We’re Having a…

We’re Having a…

We're Having a....

Baby girl!  ❤

We are so excited. Little Baby Italicana is joining our family, our team.  

Details below on how we found out, Baby Italicana’s name ❤, flying pregnant and a calendar of our USA cooking tour around Seattle and Portland! We hope to see you in person at one or more of these upcoming events! ❤

How We Found Out:

We're Having a...

During my 13 week ultrasound, the doctor told us that he was 95% sure that it was a girl. So why didn’t I reveal this news weeks ago? Well, after talking to countless Italian friends with kids, I heard so many stories where the doctor said it was a girl, then they found out at their 20 week ultrasound that it was a boy or vice versa! So even with this news, I tried to keep an objective 50/50 mindset of having a boy or a girl to not get too attached to one or the other, only to be disappointed.

But, it was hard.

I kept on using girl pronouns with our baby when talking about her.

And… I secretly wanted a girl…so did Mr. Italicano. Of course, don’t get me wrong. A baby boy would have been an absolute blessing and we would have welcomed him with open arms and loving hearts. ❤  All that matters in the end is that our baby is healthy and happy. But… to be 100% transparent, we did have a preference—we hoped for a little girl.

Which is strange, really.

All my life, I had the image of someday having boys.. 3 or 4 of them. In my mind I could foresee a full house of rambunctious, fun-loving boys–no girls.

Boys:

We're Having a...I LOVED growing up with two older brothers. They protected me and they made me tough. I idolized them. In fact, I wanted to be one of them. When I was little, I hated dresses and loved their hand-me-down clothes. I tried to join Boy Scouts like they did, but the Scout Master told me no. Which in my opinion was so unfair. Girl Scouts at the time did (and maybe still do?) very “girly” activities. I wanted to learn how to use a compass and knife, to build things and to survive in the wild. #totalinjustice)

And… boys usually aren’t drama. I hate drama.

Yes, in reality I should be dreaming of a boy.

Yet, I wanted a girl.

I want to teach her how to be tough, how to be independent and the importance of perseverance. I want to teach her not to gossip, not to start drama and to be compassionate towards others.

Mr. Italicano is excited to play legos with her and teach her how to build things. (He majored in industrial engineering.) He too doesn’t want our girl to follow gender stereotypes. We want our little girl to know no limits.

Baby’s Name

December 24, 2015

It’s a beautiful sunny and cold afternoon in the Italian alps. Mr. Italicano and I are staying a week in the mountains to celebrate Christmas, to spend as much time as we can snowboarding and to get some alone time together before Mr. Italicano leaves for 3 months to India in February for work, while I head to the states.  Today we decide to go for a hike. As we walk towards Lake Nambino our conversations drift to various topics, and when we reach the crystal clear mountain lake, the subject arises of starting a family.  

We daydream of what it will be like to be parents and have a little one to  play with and teach, to kiss and cuddle. We hypothesis baby names. We both start naming off girl names, uncommon names related to nature, to cities and to food, until there is one name that make both of us stop in our tracks and smile:

Pepper

We know in that instant that is our future baby girl’s name.  ❤  It’s unique and meaningful. It reminds me of my dad Lee who always covers his entire plate of food with black pepper and usually keeps a little pepper packet in his front pocket as a reserve. It’s also related to food, both as pepper as a seasoning and pepper as the vegetables.  The name is strong and a little spicy. 🙂

So, when I say we had a preference for a girl, I wasn’t lying. It was 2 years ago that we had thought about this little sweet pea. And, although we didn’t start trying to conceive her until 2017, she was always in our minds and hearts.

We can’t wait to meet you, Pepper Gail Lorenzini. ❤  We can’t wait to hold you and snuggle you, tickle your tiny toes and kiss your little nose.  

Here is a video that we made that very day for our future baby!

Why Gail as a middle name? It’s both my mom’s and my middle name. I wanted to carry on this little family tradition. Pepper will be the 3rd generation to have that middle name. And, who knows how long it will continue. 🙂

Baby Italicana in Tuscany:

We're Having a...

