Tomato risotto

(read in Italian)

A few days ago, my boyfriend asked for tomato risotto for lunch saying “tomato risotto is my comfort food right now – comfort food is something that simply makes you feel good every time you eat it”. Couldn’t agree more! We both love tomato risotto and when I make it, I don’t think if it’s balanced enough or get worried because I don’t have all the macros in a good amount on my plate. I know it’s a simple preparation that makes us feel good, it brings joy to the table, has tomatoes with all their beneficial properties (hello lycopene, our beloved antioxidant!), has fibre and nutrients.

And if right now you feel the need to cook this risotto or if you have never tried it before, here there’s the recipe! For this version, I’ve used only tomato passata but you can get creative with the ingredients: for example, I love to use a mix of passata and sun-dried tomatoes (finely chopped – no need to re-hydrate the tomatoes in advance, simply add them to the rice while it’s still cooking).

Tomato risotto

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 160 g short-grain brown rice
  • 250-300 ml tomato passata
  • 1 shallot (optional)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika (or smoked, if you prefer to add a different flavor)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • a pinch of salt
  • shredded cheese to add on top (optional – but if you want to use it, I suggest choosing an aged cheese with a strong flavor, and if you are not sure about what to buy, ask your local cheesemonger!)

Warm up a little bit of olive oil in a pot over a medium heat. Add the finely chopped shallots and stir until they turn golden. Add the rice and mix well for approx. 30 seconds to toast the rice. Then add the bay leaves and the amount of warm water necessary to keep everything covered. Mix well and cook over medium heat for 30-40 minutes (depending on the rice that you’re using, check the package). Add water in small portions to cook the rice, there should not be water left when the risotto is ready (but you should have a creamy tomato sauce). Half-way through the cooking time, add all the tomato passata and spices. Serve with shredded cheese on top and a drizzle of olive oil.



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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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Panzanella (insalata con pane e pomodori)

(read in English)

Mi piacciono tantissimo le ricette in cui puoi utilizzare cose come il pane raffermo, o le banane troppo mature, o quello che resta quando fai le bevande vegetali in casa – non è soltanto un bellissimo modo per essere più creativi in cucina, ma è anche ovviamente una maniera per ridurre gli sprechi. La ricetta che troverete qui sotto è un esempio perfetto: un’insalata di pane raffermo e pomodori tipica della Toscana… semplice ma ricca di sapore! Io ormai l’ho preparata talmente tante volte ed ho sperimentato così tante varianti che sarebbe impossibile ricordarle tutte – ma per questo post ho deciso di soffermarmi su una versione un po’ più classica. Condividi una foto con me su Instagram se decidi di provarla, sono sempre curiosa di vedere le vostre creazioni in cucina! Chiara x

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Panzanella (insalata con pane e pomodori)

Ingredienti
(2-3 porzioni)

  • 150 g pane di pasta madre raffermo*
  • 500 g pomodori maturi
  • 1 manciata di basilico fresco
  • 1 1/2 tbsp aceto di mele (o di vino)
  • 2 tsp timo secco
  • 1/2 tsp pepe nero macinato
  • circa 2 tbsp olio extra vergine d’oliva
  • un pizzico di sale

Taglia grossolanamente il pane raffermo (non importa la dimensione esatta dei pezzi, perchè in seguito comunque si sbriciolerà) ed in una ciotola abbastanza capiente mischialo con acqua, aceto, metà del quantitativo indicato di olio, sale, pepe, e timo. Combina il tutto mischiando con le mani e creando dei pezzetti di pane più piccoli, poi aggiungi i pomodori tagliati a pezzetti ed aspetta almeno 10 minuti prima di servire (in questo modo darai un po’ di tempo al pane per inzupparsi con il sugo dei pomodori). Aggiungi il basilico ed un filo d’olio giusto prima di mettere in tavola la Panzanella

Un’ottima variante: aggiungi una mozzarella di bufala (circa 125 g)

*non deve essere per forza di pasta madre, ma è l’opzione che risulta più buona. Ti consiglio anche di scegliere un pane integrale.



