Cecina or Farinata

This is a typical Italian simple recipe (originally from Tuscany and Liguria, but you can find it in other parts of Italy as well). Just a few basic ingredients, paired together to give you this tasty result – great eaten straight from the oven, or reheated, or even cold. It’s a versatile food – good as a snack, or paired with a salad/soup for lunch, or as part of a savory breakfast… why not?

There was this little vegetarian and vegan cafè in between my house and the college in Bologna, and sometimes I was stopping by to grab something for lunch: almost every day they had freshly made super thin cecina and it was so good! Light and nourishing, perfect for a busy afternoon spent studying or working in the lab.

So, here there is my recipe for cecina. This is one of the recipes that I often share with my clients, it’s perfect when you are busy, but at the same time, you want to stay healthy and get your nutrients.

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Cecina (or Farinata)

Ingredients:

  • 200 g chickpea flour
  • 500 ml water
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • black pepper
  • other spices (optional)

In a mixing bowl, add the water and spices, then slowly add the flour using a whisk to mix everything really well (to prevent lumps of flour). Leave to rest for at least 30 min, but even a couple of hours or overnight if possible (if you leave it to rest overnight you may (depending on the temperature of the room) have to add a little bit of water before baking since chickpea flour absorb water easily). Mix well again before baking and add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place on a baking tray – the result should be thin, between 1-1.5 cm and 2-3 cm. You can use some baking paper or those reusable non-stick trays since tends to stick a lot to the pan – or you can add some oil on the bottom of a non-stick baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C until there is a nice golden crust (a few minutes before taking it out from the oven, add on top some olive oil and spread it all over the surface, then put it back in the oven – that’s optional, but adds a nice extra flavor). Allow to cool well before removing from the pan (if you are using baking paper, remove the paper+food and place on a cooling rack). It will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days.

You can prepare the plain version first, then try adding different spices to the mixture or spinach or carrots or courgettes, for example. If you add vegetables inside the batter, add them just before baking.

Alternatively, you can decide to top your cecina with some sauteed spinach or chard or kale or cavolo nero (any other similar dark green leafy vegetables will work well). Prepare your sautéed greens in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, chilli flakes or cayenne pepper, and black pepper – it will take a few minutes for them to be ready (chop them finely before or after cooking). You can also add some crumbled goat cheese or feta or chopped cashews for a dairy-free option.

Healthy Summer Skin

Recently, I was talking about vitamins, the sun, and melanin on my social media pages. So, I have decided to write this Summer-themed blog post. It’s an interesting topic, ’cause sometimes you actually tend to forget that food is not just a fuel to keep you running all day long. You can make the right choices and get the most out of your meals, in terms of keeping your body and mind healthy, or in terms of helping you with mood swings, skin health, energy levels, concentration, digestion, etc. Let’s talk about a few tips to help your skin and shine from the inside out!

Continue reading “Healthy Summer Skin”

But…what do you eat in a day?

If you had the chance to check my social media pages, you know already a little bit about myself and what I usually eat. What you see there is real food from my kitchen and I hope that sharing those pretty pictures will inspire many of you in taking the first step toward a healthier lifestyle. We all need a little bit of extra motivation from time to time, right?

Well, I have decided to put together this blog post because quite often I get questions from my clients about my diet or what I eat – it’s difficult to talk about a “typical day” because I like to change and I get a lot of inspiration from my weekly grocery shopping. Sometimes, I have to adapt my meals to the daily schedule or I have to put together something nice when there are just a few things left in the pantry – that’s life! But no matter what, there is always a “healthy but tasty” leitmotiv within my days.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of misconceptions around a healthy lifestyle.. like thinking that healthy food is tasteless, that being healthy means just eating boring salads, that paying attention to your health and well-being means having a lot of restrictions and limitations. Nope, you can choose a healthy lifestyle and eat tasty, delicious food that looks good and also makes you feel great.

Morning:

I usually start my day with a few glasses of water, followed by a cup of green tea or herbal tea – in this case, the day started with 2 glasses of water and a cup of fresh ginger tea. Then, yoga practice and breakfast with a porridge made with oats, water, cacao powder, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds, tahini, and a kiwi.

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Mid-morning snack:

Changing your snacking habits is one of those really useful steps to stay healthy every day. We often tend to overeat with snacks thinking that is fine because the main meal was just a salad – especially when we are stressed or busy, it’s easy to keep snacking and don’t realize what you’re actually putting in your mouth (and how much), because you don’t see it all together on a plate. I know that because I have done it myself for years! But let’s go back to my day: the snack was a pretty pink smoothie with a peach, strawberries, almonds, milled flaxseeds, and water.

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Lunch:

A nice salad with marinated mushrooms, radishes, and green beans. I had approx. a double portion of the salad that you see in the picture. This was paired with a spicy frittata and a piece of what in Italy would be called “schiacciata” – it’s basically a flatbread with some olive oil and herbs on top. That day I was patiently waiting for some bread dough to rise, so I just took a small piece of that (after approx. 5/6 hours of rising) and used it for the flatbread. It was made just with whole grain spelt flour.

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Mid-afternoon snack:

It was a busy day, so I had a first snack with coffee and a few almonds – then, another snack after a long evening walk (about 9 km): a couple of energy balls that I have made a few days before with mixed seeds, rice flakes, dates, and lemon juice.

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Dinner:

A quick one with cucumber, tomatoes, a little bit of feta, fresh basil, olive oil and black pepper. Oh, and a tiny piece of the same flatbread that I had for lunch. I also had a herbal tea during the evening before bedtime.

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