Gnudi – Spinach and Ricotta Delicate No-Carb Balls

Have you ever just had a craving for something? I love all things cheesy and although I might not eat cheese everyday when I do I like it to be good quality cheese with a quality meal. Sometimes it’s just cheese and wine; here in Italy it’s so common to eat Parmigiano Reggiano in chunks with a nice glass of wine or for a snack.
However delicious; one of my favorite types of cheese is a good Pecorino aged at least 100 days but anyway I find it I like it. I find it so delicious and also easier to digest, maybe because it’s from sheep’s milk instead of cow. Whatever the reason I really enjoy it.

I was thinking the other night as I prepped my menu for the week as to what I would like to make for dinner and as seeing that it’s been cold, rainy, snowy the last week or so I thought of something warm, indulgent and possibly not too heavy because in the winter most dishes seem to be a little bit more heavy and a little too indulgent.
This recipe popped in my head and I thought ‘brilliant’, this it is: Gnudi which means ‘Nude’, they are in the family of Gnocchi but in a much lighter and delicate way because they have no-Carbs whatsoever they are not heavy or chewy, they melt in your mouth and feel like a little piece of heaven when you eat them.
Now, even though these don’t have a lot of ingredients and seem light they are still filling so I think that 4 or 5 balls per person is plenty. You can serve them with a light red sauce, mushroom sauce, bacon or whatever you like I choose a light sage and olive oil concoction, accompanied by a nice green salad. They are very simple and fast to make and make a great impression. Delizioso! I hope that you like as much as we did. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes about 15 large balls

1 kg. of frozen Spinach,  thawed, squeezed dry & chopped (get rid if the excess water)

300 gr. of Sheep Ricotta*

150 gr. of Pecorino, grated**

1 egg

Salt and Pepper to taste

For the sauce:

4 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

5 leaves of Sage, fresh chopped or whole

Handful of Pecorino, grated

Preheat your oven at 350° (180°) degrees.

In a large bowl mix together spinach, ricotta, pecorino, the egg, salt and pepper.
Grab a baking dish and start making the balls placing down one by one, don’t worry if the are close to each other they won’t stick.

Now in a small sauce pan heat your olive oil and sage together until starts to sizzle and switch off. Drizzle the Olive oil mixture evenly over the balls, sprinkle the pecorino on top and bake for 20 minutes. Serve.

*Ricotta can also be from cow’s milk.

**You can use Parmigiano instead of Pecorino, I just wanted to use all sheep’s cheese.

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Homemade Cesar Salad with Polenta Croutons and grilled Chicken

It was something that we were both craving: a nice cesar salad with a twist, I wanted to make it a little healthier with still the delicious flavor. It’s such a heavy salad and with all the heavy ingredients I feel like you could just eat a plate of pasta instead. So, yes I tweaked it and it was delicious. I decided that polenta was going to replace the white flour bread croutons that famously go with this salad, and the dressing was going to be lighter and healthier. Yum!

Here in Italy we obviously don’t have Cesar salad contrary to the popular opinion of people thinking that this salad is Italian. It’s actually originally from Mexico, Tijuana named after the Chef Cesar Cardini an Italian immigrant who invented it in 1924. The original recipe doesn’t contain anchovies. However there are many variations of this salad with some recipes including different ingredients such as mustard, egg, avocado, tomato, bacon bits, garlic cloves or anchovies. I do like this salad and so I added an ingredient of my own. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup of Polenta Croutons (recipe below)

2 Chicken breasts, grilled and chopped

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped*

1/3 cup 0% Greek yogurt

2 tbsp Olive oil

2 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

1 clove Garlic, minced

Juice form 1/2 a lemon

2 Anchovies, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Place your chicken breasts on the grill, and allow to cook for about 15 minutes turning once, or until the juice from inside the chicken is clear.

Meanwhile place your chopped romaine in the bowl. Whisk the yogurt, olive oil, parmigiano, garlic, lemon, anchovies and pepper in a bowl until smooth. Add salt at the end and be the judge of how much you need.