Vorresti iniziare ad avere uno stile di vita ed un’alimentazione più sani, creando anche una serie di abitudini che possano diventare parte della tua vita d’ora in avanti? Non sai esattamente da dove iniziare? Clicca sul link qui sotto per fare il primo passo:

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Kale and Basil Pesto

(read in Italian)

Summer means plenty of fresh basil available.. and what a better way to use it than making pesto? I like the traditional one with cheese and pine nuts, but I get bored easily so I always like to get creative and try new food combinations. This recipe calls for basil, kale, and pumpkin seeds: the taste is a little bit different obviously, but it’s rich in flavor and pairs well with a slice of sourdough bread or some pasta.

Let’s briefly talk about kale! Are you among kale lovers or not? Kale has been one of the most trendy healthy foods around for the last few years, but honestly, if you don’t like it, there’s no need to force yourself to eat it! There are many other nutritious veggies that you can include in your days. I honestly love kale and is usually a weekly staple in my grocery shopping – I mainly use it in salads, oven-baked chips and, obviously, pesto!

Kale is a member of the cabbage family, rich in vitamins like C, A, K, B6, but also minerals like magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium. Among vitamin C and beta-carotene, it has other compounds with antioxidant activity, like flavonoids and polyphenols (antioxidants are important compounds that help us working as a protection from the effect of oxidative stress and free radicals – so, for example, they may help us dealing with inflammation and aging). Kale contains also some compounds that may help us to lower the cholesterol levels in the body. Sounds like a mighty little plant, right?

Interesting studies:
Antioxidants and kale
Binding of bile acids by kale (for cholesterol)
Kale and postprandial glucose level

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KALE AND BASIL PESTO

Ingredients

  • 100 g pumpkin seeds
  • approx. 40 g basil, stems included
  • approx. 150 g kale
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • approx. 100-120 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp capers (optional – delicious variation inspired by a post from Green Kitchen Stories)

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a pre-heated oven at 150°C for a few minutes, just until they start to turn golden. Wait until they are cold to add them in the blender, with the lemon juice and a small part of the basil: it’s better to add basil and kale in small portions – blend for a few minutes, pausing from time to time and scraping the walls. When your ingredients will be finely chopped, start adding the olive oil in portions. You can adjust the amount of both oil and lemon juice to your preferences. Store in the fridge in a closed jar for a few days with a thin layer of olive oil on top (just to keep the top covered with oil).



 

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How to start taking a good care of your gut

(read in Italian)

There are plenty of studies that underline the importance of a healthy gut to support our health and well-being from a general point of view. Keep a few things in mind:

  • embrace a healthy lifestyle rich in fibre, fruit, and vegetables, together with a variety of foods to get all the nutrients that you need daily
  • include sources of probiotics/prebiotics, spices, and herbs
  • stay active and de-stress

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Here there are also a few information that you may find useful:

1) KNOW YOUR FIBRE:

Look for a balance between soluble and insoluble fibre. They work in a different way once they get in the body, and we need both of them to stay healthy.

We talk about them as soluble/insoluble in WATER.

SOLUBLE FIBRE: they form a gel-like substance in the gut which attracts water and helps to keep clean the digestive tract. Found for example in oats, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, chickpeas, barley, vegetables, some fruits such as apples, pears, and bananas. This gel also helps to slow down the digestion => “full sensation” that lasts longer.

INSOLUBLE FIBRE: they help to move the things through the digestive tract. Found for example in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts.

START increasing your fibre intake today to keep a healthy gut => start discovering a healthier and happier you.

Remember that is important to change your diet STEP BY STEP – give your body enough time to adapt to the new habits.

2) NOT A BIG FAN OF PROBIOTICS (YET)?

