I have arrived in beautiful Bologna, Italy where I will be living and working from for the next month with “Project Healthy in Italy”.
In case you are a new reader, get caught up on my project here
The towers of Bologna
I got my gym membership in order, tasted some local food and wine for lunch to help me ease into everything. 😉 You can see some pictures below…
I am loving my apartment right by Piazza Maggiore, and I am settling in and getting ready for a really exciting and hectic month. I can’t wait to take you along on the journey to discovering why and how the Italians are so healthy!
Lunch (pranzo). The Italians are so good at making vegetables taste yummy! Grilled zucchini with local cheese.
Tomorrow I have a really exciting day as I am travelling (by train) to the very small town of Pieve a Nievole where I will be meeting and interviewing the famous Italian health guru, David Mariani. Make sure you tune in tomorrow via my Instagram ( watch Instastories) account here to see everything happening live. I will be visiting some exciting places with him to discover the secrets to living a long and happy life.
Just a short update for you today as I am still getting installed here. I will be back with a lot more to inspire you on how to live a happy, healthy life the Italian way!
“What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook?”
3 simple questions yet hundreds, if not thousands of exciting and inspiring answers. This was the recipe and secret behind the television success that was world- renowned chef, writter and tv personality, Anthony Bourdain.
As I am packing my bags, my camera and preparing all my interviews and stories for “Project Healthy in Italy” (read about it here), the sad news that Mr. Bourdain has passed away reached me.
The world will definitely be poorer and a great storyteller and food guru has left this world all to soon…
Anthony and his work has been a great inspiration and a catalyst behind my upcoming month long quest in Italy. I will explore the stories behind the people and food that make up the sum as to why the country and its’ people are so healthy.
Along the journey I will do my best to honor the spirit of Mr. Bourdain and I will vow to ask eveyone I meet on my journey: “What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook?”
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!
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.
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
Blanch the almonds by boiling them in water for 1 minute. The skin will peel right off.
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.
Using a cheese cloth, place the colth over a bowl and add the mixture. Tie the cloth together to form a “bag”.
Keep refrigerted over night placing a bowl underneath to catch the liquid being released.
The next day, squeeze out any excess liquid and place the ricotta (without the cloth) on a baking sheet and tray.
Form the cheese into a circle shape and a thickness of about 3 cm. (1 inch).
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.
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.
Day fresh ricotta with balsamico jam in Modena, 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.
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.
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.
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.
I am so excited about my upcoming trip and quest to Bologna, Italy this Saturday, June 9th!
Project Healthy in Italy is officially launching this day (read about it here) and I hope you come along with me for the journey both here on my blog and through my social media accounts. 🙂
*Follow Carina’s Healthy Kitchen and Project Healthy in Italy on Facebook here and Instagram here
But, what I really am excited about today is the introduction of my main partner for my month long quest- Alessandro Martini or as I will be calling him, Mr. #DOP!
Alessandro teaching about real balsamico from Modena.
DOP is short for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (“Protected Designation of Origin”) and is a very important classification that garantees that the (Italian) food is made by local farmers and artisans, using traditional methods. Alessandro is an expert on this, among many other things related to Italian food and wine.
The reason I first visited Bologna in the Emilia- Romanga district ,was due to the food culture, but the reason I came back was Alessandro and his family owned food & wine tour business, Italian Days.
I also knew that for my quest in Italy I would really love to have Alessandro aboard as he knows all there is to know about Italian food culture. He is the perfect person to help me find the answers as to why Italy is the healthiest country in Europe and the world.
When I reached out to him about “Project Healthy in Italy” I was so happy that he wanted to be a part of the journey as my “partner in crime”, food expert and as a genuine, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, warm hearted Italian.
You can follow us during June 9- July 6 th and there will be some really exciting things to see and learn more about. Olive oil in Tuscany, organic wine production, truffle hunting, cooking with nonna are just some of the things coming up!
You can visit his website here and I garantee you will not regret booking a tour when you are in the area! Make sure to use my name when booking and I am sure he will take extra good care of you;)
Alessandro on his nr. 1 rated food tour experience. At a Reggiano parmesan factory. A must! I have been two times:)
*It is important for me to share with you that everything related to “Project Healthy in Italy”, its’ partners, products and recommendations are 100 % authentic and mine. They are not sponsored or paid for in any way. Everyone involved is choosen specifically and they are giving their time, energy and knowledge to make this project a succsess! Thank you everyone! See you soon!