Get your chicken slice it into strips. Toss the lettuce with the dressing and start plating.
Place the salad down first, then the chicken strips followed by the polenta croutons. If you choose, shave some parmigiano on at the end.

For the polenta croutons:
Follow the recipe on the box for one serving. Once ready pour onto something flat and lay out evenly about and inch thick. Allow to cool. Slice into cubes. Place a nonstick pan over medium flame and drizzle some olive oil place the cubed polenta and allow to get golden, flip and allow the other side to get golden continue with all sides. Set aside and then serve. Simple as that.

* Instead of Romaine you can use whatever you like. I used 3 different versions of radicchio

 

 

Healthy Eating New Years Resolutions – My Thoughts and Life

As I was surfing the net today and yesterday; I noticed how many posts were about losing the Holiday weight, getting back in shape, cleansing, dieting, detoxying; etc.

I started thinking about when was the last time that I have felt like that after the Holidays. I think that it’s maybe because I am so busy, hosting, prepping and running around that I really don’t actually gain weight during the Holidays. Don’t get me wrong I can’t wait to go back to eating healthier foods, eating at decent times, drinking a little less and staying at home a little more after the Holidays; but gross to the point of having to do a hardcore detox just hasn’t been on my to-do list.
But, I do know what it feels like and I do know what a nice detox does to the body. I’ve been there, done that and stressed about it just like everyone else. The thing that got me to writing this post is that once you start that detox/cleanse/diet you get back on track lose the weight and then reward yourself by going back to the same eating habits that brought you to do this in the first place. So, you go right back to square one.  Hence beginning a yo-yo effect. Then your body gets used to you doing this every so often that you don’t get the same results that you did the first time so you have to be a little more drastic each time and be more strict even while rewarding yourself.
So, I thought that I would give you some insight on how to get back on track and what I do to feel good again. It’s nothing crazy and it isn’t unachievable, you don’t have to sacrifice on the important foods and no you don’t have to blend everything.
You can eat and be thin too!

Often times too many we can’t wait to eat that piece of cake that’s in front of us. We can’t wait to have that huge plate of fries with that bigger than life burger. We think about eating that whole bag of chips (because we were good). Well I have news for you; I’m not saying that you can’t do that. I’m not saying that you’re a failure if you do that. And I am not even going to say that you’re an alien for even considering something like that. What I am going to say is that you need to reconsider if that’s what you really want to do? If that’s really what you’re body is craving? Is that something that is going to give you the energy to do something positive for yourself? Is it going to make you want to workout harder? Is it going to make you feel proud for making that decision? Is it going to give you the energy to go outside and play with your children for a bit? Is it going to give you the inner peace of mind that everything is going to be all right? Is it going to make that zipper on your favorite jeans go up? Is it going to make you feel light and healthy? Is it going to give you pure and utter satisfaction that when you are done you’ll want to get cozy with your husband, boyfriend or lover because you look and feel fine f@&king-tastic? If you don’t have one is it going to make you want to go out and find one?

Well if it doesn’t then why do it? Why even go there? I know sometimes we just really are craving it and one little piece won’t hurt; well that’s true one bite or piece won’t hurt. But do you have the willpower to say that’s enough! Do you have the will power to stop at that one piece or that one bite? Or are you going to excuse yourself every single time this situation presents itself? First; it’ll be because you were really good and ate really healthy so reward yourself. Then it’s because it’s the weekend. Then it’s going to be because it’s your friend’s birthday. Then it’s girl’s night. Then because it’s Easter, Memorial day, Summer Vacation, Independence Day, Winter, Christmas, NYE and there you have it a whole year of pure excuses that you seem to have no control over because you never told yourself that you don’t need that in order to be happy. It’s food! Not Eternal Salvation!