Start with basic fermented foods like yogurt and kefir.

  • when choosing one of these products in the shop, look for unsweetened options – the amount of added sugar in this kind of products can be a lot, and it won’t help you with either your overall health or gut
  • choose one with only your key ingredients
  • make them part of your daily life (in smaller amounts at the begin, to check how you feel and to give your body time to get used to them)
  • pair them with fresh fruit, nuts, or seeds for breakfast or snack time
  • you can find both yogurt and kefir made with plant-based ingredients
  • at some stage, why don’t consider to start making your own?

3) A SIMPLE RECIPE TO START ADDING KEFIR TO YOUR DAYS…

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SMOOTHIE WITH KEFIR, BERRIES, AND MIXED SEEDS

(x 2 smoothies)

  • 1 small pear⠀
  • 1 banana⠀
  • 1 handful of raspberries/blueberries⠀
  • 150 ml kefir⠀
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger⠀
  • 1 tbsp shelled hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp milled chia seeds
  • water (adjust to your preferences) ⠀
  • on top: coconut yogurt + cacao nibs (optional)

Blend all the ingredients and adjust the amount of water according to your preferences. To get an extra smooth finish, I like to prepare in advance a chia pudding using kefir and chia seeds – so instead of adding directly these two ingredients in the blender, I add the pudding (this is also useful to allow the seeds to mix properly with a liquid and release their characteristic “gel”).

 



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Almond, Pecan and Pumpkin Seeds Butter

How many times have you planned to start a diet next Monday, next January, next week?  And, honestly, how many times did you give up before starting or just after a few days?⠀

What if today you decide to stop looking for a quick fix or trying to follow the latest trendy diet… and you simply start working on yourself?⠀

  • rethink your goals⠀
  • set intentions⠀
  • be sure that what you’d like to achieve is something that really matters to you⠀
  • focus on simple changes first⠀
  • work on your mindset⠀
  • start creating LIFELONG healthy habits⠀

Not easy, not quick… but so rewarding! Start all of this process by speaking clearly to yourself in a non-judgemental way. Just be honest and have a better look inside yourself!

What can be your first simple step today? Write down your shopping list for this delicious nuts+seeds butter and get ready to make it soon! Use it as a chance to

  • spend a little bit of time in the kitchen
  • cook something tasty and packed with nutrients
  • get more creative in the kitchen
  • prepare in advance something to add to your next breakfast or snack
  • be more aware when cooking and eating

Enjoy your nuts+seeds butter on toasted bread with some berries, as topping for your porridge, or use it for energy balls as I suggest below!

Chiara x

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Almond, Pecan and Pumpkin Seeds Butter

Ingredients:

  • 100 g almonds
  • 50 g pecan nuts
  • 150 g pumpkin seeds
  • a pinch of vanilla powder

Place your nuts and seed on a baking tray and roast for approx. 10-15 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 150°C (I prefer to start with nuts only, then add the pumpkin seeds a little bit later since they tend to burn quite easily). Leave them to cool down almost completely and then use your mixture to prepare the butter in a food processor or blender: this part will take some time, especially depending on the kitchen appliance that you have – if your blender or food processor starts to warm up too much or smell a little, simply stop for a while and start again later. It takes a while for both nuts and seeds to release their oil and get into a smooth paste. Store your butter in a closed jar in the fridge.

A simple idea to use your freshly made nut+seeds butter…

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Nuts, Seeds, and Chocolate Energy Balls

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp of almond, pecan and pumpkin seeds butter
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 3 tbsp milled flaxseeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp date syrup
  • 1 tbsp oat flour
  • 1 tbsp melted cacao butter
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • a little bit of water (to help you shape the energy balls)

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Only start adding water in small portions when the mixture will be ready so you won’t add too much of it. You can easily make the oat flour in a blender starting with regular oats. Shape your energy balls and store them in the fridge in an air-tight container.



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