Zuppa di fagioli rossi e carote

(read in English)

Questa zuppa di fagioli rossi e carote è stata preparata in realtà più per una questione legata alla fotografia, piuttosto che con l’idea di condividere la ricetta, ma ho ricevuto tante domande su questa bontà, che ho deciso di scrivere anche questa preparazione sul blog. Ma parliamo per un minuto del perchè fosse un soggetto interessante in termini fotografici…

Per lavorare sulle tue abilità, per mettere in pratica dei cambiamenti nel tuo stile di vita, per migliorare nel tuo lavoro, per lavorare su di te… punta a fare dei passi avanti, non ad un ideale di perfezione.

Una delle cose che ho deciso di mettere sulla mia lista di cose da fare durante gli ultimi mesi: prendermi più tempo per esplorare la parte di “food photography” del mio lavoro. La maggior parte delle foto che condivido a supporto dei miei posts sui social sono fatte rapidamente a colazione o pranzo e, in tutta onestà, avere la capacità di ottenere ottimi risultati in tempi brevi e senza un set-up ideale, mi è stato molto utile in varie occasioni di lavoro. MA mi piace studiare un’mmagine con il giusto tempo ed essere anche in grado di rallentare un po’ e connettermi al meglio con ciò che sto facendo. Dunque, nella mia lista di cose da fare per il prossimo futuro, vedo sicuramente tanto tempo passato dietro la macchina fotografica, un workshop di fotografia che vorrei organizzare a Dublino, e tanti lavori interessanti legati alla fotografia ed al cibo. E tu? Hai una abilità o un qualche cambiamento su cui vorresti lavorare un po’ di più? 

Zuppa di fagioli rossi e carote

Ingredienti (per 2 persone)

  • circa 200 g di fagioli rossi cotti
  • 3 carote di dimensioni medie
  • 2 scalogni
  • 5-6 pomodori secchi
  • circa 300 ml di passata di pomodoro
  • 1 cucchiaino di cumino in polvere
  • 1 cucchiaino di semi di finocchio (spezzettati in un mortaio)
  • 1 cucchiaino di semi di senape nera (spezzettati in un mortaio)
  • 1/3 di cucchiaino di paprika piccante
  • 2 foglie d’alloro
  • un pizzico di sale
  • un pizzico di pepe
  • olio d’oliva extra vergine
  • sopra: 4 cucchiai di yogurt di cocco (o qualsiasi altro tipo di yogurt bianco, in base ai tuoi gusti), 4-5 ravanelli, 1 manciata di coriandolo fresco, olio extra vergine d’oliva

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 le carote tagliate a pezzetti e mischia bene per circa 30 secondi, poi aggiungi lentamente alcuni cucchiai di acqua calda, seguiti dalla passata di pomodoro, i pomodori secchi tagliati a pezzettini (non c’è bisogno di re-idratarli prima di aggiungerli al resto, visto che avranno poi il tempo di ammorbidirsi durante la cottura), le foglie d’alloro, e le spezie. Aggiungi un altro pochino d’acqua se necessaria, in modo da coprire tutti gli ingredienti (aggiungi l’acqua in piccole quantità e passo passo, dato che i tempi di cottura non sono molto lunghi e quello che vorrai alla fine è un risultato piuttosto cremoso). Cuoci a fuoco basso per circa 10 minuti, poi aggiungi i fagioli e continua la cottura per altri 5-10 minuti (varia i tempi i base a quanto vuoi che siano croccanti le carote o a quanto vorresti che fosse cremosa la zuppa). Quando sarà pronta, assaggiala ed aggiungi un pizzico di sale e pepe nero, scarta le foglie d’alloro, ed utilizza i ravanelli tagliati a fettine, il coriandolo, lo yogurt, e l’olio d’oliva per decorare il piatto. Servi così com’è o accompagnata da una fetta di pane tostato.



