Saturday, 27 September 2014

A Beauty Salad for Lilith..

I met my friend Lilith years ago, when I was offered a role in a short film she was directing.
Over the years, we kept in touch and I have seen her blossom into one of the smartest, strongest, most beautiful and inspiring women I know. Last week she saw a photo of this salad I made for lunch at work and she fell in love with it. So this recipe is dedicated to her.x

It's a very simple and tasty salad, packed with delicious beauty foods that will help you to glow inside out!
-Rocket is a great alkaline choice and helps your liver's detoxifying process.
-Pomegranate contains polyphenols which may help with antioxidant (its juice is a more powerful antioxidant than green tea and red wine!), anti carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effects.
-Wild Alaskan Salmon is a good source of protein and (can be swapped for any oily fish of your choice such as mackerel, sardines etc..) Omega 3 Fatty acids with anti inflammatory properties.
-Avocado is a great source of healthy fats and will make your skin, every time I add more avocados into my diet I can see the results on my skin within a week!
-Tahini (sesame paste) is another fabulous and delicious source of protein and it's high in minerals and vitamin E and B.
-Lemon is very alkaline in your body and helps detox
-Orange contains beta caroten to help with vision and immunity, it's a source of vitamin C, contains polyphenols that make it a helpful antioxidant
-Extravirgin Olive Oil : great source of monounsaturated fat, one of the main ingredients in the healthy Mediterranean diet,  best eaten raw (use coconut oil to cook at high heat instead!). Antioxidant source, anti inflammatory.
-Raw, cold pressed honey contains enzymes, antioxidants and has antibacterial properties.

Now that I gave you all these yummy infos let's make this salad!

INGREDIENTS (serves 1 person)

For the salad
1 bag of organic rocket leaves
1 roasted/steamed wild alaskan salmon fillet (click here to see how I cook mine)
seeds of half a pomegranate
Half a large avocado or 1 small avocado in cubes 

For the dressing (original recipe by Naturally Sassy, i just amended it to my taste, looke her up she is truly inspiring)

2 tbsp Light Tahini
Juice of half lemon
Juice of 1/2 orange
1tbsp extravirgin olive oil
1/2 tsp raw honey

I break up my salmon in bits and sprinkle it on rocket leaves, do the same with the rest of  the ingredients.
Grab a small bowl and mix all the ingredients for the dressing, then pour on your salad and mix it up!
You can choose to sprinkle pumpkin seeds to add an extra protein and mineral (such as zinc, great for immunty) boost.

Hope you'll love this recipe as much as I do.x

Monday, 22 September 2014

Leftovers smoothie surprise!

