Monday, 29 April 2013

Meet my new best Friend: D'Mix

This past weekend I was in Uni and during our lunch break we always head over to Planet Organic which we are lucky enough to have just around the corner from our school.
On both days, after finishing my meal, my classmates have looked at me slightly confused as they saw me munching on a small teaspoon of  mixed seeds with a satisfied look on my face and started asking questions about what exactly I was putting in mouth and why.. So this post is for them and for anyone out there who has ever suffered for any type of digestive problem.

After a pretty violent food poisoning last summer, my digestive system had been completely ruined and I was having difficulties processing almost every meal. Acid reflux, bloating, some very sexy unexpected burps...lovely. I've been seeing a nutritionist, I still am, who prescribed some digestive enzymes and antimicrobial to kill the bad bacteria in my gut and replace them with the good ones in the form of probiotics. All of that did help but being the lazy person that I can be, I was tired of taking all of these pills every day..
Around the the same time, I was looking for a flexible job that dealt with healthy food.
And searching online I discovered Conscious Food.
On top of being some incredibly lovely and positive people to work for, they introduced me to their biggest selling product : The Digestive Mix, now also called D'Mix.
A blend of delicious herbs and seeds that helps reboot your digestive system and gets it to work properly again.

All the ingredients are organic and hand blended and they are the result of a long research and collaboration with ayurvedic doctors, nutritionists and medical herbalists to find the perfect type and amount of ingredients that would work in synergy.
I read tons of testimonials of enthusiastic customers who had finally found a solution to all their digestive issues some similar to mine and some more serious so I thought I should at least give it a shot, especially as I would have to sell it and I didn't want to promote something I didn't believe to be effective.
I haven't needed any enzymes or antimicrobial pills since my first dose of D'Mix.
All I do is take 1/2 teaspoon after every meal (3 times a day), chew until it liquefies (as chewing activates the saliva gland and starts the digestive process) and then swallow.That's it.
It's not something you need to take for the rest of your life like you would do with commonly used antacids which calm the symptoms momentarily but do not get rid of the root cause.
Ideally you want to take it for two months to completely reset your system (unless you have more serious conditions like Chron's which case you need to take it for longer), after that if you want to take processed food and sugars out of your diet you can stop it otherwise you can just take it every now and then  to keep your system balanced without drastic changes to what you eat.
I personally suggest staying clear of processed food anyway as there are so many  fresh delicious products you could feast on out there, Real Food Market on the South Bank anyone?

I could go one forever to tell you about it but the best thing is to head over to their website and see for yourself, read the testimonials and see if you recognise yourself in any of them..I certainly did.

I hope this post has been helpful to at least some of you, I know how frustrating and sometimes embarassing digestive problems can be in everyday life and especially to people who really love their food like I do..
This was my own experience but I did want you to at least know there is a natural product out there that you can try should you choose to.
Feel free to leave any comments or questions you might have for me.x

PS: Genius that I am, I completely forgot to tell where you can actually buy it..Sorry!
You can order it online from their website or here's a list of shops and markets  you can go to.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Happy Scrambled Green Eggs and Smashed Avocado on Rye

I'm writing about this tonight as I've just come home from a lovely spring day filled with new headshots and quality time with my beau and I now realised I haven't got many ingredients for dinner..Oops.
But I do have eggs and one avocado. So I'll have a simpler version of the recipe you'll see below.
I eat this a lot. I love eggs, I love spinach and I ADORE avocado so I really can't go wrong here.
 I normally have it for lunch after a late morning workout or on a Sunday for brunch accompanied by a glass of orange juice (not from concentrate!) but to be honest I could easily have it at any time of the day, like tonight for example.
Eggs are a really good source of protein and avocado, you probably already know, contains vitamin E which is great for your skin and its fat is mostly monounsaturated which is good for you, definitely better for you than saturated fat from processed food.
Now get cooking!

Serves 2:

4 Eggs (possibly free range and organic)
2 Big handfuls of chopped spinach (I add a bit more as I really love it)
1 Thinly Sliced Red Onion or 1 Small Leek
2 tsp Extravirgin Olive oil
Salt and pepper to season

On a low heat, drizzle the oil in the pan and add the chopped onion or leek stirring every now and then till soft.
In the meantime, crack the eggs in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk.
Once the leek is soft, add the chopped spinach and stir for about 30 seconds, till spinach becomes slightly wilted and a beautiful bright green.
Now it's time to add your eggs! And make sure you keep stirring slowly so they don't stick to the pan.
The trick is to take them off the heat when they're still a little runny as they'll cook for a few seconds more even in the plate.


