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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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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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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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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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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