Friday, 16 May 2014

Food Friday: 14 days sugar free

Two weeks ago, I have seen the tag #14suikervrij tag on instagram. Suikervrij means sugarfree and the purpose of this project was to cut refined sugar for 14 days. No sugar, no sweets, even when hidden in products you.
I decided to try, I have started last week Tuesday (On Monday we were on holiday therefore I have decided to not bore about sugar) and now I am 10 days further
In this post I will describe how I have achieved to cut refined sugar and how difficult I have found it.
I normally buy fresh ingredients for our meals and we normally don’t eat ready to eat food. I also don’t drink fruit juices, and I thought it was also a good point to leave cookies and chocolate for a while.  We also do not eat many products where sugar is hidden (sauces, ketchup…), but when you start read ingredients of foods it is surprising that sugar is almost everywhere… It is in mayonnaise, when it should not to (my grandma never put sugar in mayonnaise!), it is in chips, and it is in peanut butter and in most of supermarket product.
Sugar free on budget
First thought was to check the shops of organics groceries, there are several in town. But let’s be honest, if I start to buy everything organic I will double my food budget, therefore I had to make choices. I like to go shopping, even for groceries, so it has not been a challenge to have a look at the supermarkets in the shop mall here, and I must say that after a round I have understood that is possible to eat healthy even on budget. Let’s make the example of peanut butter, I have seen a discount peanut butter which has more nuts and no sugar and it costs half of a top brand which has the same ingredients.
Fruit and vegetables, I buy at the local market on Saturday, they are good product and they cost much less than in the supermarket.
Well, I can say it is possible to eat sugar free (and healthier) without doubling the budget
And now some practical tips
Do not use mix, or packaged food. Use fresh ingredients, add spices and you will get a delicious meal (and it will be cheaper, just to stay on the budget subject) without artificial flavors.
DO not drink fruit juices; they are full of sugar and preservatives. Avoid as much as possible soft drinks (Light and Zero beverages included)
Avoid snacks, the granola bars which looks so healthy are full of refined sugars
If you want something sweet dried fruits, fruits, smoothies… In the 14 days sugar free I am avoiding every kind of sugar, but otherwise I eat  dark chocolate, or yogurt with honey

Here some examples of what I am eating during the 14 days sugar free
Breakfast: yogurt (I like the greek yogurt, but it is quite fat, therefore I switch from greek yogurt or fat free yogurt every other day), fruit, (unsweetened) oat flakes, nuts. 

Snack: cucumber slices, fruit smoothie, sugarfree pancakes (recipe will come), fruit.. One snack I really like is carrot sticks dipped in hummus. A rice cracker with peanut butter and nuts  is also one of my favourites

Lunch: I normally bring a salad with me from home. We have a canteen but it is cheaper to bring my own lunch, not to mention that I have no idea about the ingredients used for food there. And bringing lunch is a perfect way to no waste dinner leftovers

Dinner: pasta with homemade sauce, rice with vegetables, meat (not breaded), fish, I just avoid ready mix and packages and there is no problem

Other suggestions are on my instagram account, or with tag #14suikervrij
Should you also try to cut all sugar for 14 days?

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Healthy cake!

I am trying to cut off processed food, and to use more whole wheat product. Surfing on the net, I have found many recipes for bananabread without sugar, but I am not fan of bananas. Therefore I have arranged here and there, and this is the results. Off course, if I want "real cake" I use sugar, butter and white flour, but for every day this cake is a good healty snack.
Nella mia filosofia del mangiare sano, sto cercando di tagliare gli zuccheri raffinati e usare piu' prodotti integrali. Su intenert ci osno molte ricette di questi bananabread, ma non essendo una gran fanatica delle banane ho aggiustato qua e lá fino a trovare la ricetta adatta ai miei gusti. Logicamente se voglio una torta "vera" non ci faccio caso, uso il burro, la farina 00, e lo zucchero, ma a volte ho voglia di qualcosa di diverso per uno spuntino al volo, e questa torta si e' rivelata una buona alternativa

Ingredients (for about 8-10 slices)
250gr whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 banana
50ml fat free yogurt
3 tblsp honey (if you can find, use organic honey)
1 tsp baking powder
one handful ground nuts (I have used hazelnuts)
one handful goji berries or raisins

Ingredienti (per circa 8-10 fette di pkum cake)
250 di farina integrale
2 uova
1 banana
3 cucchiai colmi di miele (meglio se a provenienza sicura)
50ml di yougurt magro bianco
1 cucchiaino di lievito
una manciata di nocciole tritate
una manciata di bacche di giji o uvette se vi piaccionop

