Al Meni Food Festival with Massimo Bottura- Rimini, Italy

“Food made with both our hearts and hands” is the slogan for the food festival promoting Italian cooking and produce from the Emilia- Romagna region in Italy.

I was lucky to have recieved an invite and in todays blog post I will share my weekend with you! And yes I got to meet the boss himself, Mr. Bottura…

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Part of the opening act outside the main tent.

Al Meni means “on the menu” and this weekend there were so many amazing dishes (and wines) on the menu created by some of the best chefs in the industry, both Italian and International.

The two day festival in June takes place in the beautiful oceanside area by the five star hotel Grand Hotel Rimini, and consists of stalls, stands, food trucks and the main circus tent where all the cooking shows take place.

You can learn more about Italian produce through daily courses on site, and taste and drink your way through the great food region which is Emilia-Romagna all while enjoying the sunny seaside.  You can also buy clothing, jewlery and other exciting Italian made things.

Tips! If you scroll all the way down to the end of the post you can see my video from the festival including the after party with Massimo!

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From the opening show

Massimo Bottura is the vice president of the Chef to Chef organization and is one of the main people behind the food festival where as mentioned, food, produce and wine from the Emilia- Romagna district takes center stage. It was an extra special event since the world famous chefs restaurant, Osteria Francescana was recently awarded the title of the worlds best restaurant.

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One thing that has been a common factor with everyone I have met here in Italy these past two weeks is the word “passion”. Every single person I have spoken to has been very passionate about their work, food, wine and what they produce. The Al Meni festival is the perfect venue to showcase this.

It all comes together under the summer sky by the ocean in Rimini where you can enjoy the best food and wine with your family and friends. The Italians are very social people and this is one of the main reasons as to why Italians live longer and are considered healthier than the rest of the world and Europe.

I also had the honor of meeting great wine producers from the area and discovered some amazing, especially sparkling wines, that you can not get outside of Italy, or at least only in select countries. And of course some of the worlds best chefs! Here are some pictures…

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Day turned into night and after the festival was closed the party continued down by the beach until the early hours of the morning celebrating life, love, friendship, and all that is wonderful about Italy and the food and wine that unites us…

View the video for more!

Visit the website for the festival here 


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.

 


Meet Alessandro Martini – Mr. #DOP!

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!

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;)

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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!


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 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!


Juice Arugula for a Better Digestion.

Do you sometimes feel a little sluggish and bloated? Sometimes our bodies need a little aid in the complex process of digesting our foods and one of the best things you can do is add the leafy, peppery arugula to your diet.

It is fantastic and even better for your digestion when juiced! Give this recipe a go.

 

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Bitter greens like arugula/rocket are great for digestion!

 

Let’s Rocket 

Arugula, also known as rocket salad, is a leafy green from the cruciferous family. It has an aromatic peppery taste and is perfect for a healthy, green super juice! It is rich in bitters which help our digestion function better. Arugula also has four times the amount of iron compared to the more commonly used ice berg salad – so use it in your salad as well as your juice!

1 hand full arugula
1 apple (preferably a sweet tasting one)
1/3 lemon
1/5 zucchini
1/5 cucumber

Juicy goodness: The bitters in arugula kick start the digestion juices in your stomach helping your body better digest and absorb nutrients. It also triggers the releases of bile into the small intestine. The leafy green is also rich in vitamin B, zinc, copper, vitamin A and C, iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Juicy tip! Arugula is low in oxalic acid, an acid which can hinder the body’s ability to absorb calcium. This makes arugula a perfect substitute for spinach which is high in oxalic acid and is an important factor to remove from the diet for people suffering from osteoporosis (brittle bones).

 


Happy Heart Juice! Juice Yourself to Lower Blood Pressure.

Happy Heart Juice! (Serves 1)

Fresh beets are one of the best vegetables you can juice- both taste wise and health wise. When it comes to taste, it is naturally sweet. Regarding the health benefits, it is known to be a natural blood pressure remedy due to the nitrates found in the raw juice. It may also be a performance enhancer, as it has shown to reduce the body’s rate at which it uses oxygen when exercising. This results in you tiring less easily. Get your beets on!

 

 

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Fresh beet juice is nature’s finest remedy for high blood pressure and low energy levels.

 
3 cm/ 1-inch thick fresh pineapple slice
2 medium beets
1 hand full spinach
3 cm/ 1-inch large piece ginger
½ lime

How to: Wash the produce, leaving the skin on as a lot of the nutrients are located directly beneath the skin. Press using a juice machine/slow juicer.

Juicy goodness: Enzyme bromelaine, nitrates, iron, vitamin C, gingerols, magnesium and potassium.

