Risotto alla Milanese – A typical Healthy Italian Dish

Oh, how I love the fall. Everything starts to turn into beautiful mustard-orange colors. The sun is still out except that you can finally put on a little more clothes and wear those cute little sweaters and that gorgeous leather jacket. You can actually sleep comfortably with a comforter. And you can start eating warmer foods again and break out the red wine.

With that being said; there are just some things that you can eat in the fall/winter that you might not want to eat in the summer and vice versa. And sometimes it’s hard to not go overboard especially when you’ve waited the whole summer to indulge in some of your favorite dishes. But we must remember that it’s still nice out and you might still fit in a day or two at the beach, so try to indulge lightly. I for instance always choose the healthiest and yummiest. I like to indulge on things such as this dish for instance. It’s perfect because it gives you all the inside warmth you need but it’s so simple that you don’t have to give up on anything. You don’t feel guilty after eating it and you certainly can’t find one thing unhealthy in it….and that’s the most important part of it all.

Yes, break open a bottle of red wine and indulge in this delicious risotto. Enjoy!

Ingredients:Serves 2

200gr. Rice, I used Arborio for risotto

1.5 qt. Vegetable broth

1 Shallot , small and chopped finely

1 tsp. Powdered Saffron

3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, Grated

Make sure that your Vegetable broth is simmering.

Chop your shallot finely. Grab a large sauce pan put over medium heat add the E.V.O allow to heat and add the shallot & cook until lightly golden.

Add the rice & mix well with the shallot, then slowly add some of the broth enough to cover the rice, mix; allow to cook 5 minutes then add more broth, continue to repeat this process until you have finished the broth should take about 15 minutes.
Add the saffron cook for another 5 minutes. You want the consistency of the risotto to turn out just perfect, not to dry it still needs to be a bit moist, so if there is too much liquid continue to cook just a bit, and if it’s too dry add some more broth or water.
Turn off heat add your Parmigiano and mix thoroughly. Serve warm.

*Follow rice cooking instructions on the package and regulate yourself with the broth that way.

 

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.

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.

 

Cabbage Leaf + Parsley Omelet Stuffed with Brown Rice Wrap

Sometimes you just need to think outside the box. I seem to be enjoying brown rice so much lately; it’s almost like I can’t get enough of it. I got so involved with these new grains, (quinoa, Khorsan Kamut, gluten-free this n’ that, even Couscous) I forgot about one of my favorite grains and that being rice, especially brown, black and whole grain rice.

Well, like many of my inventions this one came from the craving for rice; so I opened up the fridge like many a times before and found that I had cabbage, so I got this curious idea of using it as a wrap for my rice, then I thought why not double-wrap the rice and make a thin parsley omelet, I could possibly bake it for just 15 minutes and let all the aromas get infused. Well, it worked out and I decided to post this recipe.

So, the box I was refereeing to at the beginning of this post was the fact that you can make all types of wraps and you don’t only have to stuff bell peppers; you can invent anything you want and it’s so fun to re-invent healthy food. I think health ingredients are my favorite ones to work with. I guess it’s the fact that not only is healthy a habit or lifestyle it’s truly the person I am. I can’t imagine not eating healthy foods with healthy ingredients.

Healthy for me is the obvious vegetables, fruits, whole-grains and lean proteins; but also foods that come for organic upbringing, foods that are handled with care and love. I think Parmigiano Reggiano, Mozzarella di Bufala, Pecorino, Prosciutto Crudo di Parma or San Daniele, Gelato, or fresh baked Bread all have healthy ingredients in them; they may not be things that you would eat everyday but when you look at the way they make these foods, you can pronounce all the ingredients and they are all natural (atleast here in Italy). If I’m craving something it’s generally these things. So, don’t always assume that healthy has to be strictly, low-fat, low-cal, no fun foods in your diet I think they just need to be made from real ingredients and a good source of nutrition.

Now lets get to cooking a delicious light, meatless Monday meal.

 

Ingredients:
Makes 4 wraps

1 ½ cups Brown Rice, cooked

4 large or 8 medium Cabbage leaves

4 Parsley Omelets, see below

Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Drizzle Soy Sauce

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a pot of boiling salted water you may either add the whole cabbage head for 8 minutes, remove from heat and then pull off the leaves or pull of the leaves first blanch them in the boiling water for 4-5 minutes and then place them in cold water, remove and set aside.

Mix your brown rice with a bit of E.V, O, a tiny splash of soy and pepper.

Preheat the oven at 250°
In a baking tray drizzle just a bit of E.V.O.
Now on a flat surface lay your omelet, then lay your cabbage leaf on top, get a little over ¼ cup of rice and place in the middle of the cabbage leaf and close up kind of like a burrito, place in the baking tray. Continue the steps until you make all the wraps.
Now you may drizzle a little soy and e.v.o over the wraps, place in the oven for 10 minutes and serve. Enjoy

 

How to make the Parsley Omelets:
Makes 4 Parsley Omelets

4 Egg Whites

3 Egg Yolks

1 tbsp E.V.O

2 tbsp Chopped Parsley

Salt and Pepper to taste

Beat all ingredients together. Now with a ladle place one spoonful of egg mixture in a non-stick pan and spread out thinly cook and flip carefully. Place aside and continue with other omelets.

