My “no New Year’s resolutions” approach

(read in Italian)

New year, new me? No, thank you! This is how I would reply to someone who asks me about my resolutions for the new year. 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 this talking about setting big plans for the year ahead and judging yourself for what happened in the past. I don’t like new year’s resolutions but I like the idea of a FRESH START, especially if this is something that gives you some extra motivation and makes you excited (and happy!) to take action!

Planning a resolution to me means you have a specific issue in mind and you need to sort it out (problem -> possible solution -> action plan) – I’m obviously not judging you if you want to set your resolutions for the new year and feel confident about your choice, but here there’s my advice for you:

  1. check if there is a real issue that needs a solution
  2. be sure about what you want to do/reach (does it really matters to you? Is something achievable? Is something you tried to do before?)
  3. break your plan into small steps: turn a bigger plan into actions that are small, simple, and easy to visualise

Let’s get back to the “no resolutions” approach…

From both a general point of view and in terms of “healthy resolutions”, can you see the difference between << 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 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 snacks BUT I won’t judge myself and I understand that eating some sweets when I’m stressed is not the end of the world. I also want to ask myself more often this kind of questions “what am I really hungry for? what am I looking for?” >>

The idea behind the first sentence 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. Now 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? Because maybe you don’t even care about losing weight…

  • There’s no need to COMPARE yourself to others
  • It’s important to stay 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
  • You can create instead a POSITIVE CALL to change (as long as you need that change)
  • Include in the foreseeable future what makes you HAPPY and what is rooted in SELF-LOVE
  • An idea to use as a starting point: make a list “what you think you need to do vs what you really want”
  • Big, bright and shiny resolutions are definitely attractive but WORKING ON YOURSELF is so rewarding in the long term!

WHAT AM I DOING IN JANUARY? It’s the beginning 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 reflect on my past year and check from a different perspective the path that brought me here. I have learned some important 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
  • stay focused on my strengths and working on letting go of what is holding me back
  • remind myself anytime I will feel lost that I AM ENOUGH
  • allow myself to fully feel all the feelings
  • stay focused on my path and ask myself anytime I get into the comparison trap “what exactly am I looking for?”
  • be more focused on what I can ALLOW to come into my life/business, rather than on what I need to cut out (abundance vs restriction)

Each year will be different but right now these are the things I want to include into this “fresh start” because they are areas in which I need to work on. I’m not getting worried asking myself “will I manage to do all of them? Or even just one? What if I fail?” because I strive for progress and not perfection. I don’t have a real plan on how to put them into practice but I will simply keep trying what I have been doing lately and improve/change things step by step. Every day:

  • I ask myself “what am I grateful for?” and try to write down as many things as I can remember – I will try to write down even more things even I had some bad days or a stressful time). I always try to ensure I’m not coming up with random things just because I need to make a list: it needs to be real GRATITUDE
  • I stay focused on a word or a sentence that makes me feel empowered, and I come up with this by asking myself how I really feel
  • I journal about my life and business goals, I ask myself questions, and I try to avoid being afraid of the possible answers I’ll find. A big part of this journaling work is related to my business because the mindset makes a huge part of having your own business, but you could totally do this simply staying focused just on your personal life (it depends from what you want to get from this work)

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


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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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Risotto al pomodoro

(read in English)

Qualche giorno fa, il mio ragazzo mi ha chiesto di preparare il risotto al pomodoro per pranzo dicendo “il risotto al pomodoro è il mio comfort food al momento – un comfort food è qualcosa che ti fa semplicemente stare bene ogni volta che lo mangi”. Non potrei essere più d’accordo! Questo risotto piace molto ad entrambi e quando lo preparo non penso se sia abbastanza bilanciato e non inizio a preoccuparmi perchè i macronutrienti non sono presenti in giuste quantità sul mio piatto. So che è una preparazione semplice che ci fa stare bene, che porta gioia in tavola, che ha i pomodori con tutte le loro ottime proprietà (come l’amatissimo antiossidante licopene), che ha fibre e nutrienti.

Vuoi prepararlo anche tu? Non hai ancora mai provato il risotto al pomodoro? Problema risolto, qui trovi la ricetta! In questa versione ho utilizzato soltanto la passata di pomodoro, ma puoi variare gli ingredienti come preferisci: ad esempio, a me piace molto utilizzare anche un misto di passata e pomodori secchi tagliati finemente (non c’è bisogno di re-idratarli prima dell’utilizzo, aggiungili semplicemente al riso in fase di cottura).