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)
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 tbs, roasted pine nuts
Reggiano parmesan shavings
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt (Maldon)
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
I am all about eating clean, fresh and unprosessed food no matter what your dietary goals are. I believe that if we eat food that is as close to its natural state as possible, and drink enough fresh water every day, we would all be well on our way to a healthier state of both body and mind.
This is one of the things that the Italians have understood and is part of why the country is the healthiest in Europe and first/second in the world. Read more about Project Healthy in Italy here.
My hope is that I can inspire and help you to make healthier choices every day that will result in you being a happier, healthier, and perhaps also a leaner version of yourself.
I have also made all the changes through my own lifestyle journey so I also “walk the walk”, and not just “talk the talk”! You can read more about my story here
Here are my 5 best tips for you to start your own kitchen makeover and to help you on your way to acheiving better, healthier and tastier cooking results!
5 Tips for a Healthier Kitchen and Tastier Food.
Throw out the refined, bleached table salt and get cooking with Himalaya salt and sea salt! This is so important. We need salt in our diets and I could simply never do without, but the kind of salt you choose makes a huge impact on both your body and cooking results. I have not had refined table salt in my kitchen for years and I find the taste to be horrible compared to healthy, natural choices as stated above. You get more minerals, and the taste is more rounded (natural) and stronger, so beware; you need less. Also a good reason to change the salt you cook with.
2. Trade in wheat for spelt flour. For all cooking and baking where wheat is needed I use spelt flour. It is an ancient grain that has really gained popularity the past years, especially in Scandinavia. It has a differant type of gluten than regular wheat and therfore more people, including myself, tolerate it. It has almost the same cooking and baking qualities as wheat does, and a nuttier, more exciting taste.
3. Use the right kind of fats. We need fat as well as salt, but make sure you use the right kind. (Fat is a huge subject so I will write a blog post in the future soley on this). But to break it down, extra virgin coconut oil for all things raw and not being heated (or where you don’t mind a coconut flavour), refined coconut oil without flavor for stabile frying and such, or extra virgin olive oil. If you eat dairy, butter is a good choice as the fatty acids are stabile due to the high content of saturated fats. I personally prefer olive oil.
4. Use lots of fresh herbs and garlic! The past months I have really gotten into using fresh herbs in my cooking. Fresh garlic is also a staple. They are so healthy and packed with flavour. Mint is great for the digestion and is surprisingly delicious in salads and savory dishes. I also use coriander and basil all the time.
5. Add fresh citrus juice for flavour. I have also been using a lot of fresh citrus juice for my cooking and flavoring. A crucial part of flavour balancing is actually acidity. Acids can also replace the need for salt and really make a dish “pop”. Acids also help aid in digestion and help balance your blood sugar. I use lime, lemon and sometimes orange juice if I need a sweeter, more round acidic flavour. My favorite marinade is fresh orange and lime juice, olive oil, dried oregano, dried chili flakes, salt and garlic.
Happy cooking! I would love to hear from you what you think!
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…
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)
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.
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.
Pour into moulds and set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
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.
Living in the land of carbs, and white carbs at that, is a scary thought for me.
(Don’t know what I am talking about? Read about Project Healthy in Italyhere)
As a previously overweight child and adult strugglig to keep a balanced weight and mind, carbohydrates and especially pizza and pasta, are my absolute drugs! The more I eat, the more I crave. Do you know the feeling? Also the more I eat, the more fat I gain, especially around my stomach. The more depressed I get as well. It’s a vicious cycle.
I can eat pizza ( regular wheat based) or pasta ( regular white, wheat pasta) as a serving once in a while, but if I eat more than one meal consisting of this during a day or a week, my mind and body says, “stop!”.
I feel tired, depressed, bloated, and have a really cloudy mind. My body aches more as well and I just don’t feel inspired to really do anything.
I started gaing weight at the age of 9- 10.
Carbs are not my best friend.
So how am I going to cope for 1 month in Bologna, Italy where the temptations and carbs are literally at every corner? And how can it really be that the Italians can stay healthy, slim(?) and be the healthiest country in Europe and the world when this kind of diet makes me fat and a generally unhappy person?
Follow my journey and find out how my Project Healthy in Italygoeshere on my blog and through my social media accounts Instagram here , Facebook here and YouTube here
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!) 😉
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
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.