananas or beetroots or spinach into pancakes, the combination of pumpkin, spices, and whole grain flour is always a bit magical!

But keep in mind that adding pumpkin to your pancakes can be tricky! I had to adjust the batter a few times to get it right but, in the end, the result was delicious. If you add too much pumpkin and/or liquid, 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 date syrup and chopped apples tossed with a bit of melted ghee and cinnamon. Chiara x

Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 100 g cooked pumpkin (better if roasted)
  • 80 g whole grain flour (use wheat or spelt – brown rice flour for a gluten-free version if needed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milled flaxseeds
  • approx. 70 ml water or a plant-based drink (hazelnut, almond, or cashew work well)
  • 1 tsp of ghee or butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • a pinch of all spice
  • a pinch of salt

In a medium-sized bowl, combine spices, ghee, flaxseeds, egg, pumpkin (make a puree with your pumpkin using a blender – add the minimum amount of water or plant-based drink necessary to blend it). Mix well these ingredients and start adding the flour (add also more liquid when necessary – at this point, you have already used some of the total amount to blend the pumpkin, so you have just a small part left). Stir until there are no lumps. 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 1/3 tsp of ghee. 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. 6 pancakes.



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Whole grain scones and Raw Raspberry Chia Jam

Before moving to Ireland, I never had a scone before… but they are such a lovely idea for breakfast or brunch that after trying them a couple of times, I ended up experimenting at home with several combinations. I always use whole grain flour as a base, but all the other ingredients are different every time (sometimes I also sneak in a part of almond flour) – being creative while cooking can actually be the key to really enjoy your healthier choices.

“DO YOU HAVE LIMITED OPTIONS? DO YOU END UP EATING THE SAME FOODS EVERY DAY?” …these are just two of the most common doubts for someone who wants to start having a healthier diet and lifestyle. And don’t make me start mentioning the fear of eating tasteless and boring food.

Well, speaking from my personal experience, when I have decided to embrace a healthier lifestyle, paying attention to what I was eating, cooking more from scratch, and reading the labels of products before buying them… my diet changed completely and has been an exciting journey made of new foods, preparations, combinations, flavours, and colours! It’s incredible because on one side I had this “discovery journey“, and on the other side I was learning more about myself, my body, tastebuds, cooking skills, and (last but not for importance) I was learning more about the FREEDOM to choose and not to be limited by a diet or a food trend or an impossible goal! After more than 10 years, my journey is not over yet and I’M SO GLAD that every day I’m still OPEN to experiment and learn!

Below you will find an example of what I’ve written… Scones and an easy raw jam that pair well with them!

Chiara x

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WHOLE GRAIN SCONES

Ingredients

  • 200 g whole grain flour (I usually use wheat or spelt or a mix of them)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (measured solid)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tbsp date syrup (optional)
  • almond or hazelnut drink

If the coconut oil is solid, start by placing your 2 tbsp in a small cup and wait until it gets warmer and softer. In a large bowl, mix the flour, date syrup, and cinnamon – in a cup/glass, mix the 2 liquids (mix approx. 100 ml of vegetable drink with the vinegar, then if you will need more liquid, simply add some extra plant-based drink). Add the coconut oil to the dry ingredients and mix with your hands until the flour starts to “crumble”. Then, add the baking powder and, straight after, start including the remaining ingredients in small portions, checking if your dough really needs more liquid or not. When the dough is ready and doesn’t stick to your hands anymore, quickly cut the scones – I use a cutter that has a diameter of 7.5 cm and I roll out the dough to approx. 3-5 cm (but you can decide how to make them – in this way, you will make 4-5 large scones with the quantities listed above).

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for approx. 20 minutes. When they are almost ready, I brush them with a mix made with a splash of almond drink and a little bit of date syrup (approx. 2 tbsp drink + 1/4 tsp date syrup) – you can do this step twice so the scones will be more golden on top.

Serve them warm with Greek yogurt (or coconut yogurt) and fresh berries or the raspberry chia jam that you find below.

