Brownies with Black Beans

(read in Italian)

Love when I can manage to share a nice breakfast with my better half – unfortunately, it doesn’t happen every day. I see that as a chance to spend some extra time together, talk about the day ahead, and share nourishing food… or even try new recipes! This is what happened with these brownies. I have prepared them a few weeks ago trying to get a nice texture with some specific ingredients: the first time they turned out too dry, but definitely promising! The second time they were delicious: moist but not too chewy, with a lovely crust, but not too dry. We enjoyed them as part of our breakfast (with a smoothie), and as a dessert to share after dinner.

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Brownies with Black Beans

Ingredients

  • 180 g cooked black beans
  • 110 g brown rice flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cacao powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp date syrup
  • 25 g ghee (softened – you can use coconut oil as a vegan option, add a little bit more than ghee)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • approx. 200 ml cashew drink

Blend beans, cashew drink, and ginger into a smooth paste. Place it in a large bowl and add all the other ingredients (add the baking powder at the end) – mix well until there are no lumps. Pour the batter into the pan, then smooth the top with a spatula or a spoon. Cook in a preheated oven for approx. 20-25 minutes at 180°C – they will be ready when the top is firm and you start to get a nice crust. Allow the brownies to cool down before cutting them into squares.

You can serve them with Greek yogurt, cinnamon, and raspberries on top.

  • Store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for a few days
  • It’s important to get a smooth black bean paste to get a great final texture for your brownies
  • Rice flour tends to get dry easily, so don’t leave them too long in the oven
  • Both the cashew drink and ghee (or coconut oil) are important to get the characteristic moist texture


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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 asparagus? Asparagus 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.

 



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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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3 Benefits that you can get from being more aware around food

Wondering how being more aware and eating with intention can change/improve your everyday life or your relationship with food and with yourself? Wondering how starting to be truly aware of the entire process of eating and don’t only mindless getting some fuel for your body can make a difference for you? Let’s talk about 3 main benefits that you can get.

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1) RECLAIM YOUR TRUE SELF AND START FEELING YOUR BEST

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 – start 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, so you’ll be able to start felling your best!

2) LEARN MORE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU WANT

Check the difference between “I want to lose weight so I will start a diet next Monday” and “Lately I have been eating too many sweets because I look for them every time that I’m stressed, so I want to sort out this issue at its roots, find a way to de-stress and try new healthier snacks

=> 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

=> 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?

  • You don’t need to COMPARE yourself to others
  • You need to be 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

Big, bright and shiny resolutions are definitely attractive, but WORKING ON YOURSELF is so rewarding in the long term! Being more aware means start doing this every day and get to know yourself better.

3) START BREAKING UP WITH THE DIETING MINDSET

A few days ago, I was talking with a new client about diets and why they aren’t the right tool to start having a healthier lifestyle or a better relationship with food.

For example: the idea of cheat days – when you have a healthy relationship with food, you don’t need this kind of things. The idea of a restrictive diet for 5/6 days a week and then a free day is only creating more limitations and a wrong mindset: you finally feel free to eat on that day and end up overeating because you know that all those things are NOT ALLOWED on regular days.

  • how can this approach help you to learn more about your body and its needs?
  • how can you truly enjoy your food if the idea is “I NEED to follow these restrictions today, then I will finally eat EVERYTHING that I want on my cheat day“?
  • how can you truly learn to eat with intention, and understand what you like or don’t like?
  • what will you do when your diet will come to an end? Which teachings will you get for your future?

The main goal is generally just one: lose weight. But there are a bunch of things that can help you in reaching your goal and that the classic dieting mindset doesn’t take into account, such as:

  • which are the reasons why you need to lose weight?
  • what else you can do apart from working on the food that you eat?
  • how do you feel about having to lose weight?
  • do you have a healthy relationship with your body?
  • how is your appetite? Do you recognise well when you are full or hungry?

I truly believe that it’s important to check-in with yourself very well before starting a journey like this one or any other wellness-related programs. You need to be aware of what can be disruptive for your mindset and what can help you in MOVING FORWARD.

Unfortunately, it’s so easy to lose confidence in your body or your food choices, and feeling like you are NOT ENOUGH… but, on the other hand, it’s not so easy to get back having a positive, strong and motivated mindset. So, try to PUT YOURSELF FIRST every day, try to choose what is best for you with a critical point of view and start being more AWARE. It’s NOT wasted time!

REMEMBER: if you are not willing to take action, you can’t expect the results that you are looking for!

Chiara x



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Talking about FODMAPS

WHAT ARE FODMAPS?
Fodmaps are short-chain carbohydrates that some people poorly absorb and digest
=> so in some people, they can cause digestive issues and aggravate the symptoms of conditions like IBS (for these individuals the fodmaps pass through most of the intestine remaining unchanged).