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Red kidney bean and carrot stew

(read in Italian)

This stew with red kidney beans and carrots has been created more for a food photography purpose than with the idea of sharing a recipe but I’ve got so many questions about it, that I’ve decided to write everything down and share this delicious preparation on the blog. But let’s take a minute to chat about the reason why this was an interesting subject to work on my photography…

To work on your skills, to change your lifestyle, to get better in your job, to work on yourself… STRIVE FOR PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION.

One of the things I’ve decided to put on my to-do list during the last few months: taking more time to explore the food photography part of my job. Most of the photos I share as support of my posts on social media are quick snaps taken at breakfast or lunchtime and, let’s be honest, having the skills to get great results in a short time and without an ideal set-up has been useful in several working occasions. BUT I love taking my time to work on a photo and literally be able to SLOW DOWN and build up a connection with what I’m doing. So, on my to-do list for the near future, I definitely have more time spent behind the camera, a photography workshop I want to arrange in Dublin, and plenty of interesting food photography jobs. Do you have any skills or change you want to work on?

Red kidney bean and carrots stew

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • approx. 200 g cooked red kidney beans
  • 3 medium-sized carrots
  • 2 shallots
  • 5-6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • approx. 300 ml tomato passata
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (crushed in a mortar)
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds (crushed in a mortar)
  • 1/3 tsp hot paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • on top: 4 tbsp for of plain coconut yogurt (or regular yogurt, according to your preferences), 4-5 radishes, 1 handful of fresh coriander, extra virgin olive oil

Warm up a little bit of olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the finely chopped shallots and stir until they turn golden. Add the carrots (chopped in small pieces) and mix well for approx. 30 seconds, then slowly add a few tbsp of warm water, followed by the tomato passata, the finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (no need to re-hydrate them in advance, since they will cook with your stew), the bay leaves, and the spices. Add a bit of extra water if needed to keep all the ingredients covered (add small amounts of water step by step, since the preparation doesn’t take too long and you want a creamy result). Cook on low heat for approx. 10 minutes, then add the beans and cook for 5-10 minutes (according to how crunchy you want your carrots and how creamy you’d like the stew). Once it will be ready, adjust the amount of salt and black pepper to taste, remove the bay leaves, and use the finely sliced radishes, yogurt, coriander, and olive oil as toppings. Serve as itself or with a slice of toasted bread.

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My experience with a Reflexology treatment

My series of blog posts in which I meet other people who work in the wellness world continues with… reflexology! You have probably heard about it, but if you never had the chance to give it a go, here you’ll be able to find more information and see if this treatment may suit your needs.

Recently, I had the pleasure to receive a reflexology treatment from Laura Gil at Dublin Wellness Centre. Reflexology is a complementary therapy focused on the feet and aims to support the body on its way to re-balance. I really liked how Laura talks about the treatment as something to “awaken” the body and give it some extra motivation to work at its best. The human body is a wonderfully complex system but there are so many things we need to take into account when we talk about health and well-being. For example, do you ever stop for a minute and think how stress affects you both physically and mentally? There is a study published in 2000 in which the researchers looked at the effect of foot massage sessions on patients in critical care (a stressful environment): they noticed a significant reduction in stress by looking at data for heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure. Interesting, right?

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Reflexology is based on the idea that our feet mirror the whole body so, by applying pressure to a specific part of the feet, you may not only have a positive effect from a general point of view, but also on the corresponding area of the body.

As a holistic therapist, Laura considers her clients as a whole person and with her treatments gives them the right support to go to the roots of their issues. The reflexology session starts by establishing a connection with the person to create a more relaxed and supportive environment, then Laura does a full feet massage – only later on during the session, she will focus more on specific points: she basically teams up with your feet to understand better which areas need more attention and how much pressure she should apply.

