My Summer Crave: Honey Walnut Granola Clusters

Sorry for my long absence. I do apologize; but other than the fact that I haven’t been on here because I’ve been so busy working (which thankfully is almost over), I also haven’t really had the time to cook.
I literally have been totally and fully reliant on my more than amazing Husband to cook, go grocery shopping, and all the household stuff….well besides cleaning I’ve still managed atleast that; and he has done an amazing job. Thanks babe, I really appreciate it!

Other than that he’s been tired too (I’m not the only one who works) and my guilt occasionally creeps in, so to try to give him a break we’ve been doing cereal Monday night pretty much every week. We have fresh strawberries, raspberries, bananas, really whatever we like; Greek yogurt, milk, nuts, coconut flakes, dried fruit…you name it. It’s been fantastic and we’ve really enjoyed it. It’s too hot to cook so we’ve relied on this meal. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we do! Ciao

Ingredients:

Lightly Adapted from OhsheGlows

1 cup Walnut Halves

1 cup mixed Nuts

3 tbsp. Honey

¾ cup Rolled Oats

½ cup Coconut, Shredded and unsweetened

½ tsp Cinnamon

Preheat oven at 275°F (130°C)

Place Walnuts and nuts in a bowl with the honey and make sure to incorporate completely.

In a smaller bowl mix all dry ingredients and add to the nuts and honey.
Mix well and then place on a baking sheet.

Place in oven and allow baking for 15 minutes, rotating pan and continuing to bake for another 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then place in a container.

Honey Walnut Clusters

Something Sweet & Simple: Nectarines with whipped Honey Mascarpone

I’m in need of summer comfort food right now. Today I got a rhomboid muscle strain or spasm, which pretty much is in the upper back inbetween the shoulder blades which hurts immensely; but what hurts more than anything right now is the fact that I am going to have to be on pause with the whole working out factor because I just can’t and simple put: WORKOUT!! (that’s me shouting…I am so disappointed).

I know this isn’t the end of the world and that this is happening for a reason, as I have been working 12 hours 7 days a week non-stop since June and will continue till September (which is why I haven’t been blogging as much) but I haven’t stopped working out; OK well maybe I went from working out 6 days a week to 5 days a week but I have been on a roll, no matter how tired I am I still make time to work out and now I can’t even if I wanted to!! 😦

I guess I just have to deal with it, like many things in life this isn’t the worst thing that could happen but it is going to be tough to get out of this routine that I so much love. I guess its also a form of therapy for me and I just am afraid of not doing it anymore. And more so for how long I won’t be able to workout because as research shows it could take quite a few weeks to heal. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that mine will be only a couple of days.

With all that being said I just need something sweet and simple (other than the hubby) to comfort me that isn’t too heavy or fattening (as seeing that I can’t workout) but that can still hit the spot and this is exactly the dessert I am talking about. It’s totally seasonal, refreshing and so fast to make that you could whip it up without having to whip yourself out of shape (pun intended).
You can make the nectarines the day before or the morning of or whenever just make sure to allow them to sit for a bit. Enjoy!

Ingredients:Serves 4

For the Nectarines:

  • 4 Nectarines
  • 2 tbsp. Honey
  • 3 tbsp. Cointreau
  • 1 tsp. powder Ginger

For the Mascarpone:

  • 250 gr. Mascarpone
  • 3 tbsp. Honey

Slice the Nectarines and place them in a bowl with rest of ingredients cover and place in fridge for atleast 2 hours.

Once you’re ready to serve whip the Mascarpone with honey until smooth, a minute of two.

Serve your Nectarines topped with a few dollops of Mascarpone.
*If you like you could top with some Graham Cracker Crumbs, Crispy Granola, Nuts or just leave plain; you decide. Ciao

Nectarines with Honey Mascarpone

Figure Friendly Caprese Veggie Stack

I’ve been so busy lately I can’t even begin to explain. I’m so sorry that it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post; but if I’m being totally honest I haven’t had the time to blog or maybe I have just chosen to have a glass of wine after work vs. getting on the computer (shame on me, I know)!