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RAW RASPBERRY CHIA JAM

Ingredients

  • 250 g fresh raspberries*
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • optional: add a pinch of vanilla or 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

Mash your washed raspberries with a fork, add the lemon juice and the chia seeds (add also some vanilla or ginger, if you are using them). Mix well and leave in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before using it (you can add more lemon juice or 1-2 tbsp of water to get your preferred consistency for the jam). You can store the jam in a closed container in the fridge for a couple of days.

* my suggestion if you use frozen raspberries: heat them for approx. a couple of minutes in a pan with 1/2 tsp of ghee, mash them with a fork and leave to cool down before adding the seeds.



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Greens on Tofu

Sometimes things are just totally unplanned! This is what happened for the recipe that you’ll find below. A combination of grocery shopping day, plenty of inspiring fresh ingredients in the kitchen, not too much time to cook, and a warmer weather that calls for green and fresh meals! What came out is something that I suddenly called “not your average toast”, because the idea is the same behind a toast: a thick base with a distinctive flavour (marinated tofu, in this recipe), covered with delicious toppings.

Hope you will like it! Chiara x

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Greens on Tofu

Ingredients
(serves 2)

100 g plain tofu
a pinch of garam masala
1 1/2 tbsp tamari
2 medium-sized courgettes
2 handful of rocket
some microgreens (here I have used the ones made from coriander)
1/3 tsp black sesame seeds
extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

Make 4 thick slices out of the block of tofu and toss them with a little bit of olive oil, the tamari sauce and a pinch of garam masala – be sure that the marinade is well distributed around all your tofu, then place it in the fridge for 30 minutes (or you can cook it straight away if you’d have time). Roast the tofu in a pre-heated oven at 180°C until it starts to turn golden and crispy on the outside (approx. 15-20 minutes).

Cut the courgettes into slices (not too thin – so you’ll ensure that they will keep well a crunchy texture) and cook for only a couple of minutes in a warm pan with a little bit of olive oil.

Place the tofu on a plate* (I have used 2 slices for each person) – cover it with the courgettes first, then add the rocket and the microgreens. Sprinkle some black sesame seeds on top before serving.

* you are mixing cooked and raw ingredients, so it’s better to leave the tofu and courgettes to cool down a little before serving.

 



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Chickpea and buckwheat tacos with marinated aubergines

Are chickpeas already part of your pantry? They are definitely a staple in mine and I usually try to stock up on both dry chickpeas and flour. If you are not used to cook with this kind of flour, give it a go! I love how food tastes when using chickpea flour, but I also really appreciate how it can be a handy option for a quick lunch.

What’s so special about chickpeas? They are high in fibre and protein (they have both soluble and insoluble fibre). This makes them a good ingredient not just for maintaining a healthy digestive system, but also to keep under control the levels of cholesterol and sugar in the bloodstream. They are especially rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B6. This composition makes chickpeas a great addition to the diet to help the body fighting stress (another reason to love them!).

These simple tacos are a great idea for a healthy and tasty lunch or dinner – you can easily change the preparation of the batter or the filling… to make them even more delicious, according to your taste buds! I can’t count how many times I’ve made them at home, and these are some of my favourite variations:

  • add mushrooms to the filling (simply cook them with the aubergines)
  • add milled flaxseeds to the batter (approx. 2 tbsp for the quantities written below)
  • add red cabbage on top of the aubergines: you can use it raw, with a splash of lemon juice or you can heat a little bit of olive oil in a pan, then add the red cabbage and stir for a couple of minutes, add the lemon juice and stir until there’s no liquid left. You can also use fermented red cabbage.
  • add some melted ghee in the batter (approx. 3/4 tbsp solid ghee for the quantities written below)
  • add rocket or other greens on top of the aubergines (for example microgreens)
  • add mozzarella instead of feta or goat cheese (I would use approx. 40-50 g of mozzarella for each person)

Hope you will like them as much as I do, and don’t forget to get creative while cooking! Chiara x

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