1 Ripe Avocado
1 tsp Extravirgin Olive oil
salt and pepper
A little lemon juice to taste

Spoon the avocado flesh out and into a bowl, add the lemon and oil and smash till smooth, add salt and pepper to taste.

You can toast your rye bread or have it just like it is and then spread you green creamy goodness on it, pop on a plate with the eggs and eat!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Franco Manca (or The Best Pizza you'll ever have in London)

Today I had a bad day. A real bad day. To the point where I finally decided to resign from a job I once used to love so much but unfortunately I don't any more and forcing myself to stay is getting in the way of my health and happiness. And yes, I do have a couple more freelance jobs going but with this recession going on, taking such a step is very scary..So, needless to say, when I got home I was not the picture of happiness and positive energy and even though I tried to mask it as best as I could, after all these years together my boyfriend can see right through me. And ALWAYS KNOWS WHAT TO DO TO MAKE IT BETTER.
But tonight he exceeded himself. First, he took me for a long walk in the park as he knows I always feel calmer when I'm in the middle of nature (and hopefully able to see a few cute doggies running around), then, as we sat by the lake watching crazy ducks trying to hit on each other in what I can only describe as a very forceful and slightly uncomfortable to watch way, he told me he would treat me to a pizza at Franco Manca. Which is why I'm actually writing this post.
''PIZZA AT FRANCO MANCA''. Four little words that instantly made me forget everything that happened today and brought the biggest smile to my face. Because as a picky Italian who has tried many pizzerias throughout my 9 years here in London I am well aware that Franco Manca truly is the best pizza in the city.
 I KID YOU NOT. The first time I tried Franco Manca was thanks to a lovely make up artist who lived in Brixton and suggested I gave it a try in their Brixton Market shop. And I've never looked back since.
On top of that, my prayers were definitely answered when not too long ago they opened a new branch just down the road from my house, in Northcote Road. Which is where we went tonight.
It's such  a relaxed and cool atmosphere and it always feels a bit like home for me.

There's something about hearing other people speaking Italian around me and to me in this small but cosy pizzeria that makes me feel some kind of camaraderie you know? AAAhhh...My people...
And it's not just the funny but oh so true uniforms consisting of a white t-shirt with a chubby Italian man in a tank top playing a game of football, it's the relaxed atmosphere, it's Roberto, the waiter that by now remembers my boyfriend's name and my order without mozzarella because I can't have any dairy...
It's these small but wonderful details that make our experience at Franco Manca such a lovely night out.
And of course let's not forget the main reason that brought us here. Pizza. Aaaahhhh...Here, they use a sourdough base that allows the pizza to stay soft and moist until you've had your last slice, unlike other pizzas that can become a bit dry and rubbery by the time you're done.
All the ingredients are fresh and of excellent quality and as appetisers I often order their  big green olives which are the same exact ones that my grandma used to put on the table so we could  munch on them before a meal.
Taste of home and really well priced too?Yes please!

They even make their own organic lemonade which, by the way, is absolutely delicious and reminds me of my summers on the beach as child..Now, I don't drink alcohol but my boyfriend does and he loves the beer they serve, it's called Green Daemon and he says it's a smooth and refreshing ale.

 I normally order Pizza N5 (not to be confused with Mambo N5..) which is what I would call a pizza Napoletana with tomato, mozzarella, garlic, oregano,capers, olives and anchovies. I have mine without mozzarella and it's still incredibly tasty.
Tonight though I felt like I needed a bit of a kick, without the actual help of their chilli oil which, let me warn you, does pack a punch indeed..So I ordered Patrick's favourite : Pizza with Chorizo.
Knowing that I am dairy intolerant, the waiter told us I could swap ingredients around so I requested wild mushrooms instead of mozzarella on mine and it worked beautifully.
They added not one but two types of chorizo: dry and semi-dry. Both out of this world.
 I strongly recommend it to those of you who like a bit of spicy in their life!

The only issue we encountered tonight was a small surprise we found on our final bill, which was still a reasonable £19.70 tip excluded for two chorizo pizzas, a beer and a lemonade (oh, and they always bring you a small bottle of tap water on top of that as soon as you sit down) BUT as we were looking at the receipt we realised that what had previously been offered to us as an alternative topping to mozzarella had in fact been charged as an extra topping. When we asked the waitress, we were told that the register charged us the difference in price between the mushrooms and the mozzarella which we still didn't think was very fair..