With all that being said it’s also officially summer and man is it hot. So much so that I haven’t really felt like turning on the burners in the kitchen. So, it’s been raw foods or grill. Let me explain why….we do not have AC in the house. Here in Italy it’s not all that common and generally if you want it you get it installed yourself but the house we got doesn’t have one; which of course is something my husband will bring up every summer. I just think that fans are working pretty nicely and seriously AC monthly expenses are just a tad too expensive here in Italy and I much rather spend that money on vacations around Europe, fashion or the amazing food and wine. Seriously it’s a no brainer, I grew up here and I am used to it. When I moved to the States that was one of the things I hated most about it, I had to walk around during the summer season with a light jacket on tow for every time I stepped foot inside any store, restaurant, mall, shop, office or anything that wasn’t outside. I was cold all the time.

Besides being too hot to cook with the stove top, I also have been busy like I previously mentioned getting home at about 8:30 – 9:00 every night so it’s been eat healthy but fast; trying to still be creative. So, this is how this dish came about. It’s really simple, healthy and yes, you can put any veggies or cheese that you prefer. It’s all delicious. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 Big Tomatoes

1 Med-Small Eggplant

1/2 lb. Asparagus

1/4 lb. Feta Cheese

Few Basil Leaves

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Put your asparagus in foil wrap and put on the grill allowing to steam for about 15 minutes.
Cut your eggplant into 1 inch slices and grill until light grill marks on both sides about 5 minutes each side.

In the meantime slice you tomato a little thicker than an inch. Now slice your feta into thin slices. By now all your ingredients should be ready, so grab your plates and start the stack. Lay the tomato first, sprinkle some salt with a light drizzle of E.V.O.O. and a leaf of basil, place a slice of eggplant sprinkle a bit of salt and E.V.O.O. get a slice of feta and tomato, sprinkle salt and E.V.O.O. place some asparagus on top and continue this process until the final piece is the top of tomato. Now do the other one. Eat and Enjoy!

* I made my husbands with prosciutto crudo so if you like that add that on it was pretty delicious.

Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries and 29

Well, this is my Birthday week. It’s my last year in the 20’s and although I really don’t feel any different, I am looking forward to what this year will hold for me in all senses.
I have to be honest I am actually happy to be getting older. I feel sexier, healthier and definitely way more comfortable under my own skin than I think I have my whole life or at least since I was 15 when things were easy and simple.

I have gone through so much in the past 9 years I think I could write a book.
I’ll tell you the top 9 things that happened to me since I turned 20; seeing that I’m turning 29 I’ll put one down for each year in my 20’s.

