My Day in Modena- The City of the World’s Best Restaurant, Osteria Francescana.

 

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When I was in Italy this summer for “Project Healthy in Italy” ( read about it here) I was lucky to meet many fantastic people along my journey. One of them was Stefania Fregni who I was  introduced to by Valeria Moschet the woman behind the beautiful blog www.mylovelybologna.com.

I also hope you will take the time to read about when Valeria took me to cooking school in Bologna here!

 

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Stefania was my local guide and showed me the best that Modena had to offer!

Stefania is a born and raised Modenesian and is the woman behind the beautiful blog www.mymodenadiary.com

Modena is a beautiful little city just aboout 20-30 minutes by train from Bologna Central Station and is a quiet and quaint place in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy. The world famous chef, Massimo Bottura and his restaurant Osteria Francescana, which was recently awared the tittel of the best in the world, has put this city on the map. Even if you can’ t eat at the famous restaurant, Modena is still well worth a visit on its own. (Read about when I met Massimo Bottura here)

 

Modena is known for its various magnificent buildings and majestic monuments. The most famous is its marvelous cathedral, or duomo, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1997 along with the city’s Torre Civica and Piazza Grande.

 

Have you seen the Netflix Chef’s Table episode where Massimo Bottura is introduced to the world? The fotage where he goes shopping at the local market is called Mercato Albinelli, which you can see in the first photo. Here Stefania introduced me to local dishes and produce, and of course the most famous Modena balsamico! Read about balsamic vinegar here.

 

Modena is small enough to plan a day trip to if you are travelling in the region, or staying in other nearby cities. I would really recommend contacting Stefania for a local tour because you are introduced to places that you will not find on your own.

The highlight was when she took me to a local family owned restaurant for lunch. The owners’ mother (who must have been over 70 or more) was sitting in the entrance area hand rolling pasta! Amazing:)

Authentic, family owned restaurant with local pasta dishes, Lambrusco (local sparkling red wine), balsamic vinegar and other local specialties. The highlight of my day!

 

For more tips or to get in touch with Stefania visit www.mymodenadiary.com What is your favorite place to travel to?


Do You Dare to Follow Your Dreams and Your Passion?

I am sorry it has been a while since you have heard from me, but wow what a ride these past months have been!

Perhaps you have been following me and “Project Healthy in Italy” and also my trip this summer to exciting Bangkok in Thailand via my blog, Instagram and other social media?

I have been using these past months to learn, explore, grow and to lay the next path for my career and future, and I am really excited about welcoming fall and new opportunities, and I will definitely be revealing more when everything is ready.

In the mean time I want to share the inspiring stories of some really strong and talented Italian women I met this summer in Italy and who all contributed to my project and helped make my stay in Italy so memorable and amazing.

They have all followed their dreams and are working with their true passions  and run their own businesses.

Next week I will be introducing you to Simona Guerra from Otto in Cucina Culinary School, Valeria Moschet and Stefania Fregni – who are both social media experts and the women behind the brands and blogs “My Lovely Bologna” and “My Modena Diary”.

I find their stories, knowledgde, kindness and passion to be really inspiring and I hope you will to! So make sure to check my blog og subscribe for updates.

Until then I would love to hear from you in the comment section below; are you an aspiring business owner? Do you have a dream or a passion you would love to make your full time job?


A Leap of Faith – From Cocktails to Juice!

Paolo Scagliarini had been working in the bar industry for 20 years until one day his health was no longer on his side and he knew he had to make a change. The answer came in the form of pressing healthy fruits and vegetables.  So Paolo took a leap of faith and went from cocktails to juice!

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Paolo went from 20 years in the cocktail bar industry to the juice bar industry.

Slow Juicing in Bologna.

I was so happy when I found this cute juice bar just right outside my apartment here in Bologna as I was really missing my fresh juice and something healthy that did not consist of bread for a quick meal.

I was lucky to meet the owner that day and went back to learn more about his venture into the juice world and his thoughts on health here in Italy. As you may know I am here with my latest project “Project Healthy in Italy”. Read more about it here

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Cute juice bar in the heart of Bologna.

From Cocktails to Juice in Bologna. 

Paolo had beeing working in the bar industry for 20 years and starting having health issues as the focus had been on serving alcohol and chips due to his job. After a while he decided he was ready for a different focus and started learning more about vegeterian, vegan and raw food.

He started noticing a change in both his attitude and his body when implementing this kind of food and juice to his diet. He also added a slow juicer to his existing bar selling more and more fresh juice.

1 1/2 ago he decided to take a leap of faith and to leave the traditional bar industry for good to open a juice bar called Nectare in Bologna. The juice bar also focuses on raw and vegan food.

