Thursday, September 25, 2008

That's Amore!

It really is love when you can make your favourite Italian meals at home with Healthy and Hearty alternatives.

It was so much fun last night at my "Healthy and Hearty Italian" Cooking class. Six women came over to learn how to prepare delicious that they could take home to thier families.

Italian can be made Hearty and Healthy by choosing the right grains for the basis of pizza's and pasta's. Choosing from spelt, kamut, brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat flours is a start. There are many varieties available on the market for wonderful pastas that taste just as good if not better than a plain white pasta. The texture and the taste of brown rice pasta, if you haven't tried it, is so satisfying. Not only will you fill up because of the fiber and trace amount of protein, but you are also left not feeling bloated and overstuffed because it digests so easily (It is also gluten free!). The same goes for spelt, kamut and buckwheat pasta. They are a bit grittier but they add some depth (buckwheat is also gluten free!).

When it comes to pizza, it takes less than 30 minutes to make your own at home. So don't sit around waiting for it to arrive. Just have one of these whole grain flours on hand and mix it up with a little olive oil, honey, water and flaxseeds, bake it and top with your favourite veggies and you've got yourself a homemade pizza that tastes delicious - I promise!

One Italian classic dish that we ventured into last night was a Minestrone Soup. This was not your typical minestrone soup with a base of tomatoes and beef stock. This was a lighter version with a vegetable base and hearty root veggies. We then added some brown rice macaroni noodles and kidney beans to give it that Italian flare that we all love.

So it may take a bit of planning, but why not have your next Italian meal at home and love every bite of it!

New Age Minestrone


1 Spanish onion, cut into large dice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon, sea salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 cups filtered water or stock
1 bay leaf
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium dice
3 parsnips cut into medium dice
1 sweet potato cut into large dice
3 ribs celery cut into large dice
1 large zucchini or two small zucchini, cut into small chunks
1 bunch of chard, cut into bit size pieces
1 cup soaked and cooked kidney beans (optional)
½ cup cooked macaroni brown rice noodles (optional)

In a small pot, sweat onion in oil with salt until soft.
Add oregano and sweat a few more minutes
Add water and bay leaf
Add vegetables in order given (squash, parsnips, sweet potatoes, celery, zucchini)
Turn up heat until water bubbles, then lower and simmer covered for 40-45 minutes.
Stir vegetables until squash falls apart.
Add in chopped chard.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir a few more times and serve.

*** For a smoother texture, simmer squash separately until soft (in 1-2 cups of water), and puree in food processor. Add squash to the soup for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

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