Beet Hummus Recipe + 17 Week Pregnancy Update

Beet Hummus Recipe + 17 Week Pregnancy Update

Beet HummusHey friends! Thank you so much for your comments, emails and messages to my and Mr. Italicano’s baby announcement last week! We are over the moon about becoming parents and starting this new beautiful, challenging and rewarding adventure. First let’s talk about this amazing beet hummus recipe that has been rocking my world lately, and for those of you who aren’t interested in all the intimate pregnancy details you can then skip to the written recipe below {I definitely don’t want to bore you!} For all of you who want the in’s and out’s about my growing belly and Baby Italicano/a’s first sailing adventure last weekend, you’ll find that in the second part of the post.

Video Recipe

This video was made in collaboration with Smeg. I created the recipe, photos and video—which you can also find on their website along with many other delicious homemade recipes. The writing and opinions are my own.

3 Things I Love About Beet Hummus

1. I can easily add a delicious beet flavor and pink color to my original hummus recipe.

2. I’m able to benefit from all the health benefits of beets like cancer fighting antioxidants, anti-aging properties and boosting my stamina (which is great because I find with the summer heat and being pregnant even climbing stairs make me tired!)

3. I can whip up a vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, dairy-free appetizer in a matter of minutes to serve at dinner parties and please a large group of friends who have different eating restrictions. Plus, appetizer boards are one of the prettiest things ever! Just be sure if you have gluten free friends, divide the hummus into two bowls and keep one for the veggies and on another board put the bread/crackers to avoid someone dipping their cracker inside and contaminating the spread. Little chalkboard signs are also a good idea as a little reminder.

Ready to try this delicious beet hummus? Scroll down to the recipe.

Now onto baby news…. 

17 Week Pregnancy Update

17 Weeks Pregnant

How Big is Baby Italicano/a?

Baby Italicano/a is the size of a pomegranate!

It seems so surreal to have a baby this size in my belly. I still can’t feel this little pomegranate, but I had a doctor’s visit and my obstetrician said I would start to feel baby’s first movements in about three weeks. I can’t wait! Although, if he/she is anything like me when I was little, my tummy is going to get some wild kicks. When I was a kid none of my friends wanted to sleep in the same bed as me, I was an active sleeper and usually kicked them before the night was through. Luckily for Mr. Italicano, I’ve become a calmer sleeper and he doesn’t get any rude awakenings (unless constantly stealing the covers and hogging the entire bed count? Oh, how he supports me. )

How Big is Mamma?

So, I was really quite lazy the first 4 months about taking photos. I only took one about a month after I found out I was pregnant. Here it is:

Now that I’m seeing differences weekly, I want to document my expanding belly! Here’s me at 16 weeks.

And, yesterday, at the start of 17 weeks.

This is the last week of 4 months and next week I’m be officially starting five months! Nine months is a long time, but man is it flying by!!

Baby Italicano/a’s First Sailing Adventure

Every since Mr. Italicano got his sailing license two years ago, we’ve been taking every chance we can get to explore the Mediterranean Sea. We’ve been to Greek Islands and various coastal ports, towns and islands in Italy. This past weekend we went sailing around Elba Island where we recently unplugged for a truly relaxing weekend.

So, you would think that I would be ecstatic about this weekend sailing getaway! I mean, if there is some kind of outdoor activity and new location involved, I am in heaven. I consider myself an adventure-seeking soul and love exploring new places and countries. In 2008, I even took a 10 month around-the-world trip, backpacking to over 13 countries while sharing my journey and experiences on a travel blog. From riding elephants in the jungles in Asia to hiking the Himalayas in India, I pushed myself to live life at full momentum and without fear.

Yet, as I stood on the dock looking at the passerella, or gangplank, that separated myself from the boat and solid land, a million fears popped in my head as I watched a friend cross the wobbly wooden board in front of me. What if I lose my balance and fall in the water? Or worse, what if I slip and fall on the slippery boat floor when we start to sail and…*gulp*… I lose my baby? 

