Delicately Pureed Artichoke Soup topped off with to die for Lentils

It’s been a busy 4 days for all of us with Thanksgiving and all the additional get togethers. As much as I enjoy cooking and all the wonders that the Holidays bring, I inevitably need to be a little catered to after it’s all done. And by catered to, I mean I need to pamper myself!

For starters I always without fail need a date night alone with just my Husband; I’ll cook something that we both want, and he’ll light the candles, set the table, open a bottle of wine, set the tunes and the mood. We’ll sit and just talk about the passed events, what we want to do next and really just try to enjoy eachother as much as possible, afterall even though we were together it’s just not the same as being alone.

Then I like to get back to my routine of working out, getting the house back in order and cook a healthy delicious get back on track meal. It’s hard once you start eating sweets and this and that you crave it more, so I like cooking something that is not only healthy but looks amazing that you just want to gobble it up by looking at it. Obviously it also has to be kinda simple, after cooking such big gourmet meals for the Holidays you want something that doesn’t require so much time and effort.

I came up with this meal just because I had the ingredients and thought that I should try doing something with them that I had never done before. It’s so detoxifying, delicious and damn easy. Enjoy this feel good and amazing soup.

Ingredients:

For The Puree:

1 1/2lb. Bag of Frozen Artichokes, defrosted*

3qt. Stock Veggie of Chicken

2 drizzles of Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Lentils:

1 cup Dried lentils, your choice

1/2 small Onion

1/2 Carrot

1 celery stick

1 small Potato**

1/2 veggie bullion cube

Handful of Parsley, chopped

2-3 Sage leaves, Chopped

1 tbsp. Olive oil

2 1/2 cups of Water

 

In a medium pot add your Artichokes, Veggie stock, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set over medium flame cover and allow to boil.

In the meantime, chop up your onion, carrot and celery. Grab a small pot put over medium heat add the olive oil and once hot throw in the chopped onion, carrot and celery. Now, peel and cut your potato into small cubes, once the onions are translucent throw in your potatoes along with the bullion cube, stir until the bullion has dissolved, add your sage and then throw in the lentils along with the water followed by the parsley. Mix everything well; cover and allow to cook for 15 – 20 minutes. Lentil cooking time may vary so just keep an eye on them.

Now return to your Artichoke, should be ready and boiling. Turn heat of and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Now grab your Immersion blender and put in the pot and start blending until smooth.

Once your lentils are cooked turn off. Now start to serve first add your Artichoke puree and then in the center add your lentils. If you want you can top off with a drizzle of Extra Virgin olive oil, or not it’s up to you. Now enjoy and congratulate yourself for being an amazing cook.

* Pull the Artichokes out a couple of hours before cooking time. If you have fresh, cooked ones use those instead.

** you can leave the potato out if you wish

 

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Indulge these next Holidays without GUILT!

The Holidays are right around the corner with one of the biggest being tomorrow…Thanksgiving. So, Happy Thanksgiving Mythineaters! Have a blessed and wonderful day.

I love the Holidays, it’s a wonderful time to spend with your loved ones, to decorate and also to eat some delicious food. Now FOOD, this I think is the tricky part because it’s a time of the year that everyone makes time to be together and cook a big meal, but this doesn’t mean that you have to stuff yourself even if you may or may not like the food. I for instance don’t care much for the food in itself, it’s more about the experience; but many a times I have found myself eating just because 1. It’s in front of me and 2. Because I feel obligated to over indulge because it’s the holidays.

These 2 reasons are wrong. I always feel bloated and I don’t actually get to enjoy it and feel like I have to behave and eat light after that. I have come to the conclusion that if I want to eat then I should, but if the next day I want to also make a lasagna, or a plate of pasta I shouldn’t feel disgusted with myself to the point that I Can’t eat it. Keyword Can’t.

Don’t punish yourself, the holidays are a time to have fun, enjoy and really feel happy about your life and the people in it. Most of all it should be a time we all look forward to, not look forward to when it’s over so you can get back on track. Sound familiar??!!

Here are a few simple steps to follow that won’t leave you feeling deprived or guilty.

1) Exercise – I know that I have been guilty of this before, but just because the holidays are here doesn’t mean that we should forget about exercising. I think that you get so busy thinking about this and that, that you forget about yourself. Take your 1 hour, or 30 minutes, whatever you need and don’t feel bad, you generally take this time anyways so why not now. This is a great time you can use to plan the rest of the day and whatever else is needed. Trust me the Turkey can wait. This way you will burn extra calories so you can eat that pie without feeling the least bit guilty.

