Brown Rice Risotto with Asparagus & Red Wine Porcini

I will eat pretty much anything that has a combination of seasonal vegetables and risotto.
I love risotto it’s a luscious and delicious way of making an incredible meal without too much effort and/or ingredients. Bonus it’s healthy too!
I know people think that it really is so hard to make, but the reality couldn’t be further from that.

My favorite vegetable is in season in Italy right now and we are taking full advantage of incorporating it in our everyday meals, it will only be around for about another month so we can’t seem to have enough of it. Grilled Chicken and Asparagus, Salmon and Asparagus, Salads with shaved Asparagus, Pasta with Asparagus and of course Risotto con Asparagi e Funghi Porcini.
It’s a great and a really easy ingredient yet absolutely flavorful and rewarding to cook with. It’s full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and detoxifying diuretic goodness that it’s hard to ignore it.

My husband asked for Risotto it didn’t matter how it was made or with which ingredient but he just wanted a risotto, like more often than not I opened the fridge and had an ‘aha’ moment and decided that it would be with asparagus and what’s delicious in a risotto? its porcini. I opened the cupboard and had some beautiful dried porcini (which are perfect especially when making risotto). I decided that I would soak them in the bottle of Chianti we had opened a few nights back but hadn’t completely finished. So I did, 1 Cup Chianti and 2 Cups water threw my Porcini in their and let them soak for atleast an hour. The flavor they delivered this dish was just amazing. Of course you can omit the wine and just soak them in water…up to you!

Here’s the Recipe. Enjoy and let me know what you think….Ciao.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

200gr. Brown Rice*

100gr. Dried Porcini, soaked and strained prior to cooking

200gr. Asparagus

1.5 qt. of Vegetable Broth

1 Shallot

Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Chop up your asparagus stems in about 1 inch rings save the tips, separate and set aside.

Mince your shallot. Grab a large pan over medium heat and drizzle some e.v.o, add your shallot and allow to get golden. Add your mushrooms and allow to cook along with shallot for about 5 minutes. Add your chopped asparagus stems and rice, stir well and pour in 1/2 of your broth, allow to cook for about 10 minutes stirring every now and then.

Now add your Asparagus tips, salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining broth. Allow to cook for another 10 minutes stirring every 2-3 minutes and serve.

*I used one specifically for Risotto so it cooked in 20 min, if you use another one check the cooking instructions on the package.

**I topped of with some chili peppers, my husband topped off with Parmigiano Reggiano. You do what you like.

 

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Lemon Zest and Pepper Baked Low-Fat Chicken

Today I felt like posting one recipe that I feel I could eat everyday. This is not about the fact that it’s healthy, low-fat, low-calorie or good for you; it’s about the fact that I love to eat this and so does my Husband.
We love everything that has to do with chicken I love it grilled, steamed, rotisserie, fried and baked. Of course the way I mainly eat it is grilled or baked they are easier, healthier and probably my 2 favorite ways of eating it. If I’m grilling or baking it I always drizzle with some olive oil, dash salt and pepper and then at times add some rosemary, or sage or thyme whatever seems to be available. This time I added lemon zest and the flavor was so delicious I had to post it. I accompanied the dish with quinoa (another of our favorite ingredients) you can learn all about it’s nutrition facts and how to cook it here. As for the vegetables well I made a variety, asparagus, sundried tomatoes and artichokes. This was a delicious meal fully packed of vitamins and minerals with amazing flavors. I hope that you enjoy it and remember that healthy is delicious.

This dish is perfect for trying to stay in shape but really getting the maximum benefits of what you are putting into you body. Chicken as well as Quinoa are great protein sources to keep you lean and fit. You choose what you want to accompany this dish with and remember that there are so many sides that are healthy and this chicken will compliment anything. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Serves 2

2 skinless chicken breasts

1/2 lemon, zested

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Chili flakes (optional)

Salt and Peppercorns to taste

Preheat your oven at 400°F (200°C)

In a baking dish add your chicken breasts, drizzle with some E.V.O, sprinkle lemon zest, and rest of ingredients. Bake for 20 minutes or until poked and liquid is clear. Serve.

If you would like add some rosemary or other herbs to dish. Your choice!

