Come Along with me to Culinary School in Bologna!

Meet Simone Guerra, one of the fantastic people I met during my stay in Italy for “Project Healthy in Italy”. (Read about it here). I was introduced to Simone, the founder of the culinary school Otto in Cucina in Bologna by Valeria Moschet, the women behind the succesessful blog My Lovely Bologna 

If you are travelling to Bologna I really recommend stopping by her site and Instagram account with the same name for some great tips!

Below the pictures you will learn more about how Simone founded one of Bolognas most modern culinary schools…

The Pasta Warrior

Simone Guerra is the founder of the culinary school “Otto in Cucina”. Her last name is “Guerra” which means warrior in Italian. Considering what she embarked upon a year ago when building her culinary school form the ground up, the meaning of her last name is very appropriate! You can see the video from her journey here

The moment I entered the school I could sense the passion and labour that went into building the beautiful, brand new culinary school full of modern equipment and design, which is branded with Simones staple color; hot pink.

Here is also a video from the lovely herb garden at the school! 

“Otto in Cucina” means “eight in the kitchen”, referring to the Italian school grade system where grade 10 is the best. Simone is not a chef with a formal education therfore she found herself more comfortable with telling her students that if you can acheive culinary results worth the grade 8 and not always 10, that still means you can make som amazing food! Food should be about pleasure, fun, joy and nutrition and not about perfection.

Becoming a Master of Pasta, Sfolia

I love the fresh egg pasta which is typical of Bologna and the Emilia- Romagna area and Simone taught me how to make the classic tagliatelle pasta which are the flat pasta that are suppose to be 1 m.m. x 6 m.m. in size. I can assure you this will take practice to acheive…

Simone learned the art of cooking  from her grandmother who was a “sfoglina”, female pastamaker, but the art of making fresh pasta she actually learned from the mother of one of her sons friends.

For years she had been intimidated by the art of pasta, thinking it would be to difficult to learn. But her friend told her otherwise. She was a professional “sfoglina” by trade and meant that anyone could learn and become good at making “sfoglia”  with a little love, passion and practice.

The two became both good friends and cooking buddies, talking eagerly about pasta making in the school halls. Eventually some of the fathers at the school overheared the conversations and wanted to learn more about pasta as more and more Italian men are getting into the kitchen. So the journey begins…

From Hobby to Career

Do to the demand of several fathers wanting to learn how to make pasta, Simone and her friend- the professional pasta maker, started pasta and cooking courses in Simones house in 2012. By 2013 they held about 150 courses in all kinds of cuisines and simply outgrew her house.

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Simone is a great teacher!

In 2017 Simone and her husband decided to invest in a property that today is the culinary school Otto in Cucina where Simone and her staff share their passion and knowledge about Italian food as well as other cuisines for both private persons and companies.

I highly recommend booking a class if you ever are in the area!  Visit her school here

Here are the dishes we made that evening; fresh egg tagliatelle, pesto, agrugula pesto with pistachios, cherry tomatoes and burrata cheese. 

Having great fun while learning about Italian cooking and being inspired by these talented women! Simone, Valeria and Stefania. ( http://www.mylovelybologna.com and http://www.mymodenadiary.com. More to come later).


Spelt Orecchiette with Summer Zucchini and Parmesan

Try taking the pasta away from the Italians and I am sure you will live to regret it! Luckily there are so many healthy options being grown and produced in Italy that are a great alternativ to the refined white, wheat based pasta.

These products are being exported all around the globe and I can even buy some of them back home in my country of Norway at my local heath food store.  So today I have a great vegeterian, healthy pasta dish for you!

 

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Blood-sugar friendly whole grain spelt pasta.

I am a carbohydrate loving girl, but unfortunately my weight nor my blood sugar feels the same love, and being in Italy for a month with “Project Healthy in Italy” (read about it here) doesn’t exactly make it easier for me to stay away…

But luckily there are so many healthier alternatives to the white, processed wheat pasta at every corner. Italians are actually  large producers of the healthy ancient grain spelt, and i love it! My body digests this so much better and the taste is fantastic.