Fear.

Lot’s of it.

Rushed through every cell in my body.

I’ve already taken on the responsibilities of becoming a mom in the past 4 months as I’ve made many sacrifices for my sweet pea on what I eat and drink. I’m extremely, and at times excessively, strict. Yet, this is the first time I’ve ever felt the panic-mode that I’m sure most parents experience when they realize how many dangers there are in the world and all they want to do is keep their child safe.

As I watched others climb aboard, I took a deep breath and let logic take over. Nothing in this world is ever “safe”, the worst can always happen. On the contrary, the “best” can happen too, like enjoying a relaxing weekend with friends, cuddling with Mr. Italicano under the stars, feeling the wind on my face, letting Baby Italicano/a be kissed by the sun and cooled by the salty sea.

I don’t want to miss out on life’s beautiful moments because I’m afraid something bad will happen, yet, I can’t be reckless either. There is a little human growing in my body that I need to take care of and protect. So I gave my self some rules.

How to Sail Safely in Your Second Trimester

1. Let people help. Instead of being the independent-do-it-all that I normally am. Before I walked across that wobbly wooden plank, I passed my heavy bags to my friend Sara, and then took her hand as she helped me across. I felt like a little old lady, but that’s fine. 🙂

2. Minimize movements around the boat. I would find myself a comfy spot and stay there, especially when the boat was in movement. If I absolutely had to move around I made sure that I always had a tight grip on something in case the boat jerked unexpectedly.

3. Act like a pregnant lady. Use your get-out-of-work pregnancy card. At first, I felt guilty not being the proactive helper on the boat when there was something to do. It’s not that I didn’t do anything, but I limited activities when the boat was anchored or when we were in port, like cooking or washing dishes. As for helping with setting sail and mooring I simply let others do it so I wouldn’t risk rushing up and down the boat and potentially falling.

In the end, pushing the fear aside and taking extra precautions allowed mamma and Baby Italicano/a to have a good time.    Oh, and my favorite part? The hammock on the sail boat! What a genius idea. 

Where is Baby Italicano/a off to next? Today we’ll leave again for Tuscany, but this time for the hillsides where we’ll meet our client Poggio del Farro to have him taste some products I’m developing for his company that will appear soon on supermarket shelves (umm, how exciting!!) and to see the farro harvest firsthand. I’ll be posting videos and photos on Facebook and Instagram or you can check back next Thursday here for the highlights on the blog.

Hope you all are enjoying your summer. Hugs from Mrs. Italicana, Mr. Italicano and Baby Italicano/a!

Beet Hummus Recipe + 17 Week Pregnancy Update
 
Prep time
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This beet hummus is the perfect vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, dairy-free appetizer that you can whip up in a matter of minutes to serve at dinner parties and please a large group of friends who have different eating restrictions. Put a spin on the classic hummus dish by adding color, flavor and healthy beet nutrients.
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • For the hummus:
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small cooked beet (100g)
  • 1½ cups (260g) cooked chickpeas
  • For the toppings:
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Poppy seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Thyme
  • Bread and/or Crackers
  • Raw vegetables
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients for the hummus in the blender in the order given. Blend until smooth, adding more water or lemon juice if needed to arrive at your desired consistency.
  2. Scrape the hummus into a bowl, use a spoon to make a swirl on top and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and thyme. Serve with toasted bread, crackers and/or raw vegetables. Enjoy!
Notes
If you have gluten free friends, divide the hummus into two bowls and keep one for the veggies and on another board put the bread/crackers to avoid someone dipping their cracker inside and contaminating the spread. Little chalkboard signs are a good idea as a little reminder.

Gluten-Free Mini Blueberry Muffins  

Gluten-Free Mini Blueberry Muffins  

Yes! Gluten-free mini blueberry muffins that actually taste amazing!

