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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5 Tips for a Healthier Kitchen and Tastier Food.

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.

Welcome to my healthy kitchen!

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.

  1. 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.

IMG_8050saltoghvitløk italy logo2. 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!


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!