What do you think of my overalls? I bought them because they are quite the Italian fashion, and they were perfect for the upcoming event at our wonderful client’s Poggio del Farro in Tuscany. For those who follow me, you probably know that I have been collaborating with them. I love their farro products and their quest for only the best quality for their customers. For those of you who don’t know about farro, an Italian ancient grain, here is an article that gives some more details on this super food.  You’ll find tons of delicious recipes with farro here on my site as well as on Poggio del Farro’s recipe page. 

While there, we got to participate in their 2nd Annual Threshing/Harvest festival. We watched an agricultural demonstration while admiring vintage machinery and tools. For the large open air lunch (with over 400 people!), I prepared a fresh farro salad with a lemon dijon vinaigrette and Milena (Poggio del Farro) prepared a delicious tomato, feta and olive salad. The majority of   the traditional Tuscan food was prepared by 15 women who started the day prior preparing many dishes like the traditional Tuscan ribollita (vegetable soup), pappa al pomodoro (tomato and bread soup), farro e fagioli (farro and beans), bruschette con pomodoro e basilico (bruschette with tomatoes and basil) and delicious ficattole (fried bread).

Baby Italicana Heads to the USA:

We're Having a...

Little Baby Italicana made her second trip to the USA!

Note to pregnant mama’s, overalls are also PERFECT for long international flights! It was like flying in my PJ’s.

Well…almost.

When you fly, there is always the risk of deep vein thrombosis, a condition where you develop blood clots in your legs from prolonged sitting. That is why it’s advisable to always get up and move around on flights.  Pregnant women are especially vulnerable and so wearing sexy compression hose helps to increase circulation, reduce the risk of swelling and clotting. Not the comfiest things in the world, but definitely necessary.

For extra leg comfort, Mr. Italicano and I also upgraded to Premium Economy. The tickets cost around 25-30% more but we thought it would be well worth it this time. Also because we’ll be in the states for 40 days for work and vacation and a second piece of large luggage is included for free with Premium Economy–that we filled with presents and of course Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. 4kg (9 lbs) to be precise! One piece of luggage (like every trip!) arrived a few days late, but now we’re quite use to it.

Back to our seats. We got a sweet surprise of being put in the exit aisle row! ✈️ Premium economy + emergency exit = I can do yoga in the aisle! ❤

We're Having a...The only problem that the aisle was so big that other passengers thought it was a walkway and would actually stand in front of us as we tried to watch a movie on our monitor!

Now on to some information on the USA Tour and Recipes we’ll be doing around Seattle and Portland!

USA Cooking Tour Calendar

We're Having a...We have some great events coming up starting with interactive adult and kid/teen classes, demos and a pop up restaurant at the grand opening of Caruccio’s, a new and beautiful culinary event space in Mercer Island by Lisa Caruccio!  All of the dishes are based on farro, an Italian ancient grain, and sponsored by Poggio del FarroYou can check out the menus, availability and buy your tickets online by clicking on one of the dates below:

Caruccio’s
2441 76th Avenue SE
Suite 100
Mercer Island, WA 98040
(206) 232-2320
Info@caruccios.com

Adult’s Cooking Class: Thursday, August 24th, 6pm-8pm (PDT)

Spinach Pasta with Kale Pesto, Leeks and Toasted Almonds

Crostata with Strawberry Jam, Fior di Latte Gelato and Aged Balsamic Vinegar from Balsamico Bonini

Kid’s Cooking Class (8-12 yrs old): Friday, August 25th, 11am-1pm (PDT) 

Farro Ravioli with Ricotta and Mushrooms in a Butter and Sage Sauce

Mini Farro Tarts with Yogurt & Fruit

Adult’s Cooking Class: Friday, August 25th, 6pm-8pm (PDT)

Spinach Pasta with Kale Pesto, Leeks and Toasted Almonds

Crostata with Strawberry Jam, Fior di Latte Gelato and Aged Balsamic Vinegar from Balsamico Bonini

Pop-Up Restaurant: Saturday, August 26th, 6pm-9pm (PDT)

{Starter} Farro Beet Soup with Greek Yogurt, Pistachios and Orange Zest

{Main} Green Matcha Pasta with Pesto, Leeks and Wild-Caught Prawns

{Dessert} Strawberry Crostata with Fior Di Latte Gelato and Aged Balsamic Vinegar from Balsamico Bonini

Cooking Demo: Sunday, August 27th, 3pm-5pm (PDT)