Last week has been a very busy one!
As I knew it was coming, I have managed to prepare my meals in advance and eat really well and healthily all week. No gluten or dairy, plenty of liquids, proteins, good fats and vegetables. then Sunday at uni came.. the night before I didn't manage to get any sleep so I was tired in the morning and craving some starchy food.. Ham and cheese toastie? Sure! Then lunch, all the soups at the cafe were finished and I had to settle for a white falafel wrap.
In a few hours I had managed to pack both gluten and dairy in. 
I wasn't surprised when, half way through the afternoon lecture, I felt sluggish and could barely keep my eyes open but I made it through and that night I also went to the movies and shared popcorn and a coke with a first date..
By 10 pm my energy levels were non existent..
On morning I woke up with my body craving a gigantic glass of water to rehydrate it and a smoothie to nourish it.
 I do love adding bananas to my smoothies as I love the creamy consistency and the potassium boost..Sadly no bananas were available..but I thought there was at least one left? No. Nada. Fine! 
Undefeated, I looked around for leftover yummy and nutritious ingredients I could use.. 
I grabbed some frozen blueberries (TIP: always have frozen fruit in your freezer, easiest thing to pop in your blender and they can often be fresher than fruit in supermarkets, as they are frozen very quickly after they have been picked). I also found a pomegranate I didn't manage to use during the week ( cut pomegranate in half, hold it with the seeds bit laying on top of your palm and spank it with a wooden spoon! Seeds will fall out easily through your fingers and into the blender, while the white bitter bits will stay  in your hands) and used all of its delicious red gems in this smoothie. 
Both blueberries and pomegranate are fantastic beauty foods, packed with antioxidant properties to fight off free radicals in our bodies. pomegranate also contains Ellagic acid which helps fight collagen breakdown and therefore giving it powerful anti aging properties..Blueberries instead, contain phytonutrients such as anthocyanins which are thought to help reduce risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Not too shabby ah?
There was a little peach left as well so I cut it in chunks and popped that in as well, why not?
On top of these delicious fruits I added  some rocket leaves ( remember that bitter leaves help liver detoxification processes) which, I assure you, you will not be able to taste so remember this as a good way to add some powerful vegetables into your diet.
Now it was time to add all my cupboard staples, vitamin c ( antioxidant and helps collagen production), vitamin D3 ( vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium my friends so get out in the sun any chance you get and add that baby into your meals!), I use it instead of vitamin D as studies have found that the D3 form is absorbed better by the body. Now, for all of you out there who are scared of fats, you need fat into your diet!!!Good fats!! example: vitamin D is fat soluble so it means that my body needs to have fat in order to absorb it. Which is why I also added  1tbsp of coconut oil into this wonder smoothie. 
Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid which the body does not store as fat but uses straight away for energy, baby! It tastes insanely good. There's a thousand uses for coconut oil but more about that in a future post. I added 1 tbsp of chia seeds, so small and yet these seeds are packed with proteins, antioxidants, omega3 and fibre. I opened my probiotic capsule and poured the powder in as well to help the good bacteria in my gut. Finally, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp of Organic Burst maca powder, helpful to restore your adrenal glands which are often battered by releasing too many stress hormones, so perfect for me now that I'm back in school. I chose to use almond milk to add even more protein and blended everything together.
1 minute and this beauty powerhouse was ready!
Extra tip: add a 4-6 almonds or your favourite type of nut to increase protein content.

PS: the supplements I added are well tolerated by my body but please do check with your gp or practitioner before taking supplements, especially if you are currently taking drugs for any specific health conditions.

So, to recap:

Seeds of 1 pomegranate
1 cup of blueberries 
1 small peach in chunks
A handful of rocket leaves
1 tbsp coconut oil
1tbsp chia seeds
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp maca powder ( optional)
1probiotic capsule( optional)
1vit c capsule ( optional)
1 vit D3 drop ( optional) 

Pop everything in your blender and whizz it up, baby! 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Broken Heart Healing Soup....

This soup was born because recently, a very dear friend of mine had her heart shattered into a million pieces.. So..I invited her and her cutest doggie to my house for the weekend in order to give her some cuddles, a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on but mostly, I wanted to make sure she'd eat some proper yummy and nutritious food that would be good for her tummy, her soul and her mood.
As she was making her way over I decided to ditch all the cookbooks I was browsing through, headed to the farmers market and got the greenest vegetables I could find.. Going for alkaline options is always a good choice when your body and your mind are out of balance..

I made her some baked kale crisps as an appetiser and then this soup as a main. it was very quick to make and she absolutely loved it, so I gave her the leftovers to take to work the following day!
I won't lie, I also got her some raw chocolate ice

2 courgettes chopped into thin quarters
2 cups of organic spinach
1 1/2 cup of frozen peas
1 big red onion sliced very thin
3/4 cup of quinoa ( make sure you rinse it first!) 
1 tbsp vegetable stock 
Salt and pepper to taste ( I use pink hymalaian salt) 
1tbsp extravirgin olive oil plus a little to add at the end

Put olive oil and onion to a pan and leave on medium heat till the onion has softened. Add courgettes, peas, stock and pour boiling water on it until it reaches half pan. It definitely has to cover the ingredients and a bit more, because towards the end you'll add the spinach.
Leave to to simmer for 5 minutes, then add your rinsed quinoa and leave for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the spinach leaves and leave it for another 2-3 minutes. 
Take it off the heat, pour it in your favourite bowl and add a little swirl of oil on top ( this was my mom's tip, she always told me to add a little olive oil on top of my soups and it really does add a little something!). Get comfy on a couch and enjoy it with your best friend.x

Monday, 8 September 2014

Lloyd's favourite Muffins

I wanted to write this post quickly as my lovely friend Lloyd saw the picture of these beauties on my facebook page and asked how to make them. I am of course very happy to oblige :)))
I had made them as my mother is visiting and she was craving gluten free muffins the night before, so as soon as I woke up,  I headed to kitchen and baked these yummy muffins in under 25 minutes. 
The original recipe is from a wonderful blog called Elana's Pantry, which is full of delicious gluten free recipes like this one. I just changed a few things around, added some more and gave it a little Foodolina's spin! 