Blend the banana with the yogurt in a blender or food processor. Beat the eggs with the honey and the banana. Gently add the  flour and bakind powder. If the dough is too hard, you can add some milk. Add the goji berries and the nuts. Pour the cake dough in a rectangular cake spring (I have a silicone one therefore I do not use to fat it) and bake in the pre heated oven (170 C,  350 F) for about 35 minutes

Frullare la banana con lo yogurt in un robot da cucina o frullatore. Montare le uova con il miele e la banana, aggiungere lentamente la farina e il lievito. Per ultimo le bacche e le nocciole tritate
Versare in uno stampo rettangolare (io ne uso in silicone, quindi non ho bisogno di imburrare) e cuocere in forno preriscaldato a 170gradi per circa 35 minuti)

Monday, 28 April 2014

Meatless Monday: Parmigiana di melanzane (grilled)

(non ho incluso la versione italiana in questo post, dato che immagino sia una ricetta conosciuta da tutti)
Parmigian di melanzane is a typical italian recipe with eggplants. I find it delicious but the original recipe is quite heavy, and time consuming since you should pan fry the eggplants after have dipped in eggs and crumble. I normally just grill the eggplants. But if you dare please try to pan fry them, it will taste delicious

Ingredients (serves 4)
2 big eggplants, sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled
400 g peeled tomatoes  (canned)
sea salt  
4 tblsp plive oil
1 handful fresh basil 
100gr  Parmesan cheese, grated
Optional: 500gr fresh tomatoes

Make the tomato sauce: warm the oil in a pan with the garlic, addo the peeled tomatoes, a bit of salt and the helf of the basil and let is cook for about 15 minutes.
Grill the eggplants on both sides. Layer in a oven casserole the eggplants, the tomato sauce (and the sliced fresh tomatoes, if you like), and the parmesan cheese. I use a casserole big enough to get two layers. Finish with the basil on the top (pull a bit the basil into the parmigiana, to prevent it will burn in the oven).
Pre heat the oven to 190 degree (375F) for about half of a hour, or until golden

YOu can make parmigiana with zucchini too

(Dutch fresh tomatoes are 90% water, yes I know)

Friday, 25 April 2014

Food Friday

It is Friday again and I share what we have eaten the past week with you
Di nuovo venerdí, quindi ecco il menu della settimana passata

On Friday we had egg spaghetti with peas and a cheese sauce made by me (with milk, flour, butter and grated cheese)
Venerdí spaghetti all'uovo con piselli e besciamelle al formaggio fatta da me

On Saturday I baked a "double quiche". The left part is with tomatoes, the right with broccoli (and everyone was happy)
Sabato ho preparato una quiche doppia, la parte di sinistra con pomodori, la parte di destra con broccoli (cosi' abbiamo fatto felici tutti)
On Sunday we celebrated Easter with a gourmet: everyone grilled his own meat and vegetables
Domenica abbiamo festeggiato la Pasqua con un gourmet: ognuno ha scelto a grigliato la carne e le verdure che preferiva

On Monday it was leftover day: I have just put into a wok whatever was over from Sunday.
Lunedí é stata una giornata avanzi: ho saltato nel wok quello che era rimasto dal giorno prima

On Tuesday I went back to healty eating, and we had lentils with mixed vegetables
Martedí siamo tornati ad una cucina piú sana, e ho preparato delle lenticchie con verdure miste

On Wednesday I got a sort of fusion day: I made minced meat with italian spices (origano) and tomato sauce, and a mesh potatoes with vegetables in it (typical dutch dished called stamppot)
Mercoledí é stato un giorno "fusion": ho preparato della carne macinata alla pizzaiola con pomodoro e origano, e del puré di patate e verdure (un piatto tipico olandese chiamato stamppot)

On Thursday I have made chicken fajitas with tortillas. I didn't use a mix to make the fajitas, just spices (cumin, paprica, pepper) and salt
Giovedí fajitas di pollo. Non ho usato preparati vari, solo delle spezie (cumini, paprica e pepe) e del sale per insaporire

What did you eat last week?
Cosa avete preparato voi la settimana scorsa?