Having said that, I must underline that we have been here many times before without any kind of problems and we will definitely go back in the future to enjoy more of their exquisite pizza..
And I sure hope you do too!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Mediterranean roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes

My parents are visiting this weekend and I'm so happy because honestly, this long winter, interminable cold winds and showers were really starting to get me down and I was really missing home. Yup, I could not see hope for spring or summer weather over here and that's when I start thinking about long queues in the sun outside ice cream parlours in Milan (where my family is) or Rome ( where my oldest friends are), old men sitting at tables outside bars playing cards, drinking coffee while watching the world go by and lots of Vespas whizzing by. Anyway, my point being my parents are here and I'm oh so happy. Yesterday we walked around town all day so when we got home around 7 we were pretty tired to start cooking so we bought some olives, grilled artichokes and eggplants, olive bread and ripe tomatoes and had a little Italian home picnic instead. Plus... I quickly made something that my mom adores but can't have as often in Italy.. Roasted sweet potato and butternut squash. I'm not sure why sweet potatoes are not imported as much over there but hey, it is true as Italians we do already have some pretty awesome tasty vegetables. Even so, I would always find time for sweet potatoes as they are probably my favourite root vegetable!
And my mom adores it too. Probably more than I do as she doesn't get to eat it as often so it's a real treat for her..
So what follows is my quick recipe for roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes with Italian dried herbs, ready in 30 min, just the time for you to get changed when you come home from work, lay the table, have some bits and pieces as antipasto like we did or prepare any other quick main that would go well with this side dish.
Now, I know it would be so much better to have a proper whole butternut squash, cut it in half, roast it etc.. But I'm not going to lie to you, after a long day I really cannot be asked. Maybe on a Sunday when I'm relaxed and have all the time in the world, but after a busy weekday including working and studying I buy a bag of ready chopped butternut squash and sweet potatoes so I can just dress them and pop them in the oven. Yes I do. So if sometimes you're a bit lazy like I am but still want yummy food quickly then read on, otherwise.. Look away now.x

RECIPE (for 2 hungry people or 4 small sides)

1 Pack Chopped Butternut Squash and sweet Potato ( or just butternut squash and then you can peel and chop 1 big sweet potato)

1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1tbsp Mediterranean dried herbs ( mine is my grandma's mix, she never remembers what's in it, bless her, but I think a mix of oregano, thyme, rosemary should do the trick.)

Just pop the chopped squash and potatoes on a bowl, add oil and herbs and
season with salt and pepper.
Mix it up, put on a baking tray and in the oven at gas mark 6 for 30 min BUT take the tray out and mix everything up after 15 min before putting them back in again for the remaining time.

Take out of the oven and serve!x

Monday, 8 April 2013

Brixton Farmers Market

Yesterday it was a gorgeous sunny Sunday so we went to Brixton to check out the Farmers Market I was recommended from my colleague at Conscious Food, a lovely organic food company I freelance for. The market was a bit small but I think a couple of the regular stalls were missing. The ones present though had some really tasty food. My happiest discovery was Global Fusion, a Creole Vegan Bakery stall which made big and delicious veggie fritters, delicious bread and INCREDIBLE homemade cakes.

I left with a very generous slice of Chocolate Mud Pie for £2 and a Veggie Fritter, also pretty big for £ 1.50. I shared both of them with Patrick (aka my boyfriend), who's often very sceptical about healthier foods, but he absolutely loved both and so did I.

The veggie fritter is not something I'd have every day as it was quite oily, it was after all fried, but it was soft and moist with lovely fresh greens and tender sweet potatoes. There was a hot sauce on the side which Patrick tried and as a lover of spicy foods he really enjoyed it, it was hot but not overbearing.

As for the cake...Aaahhh..The cake. CHOCOLATE MUD PIE. Pure, intense, moist chocolate heaven.That's all I can say.
If you prefer fruity desserts, they also had a lovely looking organic peach crumble which I'm going to try next time I head there, plus many other treats with different kinds of fruit in them.

There was a little bit for every taste and the best thing is that all the products were both vegan and soy free so I could have anything I wanted. Yey!
Cheap, intolerance friendly, delicious food.That's my kind of bakery..

Other stalls were selling some lovely fresh seafood, cheeses, free range eggs that you could choose and put in your box, meat, wonderful fruits, vegetables and also flowers..

I picked up some beautiful apples (£1.80 for a bag) and some fresh sage for my tea (£1 for a big bunch) from Perry Court Farm.