2) Choose your indulgences – A lot of the food that is served during the Holidays are foods that you generally wouldn’t eat and just fillers. ‘Is that really something you want to eat?’ If you really want to have that pie then eat it. Do you want to have an extra cocktail, then drink it. Enjoy it and skip the rest. Let’s say you don’t like casseroles, why eat them? What about the Gravy? For instance my husband hates gravy, but likes the sweet potatoes and has that and doesn’t even touch the gravy. Don’t worry, pass it along.

3) Make a plate – Mindless eating is the enemy. If you just pick here and there without serving yourself a plate you may not know just how much you’ve eaten until you just feel stuffed and gross. By serving yourself you are able to see what you are eating and also if you really want more or not. Keep track and you won’t feel lost.

4) Don’t beat yourself up! Move on – After all it is the holidays and if you had one too many move on, don’t beat yourself. No one got fat or fell off the wagon from eating a little more than usual, it’s how you react to it that’s the problem. You want to have a piece of pie, go for it. But don’t eat the whole pie just because you feel you where bad. Move on. Enjoy yourself mostly and think of it as a reward for being awesome.

Happy Holidays and remember that you workout and are healthy so that you can feel good. Stay focused and relax. You can eat without regret. It’s food not your life savior, you are not gonna die because you didn’t eat the whole turkey in one sitting or if you don’t feel stuffed at the end of the day. You are strong and better than that. Think and eat only what you really want.

I hope that this helps you to stay motivated during this wonderful Holiday season. Enjoy it!
Buone Feste!

I made our Thanksgiving meal this way last year. It’s exactly what my Husband and I wanted.

Sage wrapped Low-Fat stuffed Chicken Breasts

The winter is well on its way and I feel like heart-warming meals without all the added calories and heavy ingredients. As you all know by now there are 2 things that I absolutely love 1. Chicken (especially my husband, he literally could eat chicken everyday) 2. Veggies (I will find a way to incorporate them in all my meals).

During the summer it’s always grilled chicken. It’s light , tastes delicious and most of all easy and fast. However in the winter I feel more like staying inside away from the cold and also don’t really crave a grilled anything for that matter. It’s hard sometimes to try to make chicken inside on the stove top without it tasting absolutely boring. I’ve decided that no matter what I won’t cave in to millions of ingredients in one dish just to give it flavor, there are so many natural herbs and spices that can give your meals incredible flavor and bring out the best of your meals, without overpowering a dish.
The other morning I was craving stuffed chicken breasts and thought that I would need to go to the store for some cheese and whatever else inspired me to put in it. However, the thought became an absolute ‘no way am I going out in this cold for some cheese and stuff’, like always I opened the fridge and saw that I had some sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, some artichokes in olive oil and some fresh sliced mushrooms. Perfect this was going to work. I will say that I did have some Parmigiano Reggiano but I opted to leave out the cheese and see how a stuffed chicken breast with no cheese would taste.

I also have a wonderful Sage plant outside and I love the warming, eloquent, subtle flavor it gives when added to food. It has wonderful health benefits, it helps cure gastrointestinal disorders, muscle spasms and cramps, gingivitis, it helps regulate blood sugar and improves digestion. It’s full of Antioxidants that help with the aging process. And it’s an Anti-inflammatory agent for people with inflammatory issues such as but not limited to Rheumatoid arthritis. So yeah, it’s good for ya; and I decided that it would be the only seasoning herb for the chicken.
Here in Italy people incorporate it to meals quite a bit, whether its soups, sauces, meats, stews, etc… let me say that it really does compliment a dish when used correctly.

I hope that you enjoy this recipe it’s really simple and so delicious. Accompany it with whatever you like, a salad, roasted vegetables, steamed vegetables, rice, quinoa, couscous, potatoes or anything else you can come up with. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 boneless skinless Chicken breasts

8 Sun-dried Tomatoes, in Extra Virgin Olive OIl

8 Artichoke quarters, in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

8 slices of Mushrooms

2-3 fresh sprigs of Sage, or 14 leaves

2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 pieces Parchment paper, big enough to wrap each breast individually

8 pieces cooking Twine, about 4in. long

 

Preheat your oven at 350°.

Grab your chicken breasts and butterfly. Sprinkle some salt and pepper.  Now layer 4 pc. of sun-dried Tomatoes, followed by 4 slices of Mushrooms, followed by 4 pc. of Artichokes. Now close your chicken, cover the top nicely with half the sage leaves, salt and pepper.
Get 4 pc. of Twine and carefully slide one by one under the breast and then tieing at the top until the whole breast is securely tied. Lay one piece of parchment paper out and place your chicken in the center, drizzle 1 tsp of Olive oil and then close your parchment paper as if making a little doggie bag. Place in baking tray and repeat the same with other breast.

Bake for 25 minutes and then carefully open the paper, start with sides as some steam may leave and you’ll get burnt. Cut twine off and place nicely on dish. Buon Appetito

My Healthy Veggie Stir-fry for Meatless Monday

Sometimes you just have to think outside the box and go back to things that you loved eating as a kid or at a friends house / restaurant but never made it yourself.