Ok, now those words were hard for me to say because I love food. I have and will always love food, and yes I’m going to saying it: Food Makes Me Happy!
But food makes me happy because my relationship with food is: eat to feel good, not eat to feel bad.
When I eat, it’s to have a positive effect on my body not the negative effect. I like to eat, indulge, know my limits and walk away. I’m not saying that you can’t eat that cake, or fries or whatever. I am saying that you shouldn’t look at it and say “that’s bad for me and I’m going to feel bloated in the morning” and then eat it anyways this way creating a negative effect with food because now you can only relate it to bad, and thus using it to punish yourself when you feel like you have gone too far. Instead of saying that is going to make me feel fantastic tomorrow and give you the energy you are lacking.  I eat and I know what is going to make me feel one way or the other. Say I don’t like Burgers, I’m not saying they aren’t good for you but they aren’t the best option either; so I’m not going out to eat one and I’m not going to eat it if it’s in front of me just because I am at a friend’s house or feel peer pressured. I don’t feel like I nourished my body and don’t like the after effects. I like pasta but I don’t eat it at every meal and I certainly don’t eat it when I feel like crap. I eat it when I feel good this way I look at it as a friend and not the enemy, this way I don’t have to eat it always. I know I can have it whenever I want; it’s a friendly food and I just don’t need it all the time.

What I know that I do need all the time is Vegetables, Fruits, Lean Proteins and Healthy fats and this is what consistently live off of. The rests are just fillers. I have lasagna, pasta, bread; I have cake, cookies, gelato; I don’t ever have sodas of any sort. I don’t have canned foods (besides beans and tuna). I don’t have white sugar in the house. I only cook with Olive oil. I try to eat only whole grain. I don’t eat processed foods if I can at all help it, so none of that is in the house.
I have formed healthy habits that I just will not touch certain foods, but because they literally disgust me. And for the rest I just eat them on occasion and when presented more often (like say the Holidays) I just eat a small portion and fill up on my veggies because I literally cannot live without them. That’s all. If you just cut back on the stuff that really doesn’t fill your heart, and just gives you a bloated belly. And start eating more whole; you can have miracles happen to your body.
Make your own salad dressing: 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil, some fresh squeezed Lemon (or Vinegar I like Apple cider) some salt and pepper. That’s delicious and great for you and you’ll really enjoy it.

You’ll notice that your body won’t ever crave those foods anymore. And yes, you will be able to make all types of foods your friend and not cause you to feel so miserable after enjoying it.
Your New Years resolution should be about rediscovering yourself and changing your eating habits one step at a time. Food is good you just need to know when no is no. It’s obvious that if you are going to a party and you know you’ll have say a burger and fries, or pizza; well then start your day with fresh fruit, eat a nice salad with chicken or salmon for lunch and avoid eating crappy. You’ll fill up on good for you foods and won’t be starving for dinner and you’ll probably not even want to eat that dinner because your body is in ‘healthy mode’ all day it’ll know what it wants for dinner. Trust me. Your body is so freaking intelligent you don’t always have to over ride the cravings. If you feed it healthy it craves healthy.

As for drinking I know everyone says not to drink. I can’t do that! I like drinking and I’m married and my Husband likes to drink. What to do? Well, drinking isn’t bad you just have to watch what you drink. I love wine, I enjoy it and my Husband loves wine as well, so we drink wine. Not every night and not a bottle each time. We enjoy it, we can have it whenever and a glass isn’t going to damage anything. I don’t really drink anything else besides the occasional Skinnygirl Margarita or a Vodka Soda with 2 pieces of Lime squeezed in it. They are light and I still enjoy them if wine isn’t available.
I do like Mojitos, Caipirinha, Caipiroska, Pina Colada, Americano, Spritz, etc; but the thing with these drinks is that they are so sugary that you can really only drink one of them occasionally to not have negative effects on the body that I just opt out and prefer to stick to my glass of wine. Gives me more satisfaction. Period! I do give my body a break sometimes I tell my Husband that I am not going to drink for 2 weeks or something like that but it has to be an achievable goal and when drinking I try to limit 1-2 glasses a night. I’m not perfect I have those nights when I drink way too much, but it’s ok I am aware and I am having a good time. What is life without the occasional slip up. Just don’t regret it and punish yourself. It’s life move on. Make healthy choices and don’t put it off till tomorrow.