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Casatiello is a typical Easter Bread from Napoli and it's surroundings. In this bread (which is from 1600) all Easter foods are in: eggs (the easter symbol for the new life), cheese and salami. And its shape remember the  crown of thorns  on Jesus head on the cross. It is normally made the Saturday before Easter, and you will bring with you on Easter Monday picnic.
I have tried this year to make my own casatillo, for the first time in my life. It could be better as shape, but the taste was wonderful!
Il casatiello, il picnic di Pasqua non sarebbe completo senza una fetta di questo pane tipico del Napoletano. Gli ingredienti del casatiello sono tipici del periodo pasquale (le uova, simbolo della nuova vita della risurrezione, il salame o prosciutto, il formaggio). La sua forma ricorda la corona di spine di Gesú. Di solito viene preparato il sabato santo, e poi mangiato il giorno di pasquetta

For a casatiello of about 24cm diameter you will need
500gr flour (for bread)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon  dried baker yeast
50gr butter (lard in the original recipe)
a pinch of salt
ton of pepper (I used just a pinch because of the kids, but if you like spice flavour, do not hesitate to use as much as you want)
about 250ml water
200gr salami or ham
200gr cheese (grated, or pecorino, or whatever you have in your fridge)
4 eggs, boiled

Ingredienti per una forma di 24cm di diametro
500gr di farina (adatta alla panificazione)
2 cucchiaini di lievito di birra disidratato
1 cucchiaino di zucchero
50 gr di burro (la ricetta originale prevede lo strutto)
un pizzico di sale
pepe quanto ve ne piace 
circa 250ml di acqua
200gr di salame o prosciutto
200gr di formaggio (qualsiasi tipo va bene, io uso quello che mi trovo in frigo)
4 uova sode

How to prepare it

Start at least one day in advance, since it will take a lot of time to rise
Mix the flour with the sugar, yeast, butter, salt, pepper. Add the  water  (use little amount per time) and knead until you will have a smooth dough.
Let it rise for about 3 hours (it will double)
Roll the dough in a thin lap (keep a small amount of dough on the side, you will need later), and spread salami and cheese on the lap. Roll it in a long cylinder. And put it in a pan (the chiffon cake pan it is perfect for it, otherwise you can use a cake pan and put something in the middle to get the hole)
Let is rise for about 4-5 hours
Come si prepara
Iniziare la sera prima, visto che la lievitazione richiede molto tempo
Mescolare la farina con il lievito, lo zucchero, il burro a tocchetti, il sale e il pepe. Aggiungere l'acqua a poco a poco fino ad ottenere un impasto elastico e morbido. Lavorare bene. Porre in una terrina al riparo da correnti d'aria e far lievitare per 3 ore o fino al raddoppio
Stendere l'impasto in una sfoglia rettangolare (lasciare un po' d'impasto da parte, vi servirá per la finitura), disporre il prosciutto e il formaggio e arrotolare fino a formare un cilindro. Mettere ina teglia a cerchio. Se avete una forma da baba' ancora meglio, io ho usato una semplice teglia da forno. Lasciar lievitare per altre 4-5 ore

Peel the eggs (in the original recipe you have to put raw eggs, they will bake during the baking of the bread. But I prefer to boiled in in advance and use the peeled, otherwise it is a nightmare to peel them in the baked bread). Put the egg on the top of the casatiello, just press a bit to anchor them in the dough. Roll small cylinder (about 7/8 cm long) from the dough you had kept on the side. Put two cylinders on each egg making a cross with them above the egg. Do not do like me, I have put the eggs before the second rising and the eggs just went lost in the dough (we have found them when we have eaten it, off course!!)
Sbucciare le uova (nella ricetta originale si mettono le uova crude, che cuoceranno durante la cottura nel casatiello. Io preferisco metterle giá sode, dato che se no diventa un'impresa sbucciarle dopo la cottura!). Disponete le uova sulla superficie del casatiello, premendo leggermente per non farle cadere. Fate dei salamini con la pasta avanzata, e metteteli a croce sulle uova. Non fate come me che ho messo le uova prima della seconda lievitazione, e quindi sono state inglobate nella pasta (e le abbiamo trovate poi quando lo abbiamo mangiato)

Bake in the over (170 C, or 375 F) until brown. In my oven it took about 45 minutes
Eat it next day, it will taste even better
Cuocere  in forno statico a 170 gradi fino a doratura. Nel mio forno ci ha messo circa 45 minuti.
Rigorosamente da mangiare il giorno dopo, e' ancora piú buono


Monday, 21 April 2014

Meatless Monday: office (again) bento (Bento # 24)

This is a bento from last week. It is vegetarian and sugar free. I had a salad with grilled eggplant, cherry tomatoes and black beans. In the blue cup there is some cream cheese made by me (free of preservatives and additives, you need just yogurt and salt to make it). In the white container I had some rye bread.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Birthday!

Last March we have celbrated my daughter birthday. Some friends came to have a party with us, and this is part of what I have made for that afternoon.
Rice sala with peas, feta cheese and sundried tomatoes

Focaccia with creme fraiche, red onion and bacon

Potato gratin with ham and cheese

Cream cheese and toast

Cake: apricot with powdered sugar, apple crumble and vanilla cupcakes with white chocolate topping