Farro Salad with a Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

Pink Beet Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Gorgonzola and Toasted Walnuts

Farro Chocolate Chip Cookies

After these fun cooking events, I will be doing complimentary cooking demos with Smeg USA , an amazing Italian appliance brand, at Nordstroms and Williams-Sonoma around Seattle and Portland. I’ll be showing how to make homemade pasta with Smeg’s stand mixer and pasta attachments, how to make summer citrus juicers with Smeg’s citrus juicer, how to make a rejuvenating matcha tea full of antioxidants (that will be supplied by matcha tea producers Sugimoto USA) with Smeg’s controlled temperature kettle, and how to make espresso drinks with Smeg’s espresso machine.  {affiliate links}

Around Portland:

Williams-Sonoma Washington Square

Tuesday, August 29th 12-2pm (PDT)

9367 SW Washington Square Road

Tigard, OR 97223

Williams-Sonoma 23rd Ave

Wednesday, August 30th 12-2pm (PDT)

338 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210, USA

Around Seattle:

Nordstrom Downtown:

Thursday, August 31st 12-2pm (PDT)

500 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101

Williams-Sonoma Alderwood Mall:

Friday, September 1st 12-2pm (PDT)

3000 184th St SW #942, Lynnwood, WA 98037

Williams-Sonoma University Village:

Saturday, September 2nd 12-2pm (PDT)

2530 NE University Village, Seattle, WA 98105

Williams-Sonoma Bellevue Square:

Sunday, September 3rd 12-2pm (PDT)

216 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004

Nordstrom Bellevue:

Sunday, September 3rd 4-6pm (PDT)

100 Bellevue Way SE, Bellevue, WA 98004

Head to the calendar to see all of my upcoming cooking events! 

We hope to see you in person at one of these cooking events!  ❤   I look forward to teaching you how to make nutritious and easy recipes for you and your whole family. Big hugs to you all and I hope you are enjoying your summer! ❤

See you soon!

Cindy, Michele & Pepper

 

 

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
Total time
 
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.

Guess What… I’m…

Guess What… I’m…

Pregnant!

There is a little Baby Italicano/a on the way!

We can’t wait to find out if it’s a boy, which will make him Baby ItalicanO or if it’s a girl, Baby ItalicanA.

Finally, we will have a little helper in the kitchen and I’ll have my own little food critique to make sure that those kid meals are tested and approved first hand. I am so excited to buy our little cook his/her first apron and mini rolling pin to start teaching our sweet pea how to make healthy homemade food with love.   Mr. Italicano and I are ready for this amazing new journey! And, we are so excited to share our bi-cultural adventure with you all!

Quick Baby Details

Due Date: December 14, 2017

Current Week: 16

Baby’s size: Avocado

Our Baby Story – The Beginning

Quite the little globe trotter: 

Baby Italicano/a is already quite a little globe trotter! The sweet pea was conceived in New York City and took his/her first international flight to Italy shortly after. The day after arriving in Italy all three of us (how special it is to say that!) hopped on a domestic flight to Sicily for a much needed 4-day break (Mr. Italicano’s birthday present to me). In the past 3 1/2 months, Baby Italicano/a has gone on road trips to various regions of Italy, took his/her first ferry ride to Elba Island and will go with mom and dad sailing this weekend with friends. Hopefully baby (and mamma!) won’t get sea sick!

Telling Mr. Italicano:

11:30 a.m.: It is Easter Sunday and I am excited for the 3 hour lunch planned with Mr. Italicano’s family and the extensive menu of glorious Italian food.  Since becoming a sommelier, I love being in charge of pairing the wine with the various dishes. As I start looking at wine labels in our cellar, I stop: should I drink wine since we are trying to get pregnant? Wait a minute. I think I’m late. I think I’m really late. I have to know. In this instant.  If I’m not pregnant I definitely want to drink some wine (after all I have some special bottles that I am pulling out for the holiday!) and if I am prego, then there is no way that I am hurting my little peanut. I will go straight into detox/abstinence mode.

I drive to the grocery store, buy a test and as soon as I get home go straight to the bathroom. My hands are shaking the entire time. I cry as I see the positive results. I am going to be a mom! …I am going to be a mom! A rush of joy comes over me and I can’t stop smiling.