  1. I got married 9 years ago to the most amazing person ever. Not only is he intelligent, handsome, courteous, thoughtful, humble, funny and understanding. He also makes me smile every single day, his faith in me and support are things that I can only thank God for. I know that I am lucky and I will strive forever to be the best wife/friend/woman I can possibly be for him but mainly because I need him in my life (so for me)!
  2. I moved to the States 9 years ago, leaving behind my roots and following my husband along with what ended up being an amazing experience allowing me to become cultured in all aspects of life all the while sharing my experiences with a wonderful man by my side. I started my whole life from scratch, moving from Georgia to Florida back to Georgia. In this time I found some amazing people that are still close friends, I had a wonderful job, and I became a US Citizen.
  3. I got to see alot of the US; New York, Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Washington DC, San Francisco, Napa Valley, Beverly Hills, LA, California, Savannah, Atalanta, Delaware, Annapolis, Charleston, Wilmington NC, Raleigh, All the Keys, Hilton Head SC, Tampa, St. Petersburg FL, Clearwater FL, Boston, St. Augustine. How lucky am I! All of which are unique and beautiful. I found something I love in each city.
  4. I learned a lot about health, from very Normal Eating to becoming a Vegetarian to Veganism, back to Normal Eating with a more wholesome, organic and biological aspect. I am thoroughly in awe about how much there is to discover in this aspect of life. Nutrition is a passion of mine.
  5. I was able to hang out in some of the best clubs in the USA with amazing DJs from Pete Tong, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Paul Van Dyk, Eric Morillo, Deep Dish, Flosstradamus, Steve Aoki, Kaskade, etc….I also got to see Velvet Revolver play at Mansion in Miami; as well as (ok, hang on……) Hoobastank, remember “The Reason”, well I loved that song and they played in St. Petersburg, Dave Navaro again down in Miami, Bengi Madden with Paris Hilton (yeah back when they were dating), etc…
  6. I became a Yogi. I love Yoga the way it makes me feel is something out of this world. My favorites are Ashtanga, Power Yoga and Vinyasa. It really has strengthened my body. I also started with Pilates and find that the mixture between yoga and pilates is a fantastic combo. Not to mention that 6 month ago I started the Tracy Anderson Meta Program and this has been the best challenge became addiction, I can’t live without her 6 days a week. My Body looks better than ever.
  7. I wanted to go to an Island for some relax, sun and romance with my Husband. We did! Yes, it was Maroma in Cancun Mexico. What a paradise that was I mean the powder white sand, the massage in a cabana over the sea at sunset with only the sound of the waves, the lobster candlelight dinner with our own little cabana out in the middle of the sea, the bubble rose petal bath, the pool on our balcony overlooking the sea with champagne, the amazing fresh fish fished everyday and cooked to perfection, and all the romance that surrounded us the whole 7 days.
  8. We wanted to move to Italy and not save that on a bucket list, so we decided to sell all, quit our jobs and move to Italy. Has it been a journey, I mean coming back home and bringing back my amazing Husband has been a reward of a lifetime, challenging but rewarding. I love my country and it’s such a different experience to see it with him. We are taking full advantage of the farmers markets, fresh foods, wines and amazing cuisine. We went to Tuscany, Positano, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, Verona, Rome just to name a few. Oh man, I’m falling in love with my country more and more.
  9. Oh, did I mention we went to Paris. Yeah, such a gorgeous country. Okay I know that this is a lot of countries, but if there is one thing I love (and Thank God my husband does too) is to travel, we really love to take trips and see things that we will be able to enjoy now that we are young. We are making the most of our lives. So that when we have kids we can sit back and relax. (or enjoy their craziness). Ha!

Now, back to the recipe of the day (or that I will eat for my Birthday). I think it’s perfect because you can maintain your summer figure without giving up on a delicious dessert and still reap the benefits and nutrients that your body actually needs from the Strawberries and Dark Chocolate. This is definitely a favorite of ours and also just so simple to make. I usually make about 250gr. and save them in the fridge for about a week in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

250 gr. Strawberries, washed and patted dry

1 bar Dark Chocolate (I use 70%)

Parchment Baking Paper

Get a smaller pot fill with water only about a little over a quarter, place over medium heat bring to a boil. In the meantime get a smaller bowl (make sure it’s strong enough to withstand heat glass or ceramic should do the trick) that will be able to fit in the pot, get your chocolate bar and break it up placing inside of the bowl.

Once the water is boiling lower heat to a minimum and place the bowl with the chocolate inside give it a few minutes and you will see that the chocolate will start to melt, stir gently with a spoon and when it’s completely melted you may turn off heat.

Prepare a flat dish with the parchment paper laid out on top of it and now grab your strawberries, dip one by one and lay gently onto the parchment paper. Place the strawberries in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes then eat. Or leave them in the fridge until ready to eat. Simple.

The method I used to melt the chocolate is called Bain-Marie you can learn more here

Cherry Tomato & Asparagus Strozzapreti

Asparagus season has been taken full advantage of this year in my house. I have consistently incorporated it for the past month in as many meals as possible, which I’ve mentioned in my other post here. Whether it was the star or the side it was there.

I tried to be as creative with it as possible. Not just steaming, grilling or blanching it and serving as a side veggie but I really tried to let it shine on its own and give the dish that amazing, subtle flavor that it so pleasantly has and which I love.
My darling Husband loves his pasta. Sometimes I think that he is more Italian than I am when it comes to this food in particular; he could eat it everyday (like most Italians). So, of course I made a delicious pasta dish that incorporated his favorite (Fresh Tomato and Basil sauce mainly known here as Salsa Fresca) with a twist of Asparagus in it. It turned out nicely and was easy as can be. Let’s not forget HEALTHY as well!