Stir-fry is something that I always find tastes delicious when you eat it at a Asian restaurant. It just seems that sometimes when you eat it at home it either lacks flavor or there is too much flavor or it’s mushy or it just doesn’t taste the same. I figured I would try this out as it would make a perfect meatless Monday meal. I mean Veggies with brown rice??? What more could you want.

Now, I have never in my life or as far as I can remember ever cooked a stir-fry so this was gonna be tricky. I know; I can make a lasagna from scratch but a stir-fry frightens me. Crazy.

Of course I know that you generally put broccoli and some other array of veggies. I also know that you use soy sauce but to be honest I try to use as little soy as possible; after all it is high in sodium and so unfriendly to the woman figure, it really has crazy day after bloating effects which cause so much discomfort, nothing like eating a healthy meal but having your pants fit you too tight because of the MSG you just inhaled. So, I kept a close watch on that one.

This was going to be a test of my culinary skills per se, because I wanted to see if I could achieve the deliciousness and still keep it healthy. The health benefits of this dish are many.
Broccoli is so good for you and high in so many great nutrients, it’s high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, which benefits anywhere from brain function to the common cold.
Ginger is another great natural remedy especially for this cold weather, it’s an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antiseptic, anti-viral, circulation-stimulating, detoxifying, digestive, lymph-cleansing and warming.
Mushrooms are another fantastic source of nutrients and amazing for the following niacin, selenium, riboflavin, vitamin D, potassium. They are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and extremely low in sodium.

So the above are the ingredients I used to make my veggie stir-fry accompanied of course by non other than delicious brown rice. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.

Ingredients

1 medium head of Broccoli

1/4 lb. Mushroom Pleurotos *

3 Celery stalks

2 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tbsp. fresh Ginger, Minced

3 drizzle count Extra Virgin Olive oil

4 drizzle count Soy Sauce**

Salt and Pepper to taste

Start  by slicing your broccoli into thin florets set aside on separate dish. Then move on to your mushrooms cut longwise and in-between thick and thin set aside on separate dish. Get your celery stalk and cut longwise as thinly as possible and 2 inches long set aside on separate dish. Move on to you ginger, chop up very thin and set aside. And now mince your garlic.

Heat a wok over medium heat, drizzle your olive oil and add the garlic and ginger at the same time. Allow your garlic to get golden and throw in your celery, mix well and then throw in your broccoli. Sprinkle some pepper and add 2 count drizzle of soy. Mix all the ingredients well allow to cook for another 3 minutes and then add your mushrooms. Mix again well with all the ingredients and then add the remaining 2 drizzles of soy. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes mixing ingredients in between. I like my veggies a bit crunchy but if you want to cook more feel free.
Serve over brown rice.

* Use whatever mushroom you like, shitake, portobello, porcini or champignon.

** If you can find Light soy, use that otherwise feel free to use the regular kind.

**If you feel like you need to, you can add a little water to help the cooking process.

 

My Gourmet Porcini with Quinoa Spaghetti

Who said that healthy equals yuck? or boring? or even tasteless? Well they have it all wrong. I find that my healthy substitutions always end up turning out to be fantastic and to top it all off I can’t even tell the difference and neither can my Husband.

Ok, I’m all about forfeiting the ingredients that aren’t necessary. I mean think about it; do you have to use butter when you can use extra virgin olive oil and make it tastier but healthier?! What about white sugar when raw sugar or honey is so much yummier. Or how about white rice when brown rice is to die for. Or in this case what about white spaghetti when Quinoa is just perfect and earthy and couldn’t marry the ingredient of this dish any better, that ingredient being Porcini.

Do you ever find that you get inspired by one simple ingredient and then have to decide your whole meal around it. Well, I randomly get inspired by what I find in the produce section, I’ll often go to the farmers (they’re everywhere here in Italy), and see what they have and what inspires me for dinner.
I recently was driving with my Husband and on the side of the road was a tiny little truck selling nothing but Porcini mushrooms picked fresh in the morning. I had my Husband pull over got out of the car and waited my turn while some other customers got their Porcini’s and left. I then ended up picking out my Porcini; by pointing them out as you are never to touch the produce here in Italy. The farmer was very proud of his Porcini’s and was careful to tell me how to clean them once home. I already knew how but was happy to see how much he cared about it.

I had no idea what I would make with them so I opened the cupboard and remembered that I had purchased Quinoa spaghetti not to long ago and had yet to use them. I love Quinoa but this was my first time using spaghetti made out of Quinoa, so this was going to be a hit or miss dinner. After cleaning the Porcini, which took what seemed like forever because you have to use a damp rag (not to wet, just damp) and delicately wipe off the dirt, never ever ever wash your mushrooms, they are sponges and will not at all taste good if they are soggy; I made a delicious meal that took all about 15 minutes. I hadn’t thought of how well the Quinoa spaghetti would go with the Porcini’s but I was pleasantly surprised to see that Quinoa being so earthy in texture and flavor would go so well with something as natural and earthy as a Porcini. I hope that you enjoy!