P.S. If you want you can just do cabbage and rice and leave out the Omelet.

 

Traditional Italian Savory Easter Cake – My Way Sans Gluten

A happy early Easter to you all! It’s only Monday but I figured that I would give you a Meatless-Monday recipe to try out; as well as a Northern Italian (specifically from Genova) Traditional Savory Easter cake: Torta Pasqualina. You’ll be amazed at how healthy it is. No joke!

This delicious recipe calls for amazing ingredients mainly being; spinach, fresh cheese, puff pastry and eggs. Yes, quite surprising but something so simple can really be so delicious.
I truly enjoyed the simplicity of the ingredients and was amazed at how I had never made it before at home and why?! This is a perfect nutritional dish. Spinach and eggs?? And this is something that is a traditional Holiday dish, which means that you don’t have to eat anything unhealthy for Easter!! Alright so you have your Torta Pasqualina (which means Easter Cake) which is quite filling on its own leaving you with very little space for anything else, then you have some lamb or whatever meat your family makes, some side veggies and some delicious dark chocolate for dessert. That’s not bad at all.
Healthy, Traditional & Delicious. Oh yes, you can eat and be thin too!

I made this Cake without the puff pastry so I followed all the steps just leaving out the puff pastry; hence making it gluten-free and a bit lighter. But if you are going to make it the real traditional way just make sure to get 2 puff pastry sheets, follow the instructions below and add these 2 steps:

  1. Lay one sheet of rolled out puff pastry down onto the baking tray. Pour in your filling and follow the instructions below in the recipe.
  2. Lay the second sheet of puff pastry on the top and close up like a pie. Bake for 40-50 minutes.

I really hope that you enjoy this as much as we did. Happy Meatless Monday and Happy Easter!!! From my home to yours. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Makes a 20cm Cake (8in cake) with puff pastry. Without puff pastry use a 6in cake pan.

350g. (3/4 lb) of Spinach*

150g. (1/4 lb) of Ricotta

70g. (2.5oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

5 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil your spinach in salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain and squeeze out as much water with your hands as possible. Chop and set aside.

Preheat your oven at 200°C (390°F)

Prepare the filling by mixing your ricotta with the egg and parmigiano. Add salt and pepper to taste and once all ingredients are thoroughly mixed add the spinach. Make sure that this is well incorporated.

Grab your circular baking tray drizzle 1tbsp. of E.V.O. (skip this step if sing puff pastry). Pour your filling and lay out evenly, now make 4 indentations big enough to crack an egg in them and then carefully crack an egg in each hole. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and bake for 20-25 minutes. My husband doesn’t like his eggs at all runny so I cooked it thoroughly but you can cook till desired egg doness. Serve and enjoy.

*for the Spinach you can also use frozen, make sure to thaw and squeeze as well.

 

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.

Day After Superbowl Cleansing Soup

We are all human and bound to get carried away at times. During festivities and/or especially after watching a Superbowl game with friends having one too many drinks and eating a little too much can leave your body feeling just a bit tired and heavy.
It’s nice to be able to get your body back on track especially because it’s Monday and we need a lot of energy for this week ahead. Catering to your body and giving it a nice nutritious, light, warm meal can do wonders.

Help jumpstart your body into getting rid of toxins that you’ve accumulated during this time by feeding it a light meal allows your body to focus more on your body than on the digestion of what you are eating, hence using the extra energy in keeping you awake, or completing that workout that you are so dreading because you feel exhausted. We don’t realize how much energy our body uses for digestion and when you eat heavily it really takes a toll on your already tired body.
This is a nice light recipe that will really give your body all the nutrients it is now lacking.

It’s so good for you and simple; but most of all delicious. I topped it off with some steamed mushrooms and chilies (recipe below). Feel free to top off with what you like. I hope that you enjoy!

Ingredients: For the Soup

1 lb. of Spinach*, washed

1 Scallion, finely chopped

5 cups of Vegetable broth**

Handful Parsley, chopped

2 tbsp. of Ginger, fresh & grated

A pinch of Cayenne *optional

Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pot add half a cup of broth, add your scallion and allow to get translucent. Add your ginger, then spinach, parsley then cayenne, salt and pepper mix and add remaining broth allow to cook for 15-20 min.
Turn heat off and with an immersion blender puree the soup. Serve warm.

*Spinach use whatever variety or array you like
**Make your own by boiling 5 cups of water and add a no MSG Veg bullion

Ingredients:  For Mushroom topping

2 cups of Porcini Mushrooms*, chopped

2 Chili Peppers *optional

Couple leaves of chopped parsley

1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pan add the olive oil with the chili pepper and the parsley, allow to simmer lightly and then add your mushrooms. Saute for about 5 minutes add your salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes and then top your delicious soup with this. YUM!

*Whatever mushroom is completely fine.

Cleansing soup