Risotto al pomodoro

Ingredienti (per 2 persone)

  • 160 g di riso integrale a grano corto
  • 250-300 ml di passata di pomodoro
  • 1 scalogno (opzionale)
  • 1-2 foglie d’alloro
  • 1 cucchiaino di paprika dolce (o affumicata, se preferisci dare un tocco diverso)
  • olio d’oliva extra vergine
  • un pizzico di pepe nero
  • un pizzico di sale
  • formaggio grattugiato da aggiungere sopra (opzionale – ma se decidi di usarlo, ti consiglio di utilizzare un formaggio stagionato con un sapore abbastanza forte, e se non sai quale scegliere, chiedi un suggerimento nel tuo negozio di formaggi di fiducia!)

Scalda un pochino d’olio d’oliva in una pentola su fuoco medio. Aggiungi lo scalogno tagliato finemente e lascialo rosolare finchè non diventa dorato. Aggiungi il riso e mischia per circa 30 secondi per tostarlo. A questo punto, aggiungi le foglie d’alloro ed una quantità di acqua calda sufficiente per coprire tutto il riso. Mischia e cuoci su fuoco meido per circa 30-40 minuti (il tempo di cottura dipende dal tipo di riso utilizzato, controlla quanto indicato sulla confezione). Per cuocere il risotto, aggiungi altra acqua in piccole porzioni, in modo da non averne in eccesso alla fine (quello che avrai sarà semplicemente una crema di pomodoro). Circa a metà cottura, aggiungi tutta la passata di pomodoro e le spezie. Servi con il formaggio grattugiato sopra e un filo d’olio d’oliva.



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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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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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Noodles with Asparagus and Courgettes

Asparagus is one of those veggies that many people avoid to cook at home because of their characteristic taste, not so easy to pair and to prepare. The key is actually “keep it simple” – find a way to eat asparagus that you like and that at the same time allows you to celebrate them and really appreciate their flavour.

This Spring vegetable comes in several colours (green, purple, white) and it’s actually packed with nutrients*

  • low in calories
  • good amount of fibre (important to keep the body overall healthy)
  • rich in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, A, K, and E – folate, potassium, phosphorus (folate is important for many processes in the body (among them, cognitive functions) and it’s a key nutrient for women who are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy – many other nutrients come in a smaller amount in asparagus, making this veggie really useful for our health and well-being)
  • good amount of antioxidants (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 ageing)
  • being a source of potassium, they are one of those foods that help us get our daily intake of this important mineral (potassium helps to regulate blood pressure and the amount of sodium in the body – for many people, the daily diet is often rich in sodium and lacks in potassium)

Asparagus is also pretty famous for something else… the smell! Wondering why? What’s the chemistry behind asparagusAsparagus contains asparagusic acid, which our body converts into sulfur-containing chemicals that stink. In this interesting study published in the British Medical Journal, the researchers tried to know more about asparagus and our metabolism.

* if you have a specific medical condition, for example, uric acid kidney stones, talk to your doctor about having asparagus as part of your diet.

LET’S GET PRACTICAL! Here there is a simple recipe that will help you to fall in love with asparagus – it’s simple, rich in flavour, and really quick to prepare. You can use your favourite noodles, I have decided to go for the brown rice ones, that are pretty basic, and are a staple in my pantry (you never know when you’ll want to make a bowl of ramen or a stir-fry!).

Hope you’ll like it!

Chiara x
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Noodles with Asparagus and Courgettes

Ingredients
(serves 2)

  • 1 medium-sized courgette
  • approx. 200 g asparagus
  • 120 g brown rice noodles
  • 100 g plain tofu
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • a pinch of hot paprika
  • black sesame seeds
  • some finely chopped Spring onions (to add on top before serving) – approx. 1 tsp of chopped pieces for each person, but you can also put some in a bowl and leave it on the table
  • extra virgin olive oil

Cut the vegetables (courgettes and asparagus) in thin slices (leave the tops of asparagus as they are) – chop the tofu into small cubes and mix it with the tamari, black pepper and paprika. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a pan and then cook the tofu until it starts to get golden brown on the outside, then add the vegetables, mix well, and keep cooking for a minute (the vegetables are thin and you want to keep them crunchy).

Cook the noodles in boiling water following the instructions on the package and when they will be ready, rinse with cold water, drain the excess of liquid, and add them to the pan – add also the grated ginger, mix well, and get ready to serve. Add a little bit of olive oil just before serving, together with black sesame seeds, and some finely chopped raw Spring onions.

 



Would you like to start having a healthier diet and lifestyle, but also start building lifelong healthy habits? Learn how to:

CELEBRATE your body
TAKE GOOD CARE of yourself
FILL your days with love, attention to your well-being, and positive vibes
LEAVE behind all the negativity
LOVE the food that you CHOOSE to put on your table

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