The whole treatment encourages the body not only to relax but also to work at its best, to have a better response to external messages, and to find again its balance. It perfectly fits into these series on blog posts, because with them I want to show you how you can easily support your well-being in several ways – this is a simple treatment that goes straight to the point, and it’s perfect for a quick session even at lunchtime (Laura usually does a 1-hour treatment).

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SOME DETAILS…

My specific needs: the only two issues I was dealing with on the day in which I had my treatment with Laura where basically stress and a recurrent pain due to last year’s breast surgery (another story that you can read here). Laura took some time before the treatment to have a chat with me and tell me something about how reflexology works. The results: right after the treatment I was relaxed and energised at the same time – I guess part of the “extra energy” was due to my feet that were feeling way lighter than before and to a deep sense of self-love towards my body (something like “hey, I’m your body and I want to thank you for taking care of me! Let’s do it again soon!”). The session with Laura definitely moved something because I’ve noticed that extra energy for several days after the treatment, and it also gave me a few things to think about. If you are curious to know what she talked about at the end of the treatment: the complaints I had at the begin of the session were basically confirmed from her by reading my feet: a strong body’s response to stress, plenty of overthinking, water-retention, and emotional blockages.

Laura meets clients with a wide range of issues, including stress, fertility, and pregnancy.

I would definitely recommend having this treatment with Laura if you live in Dublin or nearby – it’s a good value for money (€60) and her gentle, relaxing, and down-to-earth approach will definitely help you to feel comfortable and enjoy the treatment. I also hope that what I’ve written here will be helpful and inspiring for all of you who live somewhere else!

Chiara x


ABOUT LAURA

Coming from a fitness and dance background Laura has always been concerned about the importance of health. Alternative medicine has strongly led her to the belief that we can heal ourselves by listening to what our bodies have to tell us.

Her passion for massage and complementary therapies began at a very young age and have continued to blossom ever since. Laura’s father was also involved in energy work and she has fond childhood memories playing with ‘magic stones’ and being in awe of the power of her dad’s hands when she wasn’t feeling well.

She always had a special interest in Reiki and energy work, having attended many different workshops in her native home of Barcelona. On the other hand, reflexology was always calling her attention. She has always been eager to learn more about helping others, but also herself.

It wasn’t until she travelled to Ireland that she decided to start her journey as a therapist by completing the Reiki Master Teacher and practitioner training and also studying Reflexology in the highly recognized Holistic College Dublin, taught by the inspirational Alison Kavanagh.

During her training, she had the pleasure to attend a post-graduate course with Chris Stormer, entitled ‘Language of the Feet’ and ‘Understanding allergies and intolerances through the feet’. This course really opened her eyes to the messages our feet are telling us about ourselves.

Her dancing career began at a very young age and spanned across several dancing genres, but it is with Belly Dance where her strongest passion lies. She began Belly dance following a doctor’s recommendation and it was here where she found her mind, body and soul awaken through the art of this elegant dance. It also sparked her interest in helping women’s health. She carries this interest with her still today and it is the reason why she specialized in fertility and maternity reflexology through the Obus School of Healing Therapies.

She offers sessions in both Reiki and Reflexology and also offers a special combination of the two if necessary. She applies Reiki to her reflexology treatments to enhance healing and relaxation. It can also have brilliant benefits when attending specific areas on the feet after a Reiki session. Each session is followed by a personal consultation, in which a discussion on how to aid recovery is professionally conducted. By combining self-treatment-techniques with the therapy sessions a positive first step is made in nurturing, not just your body, but also your mind and spirit.

Laura is an ITEC qualified Reflexologist specialized in Fertility and Maternity treatments. She also has developed a special interest in helping stress-related issues.

As a member of the National Register of Reflexologists Ireland, Laura’s reflexology treatments are covered by VHI, Laya, Aviva and Glo Healthcare.

