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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Apple Galette

(read in Italian)

I’m using this apple galette that I’ve prepared recently to talk about FOOD & MINDSET.

Starting to be more AWARE of the entire process of nourishing, means working on the connection with your body and the food that you CHOOSE to eat, but it also means that you’ll truly put into practice the idea of moving from eating to nourishing

Learn how to listen and trust your body – giving it what it needs, and not ignoring the messages that will eventually send you even in the busiest times. Start putting yourself first and love taking care of yourself!

And yes, I’m saying this with a galette, that is packed with nutrients & flavor but it would absolutely not fit into the classic standards of “healthy” or “clean”.

Start to move on from the classic standards of “healthy” and “unhealthy”, and start looking at the ingredients, food combinations, quality of products, your body’s needs, etc.

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LET’S BREAK DOWN THE GALETTE

  • almost all the ingredients in this galette are organic
  • the dough is made with only whole grain flour
  • there’s a bit of date syrup but otherwise, I’ve played with apples and spices to avoid adding extra sugar (get creative!)
  • there’s a good amount of apples considering the size of the galette
  • there’s some tahini in the dough too
  • loved cooking with these Irish apples from the farmers’ market (connect with your food!)
  • I’ve shared it with my boyfriend (food is not just energy for your body!)
  • there’s some yogurt in the homemade ice-cream that I’ve used but you can also serve the galette with some yogurt (hello probiotics!)
  • it was exactly what I wanted and a perfect way to celebrate those delicious apples (enjoy your food!)

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN:
what can you do today to work a bit on your approach toward food?

Chiara x

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APPLE GALETTE

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 130 g whole grain flour (wheat or spelt)
  • 35 g butter
  • 1.5 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tsp date syrup
  • approx. 60 ml milk or hazelnut drink
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder

For the filling:

  • 3 apples (approx. 390 g – preferably cooking apples)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (crushed in a mortar)
  • a splash of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp butter (optional)
  • approx. 1 tsp coconut flour (optional)

In a bowl, mix the softened butter (at room temperature) with tahini, date syrup (1 tsp), and cinnamon. Add the flour and mix well until you get a crumble-like consistency, then start adding the liquid in small portions (a different flour may require a bit less or more liquid). Mix the ingredients with a spoon for this first part, then in the end quickly knead the dough with your hands – it should be ready in a few minutes overall. If you are not using it straight away, place the dough in the fridge using a covered bowl.

Slice the apples, mix them with the spices and a splash of lemon juice. Roll out the dough (you’ll end up with a circle of approx. 20 cm of diameter) and sprinkle the coconut flour to prevent the base from becoming too soggy. Start adding the sliced apples, then fold the dough up and over the apples to create a border (wet your fingertips to press the internal part of the border and ensure it will stay in place).

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C until the galette is golden brown (approx. 20-25 minutes – I don’t overcook the apples and they are still slightly crunchy at the end). When it’s almost ready, take the galette out from the oven: brush the border with a mixture made of date syrup (1 tsp) and milk or plant-based drink (2 tsp) – add 1/2 tsp of butter in small pieces over the apples. Place in the oven again for a couple of minutes.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a dollop of ice-cream or yogurt on top.



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Panzanella (bread and tomato salad)

(read in Italian)

I really love those recipes in which you can use stuff like stale bread, or overripe bananas, or the leftovers from making your own nut drink – it’s not just a brilliant way to get more creative while cooking but, obviously, it’s also good to reduce the waste. The recipe that you will find below is a perfect example: a traditional Tuscan salad with stale bread and ripe tomatoes… simple and full of flavor! I’ve made it endless times and tried so many variations that I can’t even remember all of them – but for this blog post, I’ve decided to stick with a more classic version. I’ve also decided to suggest you a simple variation with some buffalo mozzarella. Share with me a snap on Instagram if you decide to give it a go, I’d love to see your creations! Chiara x

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Panzanella (bread and tomato salad)

Ingredients
(serves 2-3)

  • 150 g stale sourdough bread*
  • 500 g ripe tomatoes
  • 1 handful of fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or wine vinegar)
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • approx. 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of salt

Chop the stale bread into small chunks (even if you can’t make them too small, it will be fine anyway because it will break into crumbs later on) and in a large bowl mix it with water, vinegar, half of the oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Mix well with your hands and start to create smaller crumbs, then add the chopped tomatoes and wait at least 10 minutes before serving (in this way the bread will soak better the tomatoes’ juice). Just before serving, add plenty of fresh basil and a little bit of olive oil.

A lovely variation: add 1 buffalo mozzarella (approx. 125 g)

*it doesn’t have to be sourdough, but it’s the option that tastes better. I would also suggest you to choose a whole grain bread.



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Barley Salad with Courgettes and Blue Cheese

(read in Italian)

Do you sometimes cook with barley? Do you know that barley has a good content of beta-glucan? Yes, the same fibre that you can find in oats! Beta-glucan is a glucose polymer (polysaccharides) found in the cell walls of cereals and other food (for example yeasts, seaweeds, and some mushrooms like shiitake or reishi – it’s also found in other foods in smaller amounts).

The positive effect of grains like barley and oats on cholesterol has been associated with their content of soluble fibre. The beta-glucan structure is different based on the food source (so they are for example soluble fibre in cereals and insoluble in yeasts.. the power of chemistry!). Taking good care of yourself through your food and lifestyle choices CAN BE EASY AND ENJOYABLE.. You just need to give it a go!

Below you’ll find the recipe for a salad with barley, courgettes, and blue cheese – I have used a cheese that has easily become a favorite in my house: Young Buck, a delicious raw milk blue cheese made in Northern Ireland. You can check it out if you’ve never tried it or do a little bit of research until you find your own favorite!

Chiara x

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Barley Salad with Courgettes and Blue Cheese

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 120 g barley
  • approx. 340 g courgettes
  • approx. 40 g blue cheese
  • 1 small handful of alfalfa sprouts (or your favorite sprouts)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (crushed in a mortar)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small handful of fresh mint leaves
  • a pinch of black pepper

Cook the barley according to the instructions on the package. When it will be ready, simply rinse it with cold water and drain well. While you wait for the barley to cook, you can prepare the other ingredients: cut into small slices the courgettes and cook them in a pan with a little bit of olive oil for 1-2 minutes – you can also decide to divide the courgettes into two parts, then cook some of them and leave the remaining veggies raw (to get the best results, I’ll do this only with small, fresh and crunchy courgettes). Once the courgettes will be cold, place them in a large bowl with spices, dried thyme, lemon juice, barley, cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. Mix well all the ingredients and set them aside in the fridge for approx. 10 minutes. Add the sprouts just before serving and top your bowls with some mint leaves.



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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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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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