Sources: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288229.php
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5295087/


Nature’s Perfect Weight Loss (and Health) Aid…

From the age of 8-9 years old I really started gaining weight and developing lifestyle related health issues. When I turned 22 I started taking charge of my own health, diet and lifestyle.

My story and journey is what lead me to where I am today. I have learned a lot through the years of what really works for both weight loss and how to attain (or maintain) a strong immune system and a healthy body. You can read more about this on my About Me page…

 

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So todays health tip is about one of nature’s best kept ” secrets”; fresh lemon juice! Yes, adding fresh lemon juice to your daily diet is one of the best ways to:

  • Curb your appetite
  • Regulate your blood sugar
  • Increase your energy
  • Help cleanse your liver and kidneys
  • Lower your foods glycemic index (when added to food)
  • Help you drink more water by adding flavour
  • Balance your body’s PH levels
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Add Vitamin C and antioxidants to your diet
  • Help with the digestion process

How to:

  • Drink a large glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon first thing in the morning.
  • Press the juice from fresh lemons (in a juicer without the rind and skin) and add to your water through out the day. I always do this and have a full glass bottle in the fridge.
  • Use in cooking. I always add something acidic to salad dressings, soups, dips and anywhere you need to replace the need for salt and balance the flavour.

I guarantee that by adapting this easy, tasty and inexpensive habit you will really help your energy levels sore, and make you leaner, happier and healthier!

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Bella Bellagio! Lake Como, Italy

Are you travelling this summer? If so you should really look into visiting Lake Como and staying in the small town of Bellagio. It is so beautiful!

If you’ve read my other blog posts you will know that I LOVE Italy, and I am lucky enough to live in Oslo, which makes it easy and not that expensive to travel to many Italian destinations.

“Food Travels” is a category on my blog because I believe in nourishing the mind and soul as well as the body. Travelling abroad inspires me and teaches me som many new things and is the best way for me to really fill my “inspiration cup”. And I love to share my tips and experiences with you!

 

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Make sure you walk to the less touristy side of Bellagio for gorgeous views!

 

One of my favorite places to visit is Bologna in the Emilia- Romagna district which you can read more about here, but Lake Como, more specifically the town of Bellagio, is also on my top 5 lists of places to visit in Italy.

It is so beautiful with the Italian Alps surrounding it and the lake where you can rent a beautiful wooden boat to explore it with.  The food and wine is great as well.

Lake Como is located in Northern Italy which means it differs from the typical Southern cuisine. There are less tomato based sauces and more butter based dishes. Ravioli with butter and sage is a typical dish along side a lot of beautiful sea food dishes.

We have been here several times but our last trip was to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. We also renewed our wedding vows at the fabulous Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni Hotel.  Beneath is a slide show from our wedding renewal dinner at Villa Serbelloni. You must visit this place! Visit website here.

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It is expensive to stay here, but I would really recommend spending an evening at the hotels restaurant and outside bar. The food is fantastic and the service is impeccable. The view from your table will be worth the visit alone. You can also pay to spend a day by the pool here.

If you choose to not stay at The Villa Serbelloni I would recommend Hotel Metropole which is the only hotel with a waterfront restaurant. You can feed the swans right from your breakfast table!  We loved staying here and it is worth upgrading to a room with a lake view. The restaurant also serves great food. Visit hotel website here.

When we went for our anniversary we travelled with our families and rented the beautiful apartments at Residence La Limonera which is situated right in the tiny town center in a lemon garden. I could pick my own lemons to juice! 🙂 Heaven for me…

I love this place and it is worth splurging for the largest apartment as it is beautiful and has a large balcony where you have the best view and you can enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day before heading out for dinner. You can visit the website here

Tips for a perfect Bellagio vacation…

  • Make sure you get your morning espresso at the local bar at the tiny square by the church. You’ll find it- just follow the locals!
  • If staying at an apartment buy your breakfast from the local deli right by the Residence La Limonera apartments entrance.
  • Have lunch at the restaurant at “The Point”, restaurant La Punta. You can also go swimming from here.
  • Make sure you walk to the other side of Bellagio (away from the main area)following the main road from the church square and have a drink at the Hotel Belvedere. They also have a spa if you would like a massage.
  • It is worth renting a typical Italian wooden boat with a guide for an hour to see the beautiful lake and its surroundings.

Bellagio is a really small and beautiful town and you will find lots of great restaurants in the small and narrow cobble stone streets. Unless getting an aperitivo while watching the sunset, or a trip to the restaurant at The Metropole Restaurant, I would avoid dining around the harbor area. Explore the cobble stone streets for the best, hidden culinary gems…

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