Even though the pregnancy was planned, I was still quite freaked out about becoming a mom and taking on such a big responsibility. I mean, I would be raising a little human that depends on me. Am I capable? Am I worthy? Any fear that I had over the past few months dissipates in that instant. I am overjoyed and calm. I’m pregnant. It feels so right.

12:30 p.m.: Let me tell you something about myself. I am quite the sappy romantic. I love creating special moments for Mr. Italicano. When we first started dating I organized picnics, scavenger hunts, surprise dinners and hid lots of “thinking of you” notes in his work bag. Now that we’ve been together for seven years and married for four, he (unfortunately) usually only gets this kind of attention on special occasions. Well, I do have to say, this was quite a special occasion. No, rather, it was the mother of all special occasions. So, my intentions were, of course, to do something super cute to reveal the exciting news to Mr. Italicano…but here it was, 12:30 pm and I was running out of time! Lunch is planned for 1pm. I start to freak out.

1) There is no way I can wait to tell Mr. Italicano the news until after the lunch, I am bursting with excitement.

2) There is no way I can get through the lunch without Mr. Italicano’s entire family noticing and making some comment on why I’m not drinking the wine I am serving. I think fast… Pinterest you are a life saver!  I search for cute ways to tell your partner you’re pregnant and find a sweet note. I copy it word for word in the bathroom in between putting make up on and curling my hair. I stick it in the watch box that Mr. Italicano gave me on our wedding day. Although that box is sentimental, how cute would it be to do an indoor Easter egg hunt with the note hiding in one of the colored plastic eggs? Bummer. No eggs. No time. An idea pops in my mind. I could still hide the box and tell him I got him an Easter present but he has to hunt for it. Perfect!

I rush out of the bathroom door with a dorky grin on my face and the box in my hand and collide right into Mr. Italicano. He asks me what I’m grinning about. Nothing, I say. He asks me what’s in the box. Nothing, I repeat. I try to make my way to the bedroom to hide the box, but he grabs me around the waist and starts tickling me until I am on the ground laughing. What’s in the box? he repeats. Nothing! At this point I am laughing so hard I think I might pee my pants and my grip on the box weakens. He stands up and lifts the lid off. I stand up and watch as he reads the note. Really? He asks with a wide grin. Yes, I reply. Really? He repeats even more excited. Yes! I exclaim.

The biggest hug is followed by the longest kiss and murmurs of I love you. It’s a special moment we will never forget.

Food, Food and Ughh…Food:

Wouldn’t being a food blogger be the best job ever while being pregnant? I thought so, until some of the food I use to LOVE made me nauseous just thinking about it or smelling it! Take avocados and shrimp, I love them! I use them often in my recipes and had at that point even recently created a delicious shrimp and quinoa bowl and mouthwatering pasta with shrimp and avocado sauce for two clients. The week prior I had devoured these dishes with joy. The week I had to remake these into video recipes I about vomited in the aisles of the supermarket as I shopped for these ingredients and again as I made them for the video. My saving grace was that I can breath through my mouth while plugging my nose hands free to block out the odors. I thought this was a normal thing but Mr. Italicano said he can’t do it. Can you? Or am I just weird? Hmmm..or lucky?

Besides this hypersensitivity to smells and a handful of foods I couldn’t be around, I feel so grateful as the first three months passed by quite swimmingly without any morning sickness. Ladies who have been pregnant or are pregnant and suffering from morning sickness, I feel for you! I watched my dear sister-in-law suffer hard and I know how difficult it must be. Hang in there!

First Trimester Cravings

Pizza. Pizza and Pizza. OMGosh, I think being pregnant in Italy is the absolute best for this reason alone. And did I mention that it is typical that a medium sized pizza is eaten by one person!?! Not joking. In the states we get pizzas to share. In Italy, everyone orders there own pizza. #pregnancyheaven

When I wasn’t eating pizza, anything carb based was my best friend. Especially sourdough croissants with homemade organic jam from the local pastry shop. Yum. Yum and lip smacking yum.

I also used my citrus juicer and slow juicer everyday (<—affiliate links because seriously guys these products are amazing. My mornings wouldn’t be the same without a freshly squeezed orange juice or some kind of fruit blend).