Almond Flour Peach Muffins 
1 cup almond flour
2 large eggs
1 tbsp coconut palm sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1tbsp ground flaxseeds ( optional) 
1 peach sliced thin ( some of my slices broke so they ended up being smaller) 
1tsp cinnamon 

Little tip: you can use your favourite fruit instead of peaches, I'll be making apple cinnamon and raisins ones today!

Grab two bowls, in one you mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and flaxseed and in the other one you mix sugar, apple cider vinegar, eggs. Then you pop the dry ingredients in the wet ones and mix again while adding your peaches ( keep 4 slices to put on top of the muffins, to make them look extra pretty!).
Line a muffin tray with paper cups and put a scoop of the mixture in each one. 
My suggestion is just be careful not to have too much peaches on the bottom otherwise it'll be too soggy. And nobody likes a soggy bottom...
Add the peach slices you saved on top of each muffin and finally, sprinkle a little more cinnamon.
Place the tray in the oven and bake at 180c, 350 F for 15 minutes or until they become slightly golden on top.
Take them out and leave the about 20 minutes to cool down before stuffing your cute face with them! Enjoy!xxxxx


Polenta (cornmeal) is one of my favourite comfort foods to have in autumn and winter time. It's always been a staple in my family as it's such a versatile type of food that you can have with meat, vegetables, fish..
One of my best memories connected to this delicious food, is a family reunion years ago when my grandfather was still alive. We got the whole family together for a Saturday trip to the mountains, we went looking for chestnuts in the forest and after that,we went for lunch in the cutest cottage and had the most amazingly warming and creamy polenta with fresh, local, porcini mushrooms.. 
It was a perfect day. 

That's probably why, when I walked into La Polenteria in Soho, I didn't even have to think about it and even though there were so many delicious options, I knew that the gluten free, vegan polenta with mixed fresh mushrooms was exactly what I was craving! 

You heard right, this fabulous foodie spot uses gluten free, non gmo polenta, has tons of vegan options ( including vegan cupcakes for desserts and gluten free gelato from Italy) but also meat choices.. 
It's got something for everybody! Additionally, should you want to pop there for lunch from you can enjoy a LUNCH DEAL of a polenta dish plus a side salad for £8 on Monday through Friday and £10 on Saturday and Sunday! 

And if that wasn't enough....they also offer a HAPPY HOUR with 1 fruity Prosecco cocktail with either 3 mixed polentini ( small polenta finger food) for £5 or with a board of Italian meats and cheeses for £10.

I also shared a dessert with my mom who's currently visiting and spoiling me.. We tucked into a creamy Affogato al caffe', delicious espresso coffee poured over gluten free coffee ice cream...
Absolute Heaven.

I know Polenta is not well known yet here in London, so I believe it's time to spread the word and get yourself down to La Polenteria as soon as possible!! 
Gabriele, the lovely Italian owner, opened this restaurant just before Christmas as he loves polenta himself and wanted to make this yummy dish known here in London too. All the ingredients used are fresh and really mouthwatering, service is professional and friendly and the actual restaurant has a happy and positive vibe!  
I highly recommend it and I'll be back there very soon.x

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Italian Holidays..

This summer I have been extremely lucky. After a long, challenging year filled with breakdowns, break ups and exams, I have escaped back to Italy for some well deserved sun, family and food time.
Me, mom and dad embarked on a family road trip from Milan to Gallipoli like we used to do when I was a child, stopping in Tuscany on the way to see my aunt and then,moving on to one more stop through Abruzzo before reaching sunny and very very very hot Gallipoli, all the way at the pointy heel of the Italian boot.
During this journey I have had the chance to to experience not only hours of excruciating Italian summer traffic, but also some pretty delicious food, so I thought I'd let you know where to go and enjoy the same delights should any of you lovely people decide to take the same kind of road trip in the future.