So todays recipe is made with organic whole grain spelt orecchiette ( a type of pasta from Tuscany that looks like ears) and local produce that I bought at the market today.

Italy is famed for its’ zucchini vegetables and come in all shapes and sizes, so I simply had to make something with these beautiful and healthy vegetables.  This recipe is vegeterian and vegan if you leave out the parmesan.

 

Spelt Orecchiette with Summer Zucchini and Parmesan

  • Whole grain spelt pasta. (It does not have to be orecchiettie)
  • One green zucchini
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Parmesan ( Real Reggiano parmiggano and not the fake kind!)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • White beans, fresh or canned (optional)

 

How to: Cook the pasta as advised on the pack. In a pan, fry the chopped garlic with finely sliced zucchini. Add salt and pepper and fry until golden. Mix with the cooked pasta and add more olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add parmesan and fresh basil. If you have beans (like I added in my dish because they we so beautiful), you can cook them with the pasta if fresh, or add to the zucchini mixture before adding to the pasta.

 

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Almond Ricotta “Cheese”- Project Healthy in Italy (Vegan)

Oh, my goodness, I am almost afraid to post this recipe as I might get banned from the country (Italy)and not be let in when I arrive on Saturday! The Italians take their food traditions very seriously! (Read all about Project Healthy in Italy here and follow my quest.)

Ricotta cheese is a sweet, fresh cheese made from milk and is a typical Italian cheese used for both savoury and sweet dishes. My favorite being ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and ricotta, baked cheese cake. They are both to die for!

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You can make a delicious dairy- free ricotta in your own kitchen!

My personal recommendation is to limit dairy as much as possible as it is a typical allergen, causes inflammation in the body and is acidic in the way it digests. Eating and drinking a lot of acidic forming foods is linked to diseases such as auto-immune illnesses. There is also more and more evidence that dairy may raise our risk of both prostate and breast cancer.

We also see a greater focus on eating vegan and plant based no matter what your dietary preferances are. I am personally not vegan, so the chances of me being able to stay away from all the temptation 100 % of the time when I am in Italy are slim! Ha, ha. So I would like to share this option with you just in case I post a dish using ricotta and you would like an alternativ.

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Nuts make the most delicious “cheeses” when done right.

It is really amazing how many nut cheeses are out there and the complexity of them are simply amazing! After experimenting a lot in the kitchen this is my almond “ricotta cheese” recipe from my lastest book: Carina’s Healthy Kitchen.

Almond Ricotta “Cheese”

  • 2, 5 dl (about 2 cups + 1/3 cup) almonds without the skin
  • 1, 25 dl (about 1/2 cup) water
  • 1/2 ts. Himalaya salt
  • 1 tbs. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsb agave syrup (or honey if your not vegan)
  • 1 ts lemon juice

How to:

  1. Blanch the almonds by boiling them in water for 1 minute. The skin will peel right off.
  2. Place the almonds in a food prossesor or blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Add a small amount of water if needed.
  3. Using a cheese cloth, place the colth over a bowl and add the mixture. Tie the cloth together to form a “bag”.
  4. Keep refrigerted over night placing a bowl underneath to catch the liquid being released.
  5. The next day, squeeze out any excess liquid and place the ricotta (without the cloth) on a baking sheet and tray.
  6. Form the cheese into a circle shape and a thickness of about 3 cm. (1 inch).
  7. Bake the cheese in the oven at 80 degreess celcius (176 F.) for 40 min. (Or in a dehydrator over night)There is to be no color.  The baking is to soften it and bring out the flavours and sweetness.
  8. Let cool and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Tip! Spread on crakers, eat with fruit, fill pasta, use in pasta dishes for added creaminess.

 

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Day fresh ricotta with balsamico jam in Modena, Italy.

 


Tasty Secrets That May Prevent Prostate Cancer- Project Healthy in Italy

I am all about food that nourishes us as a whole; body, mind and spirit. I love making and eating food, but I am equally into, or even more into, the way certian foods make my body and mind feel.