I used Strozzapreti in this dish but any pasta will be just fine.
Strozzapreti meaning Priest Strangler in Italian is a typical pasta from my region in Italy, Romagna. Known for being the poor man’s pasta, it requires discreet and simple ingredients, it’s cut into strips about 1-1.5cm wide and about 5cm long.
There are several legends about this pasta and where the name derives from one of them being that the women would stay home and prepare this homemade pasta and offer it to the town Priest; making the Husbands angry and wishing that the Priest choke on the pasta.   Another one is that the reason why this pasta is made without eggs is because the Priest would take the eggs away and the Housewife would have to make the pasta without eggs and while the woman was kneading the pasta she would wish the Priest would choke on the eggs that she would’ve used to make the pasta for her family.

Lot’s of theories and stories behind this pasta, I think it’s delicious and was a perfect choice for this dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Serves 2

200gr. Strozzapreti

6 Cherry Tomatoes

200gr. Asparagus

1 Garlic clove

6 Basil leaves

3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (as much as you like)

Place a pot of salted water to boil.
In the meantime cut your cherry tomatoes in half. Grab your garlic clove, peel and lightly press down on it with your knife (just so it can open up a bit).

In a large saucepan over medium heat add the Olive oil, once the oil is hot add the garlic and wait about 1 minute before you add the chopped tomatoes. Allow to cook about 2 minutes.

Now grab your asparagus and chop about the same length of the pasta that you are using. Add to the tomatoes, stir all ingredients and allow to continue to cook at low flame. All in all I’d say 10 -15 minutes. Add your salt and the basil leaves. Stir and continue to cook.

By this point your water should be boiling throw in the pasta and follow cooking instructions on the package. Strain and add to the tomatoes and asparagus, mix well and serve. Enjoy.

 

Soft, Healthy, Dairy & Gluten -free Oatmeal Cookies

Experiments, Experiments. Seems like I am always trying to find a way to think up healthy good for you alternatives to some of my favorite meals and treats.

So, let’s start off with me heading to the store on my bike; I only had to get a few things some fruit and veggies. Like most of the time I ended up buying way more than I planned, not thinking much of it I got this heavy bag put it on the back of my bike and secured it with the latch. I started riding my bike and I could feel as though it might be a bit too heavy and without even giving me the chance to stop the bag flies out of the bike onto the middle of the street, argh……. so I stop start picking up my bananas, melon, nuts, and so forth put them back on the bike and try to hold onto them while trying to pedal and maneuver this bike to the house at the same time; as if one time weren’t enough the bag flies out onto the middle of the street for a second time bringing a car to a screeching halt, eyes rolling at me as if I were some idiot (which I guess I sorta was). I raise my hand politely saying sorry and pick up my fruit again. This time I put some on the side bags and then the rest in my basket up front. Got home without any other unbearable embarrassment. Phew!!

I’m sure you can guess at this point that my bananas were completely bruised 😦
Although thankfully enough the rest wasn’t really damaged, I lost a good portion of my nuts, but I guess that’s what I get for not thinking this grocery run through correctly. (BTW I like to go to the grocery store on my bike, but I generally get just a few things and this sorta sh@#t doesn’t happen.)

Well I had to figure out a way to use these poor, poor bananas (no way in hell I was going to throw them out after all I had been through!)
Ummmm, well what is great with bananas none other than our friend oats?!
I decided that I would try to make healthy oatmeal cookies adding a nice alternative to my breakfast or a snack. They actually turned out quite tasty. And to top it off healthy, so what more could one want. I’d say they are a breakfasty, protein packed, pre-workout or just anytime cookies. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Makes about 6 cookies

1 Banana

1/4 cup Peanut Butter, (all natural)

1/2 cup Oats

1/2 tbsp. Sucant Sugar, Or raw

1 tsp. Baking soda

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 cup Raisins or Dried Cranberries

Preheat your oven at 350°F (180°C)

Mash up your banana and mix in a bowl along with peanut butter.

Add baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar mix well. Now add the oats and raisins. Mix thoroughly.

Spoon onto baking sheet and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

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.