Gluten-Free-Mini-Blueberry-MuffinsGuys, you are going to love these. Whether or not you follow a gluten-free diet or you just want to mix up your diet with other healthy flour substitutes, these gluten-free mini blueberry muffins are so delicious that you will be too busy having a second one to even think about “normal” muffins.

What I love about these muffins is that they are made with almond meal (just throw raw almonds in your blender or food processor and blend until it because a crumbly flour.) Almonds— and all nuts in general—are one of my favorite go-to snacks. Why? Just a handful of almonds give me a boost of energy throughout the day and they are full of healthy fats, fiber, protein and all sorts of other nutritional benefits. I always bring them with me when I go hiking or on road trips. And, I love topping almonds in my salads or making almond butter to swirl in my smoothie or grain bowls.

When I was a kid, my mom always had a wooden bowl full of nuts. Not the already shelled kind that I usually have in my cupboards, but a bowlful of almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and Brazilian nuts to actually crack. Surely you’ve seen the shells of walnuts, but have you ever seen the shell of an almond? With its tan oval shape and tiny little holes, it looks like its made out of cork. Or, how about a hazelnut shell? It looks like an acorn missing its little top. Then there is the peculiar Brazilian nut shell with its brown rugged surface that seems like a chunk  of washed up wood that you’d find at the beach. All so distinctive and unique, all so delicious too.

Gluten-Free Mini Blueberry Muffins
 
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These gluten-free mini blueberry muffins are made with almond meal and are a great breakfast or snack filled with a good source of protein and fiber.
Serves: 24 mini muffins
Ingredients
  • 3 cups (330g) cups almond meal
  • ¼ (1g) tsp salt
  • ½ tsp (3g) baking soda
  • 1 tsp (2g) cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp (45g) honey
  • ¼ cup (50g) melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 3 organic eggs
  • 1 cup (150g) fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter or spray a mini muffin pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the whisk attachment, add the following: almond meal, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and chia seeds. Mix on speed 4 for 10 seconds.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together: honey, coconut oil, almond milk and eggs.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of the stand mixer and whisk on speed 4 until just combined, about 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and stir in the blueberries with a spatula.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the raw cane sugar and cinnamon.
  6. Fill the greased muffin cups until full. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Store in an air tight container for up to 5 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 2-3 months.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon & Ginger

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon & Ginger

Roasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-3

 

V.E.G.E.T.A.B.L.E.S.

Oh, how I’ve missed you! While Mr. Italicano and I were on our west coast food tour we spent most of a month eating out while we worked and traveled. On one hand I was excited and delighted to try new restaurants :: ristoranti in San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver; on the other hand, I was itching to get back in my kitchen in Italy to create new healthy recipes made from fresh seasonal vegetables from my local farmer’s market.

And, that’s exactly what we did.

The day after we got back to Italy, we headed out to the farmer’s market and loaded up on fresh fish, vegetables and fruit. For our first lunch I made a simple green salad loaded with succulent Sicilian blood oranges, chia seeds, feta and walnuts; this roasted broccoli and cauliflower dish with grated ginger and zested lemon and a big bowl of paccheri pasta with calamaretti :: baby squid, that I seasoned with Parmigiano Reggiano, extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest and some salt and pepper. These vegetarian and pescatarian recipes were so quick and simple to make and were packed with wholesome goodness.Roasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-1aRoasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-2-bOne of the biggest problems about eating out in America is that is EXPENSIVE TO EAT WELL! For a fast food meal made with refined flour, sugars and GMO ingredients, you can spend under $15 for two. If you go to a mid-range chain restaurant with even nice decor and great service, commonly you’ll still pretty much get the same quality but spend over $60 for two dishes and drinks (taxes and tip included). Both options left us unsatisfied with the quality of our food, but more importantly put the quality of our health at risk :: rischio! We went to these places a few times out of convenience, and after having eaten both Mr. Italicano and I felt sluggish, not mentally alert, bloated and scandalized on how much we spent. I’m convinced that if we’d had continue to eat this way for a month, we would have even gained a substantial amount of weight. #notcool. So our solution to getting around eating bad while traveling was this:
BREAKFAST: we snacked on fruit :: frutta, nuts, protein bars (being sure to find ones with clean labels), dark chocolate, tea and coffee. We did our shopping at a supermarket (I recommend Trader Joe’s) and we ate in our hotel or on the road when we were traveling. We spent $7-8 for two instead of $23-25 and we knew exactly what we were eating.
LUNCH: more snacks or leftovers :: avanzi from my cooking shows.
DINNER: we almost always went to a nice restaurant with high quality food (ATTENTION: we didn’t just choose a place based on how cute the decor it was but used online reviews specifically for the quality :: qualità). These places were usually quite expensive. A dinner for two with drinks ran from $110-140 (with taxes and tip). It seems like a lot, but if you do the math, we ended up spending the same amount per day as we would have for three mediocre meals eating out, but we ate better quality food and we felt better too.

Roasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-4Now back in my kitchen :: cucina, I’m excited to be developing more recipes to give you more ideas on how to cook healthy and simple recipes that you can feel good about eating, like this roasted broccoli and cauliflower dish. If you have any leftovers just toss them into a salad, add some beans, lentils or tuna for a main coarse or chop them up finely and add them to scrambled eggs.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon & Ginger
 
Prep time
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This recipe for roasted broccoli and cauliflower with lemon and ginger is great to eat as a side dish, tossed into a green salad, mixed with grains, lentils or tuna or cut up finely and mixed into a scrambled egg. It's a healthy dish that is quick to make and loaded with nutrients.
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the broccoli, cauliflower, extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, grated ginger, salt and black pepper until well coated. Evenly distribute the vegetables on the sheet and roast until tender and slightly browned; 20-30 minutes.

 

 

Holiday Quinoa Salad

Holiday Quinoa Salad

I’ve never found fresh cranberries in Italy, only dried. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem; after all, I only ever eat fresh cranberries at holiday meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yet, it’s now approaching 2 years since my last cranberry fix; two years since I’ve been home to the US during the holidays.

What do I love about homemade cranberry sauce? Well, for starters, its bright vibrant red color that brightens the table, then there’s that sudden shock of surprise when a cranberry pops in my mouth releasing its tart juices that slowly are taken over by sweetness and later rounded off by a hint of CONTINUE READING

Easy Baked Brie 

Easy Baked Brie 





How I Miss Thanksgiving!

Living abroad in Italy is exciting and exhilarating. I met Mr. Italicano here. I have made extraordinary friends here. I started my business while living here. I love the challenges and adventure that each new day brings while living in il bel paese.  I am grateful and I am thankful each day, yet…I miss Thanksgiving!

I miss the smells from the kitchen mingling with the sweet candles burning. I miss the chaotic sounds that fill the house: the clinking and clanking in the kitchen, kids laughter in the play room and lively shouts coming from the living room after a touchdown.

Easy Baked Brie Recipe One of my favorite Thanksgiving Day foods of all time is this CONTINUE READING

2 Tips for the Perfect Blender Hummus 

2 Tips for the Perfect Blender Hummus 

I absolutely adore hummus. It’s one of my favorite go-to recipes when I entertain guests as it’s the perfect appetizer for everyone: vegans, vegetarians, non vegetarians, lactose intolerant, gluten-free.

2-tips-for-the-perfect-blender-hummus-3  I also love having it in my fridge for a healthy snack or to garnish my dishes to instantly add a good source of vegetable protein :: proteina vegetale and fiber. In short, hummus rocks.

2-tips-for-the-perfect-blender-hummus-4The word hummus is an Arabic word meaning “chickpea.” Do you know how to pronounce “chickpea” in Italian?  Test your knowlege or learn a new word by watching this short video:  CONTINUATE A LEGGERE