Light, Healthy, Skinny Recipes to help you get that Summer Body

Summer is right around the corner and if you are scrambling to get that latest diet or what have you to help you get in shape I suggest you to just start eating healthy.
This means more seasonal fresh foods, like vegetables, fruits, lean meats and nuts. I live and eat these food groups; and I seem to be doing just fine. The thing about this lifestyle is that you don’t have to constantly be thinking about what you can eat  and what you can’t, how you are going to feel the next day, if your shorts are a bit too tight (or if you’re bulging out of your bikini).
The summer is tough enough already trying to keep yourself hydrated, cool, comfortable, tanning, hair, skin, etc… the last thing you need is to be stressed out about some sort of diet! How many calories, carbs, fat, non-fat, this n’ that. Just eat healthy fresh foods. They provide you with the energy, hydration and beautiful radiant skin to show off; not to mention a smaller waist.

I have a lot of different salads and ways I like to eat my vegetables and of course it’s not hot yet so a salad might not be something that you want to eat. If you start eating healthy now and leave out as much junk food as possible (i.e. artificial sweeteners, sodas, chips, fried foods, prepackaged foods & sweets, along with anything you can’t pronounce) you are going to be in fantastic shape by the summer. It’s really simple you just need to train your body to eat healthy. It’s a chain reaction; once you cut out the bad stuff your body will not crave it anymore. Trust me!

There are billions of ways you can make salads or healthy foods. They aren’t complicated and they don’t have to be boring. I know that the winter isn’t quite over yet and I know a salad might not always give you that warmth of comfort food that you are craving so I have a nice warm healthy recipes here that are simple and delicious.

Warm Bibb Salad w/ Roasted Asparagus and Feta

  • 1 medium head of Bibb salad, washed and pulled apart
  • 10 Asparagus
  • 1/2 lb Feta
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • E.V. Olive oil
  • Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven at 400°F (200°C). Get a baking dish lay out your Asparagus, drizzle with a little e.v.o. and sprinkle salt and pepper and red chili flakes. Place baking tray in oven and bake for 15 min.
In a medium pan, drizzle some olive oil, allow to heat over medium heat and then add your garlic; once golden add your bibb lettuce season with salt and pepper and carefully mix. You don’t want it to burn or break, just allow it to wilt and then turn off.

Let’s begin plating. Lay your asparagus, top with some wilted lettuce and then sprinkle feta evenly on top and enjoy!

Warm bibb salad with roasted asaragus and feta

Pulled Chicken Breast with Pinto Beans and Avocado
Serves 2

  • 1 Avocado
  • 2 cups Pinto Beans, boiled *
  • 2 Chicken Breasts, steamed & shredded**
  • 1 Tomato, diced
  • 1 Chilli, fresh & diced (optional)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Handful Parsley and Cilantro, washed
  • 2 tbsp. E.V.O oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pan add the e.v.o. heat over medium flame and then add the garlic; cook to golden add your tomatoes, chili and beans. Simmer for about 5 minutes then add about 1/2 of your parsley and cilantro then salt, pepper and continue to cook for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Let’s begin plating. Lay your chicken and add the beans on the side. Cut your avocado in half and slice lay on top of food and serve with remaining parsley and cilantro. Sprinkle some salt over avocado. Enjoy!

*You can use a canned beans, just make sure to drain and rinse well. ** For the Chicken, Place in steamer and cook until fork inserted and liquid runs clear. Cool and pull apart. You can boil it too. Season with some salt and pepper.

Pulled Chicken w/ Pinto beans and avocado

Sesame Crusted Tuna on a bed of Cucumber & Arugula topped w/ Avocado
Serves 2

  • 2 6-8 oz Tuna Steaks
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 2 cups Arugula
  • Sesame seeds, (enough to coat tuna)
  • E.V.O. oil
  • 1/2 Lemon, squeezed
  • Drizzle of Light Soy sauce (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Salt and Pepper your Tuna steaks, now coat in sesame seeds and set aside.
Grab a mandolin and slice you cucumber, peel and all. (You can peel if you want I liked the texture of it on). Place on the plate one by one creating a nice flat base pattern.

Place a medium pan over medium flame, drizzle some e.v.o and when hot add the tuna steaks, cook for about 2 minutes on each side and quickly on the corners as well. Remove allow to sit for 2 min and then slice or leave whole.

Get you Arugula and toss in some e.v.o, 2 tbsp. of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place a bit at the center of each dish. Place the Tuna steak on the bed of arugula.
Slice Avocado in half, slice again into thin pieces and place on top of tuna topping with a drizzle of soy and remaining lemon. Enjoy!

Sesame crusted Tuna over cucmber and arugula topped with avocado

Shaved Asparagus & Radish w/ Shrimp in a Multi-Lettuce Salad
Serves 2

  • 1/2 lb Shrimp, cooked and deveined
  • 8 Asparagus, washed
  • Handful Radishes, washed
  • 4 Mushrooms, cleaned
  • 5 cups Italian lettuce, (radicchio, romaine, arugula, etc…)
  • 4 tbsp. E.V.O. oil
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Place your salad in a large bowl. Grab a mandolin start slicing your asparagus long-wise, now start slicing your radishes and mushrooms, add all these ingredients to salad bowl as well as shrimp.