Second Trimester Cravings

Luckily my carb-diet has come to an end. Although so good (and necessary) during those first three months, I wanted to give Baby Italicano/a all of the delicious foods and nutrients that I typically eat and love: whole grains, legumes, wild caught fish, fresh salads, nuts and seeds and a lot of fruits and veggies.

Mr. Italicano and I are finally back to eating these nutrient-packed foods and I feel good knowing that I am giving our baby what it needs to develop mentally, physically and hopefully “palate-bly”. According to this interesting NPR article, babies palates and food memories are shaped before birth!

What now?

Baby Italicano/a will continue to grow and so will our anticipation to meet our little sweet pea. Mr. Italicano and I will continue to produce recipes, videos and we will be doing a 1 month cooking class/demo tour in Seattle/Spokane/Cour d’Alene/Portland in August (details and schedule coming soon for those in the area).

I am so excited to share more of our journey and our struggles during this new adventure. It won’t be easy, but oh will it be worth it. 😊

Thank you all for your support, for reading this post and following our work.

A big hug from Mrs. Italicana, Mr. Italicano e Baby Italicano/a. ❤ 

10 FOOD TRENDS AT THE 2017 WINTER FANCY FOOD SHOW IN SAN FRANCISCO

10 FOOD TRENDS AT THE 2017 WINTER FANCY FOOD SHOW IN SAN FRANCISCO

WHAT IS THE FANCY FOOD SHOW?

Mr. Italicano and I visited the Winter Fancy Food Show (or FFS) in San Francisco in January. FFS is a trade show held twice a year in America: the winter edition is held in San Francisco and the summer edition is held in New York City.

At the San Francisco FFS, over 33,000 companies from around the world operating in the food and beverage sectors exhibited their novelty products, while industry professionals (generally buyers, distributors, journalists, other producers in the sector) got a chance to learn more about these products and new food trends.

The fair was held over the course of three days, from January 20th to the 22nd. We were there the 21st and 22nd (the 20th we were doing a cooking show. ) We had press passes which allowed us to also listen to private talks/interviews about the food scene. 

In this article and through these short video interviews, I want to highlight for you the most interesting companies and products I discovered at FFS. I also mention briefly what I didn’t find that shocked me. Without further ado, let’s take a look at my rankings!  


# 10 PINK HIMALAYAN SALT

Pink Himalayan salt is certainly not a novelty … then why did I insert it in my list? There are two reasons. I believe that many do not know why pink Himalayan salt is different from common salt, and why the cost for it is so high. Salt is probably one of the most widely used ingredients in the kitchen, but not all salts are the same.  Pink Himalayan salt is extremely natural due to its extraction process which, unlike common table salt, does not use any chemicals (bleach) or additives ( anti-caking agents). In this video, I interview Himalayan Chef who talks more about Pink Himalayan Salt and its benefits. I hope you find it useful. You can find more information on the Himalayan Chef’s Website. 


# 9 ALOE VERA DRINKS

In addition to its remedial properties for the treatment of burns, Aloe Vera is becoming a trend in the food industry, thanks to its vitamins and beneficial properties for the immune system and digestion. Keep in mind though that scientific research around the benefits for humans is still ongoing and conclusions on whether it provides significant health benefits without negative side effects is still not clear cut. Another aspect that I noticed by examining the products seen at the trade show was that unfortunately many of the ingredients contained many refined sugars. In my opinion, if scientific research doesn’t uncover problems with ingesting aloe vera, these drinks will become even more increasingly popular and spread throughout the world. However, I invite you to always double check what you are buying and to always check the ingredient list to make sure there aren’t additives. 


# 8 BARREL-AGED MAPLE SYRUP 

Organic maple syrup, aged like a scotch. Although not alcoholic, it has a strong distinctive flavor depending on which type of barrel it was aged in. Barrel aging is only one method, this producer also has infused and smoked maple syrups that are perfect for the preparation of desserts, sweets, ice cream and even cocktails! These small artisans are gaining international success with their extremely innovative and interesting line of products.  Find out more on RUNAMOK MAPLE.  