WHAT DOES FODMAPS MEAN?
FODMAPS = Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols

FERMENTABLE: compounds that are broken down by bacteria in the large intestine
OLIGOSACCHARIDES: simple sugars connected together (in a polymeric structure)
DISACCHARIDES: double sugar molecule
MONOSACCHARIDES: single sugar molecule
POLYOLS: sugar alcohols

EXAMPLES OF HIGH FODMAP FOODS?*
Garlic, onions, beans, fermented cabbage, ripe bananas, dates, pears, apples, figs, cherries, peaches, wheat flour, spelt flour, semolina, rye, cashews, sweeteners, honey, agave milk, yogurt.

EXAMPLES OF LOW FODMAP FOODS?*
Squash, kale, ginger, courgettes, eggplant, carrots, olives, unripe bananas, kiwi, grapes, papaya, orange, beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, fresh cod-salmon-trout, crab, mussels, prawns, oats, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, walnuts, butter, eggs, tofu, oils, cacao.
[*source: ibsdiets website]

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The LOW FODMAP diet has been studied especially in relation to people suffering from IBS and seems to be helpful in improving their quality of life (IBS = irritable bowel syndrome, a digestive disorder). A low fodmap diet can also be beneficial for people with other digestive-related diseases.

It’s IMPORTANT to remember that FODMAPS ARE NOT bad from a general point of view. But knowing more about them is a big step for people suffering from conditions affecting their digestive system.

IBS or other digestive issues can be not only difficult to manage, but also frustrating and cause of embarrassment. So, it’s even more important than usual for the people who are affected from this kind of health issues, to build a good relationship with their body, being able to love the food that they choose to put on the table, and feel a little bit more in control of how food affects their days. Things that can help: knowing your triggers (both regarding food and lifestyle), keeping a food diary, trying new ingredients or recipes (but also different portions) and keep track if they worked well for you or not.

 

 

 


Questions? Would you like to know how I can help you?Let today be the start of something NEW (44)

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Chickpea Flour and Kefir Pancakes

It’s that time of the year once again, the Carnival season is almost at the end and most of us are getting ready for Pancake Tuesday or Fat Tuesday (depending on where you live). Last year, I have published on these pages a recipe for pancakes made with spelt flour and flaxseeds that are still one of the favourite recipes among my readers and clients. From my point of view, pancakes should be something that you can easily cook and fit into your healthy lifestyle: in such a simple way, you can turn a regular weekday breakfast into something special, even when you don’t have too much time (and yes, you can make them in advance). Prepare a batter using nutrient-rich whole foods, experiment with different flours or combinations, try to add some colour to your pancakes (beetroots, spinach, kale, cacao, turmeric… just to name a few)… then pair them with simple toppings that will add extra nutrients to your breakfast (yogurt, kefir, nut butter, fresh and seasonal fruit, salmon, cheese, avocado, etc… GET CREATIVE!).

For this recipe, I have prepared some simple crepes-style pancakes using only a few ingredients – they are filled with a delicious raw orange cream (it’s similar to one that I have already published here, but check below for the details). In addition, I have used some dark chocolate and fresh fruit as toppings.

An alternative: you can use the same recipe to make some delicious fluffy pancakes – adjust the batter using less water since you’ll need a thicker one (then I use 3 tbsp of batter for each pancake).

Hope you’ll like them as much as I do! Chiara x

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Chickpea Flour and Kefir Pancakes

Ingredients
(makes 6-7 large crepes-style pancakes)

For the batter:
150 g chickpea flour
100 ml plain kefir
300 ml water
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp extra virgin olive oil (for cooking)

For the cream:
2 blood oranges
5 dried apricots
1 ½ tsp ginger powder

Toppings:
some dark chocolate (85% or higher)
1 apple
1 small banana

To make the batter: in a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, kefir, water, and the baking powder. Stir until there are no lumps (add the water slowly in small portions – check if and when your batter needs more water). Let it rest for 5-10 min. Add more water if needed (the batter will be pretty liquid, to allow you to make these large and thin pancakes). Heat a frying pan, preferably a non-stick one, on a medium heat with ½ tsp of extra virgin olive oil. Use 5 tbsp for each pancake, moving the pan until the batter is evenly distributed and using a spoon to help you. 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. 6-7 pancakes (I usually consider 2 of them as serving size, and prepare more to use for a quick lunch or another breakfast – they keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days).

To make the orange cream: the recipe is similar to one that I have already published on these pages. Peel the oranges, chop them into small pieces and blend them with the chopped apricots and ginger (you can add in the blender some zest as well if you’re using organic oranges). Place the cream inside the pancakes or use half as filling and half as a topping.


 

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