Whisk together last 4 ingredients, drizzle over salad and toss until completely combined and serve. Enjoy!

Shaved Asparagus and Shrimp salad

And there you have it. Options for your healthy eating. It seems so hard to eat healthy, but in all reality it’s easy and a pleasure. I hope that you enjoy these recipes and feel free to substitute with other vegetables or protein. They are simple, fun, delicious but most of all light and nutritious. They will give you energy and help you feel great and ready for the summer. Happy cooking. Let me know what you think and also try to incorporate a little physical activity to give you that extra boost you need to get you feeling sexy. Ciao

P.s. remember I am not a nutritionist, dietician so please consult your doctor before you go on any diet or change any lifestyle.

Stay Thin & get all your Omega-3, Iron & More with this Amazing Dish

I’ve missed you guys these past weeks. I had a wonderful time visiting friends and family in the USA and really enjoyed this much need vacation.
As you all know the USA is trying to start a health revolution (well it has been for awhile) but it’s taking sometime to get people on board with it. Even though it has come long ways it still seems that habits are hard to break. And although they are trying to get people to eat more organic and healthy foods they seem to constantly come up with new healthy products that are supposed to replace the unhealthy products, I like to call them ‘healthy junk food’. That’s what it is. Instead of stopping to produce say potato chips, they come up with a healthier potato chip, made with flax seeds, chia seeds, rice flour, bean flour, natural flavorings, etc…it’s still a freaking chip; albeit healthier still a chip. Why not reach for a handful of almonds, or some fresh fruit, or veggies, some yogurt, an egg or even a piece of parmigiano reggiano cheese?! These are healthy, whole and organic replacements to junk foods. I am not saying that those better for you chips aren’t better for you but why do they have to have a whole aisle and a half in a grocery store full of chips. It’s too much!

I am lucky that I have learned early on in life what eating healthy is all about and that here in Italy it’s so easy to do that. Healthy tastes so good! I am one of those people who will always opt to eat something healthy over something that has no nutritional value but may sound good.
For Me, healthy does sound good. I know people often times relate this word ‘healthy’, to boring, tasteless, unworthy, complicated and uninviting. Total opposite for me. I relate it to delicious, flavorful, easy, worth it, inviting with a wonderful array of options and colors.

I love knowing that what I am putting into my body is helping me stay healthy and I’m not putting crap in my body that is actually going to cost me my health, weak bone density, tooth decay, dull and unhealthy hair, wrinkles and ugly skin, GI problems, illnesses, etc….
Eating healthy is a habit but a good one to form. I have wrote about Healthy Eating habits and the wonderful effects it as on your body from weight-loss to feeling fantastic and how to do it here and here.

This next recipe is super simple and so good for you and trust me you will not be disappointed with the flavor it has. To top it all off it packed of healthy Nutrients, Vitamins and it’s Delicious. Enjoy!

Ingredients:Serves 2

2 6-oz Salmon fillets

1/2 lb of Spinach

1 cup of Lentils

1 1/2 cup of Veggie broth, low sodium

1 Shallot, chopped finely

1-2 dried Chili peppers, whole (optional)

Extra virgin Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small pot add 1 drizzle of olive oil, allow to heat and then add 1/2 the chopped shallot. Once shallot has reached cooking time, needs to be translucent you may throw in your lentils, salt and pepper then add your chili’s and broth. Cover and allow to cook at medium low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

In a separate pan add some olive oil place over medium heat and add the shallot, following cooking instructions same as for lentils. Now add your spinach, followed by salt and pepper; lower heat and cover. Cooking time may vary, it needs to wilt so when you see that it has wilted continue to cook for about 5 minutes and then turn off.

For the Salmon you are going to salt and pepper both sides. Place a pan over high heat add a small drizzle of olive oil, allow to heat completely and then carefully add your salmon. Cook for about 5 minutes and then flip over cooking for another 5 minutes.

Everything at this point should be cooked. So you may serve.

Gourmet Valentines? Try this: Pollo alla Cacciatora – Chicken Cacciatora

You may know by now that I am a savory kinda girl. So instead of posting a dessert I decided that I would post one of the most mouthwatering, amazingly delicious dish I have ever had the pleasure of eating for my Valentines Day recipe. I love this dish and it requires no time so you can still get all dolled up and ready for dinner while the house is filling with this amazing aroma of Pollo alla Cacciatora.