# 7 VEGETABLE CHIPS

Last year I posted a recipe for homemade kale chips . I’m glad to have seen several companies offering these kind of “chips” in their line of products. Although a variety of vegetables were used for chips, the common theme among producers were kale chips, beet chips (I’ve already bought beets to try them at home) and broccoli chips (on my list as well). Strangely I didn’t see many pumpkin chips. I like the idea that many food producers are moving more and more towards the discovery of how to use vegetables in delicious ways, although, honestly, I read the backs of some of the packages and was surprised to find ingredients that weren’t natural. I think we are on track but there is still some steps to be done to get to have a very natural product and as little processed as possible. Surely this has an effect on producers’ pockets, but we consumers have to make our voice heard to protect ourselves and our children against harmful products. So, until I find a good brand I like, I suggest to make you own at home!  Check out the recipe above, and more to come!


# 6 APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

I already knew about apple cider vinegar and some of it’s health benefits. However, I had never tasted one quite so flavorful and complex like I did at FFS. When I took a sip from a sample at the Fire Cider booth an explosion of flavors invaded my mouth. Sharp, sweet, tangy and spicy…all in one sip. It’s packed with a variety of ingredients that you typically don’t find in regular apple cider vinegar: honey, oranges, lemons, onions, ginger, horseradish, garlic, turmeric and habanero pepper. I felt an instant energy charge. I watched Mr. Italicano with glowing eyes and said, “we have to interview them.”

Not only does this apple cider vinegar taste good, it also has great digestive benefits. The ingredients are all natural and organic with no added sugar. It’s fantastic to drink a shot in the morning to start your day or you can add it into cocktails, dressing for salads or marinades.  Find out more about on Fire Cider’s website. 


# 5 BEETROOT KETCHUP

Ketchup has always been my weakness. With Italicana Kitchen, very day I am committed to testing and promoting healthy foods made with fresh products, no preservatives and alternatives to white sugar. I try to always cook healthy at home because that is where we eat the majority of the time and I want to feed Mr. Italicano and I with good wholesome foods. On the occasions we do eat out, it’s a treat where I try any dish I want (whether it be healthy or on the unhealthy side). So, when there is a plate of fries in front of me, I often can’t resist adding a mound of ketchup next to them. (Mr. Italicano says I often eat more ketchup than fries! Which is probably quite accurate.)

The problem with ketchup is that it is usually loaded with white sugar and additives. So, when I noticed this natural beet ketchup by Foraging Fox I got super excited like a child in front of an ice cream stand. Using beets and apples to naturally sweeten the ketchup, it contains no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners and is perfect for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free diets. I’m so glad to have discovered this small manufacturer from England who produces this delicious natural ketchup. I hope that this company starts a movement and that we’ll soon find these products on restaurant table tops. Good luck! Here is the link to the manufacturer.


# 4 MATCHA TEA

Another important product that is already definitely an ever growing trend in the United States is Matcha Tea. This is a Japanese green tea, originally used for ceremonies. Unlike the green tea leaves that are infused, Matcha is a fine vibrant green powder. As Sugimoto America showed me, to prepare, simply mix the powder with hot water. The fact that it is in powder form, gives way to a variety of uses in the kitchen; for example, in the preparation of baked goods, fresh pasta, drinks (hot or cold) or cocktails. If you want to color your dishes, and add antioxidant properties of green tea, check it out!


# 3 CAULIFLOWER PIZZA CRUST 

It was so fun to meet these two lovely Californian ladies at Outer Aisle Gourmet who created these truly innovative products! Their cauliflower pizza crust and sandwich thins are made with fresh cauliflower and cage-free eggs. They offer an alternative to regular flour crusts and bread. You can use them as a pizza or a sandwich base. They are perfect for those who have celiac disease or simply want to reduce carbohydrates without sacrificing a bread(like) base. Just pop them in the microwave or oven to warm them up, then load them with your favorite toppings and spreads. I think the idea is brilliant and I’m sure they will soon be well distributed in supermarkets and restaurants. I am also looking forward to preparing some dishes at home with these products! More information at Outer Aisle Gourmet.  