Paolo says, “There is more and more focus on a plant based diet here in Italy just like the rest of the world. The Italians also like something quick, easy and light for lunch so the vast majority of my clients are actually locals and not tourists.”

He also tells us that for the first time Italians are spending more money on fruits and vegetables than on meat, which is a very positive trend. And the focus on organic is also steadily growing.

Green Detox Juice

I also asked Paolo to share his most popular juice recipe with us and it is a juice called Green Detox. It consists of fennel, apple, celery, spinach and ginger. A real green treat! You can watch us make the juice in the video below.

Visit Nectare’s website here


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 


Drink Yourself Healthy Just Like the Ancient Romans- Project Healthy in Italy

Drink the healing water of Montecatini just like the ancient Romans and Verdi did, and perhaps you too will be able to compose music of the Gods!

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Just one of the beautiful scenes of Therme di Montecatini

Nestled in the hills of Tuscany in Italia lies the small town of Montecatini. Little did I know that this town once was the destination for the rich and famous who were seeking a “healing vacation” and to rejuvinate from lifes demands.

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Thermal baths in the early days.

Audrey Hepburn, Madam Curie and Guiseppe Verdi are just some of the famous names of people who have stayed in this charming town because of the healing thermal waters.

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Can you imagine the time when horsecarriages dropped off health seeking people at the main entrance?

I was invited to visit this place for “Project Healthy in Italy” (read about my project here) as it is definitely something to explore in seeking the answers as to why Italy is the healthiest country in Europe and the world.

Montecatini is also the birthplace of the Italian health expert David Mariani (More on this later), who I visited with the same day, and was gracious enough to arrange everything for me.

The history of the city and the baths date all the way back to Roman times ( read about the exciting history here) and were a common part of their way of life.

They knew what we have lost along the way to what we call a “modern and progressive” life: The knowledge of how nature heals, and posesses the power to help us maintain and achieve, optimal health and a disease free body. Drinking and bathing in the mineral-rich thermal waters of Montecatini may well be one of the answers.

The time has finally come to go back to what once was lost and to rediscover old traditions and remedies for how to heal the body.  The time has come to rediscover the healing powers of the thermal waters of Montecatini…

Have a look at the video below to learn more abot the secrets behind this healing water!

To learn more about the Montacatini thermal spas visit the website 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!

 


A Taste of Emilia-Romagna, Italy.

I am simply in love with  Italy and I believe I must have been an Italian nonna in an earlier life, even though all the gluten, cheese and wine really doesn’t agree with my body! But it is all about balance, and that is why I really wanted to share my food travels with you, as it is what inspires me to evolve and keeps me learning new things that I can share with you!

I travel as often as I can to Italy and I love both the North and the South. They are so different from each other, including the food and the local ingredients.  One of the places I love the most is the Emilia- Romagna district and the city of Bologna. I love it so much that I almost don’t want to share it with you and keep it all to myself! 😉

It is a district known for its wonderful food and local produce such as D.O.P. Balsamico de Modena and D.O.P. Reggiano Parmesan. I also have to say my love for lambrusco (sparkling red wine) has also really grown since my last trip. Of course I have to mention that the world famous restaurant Osteria Francescana is also located in the district (In Modena) so it is really a place to visit if you are a foodie like me!

 

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View from vinyard. Our last stop on the food tour.

 

One of the best kept secrets, that more and more people are discovering every day is Alessandro Martini and his company Italian Food Days Wine & Food Tours. Booking a full day food tour with this guy and his company is worth the trip to Bologna and the region on its own!

I have been on his food tour more than once and last time my husband and I brought our parents along. It was the highlight of our travel, and for me such a learning experience.

You can find his company here

One of the reasons I love to travel as much as I can is because I love to learn about different food cultures and new ingredients. Some of them are healthy as they are, other recipes need adapting to become healthier versions. This is what I have done with a lot of recipes you will find here on my blog and also in my latest book Carina’s Healthy Kitchen. (Only avaliable in Norwegian for now). You can purchase it here

One of the stops on the food tour is in Modena where authentic balsamico comes from.   D.O.P(Denominazione di Origine Protetta). There are no additives or caramel coloring here! Only fermented grape must made from the best grapes that are locally grown. This balsamico  is the inspiration behind my raw chocolate with balsamico and sea salt recipe that you can find here.

I hope you get the chance to travel to Italy and the Emilia- Romagna district to learn and taste food and wine from the best producers in the district. Just remember to book a food tour with Alessandro 🙂 Here are some pictures from my last food tour together with my family…

 

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