And from the Manor Farm stall  I also got some gorgeous red onions (my mom always said "if you need to use onions  always use red ones"), a big celeriac (£1.10) to make a delicious salad and 3 bunches of
Oh So Pretty daffodils for £1. Amazing.
They had many other vegetables to choose from so pop by their stall when you get to market and fill up your basket!

Then we headed to the Happy Herefords stall as Patrick was starting to get a bit hungry and he got  a really tasty sausage with herbs in it, served in a bun with onions and sauces.
 Their meat is grass fed, naturally reared and tasted amazing. They also offered hamburgers  and were selling steaks and other cuts to take home with you.
My diet is mostly plant based but I eat meat as long as I know where it comes from and  ideally it should be grass fed. Well, this company ticked all the boxes.

I was so pleased with this small but buzzing market full of fabulous local produce and I'm definitely going back next Sunday for more organic goodness! And you should too.x

Friday, 5 April 2013

Beauty Foods Face Mask

I know this is not a breakfast, lunch or dinner recipe BUT it's  made with 100% edible ingredients and it's really good for you so I thought it would be a good idea to post it.
It's a face mask suggested to me by my nutritionist, yes, I'm not only studying to become one but am seeing one too and I'm learning lots of new interesting things like this beauty tip.
I'm 100% Italian but 9 years here in England with very little sun, lots of wind and cold weather have had a toll on my skin which is now ultra-sensitive and rosacea prone. I know. Fun times.
This is a super fresh and natural mask with lovely ingredients: oatmeal is very helpful for dry skin, banana is nourishing and full of vitamins, manuka honey has antibacterial properties  and adding 1 capsule of probiotic helps fight the bacteria in your skin and as a consequence helps with breakouts.
I have tried a few masks that are out there and there's always some ingredient that ends up not being too good for you but there are no surprises in this one and my skin is still thanking me for it.
WARNING: It's the messiest mask I have ever tried. My nutritionist did say it but man, I was not prepared for this..Forget the idea of looking like one of those smiling, gorgeous models on Glamour with their mud mask on and colourful pyjamas having a pillow fight in a field of sunflowers.
This is going to be ugly. I looked like Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire when he put his face in cream pie and bits of it were falling in someone's coffee cup. So MAKE SURE your hair is pulled back, you're leaning over a sink and ideally alone in the house..Actually the recipe made enough for two so you can have a girlfriend over and just laugh at each other in the process..But when your skin will be soft and glowing...Who will be laughing then ah?
Anyway, enough said.  Here we go:


Half a banana (you can also substitute with avocado)
1 probiotic capsule (I used GI Flora from Allergy Research)
1 heaped tsp of Manuka honey
1 dessert spoon of Oatmeal (grounded oats)

Just mash the banana and add all the other ingredients

Mix well, apply to face and leave for 15 min. then remove with a hot cloth or simply warm water.
PS: I added 1 more tsp of oats to give it a bit more consistency.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Spinach and Walnut Penne

As some of you might know, I'm not only a nutrition student but first and foremost an actress and as much as i love this unstable job with all my heart, it also means that I'm often on a very tight budget..
Oh, the glamorous life...Anyway, having only a small amount of money to spend doesn't necessarily mean that you can't prepare tasty food that's also good for you.
Enter Abel and Cole's Spinach and Walnut Penne.
I actually made this for Easter lunch when we had two of our dearest friends over and they both really liked it which made so happy!
Unfortunately this recipe isn't on the Abel and Cole Website but you can find it in their cookbook.
It saved my life so many times so I had to write a post about it. I'm currently off dairy so mine is a vegan version which means I omitted  the grated Parmesan but if you have no problem with cheese then by all means add some at the end.To be honest the sauce is so creamy and filling that i really do not miss anything else.. Also I add more spinach than the original recipe as I LOVE my greens!!!

RECIPE  (serves 4)

500gr WholeWheat Penne
1/2 Mug Walnuts (standard tea mug)
4 Mugs of freshly chopped spinach
Salt and Pepper
Extravirgin Olive Oil

Cook your penne in salted boiling water (I use Hymalayan salt but regular sea salt is absolutely fine), mine take about 10 minutes but just follow the instructions on your pack.

While the penne are cooking, pop your walnuts in a food processor and grind them to a soft breadcrumbs consistency, then slowly add some cooking water till you reach the consistency you want.I like mine smooth and creamy. I would suggest to keep some cooking water on the side in case it gets a bit dry when mixed with the pasta.
1 minute before your pasta is done add the spinach.
Drain penne and spinach, add the sauce, season with salt and pepper and drizzle some lovely olive oil then
mix all together, serve and enjoy!Whoop!xxx