# 2 ANCIENT GRAIN MEALS 

I believe in this product a lot. More frequently, attentive consumers are trying “new” products in order to eat healthier foods that are simple to prepare. The answer to a “new” food in this case lies in the past: in an ancient grain called farro. There are three types of farro: einkorn, farro (also called emmer) and spelt.  I love farro and it’s the grain I use most in my kitchen. Here are some of my favorite farro recipes. Let me also give you a preview of the next two- three months: I want to dedicate myself entirely to the creation and promotion of recipes made with this ancient grain. I also want to write a small book ( I just have to find the time! 🙂 ). So what farro products did I find at Fancy Food? There were various producers and importers with farro flours, grains and packaged goods from colossal names like Bob’s Red Mill to a representative from a small Tuscan producer, Poggio del Farro with whom I started a fantastic collaboration with.


# 1 NATURALLY FLAVORED HUMMUS

I love hummus. Those who follow my recipes and my cooking classes are well aware. So far I’ve only created a perfect blender hummus, olive hummus , white bean hummus and beet hummus. What did I like here at FFS? I found many other innovative flavors! Spicy avocado hummus, kale pesto hummus, Thai coconut curry hummus, black garlic hummus and more! I stopped by a particular company called Hope Foods that is revolutionizing the market with innovative organic recipes and a new process of conservation. Fun fact: Hope Foods was created by one of the founders’ Robbie Rech, fiance’ of my childhood friend, Ashley Paul, who also grew up in the small town of Davenport, WA. She is the Manager of Events and Field Marketing at Hope Foods and it was a pleasure to see her and to finally be able to try their products and learn about the company. Ashley and Robbie live in Colorado. Since Hope Foods opened its doors six years ago, the company has now grown to over 65 people. They started out selling their products at farmer’s markets and now are present in some of the most important American supermarkets. What an amazing feat! I’m really happy for them and they are quite an example of how to succeed in the crowded food industry with delicious, novel and high quality products.  Now let’s talk hummus. To date they have 12 organic hummus flavors that are made with all natural products and preserved through an avant-guarde process of cold pasteurization called High Pressure Processing (HPP). This process prolongs the shelf life substantially, without the addition of preservatives and without having to heat the product (which alters the taste and properties). These naturally flavored hummus products are so delicious. I am hoping that they’ll be shipping internationally soon!  You can get more info at Hope Foods. 


WHAT I DIDN’T FIND AT FFS: ITALY!  

I was a little disappointed by how little the Italian section had to offer. It was quite absurd, given that it was the largest section of all. I was quite let down, because I’m often on the front line promoting the excellence of Italian products. I’m fascinated by traditional Italian products, they are the strength of Italy, and I came to FFS in hopes that my same passion was perceived by all participants who toured the Italian stands. I didn’t expect innovative products from the Italian exhibitors, but rather exciting events promoting traditional products and how foreigners could use them to prepare delicious and simple dishes.  Living in Italy for the past 8 years has given me the opportunity to find out what this land has to offer, and to see how much passion Italians have in making high quality products that are easy to use in everyday meals. The effortlessness to incorporate these high quality products into daily meals is not always so obvious; I believe the vast majority of American consumers view many Italian products as delicious, but also complicated to use, and certainly not for everyday dishes.

My personal opinion: Italians need to do more to promote their high quality ingredients in ways that show how easy it is to incorporate their products in anyone’s daily diet.

I was expecting for example to meet some famous chefs or food bloggers at these demonstrations to help producers educate consumers and buyers how to use their ingredients. I expected that there would have been more talk about the enormous quantities of organic products that are available in Italy, that are ready to be imported into America (or around the world) and consumed daily, with ease. I expected to find a crowd of buyers and journalists with goose bumps while watching these shows. Simply put, I expected more emotion. Italy is one of the most famous rock stars in the world of food, but it is as if he didn’t want to put on a concert because he thinks that his music tracks will sell themselves.  Come on Italy, show the world how special you really are!  

Lusvardi Wine: Nature’s Present

Lusvardi Wine: Nature’s Present

Lusvardi Wine is a small Italian winery located in the heart of Emilia-Romagna and owned by Rita and Andrea Lusvardi. Here you’ll find delightful organic wines produced according to the philosophy: “seguimi” :: “follow me”.

Lusvardi Wine: Nature's Gift

Photo Credit: Lusvardi Wine

The winery’s vision is to follow nature in every phase of production in order to maintain the integrity of the terroir and the indigenous Lambrusco grapes (Salamino and Grasparossa varieties). Due to this philosophy of minimal intervention, Lusvardi is able to offer unique wines that CONTINUE READING