This is a perfect deep luscious red, sophisticated, amazingly gourmet but yet simple, healthy, effortless and delicious dish. This is a perfect dish if you have/want to impress anyone or if you want to finally feel proud that you can actually put something this delicious, succulent and amazing on a dish!
I bought the famous Artusi cookbook not too long ago “La scienza in Cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene”, “The science of cooking and the Art of eating well”. He’s known for the best Italian recipes bringing us back to the way it was prepared once upon a time. He’s cookbook was published back in 1891 and perfected in 1911 with a total of 790 recipes (for more click on above Artusi link). So, this is a recipe I got from there, only difference is that I used a shallot instead of an onion.

It only requires 4 ingredients (besides salt and pepper of course) and really is just delicious. I for some reason wasn’t able to get any good pictures because the smell that filled the house made both my husband and I incredibly impatient and extremely ravenous. But make this and I promise that you will not be disappointed.

I think that it would be a perfect dish to serve for Valentines Day if you are planning on cooking something for your love. It won’t leave you feeling heavy…wink, wink; and will leave you and whomever you served it to feeling that it was much better to stay home and eat this than go out and eat something crappy, not delicious set-menu because it is Valentines Day. No way! This will knock your socks off.

I got some fresh baked bread so that we could do ‘scarpetta’ which is used in reference to cleaning up the sauce on your plate with bread. Accompanied by a nice green salad dressed in olive oil.
However, you could accompany this dish with polenta, rice, potatoes, or whatever you like.

I hope that you truly enjoy this dish as much as we did. Happy Valentines Day. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 Shallots, chopped finely*

1 small Chicken, chopped in pieces

½ cup of Red wine, pick SanGiovese or at least something good (this is the secret to this dish)

½ cup Tomato Sauce

Salt and Pepper to taste

Put a medium to large skillet on medium-high flame with about 4 tablespoons of Olive oil, once the oil is hot add your shallots and allow to get translucent. Now scoop out the shallot and transfer to a plate, set aside.

Get your chicken, and place skin down onto the skillet, salt and pepper and once skin is golden flip and salt and pepper as well, cook for another 5-8 minutes and then add your shallot back in the skillet, followed by the wine and the tomato sauce. Mix around a bit, cover and allow to cook for about 40 minutes flipping the chicken once.

Now remove the lid and cook for about another 10 -15 minutes. Your chicken should be cooked, tender and juicy and your sauce thickened. Serve.

*If you don’t have shallots you can use one onion

Gnudi – Spinach and Ricotta Delicate No-Carb Balls

Have you ever just had a craving for something? I love all things cheesy and although I might not eat cheese everyday when I do I like it to be good quality cheese with a quality meal. Sometimes it’s just cheese and wine; here in Italy it’s so common to eat Parmigiano Reggiano in chunks with a nice glass of wine or for a snack.
However delicious; one of my favorite types of cheese is a good Pecorino aged at least 100 days but anyway I find it I like it. I find it so delicious and also easier to digest, maybe because it’s from sheep’s milk instead of cow. Whatever the reason I really enjoy it.

I was thinking the other night as I prepped my menu for the week as to what I would like to make for dinner and as seeing that it’s been cold, rainy, snowy the last week or so I thought of something warm, indulgent and possibly not too heavy because in the winter most dishes seem to be a little bit more heavy and a little too indulgent.
This recipe popped in my head and I thought ‘brilliant’, this it is: Gnudi which means ‘Nude’, they are in the family of Gnocchi but in a much lighter and delicate way because they have no-Carbs whatsoever they are not heavy or chewy, they melt in your mouth and feel like a little piece of heaven when you eat them.
Now, even though these don’t have a lot of ingredients and seem light they are still filling so I think that 4 or 5 balls per person is plenty. You can serve them with a light red sauce, mushroom sauce, bacon or whatever you like I choose a light sage and olive oil concoction, accompanied by a nice green salad. They are very simple and fast to make and make a great impression. Delizioso! I hope that you like as much as we did. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes about 15 large balls

1 kg. of frozen Spinach,  thawed, squeezed dry & chopped (get rid if the excess water)

300 gr. of Sheep Ricotta*

150 gr. of Pecorino, grated**

1 egg

Salt and Pepper to taste

For the sauce:

4 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

5 leaves of Sage, fresh chopped or whole

Handful of Pecorino, grated

Preheat your oven at 350° (180°) degrees.

In a large bowl mix together spinach, ricotta, pecorino, the egg, salt and pepper.
Grab a baking dish and start making the balls placing down one by one, don’t worry if the are close to each other they won’t stick.

