Saturday, 23 February 2013

Easter mood

It only needs a few items to get me in the Easter mood. For more every day pictures follow me on instagram.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Flakey bake

Thanks to my 21 day yoga body transformation training with Sadie Nardini I prepare healthy breakfasts   - and I feel great! Yes, I do love Italian "brioche" and during the first few weeks of my yoga body transformation it was a bit tough to not eat a chocolate croissant with my morning cappuccino, but just the way Sadie forecasted, my body got used to the transformation and the healthy intake. 

I got proof this morning. At the coffee shop I asked for "skim milk" for my cappuccino but they only had "partially skimmed milk". The beverage was way too rich for my newly programmed taste buds; they did not tolerate the extra fat and I really thought my body did not need any additional calories hiding in the milk. The result: I did not even drink half of my morning cappuccino.
The "brioche" behind glass sure looked yummy and smelled fantastic, but when I thought how much butter and white sugar must have been used to make it, the temptation vanished and I was suddenly looking forward to eating my healthy muffin that waited for me in my kitchen.
I loved the recipe I posted a few weeks ago (blog post "start with a healthy treat") and I have experienced a bit with it. My new favourite healthy morning treat involves coconut flakes and strawberries.

Coconut & strawberry muffins

1 1/2 cups (165 g) of oat bran (substitute with wheat bran)
1 1/8 cup (280 ml) non-fat milk
1 cup (100 g) unsweetened apple sauce
1 egg
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup (40 g) ground flaxseed
1/4 cup (18.75 g) coconut flakes (and some extra for sprinkling)2/3 cups (125 g) of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (140 g) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (240 g) fresh strawberries (washed and cut up)

  • Preheat oven to 375 F/190 C
  • Grease muffin pan or use paper liners.
  • In a bowl mix bran and milk and let stand for 10 minutes 
  • In a second bowl mix together egg, apple sauce, brown sugar and vanilla, then blend with the bran mix. 
  • In a third bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, then add ground flaxseed and coconut flakes. Stir the flour and flaxseed mix into the bran mix. Do not over beat. Mix the lemon zest with your strawberries first, then blend the fruit in with the dough. Scoop into muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle some flakes over the muffin before serving it.
If you have any other great ideas to modify this recipe, let me know and comment below!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Feel feminine

Shopping for sales in Italy I found this black pleated skirt (fornarina) and there are lots of ways to wear it. My favourite is matching it with a light pink sleeveless shirt and a thin belt. On colder days I just add a cardigan - white, light gray or another shade of pale pink works well. There is nothing like a pleated skirt to feel feminine.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Organic shopping

Some women go shopping for shoes, purses and dresses. I go shopping for organic food, especially when I am in Germany. Organic products are readily available everywhere in Germany, whereas in Italy, I have to go search for my every day cooking ingredients. However, when I get back to Italy, shoes are definitely on my shopping list!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A different kind of pesto

Why not make a creative pesto with kale or savoy cabbage.
No doubt: Italian cuisine is maybe one of the best in the world, but I find many Italian restaurants and famous TV chefs are too focussed on the traditional recipes, and this can get kind of boring after a while. Luckily, my friend Jenny who lives in Canberra provides me with the original Australian version of the Donna Hay Magazine. I find great inspirations in her creative style cooking. My problem, however, is to find some of the ingredients the Australian chef calls for. As astonishing as this might seem to anyone living in Sydney, Toronto, L.A. or New York City it is hard to come by dried seaweed, shiitake mushrooms and peanut oil in rural north eastern Italy. I even went to the local market in Venice a few times where you can buy the loveliest and freshest fish as well as local fruits and vegetables, but I still could not cross out "lemongrass" and "thai basil" from my shopping list.
Whenever I find a recipe in the in the magazine that calls for common Italian ingredients I give it a shot.  I made Donna Hay's kale pesto a few months ago and it was delicious. Last weekend, I was thinking about it again. I had all the ingredients at home, except for the kale. Too lazy to drive around looking for it, I used savoy cabbage instead and liked the pesto even more than the kale version.
Here is the recipe of my savoy cabbage and almond pesto (adapted from Donna Hay's kale and almond pesto). You will need:

2 cups of blanched savoy cabbage leaves (remove big stems)
1 cup fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup of toasted almonds
2 red chillies
1/3 cup grated Grana Padano (Donna Hay suggests Manchego cheese)
1/2 cup olive oil and some extra for drizzling the almonds.

Cook the savoy cabbage for less than a minute, that way it retains its great colour.
Heat a pot of salted water (sea salt) and once it boils add your washed savoy cabbage leaves. I cut off the hard stems, but leave in the little ones. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, strain and let all the remaining water evaporate (this is very important). I usually do not only cook the 2 cups of cabbage that the recipe calls for but the whole thing. Whatever I do not use, I serve as a side vegetable. For a side dish just drizzle some olive oil and lemon over it. Can be enjoyed cold or hot.

Preheat oven to 375 F/190 C. Place almonds, chillies and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until almonds are golden brown. Watch out, because from one second to the next, your almonds can burn. Let cool for a minute, then deseed the chillies. Place chillies, almonds and garlic in a food processor then add the kale, parsley and cheese, process until roughly chopped then add your olive oil and stir gently.

Donna Hay suggests to serve roast chicken and pesto together with some veggies or potatoes. When I told my boyfriend V. I would prepare some chicken for him he could eat with the pesto he just frowned. "Chicken and pesto? That's not Italian. I will have some pasta with the pesto, thanks." Italians, eh?! What can I say?

Vegan tip: Just leave out the Grana Padano cheese or, if you prefer, substitute with soy cheese or sheese and you have a fantastic Vegan pesto.

Storage tip: Your pesto will be good in the fridge for a week or even ten days. Put it in a glass and pour some olive oil on top, this will keep the pesto from drying.

When processing your ingredients, make sure not to overdo it.