To find more details about her treatments and schedule an appointment with Laura, click HERE

My experience with a Facial Rejuvenation treatment

If you have been following my blog or social media pages for a while, you know that I’m a huge supporter of all the little things that can help us to take a better care of ourselves on a daily basis. Many people think that self-care means having at least one day off each week to spend taking care of themselves and having only that single thing to do. We all know that reality is a little bit different, things don’t always go as planned and it’s not so common having the chance to dedicate one entire day each week to yourself. So, it’s important to think about what you can do on a daily basis to show yourself some love… small choices that seem simple but can actually be life-changing!

I’d like to help you figure out what you can do at home in first place and also simple treatments that you can book without necessarily have to take a day off at the spa. That’s why I’d like to meet other people who work in the wellness world and give you some examples of HOW YOU CAN EASILY SUPPORT YOUR WELL-BEING in different ways… you’ll hear from my voice about the treatment, how does it work, how it made me feel and which are the benefits that I’ve noticed.

Recently, I had the pleasure to try a Chinese Cupping and Gua Sha Facial Rejuvenation treatment with Amanda Nordell at Dublin Wellness Centre: it’s a treatment based on a combination of different techniques that Amanda carefully adapts to your own needs.

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What is it all about? The treatment lasts approx. 1 hour and includes the use of gua sha tools, a jade roller, natural facial oils, cupping (with silicone cups), basalt stones, and a face mask. You can also get a standard acupuncture treatment as part of the session as an extra support for your well-being and general balance. It’s a relaxing hour and even if it may sound a bit scary getting cupping on your face, the truth is that it doesn’t hurt and leaves no red marks, my skin was refreshed and rejuvenated following the treatment.

The combination of facial cupping and gua sha is both relaxing for the mind and body, and invigorating for the complexion and facial muscles. For this kind of treatment, Amanda works with clients who have a wide range of needs, including who have specific skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis, or eczema and also with people who want to prevent/reduce the signs of aging. The facial can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles and reduce sagging tendencies. As she mentioned to me, there’s no downtime after the session and this makes it even easier for all of us thinking to fit this relaxing time into a busy schedule.

What I really loved about the treatment (apart from the glowing skin that I had right after it) is the idea that it helps your whole face to find its balance again and to shine from the inside out – it’s a way to give some extra support to your skin and muscles on their everyday job. No magic tricks or big promises: it’s a deep and gentle facial massage based on specific instruments, nutrients (from oils and masks), and temperatures.

Something else I really appreciated is the approach that Amanda has toward natural products. We are all aware that the word “natural” is used to advertise a wide range of stuff (and often is the perfect way to trick customers) and it can have several meanings – the best thing to do is having a better look at what there is actually behind the “natural” label. As Amanda mentioned to me, her focus is on getting products that are organic when possible, and free from parabens, silicones, mineral oil, and alcohol.

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SOME DETAILS…

My specific needs: I’ve received the treatment a few days after having a cold, with a sinus inflammation, a dry skin (I tend to have a dry skin due to psoriasis but this time was also due to the previous cold), and a few hormonal spots. Amanda took some time before starting the treatment to have a chat, tell me that the treatment could also be helpful for my sinus inflammation, explain to me that she decided to use a hydrating bamboo mask and that the hormonal spots may worsen after the session but only because the skin is clearing itself. The results: right after the treatment I was relaxed and energised at the same time – it’s a facial but it lasts one hour, so it actually feels like taking a proper “self-care break” in the middle of the day. I’ve noticed immediately the re-hydration and a clear change in my skin’s texture, the entire face looked (and felt) renovated and refreshed – hormonal spots cleared after a few days and I had a good improvement in my sinus inflammation. I always preach about listening to your body and what mine told me in the evening after the session with Amanda was to slow down and take more time off (I even went in bed way earlier than usual). Every time I go for a treatment or I do something to take care of myself, I always feel some extra motivation afterward to keep doing it and to be more consistent in adding self-care into my priorities (when I’m busy I tend to forget about using face creams, oils, self-massage, etc).