Now in a small sauce pan heat your olive oil and sage together until starts to sizzle and switch off. Drizzle the Olive oil mixture evenly over the balls, sprinkle the pecorino on top and bake for 20 minutes. Serve.

*Ricotta can also be from cow’s milk.

**You can use Parmigiano instead of Pecorino, I just wanted to use all sheep’s cheese.

Too Delicious to resist, Heavenly Coconut Balls; Gluten and Dairy-free

This is probably one of my favorite recipes that I will have posted to date. I do love all the other recipes; they are a part of my life and who I am and what I love to eat. With food, I generally think of things that go good together and make a dish that more often than not turns out to be amazing (That’s what my husband says). But this one recipe in particular, may it be because I don’t consider myself a baker or maybe because it didn’t take me one time but about 10 times at this point to get it perfect and somewhere that I felt good enough to publish (not that the other ten times they weren’t good I just wanted perfection), or whatever the case I love it and I’m proud of it!

I love coconut so although I must’ve eaten about 30 of these in the past 2 months, I’m glad because I actually lost weight and have a new found love for coconut and it’s healthy reputation.  Growing up here in Italy one of my favorite candy bars, were the famous Bounty bars made with shredded coconut and covered in chocolate. Yum. Then along came Ferrero chocolate company with it’s Raffaello chocolate with an almond in the center and covered with nothing but coconut itself.
Well, I stopped eating all these chocolates about maybe 8 years ago, occasionally indulging in one but don’t really have that love for them anymore because they are just too sweet and of course full of “other ingredients” that I can’t really even spell out.
All of these delicious products eventually become something I never craved or think of because they just aren’t part of the healthy woman that I am or became. I much rather indulge in things that are home-made and fresh. Don’t get me wrong occasionally a friend or someone will offer me one and I’m not saying I would never stick one of these in my mouth but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy them, especially because now I have this recipe and the ingredients and flavor in these are so much more rewarding.

Also I am not saying that you are going to lose weight if you eat these. I love to work out and eat healthy foods and I guess that the combination of working out and the adding this healthy fat have really worked out for me and I couldn’t be happier.  It was a coincidence and a welcome at that.

Coconut has really been exploding over the world these past few years as a good for you fat, and how you should cook with it and use it as a fat substitution and try to incorporate it in your everyday diet (information we all knew just forgot about it). Just like nuts they are a healthy fat and you should eat them everyday. Be careful though that doesn’t give you a hall pass to go crazy, you still need moderation, after all that is the secret to being your best self ever! But do make them for New Years and serve them, your friend will go crazy. Or when you have a girls get together you can serve these as a little dessert this way you keep your waistline in check but your belly happy and indulged.

I should mention though the one that has really eaten about 100 of these is my husband, he loves them. Since I’ve know him and been married to him which is 9 years; he always eats a chocolate after dinner, but since these he will not buy chocolate and eats one of these every night and looks forward to them like a cute little puppy that he is, (in a mans body of course!) For him (seeing that he’s a chocolate lover ) I cover in dark chocolate, but I like to leave mine plain. So you choose how you want yours. If you want them plain just don’t dip them in the chocolate. I make this batch once a week and store it in a cookie tight container and they maintain wonderfully. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

Makes about 15 balls

2 cups of Coconut, shredded

1 cup of Almond flour*

2 Egg whites

4 tbsp. Honey

3 tbsp. Flax oil**

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

½ tsp. Salt

1 bar Dark chocolate

 

Preheat the over at 350°F (or 180°C).

Mix all ingredients besides chocolate in bowl. If you have an ice cream scoop use it, it will save you all the tedious work. If not (like myself) wet your hands and grab a spoonful of the mix and compact balls together patiently. (They will sometimes fall apart, just restart the ball, they are really light so this is bound to happen.)

They will turn out just takes time, don’t worry about them being too perfect.

Place balls one by one on the baking sheet or cookie tray and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove allowing to cool down.

If Chocolate coating them:
Get your chocolate bar and break into pieces, place in a ceramic or glass bowl and melt at Bagno Maria a.k.a Bains-Marie (which means to place in a small pot of water, over medium heat, place a smaller bowl or pot inside it and gently allow ingredient to melt); if not place bowl in microwave and melt about 2-3 minutes. Mix until smooth with a spoon and one by one dip the balls in, gently roll them around in the chocolate and then place on wax paper (or use the same baking paper you cooked them in). Allow to harden.
You can leave them at room temperature for about 2 hours, or place them in the fridge for half hour and they’re done.

*You can omit the almond flour and either replace with oat four or coconut flour itself**You can replace the Flax oil with coconut oil, or linseed oil, grape seed oil; I liked mine best with the flax oil.