The “right things”, being food that encourages a healthy internal enviorment and therefore reducing the risk of disease as well.

tomater prostate cancer

Unfortunatly there are too many choices being made in our modern society that encourages the growth of disease and prostate cancer being one of them. It is one of the most common cancers among men and in the world.

Some of the greatest risk factors for developing this disease are being overweight, eating dairy, cured and prosessed meats, high alcohol and sugar consumption, and not eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Have you ever juiced tomatoes? It s a yummy and easy way to enrich your diet with natures’ best medicine. Remember to add healthy fats like olive oil to ensure that the cancer- fighting lycopen is absorbed. 

 

My country of Norway, is unfortunately in second place as the country in the world with the highest rate of prostate cancer. We eat and drink tremendous amounts of dairy, bread, cured, prosessed meats and have a low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Italy on the other hand is a country with significant lower prostate cancer rates , bringing the country all the way down to the 124. place on the list. There are also findings that show Italian men living in the south of the country have lower cancer rates compared to those living in the North. This is probably due to the diet being very rich in tomatoes in Southern Italy. Tomatoes are a great source of the powerful antioxidant- lycopen and is crucial in preventing the disease.

 

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This is one of the reasons why Italy is the healthiest country in the Europe and second/first in the world, and also why I am looking into the case and exploring more. Read more about Project healthy in Italy here

It is quite easy to make changes that can impact your health in a positive way. What you eat plays a huge part.

Tasty ways that may prevent prostate cancer: 

  • Eat lots of tomatoes both fresh, juiced or in home made dishes. Not ketchup and prosessd foods! Also make sure to not buy canned tomatoes due to the aluminium content. Go for glass or paper packaging. You can get my favorite tomato based recipes here and here
  • Eat lots of vegetables and focus on cruciferous vegetables like onions, garlic, broccoli, kale and cauliflower. Get my dairy free califlower soup recipe here
  • Get juicing! Juicing is a fantastic way to add more vegetables, especially inflammation reducing ginger and leafy greens, to your diet. Get my green juice recipe here
  • Add and use healthy fats, the right flours and spices when cooking. Read more about my basic healthy kitchen “rules” here.
  • And also, last but not least, drinking espresso the Italian way may be a great way to prevent prostate cancer! Of course without dairy or sugar. Read more here.

 

 

 

Here are some resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573712/

 


Healthy, Arugula, Pear and Parmesan Salad- Project Healthy in Italy.

This salad is my absolute favoritt and so easy to make!

It was the first evening of our girls weekend to Rome, Italy and by chance we discovered this lovely restaurant in an old cellar by The Spanish Steps. Luckily we got a table, and discovered quickly, we were the only tourists there. That is how you know you’re in the right place…

This is also the restaurant where I tasted the lovely arugula (rocket), pear and parmesan salad for the first time. I fell in love with the flavour combinations and just had to recreate the dish when I got home.

( Hey, by the way want to know more about my “Project Healthy in Italy” kicking off June 9th? Read more here)

 

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This salad is so yummy, healthy and easy to make!

Italians use a lot of leafy greens, and especially arugula, also called rocket. It is a bitter green which has a peppery taste and is excellent for the digestion, and therefore usually eaten as an “anti pasti”- appetizer. It gets those digestive juices flowing!

The combination of bitter, sweet, salt and sour is what makes it so irresistable and satisfying. It is also great for balancng the blood sugar and is low carb as well. I usually make ths salad as an evening meal when I’m feeling a little peckish.

 

Healthy, Arugula, Pear and Parmesan Salad ( 1 portion)

  • 2 handfull fresh arugula (rocket)
  • 1 pear
  • 1 tbs, roasted pine nuts
  • Reggiano parmesan shavings
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt (Maldon)
  • Lemon juice

 

How to: Roast the pine nuts (in a skillet) until golden to bring out the flavour. Wash the arugula and cut the pear into desired pieces. Shave some parmesan. Mix together with the pine nuts and sprinkle with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt.