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The treatment is divided into several steps: it starts with a gentle and quick massage to apply the oil, then the use of some tools (jade roller, gua sha, etc..) not only helps with muscles and blood circulation, but it also allows the oil to be absorbed better into the skin. Gua sha, jade roller, and cupping are used before the mask, then basalt stones are the final part of the session. The tools for gua sha are used to do a gentle scraping action on the skin (this means that the layers are starting to be stimulated – you’ll also feel the skin that gets warmer), while the jade roller is naturally cold and massages the face. The technique used for cupping promotes circulation and relieves muscle tension (warm temperature), the mask nourishes the skin and the basalt stones are used again to massage the face.

Even if I love getting a massage and I truly believe that treatments like massage or acupuncture are a great and simple way to support our well-being (from both personal experience and from what I’ve learned in my training to become a Lomi Lomi massage therapist), I’m usually not keen in booking myself in for a facial. But this treatment is actually something completely different because it involves the use of tools and all the different steps follow a logical pathway that you can clearly understand and feel with all the little changes on your skin.

I would definitely recommend having this treatment with Amanda if you live in Dublin or nearby – it’s a good value for money (€65) and her non-judgemental, experienced, and down-to-earth approach will definitely help you to feel comfortable and enjoy the treatment. I also hope that what I’ve written here will be helpful and inspiring for all of you who live somewhere else!

Chiara x

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ABOUT AMANDA:

Amanda is a registered acupuncturist with AFPA, the oldest and largest professional body for practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Ireland. She is a graduate of The Acupuncture Foundation of Ireland and has completed a clinical internship at the WHO Collaborative Center of Traditional Medicine at Nanjing University, China. This programme consisted of extensive clinical instruction at Jiangsu Province General Hospital and Military Hospital 454.

Amanda was privileged to work with the renowned Dr. Wen Lei Qiao during her time in China. Dr. Qiao’s treatment philosophy is well respected across Europe and the world. Her principles of pain-free needling, use of a few needles as possible along with a gentle, consultative approach with clients is proven to create optimum results. Amanda adheres to this approach and in addition to traditional body acupuncture she uses abdominal, auricular (ear) and wrist-ankle acupuncture techniques. Also, traditional Chinese cupping therapy and moxibustion.

Amanda has 20 years of experience working in the areas of health and social care firstly as a nurse and subsequently in the area of child and vulnerable adult protection. She has worked in general medicine, surgery, pediatrics, care of the elderly, mental health, learning disability and addiction. Amanda draws on this knowledge to provide a holistic, person-centered experience for each patient treating them according to their unique specific symptoms.

Through the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, she focuses on promoting health, preventing illness, and treating health challenges through natural alternatives that complement and enhance Western Medicine treatments.

To find more details about the treatments and schedule an appointment with Amanda, click HERE: www.amandanordell.com

Pasta with Tuna and Blood Oranges

I’ve prepared this pasta for the first time on a busy day in which I needed a quick solution for lunch and there were barely no veggies left in the kitchen… so I needed to come up with something new! What about mixing pasta, tuna and blood oranges? I had only 1 orange left, so I have used that one (plus some finely chopped orange peel) and some tuna: the pasta turned out ok, but it needed some major changes! What you will read below is an improved version of that original recipe: now you have a bowl of pasta tossed with a creamy sauce, rich in flavor and with a little bit of crunchiness coming from the pumpkin seeds – still quick and easy to make!