I can't tell you where to go eat in Siena as I was lucky to have family there and therefore enjoy some incredible home cooked food...sorry. But I what I can tell you,is where to find some refreshing green juices in this beautiful town in Tuscany. A green juice which completely regenerated me on a very hot summer day..
Look for the Negozio Alimentare del Consorzio Agrario di Siena (long name I know!), in Via Pianigiani 5, right in the middle of town.
As soon as you walk in, to the right hand side you'll be able to order fruit and vegetable juices, then take a walk around the rest of the shop to find fresh, locally sourced vegetables, fruits and many local delicacies.

As you'll drive through Tuscany, its sunflower filled countryside will blow you away. I have been there a few times already, and every single time I cannot help but dream about being a writer who lives in a cottage overlooking those gorgeous Tuscan hills looking for inspiration..

Next stop on our trip was Umbria, where we stumbled into an incredibly small village called Colfiorito, which is the spot where you'll find the Relais Forti. This place had all locally sourced,  organic, insanely delicious food,  which made Valentina very very happy indeed. I enjoyed a meat dish with fresh mushrooms which brought me back to life, whereas my mom had some incredible ravioli with pistachios, cream and rocket. We literally died and went to heaven..

Next up my land of origin, sunny Puglia!!!
My absolute favourite tree has always been the olive tree, as I used to spend my childhood summers here in the south where you can find these beautiful old trees absolutely everywhere. Seeing them again every time I turned my head filled me instantly with so much joy and warmth that it's hard to describe.. 

Gallipoli itself was beautiful even though a little too noisy for my liking, but the old town is absolutely a must see, preferably early in the morning when there's very few people and the fishermen have started to set up their stalls with the all the fish caught the night before.
And here in the old town one morning, me and my mom stumbled upon what I can only define as heaven. The most incredible pastry shop filled with freshly baked pastries for every taste.
The real name for this foodie spot is the very suitable Dolcezze e Bonta' ( sweetness and deliciousness).

We bought some Pasticciotti, typical pastry from this area, which can be filled with many different creams like pistachio, lemon, white chocolate, Nutella.. We decided to take them to our friends house for lunch,which meant that I had to have something else as my very naughty breakfast.
Enter the freshest croissant that ever lived which was filled at that very moment with cream that had just been made in the kitchen. I felt complete. We did buy a few more things. Luckily, most of it made it to lunch for our friends to enjoy..So do yourself a favour, a big one, if you visit Gallipoli DO NOT LEAVE without passing from this bakery.

In the afternoon we visited Nardo', my parents' birthtown. As we strolled around in the summer heat, we arrived in the lovely Piazza Salandra,  where I was so Lucky to find Barocco Creamery and Lounge Bar.

A brand new spot in the center of Nardo',offering not only homemade ice creams, delicious coffees and tasty shakes (with a dairy free milk option as well)...BUT ALSO, fantastic green and fruit juices all made with locally sourced fruit and vegetables. Boy, was I happy to find this amazing place!

I got the most refreshing juice with cucumber, celery, melon and apple which made my overheated body very happy indeed!

That night,  my parents decided to take me to Galatone, another small town not far from Gallipoli, to have dinner in a restaurant which I soon found out, was owned by Simone, the boy who lived next door to our summer house when I was a child and who had now become a massive foodie and an incredible chef. 
We used to play together all time and it was great to see him again but trust me, trying his food was even better!!! In this lovely Trattoria and Pizzeria called SCIALABA', you'll find wonderfully fresh, local,  home cooked food. Incredible quality, fantastic friendly service, abundant portions. A foodie heaven. 
My favourite dish by far were mussels served in a mix of Parmesan eggs and parsley, absolutely insane.

The octopus polpette were another incredible starter served with tasty marinated anchovies...

This little gem needs to be discovered by all of you out there so spread the word and go treat yourself to some truly mouthwatering food!

A week went by very fast and soon it was time to head head back home but I got to enjoy beautiful sunny days, crystalline sea, fresh figs picked from the trees, incredible food and wonderful company. 
I couldn't have asked for more.x