Tip! Want my best tips on how you easily can do a mini kitchen make-over for a healthier diet and cooking? Read more here

 

 

 


Dairy-Free Espresso and Chocolate Panna Cotta – Project Healthy in Italy

The Italians have a love affair with espresso, or what they just refer to as “coffee”.

( I can’t wait to learn more about this when I go to Italy for my new project ” Project Healthy in Italy read here)

I love this small, strong brew just as much as the Italians do, and have an espresso maker that makes the best espresso (and aroma) in my very own kitchen. You can see the actual maker in my photo below. 🙂

Coffee is a good source of antioxidants. And as long as you don’t overdue it, and hydrate as well, it is actually a healthy staple to add to your diet. Of course, without added sugar or cream…

Panna cotta on the other hand means “cooked cream” in Italian and is a classic Italian dessert from the region of Piedmont. You have probably made it before, or at least tasted it somewhere. It is basically just cream, sugar and gelatine.

My version however ( Italians, please don’t be mad at me!;))is a healthier  panna cotta and is made without dairy or refined sugar.  I also use antioxidant-rich raw cacao and brewed espresso for a flavour twist and for a nutrient boost. My panna cotta is actually vegan, healthy, and yes; tasty!

You get the best of Italian flavours and traditions, but with better building blocks for your body. Recipe below…

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I serve my panna cotta with an orange and mint syrup and something crunchy on top like an almond brittle( fine chopped almonds, roasted with maple syrup and a touch of salt) or such. But you can easily serve it just as is.

 

For the panna cotta you will need( Makes 2 portions):

  • 100 grams (1 cup) soaked, natural cashew nuts. (Non roasted or salted nuts that you soak in water for at least 8 hours then rinse before using.)
  • 7 tbs. (organic) maple syrup
  • 2 tbs. raw cacao
  • 2 dl (3/4 cup) espresso
  • 1 ts agar agar fine powder. (A vegan gelling agent made from a type of algae. Found in health food stores or finer super markets)
  • Pinch of salt (I only use Himalaya salt)

 

How to:

  1. Brew the espresso and mix with the agar powder in a pot. Bring to boil and let simmer for 2 minutes to activate and dissolve the agar. Set aside.
  2. Place the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food prosessor and add the espresso mixture. Blend until completly smooth and creamy. This may take a couple of minutes depending on the strength of your machine.
  3. Pour into moulds and set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  4. To make an orange and mynt syrup, reduce the juice of two oranges with a handfull of fresh mint and 1 tbs. of sweetner, such as honey or maple syrup. Reduce in a pan until about half the portion is left and it has turned into a syrup. Strain before serving.

 

Buon divertimento! Enjoy!


Spelt Apricot and Olive Oil Cake- Torta all’olio e albicocche (Project Healthy in Italy)

I hope your ready for another healthy Italian recipe! (Read all about Project Healthy in Italy here)

Apricots and peaches are in season and I just had to make a healthier version of the Italian apricot and olive oil cake. I love the way Italians cook with healthy olive oil instead of milk products and unhealthy, refined fats.
You can add sambuca which is normally done and top with flaked almonds but I choose to make the recipe with pine nuts for a twist (and because I forgot to buy almonds in the store!) 😉

 

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My version may be denser than the original recipe as it does not contain self- raising cake flour and white refined sugar, but it is really moist, filling, tasty and a lot healthier than the original version.

I hope you give it a try!

Spelt Apricot and Olive Oil Cake- Torta all’olio e albicocche

  • 220 grams (1 1/3 cup) sifted white spelt flour
  • 2, 5 dl. (1 cup) acacia honey
  • 250 ml (1 cup) unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 ts. vanilla extract or 1 ts vanilla powder/seeds from one pod
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • 100 ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ ts. salt
  • 4 ts. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 7-8 apricots
  • 1 handful pine nuts

 

How to: Sift all the dry ingredients in a bowl and dissolve the honey in the almond milk by warming slightly on the stove. Add vanilla, lemon juice, olive oil and zest. Mix together. Beat the eggs slightly and add to the liquid (make sure it is not hot!) before mixing into the dry ingredients. Mix until the batter is smooth.