I can’t stand when people say. I feel like shit. I ate like shit, I need to start a diet or to eat healthy, but today I already started out unhealthy so I’ll do it tomorrow; oh wait after tomorrow because tomorrow I have to go out or blah, blah, blah. It’s an excuse! Just because you go out doesn’t mean you can’t make a healthy choice. So what if your friends are ordering crap. You’re paying for your food; eat what you want. Order a nice piece of salmon with roasted veggies and a glass of crisp white wine. Or do you really want that Burger with fries and a beer? If you do, go for it. You see I know how I would feel the minute I finished something like that and that’s gross! Unless I’m not making it at home with grass-fed meat, fresh veggies, a nice whole grain bun, some real cheese; then I don’t care for it. And especially not if I’m trying to be healthy.  You control your body and what goes in it. Healthy is so delicious. Start making small changes now and next year you won’t have to go on a diet after the Holidays. Yes You Can Do It!

Here’s a small list of my all-time favorites for a healthier lifestyle:

  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning
    (if you can squeeze 1/2 a lemon even better)
  • Eat fresh Fruit for breakfast (have an apple cut it into pieces and sprinkle cinnamon on it, or a nice fruit salad)
  • Serve yourself a ramekin of Almonds for a snack (or whatever nuts you like)
  • Eat a vegetable at every meal, and pick one night a week where it’s the star of the dish.
  • Don’t buy junk, you won’t eat junk.
  • Make healthy snacks and keep them around for when you get that hunger pang.
  • Don’t drink Sodas, and unless it’s completely 100% natural try to eat your fruit not drink it.
  • Eat a square of Dark pure Chocolate instead of dessert, and absolutely no Candy.
  • Make your own salad dressing, I don’t care if what you’re buying says low-fat, fat-free, all-natural, whatever make your own.
  • Avoid fried foods. Try roasted, baked, steamed, sautéed, grilled or boiled. Just top off with a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper if it’s bland. It’ll be Delish!
  • Drink hot herbal or green teas throughout the day, and don’t put sugar. If you must a drizzle of honey, or brown sugar.
  • No artificial flavorings, foods, ingredients or drinks. If you can’t spell it out don’t ingest it.
  • Try to eat whole grains. Not wheat, whole-grain.
  • Incorporate more Lean proteins a.k.a Fish, Veal, Chicken, Turkey and some lean Red meat.
  • Eggs aren’t your enemy eating them at least once a week is good for you.
  • Eat Natural, Organic and try to stay away from anything in a box or can.
  • Drink wine instead of hard liquor, and if you drink hard liquor make sure it’s at least clear.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t over season or flavor your food. Leave out all those sauces. Stay all-natural, need some pizzaz use Extra Virgin olive oil.
  • Listen to your body, if you don’t like Soy or feel good when you drink it then don’t. Just because people say it’s better or good for you doesn’t mean you have to have it. I feel horrible and bloated when I drink Soy so I drink Lactose-free milk now and feel great.
  • Workout. You have to get off your butt and move that gorgeous body of yours. You have 24 hours in a day – 8 for sleeping = 16 hrs – 8 for work = 8 – 3 for meals = 5 -1 for working out still leaves you 3 hours. And if you don’t work that means taking out the 8 hrs for sleep, 3 hrs for meals = 13 hours left to work out. Do it! Find what you like and incorporate it in your long term lifestyle. Whether it be running, aerobics, yoga, pilates, kickboxing, rowing, cycling you need to find what you like and enjoy doing it because that the only way it’s going to last it you actually like the way it makes you feel.

I’m not a nutritionist or doctor. And please consult a specialist before stopping or starting anything new in your life. What I am is a girl that is 28 going on 29 and am in the best shape that I have ever been in my life after experimenting with all the possible, cleanses, detoxes, and trying a lot of different things I always went back to what I was trying to change. I finally figured it out. It’s a journey, a lifestyle and it doesn’t happen overnight but it does stay. And yes, you are going to look and feel much better forever.

Be healthy + eating healthy = Happy and Happy = Gorgeous body! Happy New Years.

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