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. ūüôā

*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¬†(‚ÄúProtected Designation of Origin‚ÄĚ) 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. ūüôā

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!


Will I Get Healthy in Italy or Heavy in Italy?

The struggle and fear is real…¬†

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 Italy here)

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.

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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.

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 Italy goes here on my blog and through my social media accounts Instagram here , Facebook here and YouTube here

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Spelt Apricot and Olive Oil Cake- Torta all‚Äôolio 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!) ūüėČ

 

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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 (¬Ĺ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • ¬Ĺ 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 ‚Äď 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!


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! ūüôā 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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Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I love Italy and Italian food but I can only endure all the gluten and high glycemic carbohydrates for a few days before my body tells me to stop!

So when I get home from my travels I like to take all the great inspiration and food discoveries I’ve accumulated and try to adapt them to¬† healthier and more balanced versions.

My sweet potato gnocchi with olive oil, lemon and Maldon sea salt are one of my creations that I simply can’t get enough of! Sweet potatoes are less starchy than white¬†potatoes and better for your blood sugar. They are also a great source of antioxidants and fiber, and they are naturally sweet.

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My sweet potato gnocchi, pan fried with a little garlic, sage, olive oil and lemon juice.

Because they are more watery and contain less starch than white potatoes, substituting the recipe with sweet potatoes makes it harder to get a soft and fluffy gnocchi because you would have to add too much flour to get a normal texture.

Therefore¬†I have used an untraditional method for making the gnocchi. The Italians may hate me for this, but trust me it works and is so easy! I use a piping bag to make the dumplings…

Here is the recipe and make sure you watch me make it in the video. I speak Norwegian but there are English subtitles!

You will need:

  • 300 grams baked sweet potato
  • 200 grams fine spelt flour
  • 2 tbs. ground flax seed
  • 1/2 ts. Himalaya salt
  • 1 piping bag

How to:

  1. Bake the sweet potato for 1, 5 hours at 200 degrees celsius. You can do this a day or two beforehand and keep the purre in the fridge until use.
  2. Let cool and scrape out the purre.
  3. Add to a mixing bowl and add half of the spelt flour, salt, and flax seeds. Mix well before adding the rest of the flour.
  4. Add the dough to a piping bag and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 min. You can even leave it in the fridge for a couple of days before making.
  5. Bring a pot of saltet water to a boil and cut a medium size hole in the bag. Squeeze out a small amount and cut the gnocchi to desired size using a scissor (it is a very sticky dough)straight into the boiling water.
  6. When the gnocchi rises to the top (about 3- 4 min) they are cooked.
  7. Serve as is with olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and Maldon sea salt or fry until golden on both sides before serving and garnishing.

 

Watch how to make here! English subtitles!

 

 

 

 

 


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! ūüėČ

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 ‚Äď (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 ūüôā Here are some pictures from my last¬†food tour¬†together with my family…

 

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Raw chocolate with balsamico and sea salt.

Chocolate can really be an immune boosting food if chosen wisley, especially raw chocolate. Raw means the cacao has not been heat treated therefore it contains all the nutrients. It really is a powerhouse full of antioxidants, magnesium and healthy, fat burning fats.

Perhaps best of all is that it is really easy to make. I developed this recipe after being inspired by my trip to Modena, Italy where real balsamico is made. You can read about my trip here.

The recipe is posted below but take a look at my video of me making the chocolate. I do speak Norwegian but it is subtitled in English:)

A real good quality balsamico is naturally sweet and goes great with Maldon sea salt which enhances the chocolates flavour. You will also find this recipe in my latest book Carina’s Healthy Kitchen. (Currently only in Norwegian). You can purchase it here.

Raw chocolate with balsamico and sea salt.

You will need…

  • 100 grams of cacao butter
  • 0,25 dl ( 2 tbs) maple sirup
  • 3 tbs. raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbs. good quality balsamico
  • Maldon sea salt or other unrefined sea salt flakes.
  • A¬† silicon chocolate mold

How to:

  1. Rouphly chop the cacao butter and add to a glass bowl.
  2. Melt the cacao butter in a water bath (slowly) making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water. This will scorch the butter.
  3. When melted remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients except for the sea salt. Mix well.
  4. Pour into a silicon mold and sprinkle a little sea salt on top. Let cool before setting the fridge for 2- 3 hours.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

 

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Healthy chocolate! Food styling and photo: Carina Hultin Dahlmann/Carina’s Healthy Kitchen.