Hope you’ll like it! Chiara x

PASTA WITH TUNA AND BLOOD ORANGES

Ingredients
(x 2)

  • 140 g pasta of your choice (here I have used some whole grain spaghetti and their flavor pairs pretty well with the sauce)
  • 3 blood oranges (peeled)
  • zest of 1/3 orange (if oranges are organic, otherwise you can use some organic lemon zest)
  • approx. 70 g of tuna (canned)
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • a pinch of salt
  • extra virgin olive oil

Prepare the toasted pumpkin seeds and chop them finely. Peel the oranges (keeping some zest for later) and place them in a blender (remove the seeds before blending your oranges). In a pan, warm up your orange sauce with 2 tsp of tahini and the spices – mix well the tahini into the warm sauce to get a smooth texture and cook for approx. 5 minutes or even less, until you don’t get a creamy sauce. When the sauce is ready, stir in the tuna, half of the seeds and mix well (add also a little bit of olive oil if your tuna doesn’t have it). While you’re preparing the sauce, cook your pasta “al dente”, rinse it once with some cold water and drain it well. Add the pasta to your pan and mix it well with the sauce. Add some olive oil before serving and sprinkle some extra seeds on top.


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How to start bringing more awareness into your relationship with food

First of all: what does it mean EATING WITH INTENTION? In a few words, it’s related to the idea of being truly aware of the entire process of eating and don’t only mindless getting some fuel for your body.

You have probably noticed that the ideas of mindful eating and eating with intention are named pretty much everywhere lately. I absolutely love this kind of approach, but as soon as they became trends, it also started to be difficult to have a clear idea of how to apply them in the best way in your everyday life.

During the last years, I had the chance to apply the mindfulness-based approach to myself and I have found it pretty useful, both for general life issues and for the food-related ones. But I have tried to get a bigger view of it. When I talk with my clients about this kind of approach, I often refer to it in terms like “eating with intention”, “being present”, “being conscious of your relationship with food” – I use what I have learned during my holistic studies (I hold a diploma as massage therapist, and I have started practicing yoga in 2009), paired with science, to improve their relationship with food and with themselves.

Today, I’d like to drive your attention to the idea of bringing more awareness to the entire process of eating. First, let’s change that eating with nourishing – makes much more sense in relation to what we are talking about! Then, you may want to ask me: what’s included in that process?

  • your relationship with food
  • your relationship with yourself (your health, well-being, mind, and body)
  • what you choose to eat
  • your approach to grocery shopping
  • your approach to cooking
  • how you prepare your food
  • what you choose to put on your table
  • how you eat
  • your approach to the different meals
  • your relationship with dieting or ideal perfection guidelines or detox, etc…
  • your idea of healthy eating
  • how stress or a busy life affect your relationship with food
  • eating well seen as a form of self-respect
  • any food-related issue

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Let’s get practical with an example.

WHY WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED YOU COOK AND EAT AN ENTIRE CAKE ALL BY YOURSELF?

Eating well is a form of SELF-RESPECT. But ALSO understand the real reason why when you’re stressed you cook and eat an entire cake all by yourself is a form of self-respect. I could stay here every day telling you that eating an entire cake all at once is not healthy, how much sugar there is inside it, what happens in your body, etc… BUT if you don’t start to be more AWARE, things will remain the same.

I have always been the kind of person who puts all her energy and focus on what she does and I truly don’t think that this will ever change. But I have learned how to manage it better and how to take care of myself since I have seen on myself how much is difficult to stop before burning out. Now, I am definitely more aware of my body and its needs. BUT I also accept that sometimes I won’t be 100% connected with my body and that’s fine. I know that I’M TRYING TO DO MY BEST.

Something changes inside you when you decide to RESPECT yourself and your body.

ONE SIMPLE CHANGE that can help you on this pathway: start to bring more AWARENESS into your everyday activities. When we start to be more PRESENT, many things suddenly become much more clear. For example:

  • you stop making everything so hard for you
  • you want to know the real reason why when you’re stressed you cook and eat an entire cake all by yourself
  • you want to understand better why you are choosing to eat a specific food over another one

When you cook, eat, pack your lunch for the office, decide what to prepare for dinner, go for grocery shopping… really BE THERE. Connect with your food – really taste, smell, savour and appreciate it.

… remember: to get the best results, keep your mind open and allow changes to happen!


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