Ingredients:

Serves 2

250 gr. Quinoa Spaghetti

2-3 large Porcini mushrooms

1 clove Garlic

1/4 cup White wine, make it the good kind after all this dish deserves it

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive oil, count to 4

1 fresh Chili chopped, optional

Salt to taste

Parmigiano Reggiano, however much you like

Boil a pot of water.
In the meantime start slicing your Porcini you want them about a quarter inch in thickness and set aside. Now chop your garlic finely and set off to one side.

Once you water is boiling throw in a large sprinkle of salt followed by your Spaghetti, follow cooking time on the package stirring occasionally.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat drizzle your olive oil and add your garlic. Once your garlic is golden throw in your Porcini along with the chili. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated. Throw in your wine and allow it to reduce about 8 minutes and sprinkle in your salt. Continue to cook at low heat.

Your spaghetti should be cooked, strain and add to the saucepan with the mushroom and incorporate fully. Turn off and serve, sprinkle over your parmigiano. Finito

 

 

 

 

 

My indulgent healthy melted goat cheese from Piemonte

Who doesn’t love melted cheese, bread and wine???!! I know I do.

This is something that I just love to eat as an indulgence. I’m more of a savory person, and there is nothing like cheese, warm bread and a luscious glass of red wine to fill that want for something a little bit more indulgent but still sophisticated; oh and lets not forget healthy. Ok, so I know that melted cheese, bread and wine have a bad rep and I am one of those that totally believe that you can’t eat this everyday, but that it’s not healthy? Well, that depends on what you eat? Let’s say you have a pound of heavy cheese, a whole loaf of fresh white bread, accompanied by a bottle of red wine it might not be so healthy.

I find that I really enjoy fresh baked Khorasan Wheat bread, it’s pretty much a whole grain that is so healthy and lighter to digest than whole wheat or spelt (although I will eat these options as well), here in Italy I have a baker right around the corner called “La Forneria” and you would be amazed at how many healthy breads they bake, I mean you name it, gluten free, dairy-free, no yeast, soy, whole wheat, whole grain, spelt, khorasan, cereal, I mean all types of flavors sizes and not to mention how delicious all are. My Husband and I have been really happy with the Khorasan version and that is what we get.

KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat is higher in protein and many minerals, especially selenium, zinc, and magnesium compared to modern wheat. Due to the unusually high content of selenium, which is a mineral known for its high antioxidant capacity, KAMUT® khorasan wheat can be called a good source of selenium.
Because of its higher percentage of lipids, which produce more energy in the body than carbohydrates, KAMUT® khorasan wheat can be described as “high energy wheat.” Athletes, people with busy lives or just anyone looking for high energy food will find products made with KAMUT® khorasan wheat a valuable addition to their diet.

Alright, so we have the bread down pat, it’s definitely deliciously healthy. For the cheese here in Italy we have a wonderful cheese that is called Tomino, it’s made in Piemonte Region and solely from goat milk. I guess you could say that it kinda looks like a brie because it has that little outer edible layer, they make this little portion sizes you throw it in a pan or the oven and let it heat up and the inside totally melts….it’s so good.

The other night I had come home late from being out all day, it was pouring down rain and the last thing that I wanted to do was cook. I remembered that I had bought 2 Tomino’s and I had a small loaf of Kamut bread  covered with flax seeds. I figured that this would be perfect. First things first, I asked my husband to pour us both a glass of wine (I believe it was Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, one of my favorites), I needed to relax, yeah one of those days. I turned on the oven and let it start to heat. Then pulled out the salad put it all in a bowl set it aside, got the Tomino wrapped two slices of Speck (sort of like Prosciutto Crudo with a more pepper smoked taste). Put it in a small pan threw them in the oven along with the loaf of bread for 10 minutes. That was a perfect light meal and so perfect to end the rainy day. Who says that you can’t eat this stuff?! It was a delicious and healthy version of unhealthy bread and cheese reputation that is out there.
Ingredients:

Serves 2

2 small Tomino’s

4 slices of Speck

Small Loaf Kamut Bread, or whatever you like

Veggie of your preference

And please don’t forget the delicious, luscious red wine

Preheat your oven at 350°.
Pour yourself a glass and start to relax. Wrap each cheese separate, crossing the slices of speck over each other to fully cover the cheese. Put in a small pan and throw in the oven for 10 minutes along with the bread.

Slice the bread. Serve the Tomino whole on the plate and enjoy the delicious flavors in your mouth.