Grease a cake pan with olive oil or coconut oil, or line with parchment paper. Add the batter. Slice the apricots and layer on top together with the pine nuts.

Bake in the middle of the oven at 180 Celsius (350- 360 Fahrenheit) for about 40 – 50 minutes. Time varies so take care to make sure it does not burn. Cover with tin foil or parchment paper to keep from browning to much while baking if needed.

Cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

 


Spelt Foccacia – Project Healthy in Italy

In light of Project Healthy in Italy ( read all about it here) I will be sharing healthy Italian recipes with you here on my blog. If there are recipes that I really love but aren’t as healthy as I like, I will be re-doing them and giving them a healthier twist.

For example I never use wheat and always spelt flour as it is more nutritious and doesn’t make me bloated or leave me feeling ill, such as wheat does. Spelt is an ancient grain that really has become popular again!

I love foccacia and decided I wanted to develop my own recipe using spelt. This foccacia is fantastic and really easy to make!

Recipe below picture…

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My spelt foccacia is soooo addictive!

Spelt Foccacia

(For the dough)

  • 1 kg white spelt flour (about 8 cups) (not whole grain)
  • 9 dl warm water (about 3, 6 cups)
  • 2 tbs. honey
  • 1 ts. salt (Himalaya salt)
  • 1 pack dry yeast
  • 2 handful coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes

How to foccacia: Mix all the wet ingredients in a bowl before adding the chopped dried tomatoes and dry ingredients. Mix to a smooth dough with a spoon. The mixture is suppose to be very wet and pourable.

Let proof in room temperature for 1 hour. Pour the dough into a partchment lined baking tray and and with (oiled fingers) make holes for the oil to settle into. Pour oil over the dough and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Let proof another 30 minutes before baking in the middel of the oven at 200 celcius (390 farenheit) for 30- 40 minutes. Let cool before slicing.

Herb Oil

  • 0,75 dl (about 1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1  clove garlic (grated)
  • 1 ts dries oregano
  • 1 ts. dried tyme
  • 1 ts. dried rosemary

How to: Grate the garlic and mix eveything together. Set aside for the foccacia.

*Sea salt flakes (Maldon) for sprinkling on top before baking.

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You can’t stop at just one piece!


Creamy Dreamy Vanillatini!

Doesn’t this mocktail look absolutely lovely? And it is 100 % alcohol free and healthy! This is my “Creamy Dreamy Vanillatini” from my first juice book “Juicy!” and today I am sharing my recipe with you…

I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think:)

 

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Creamy Dreamy Vanillatini!

2 dl (3/4 cup) sugar free almond milk
1/4 large piece fresh pineapple
1 banana
1 ts vanilla powder
1 ts coconut sugar
ice cubes

How to: Juice the pineapple and blend the juice with the rest of the ingredients until smooth. Enjoy!

Juicy goodness: Rich in antioxidants, carbohydrates, vitamin C, potassium, and the enzyme bromelaine which helps the body digest protein and has natural anti-inflammatory properties.


Waistline Friendly and Yummy Lentil Soup!

I love soup or stews this time of year and they are easy to make – all in one pot!

My red lentil soup (or stew) is really delicious, and filling, but still low calorie, fiber-rich and blood sugar friendly, making it good for your waistline as well.

Recipe below…

 

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Lentils are a great plant based protein and is blood sugar friendly.

 

 

Carina’s Red Lentil Soup ( 4 portions)

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2- 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 carrots (peel)
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 chili
  • 500 grams ( 2 cans) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 liter ( 3 1/2 cups) vegetable stock
  • 2 dl. ( 1 cup) dry red lentils

How to: Finely chop the onion, carrots, celery, chili and garlic. Sautee in olive oil until soft. Add the crushed tomatoes, stock and lentils. Cook until tender adding more water if needed. Season to taste. The lentils need at least 30 min. to cook. You do not have to pre-soak them. Enjoy!

Tip! This soup/stew tastes really great the next day so you can make a large batch if you like. It is also great to freeze so you have a healthy meal ready in no time:)