Flavors and Colors Of An Italian Summer | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

The annual summer Italian Family Festa in San Jose, CA is almost ready, we are at the last few details of preparation and the celebrations will begin soon.
For two days Aug.27th-28th all the Italian descendants, Italian born and Italian lovers will celebrate our culture with music, food, craft, art, books and entertainment. (Click on each photo to view it larger).

The Italian Family Festa in San Jose, CA started 31 years ago by Italian emigrants with the goal of keeping our roots and traditions alive. The character of this festa is more like a country fair called “sagra” in Italian, reminding me of the autumn celebration of the earth’s bounties I have seen in Italy when I was growing up.

Sagra (sagre plural) happen in every Italian small towns and Medieval villages through August and September. The larger sagra has music bands and some sort of competition, along with food ready to purchase on the street.

The smaller sagre are mainly organized to present local food grown and cooked by passionate people, a way to share a communal table and to spend a happy day in the country. Both vendors and visitors are innamorate of their culture and history, love to show off the food they produce and often give away ancient secrets on how to cook this and that food specialties. Of course we are Italians, we love to tell people how to eat good!

Sagre in Italy used were an escape from rural life during the harvest time that preceded the long winters and for a couple of days country people and farmers had an opportunity to be social with the rest of the world. Today, sagre are a way to preserve our gastronomic traditions of the past and to bring tourists to small country towns.

(Photo truffle found on: https://www.yahoo.com/news/worlds-largest-truffle-worth-thousands-024053846.html)

In many sagre Italians celebrate food fit for a royal, like the truffle sagra in Ferrara. Truffle is a rare underground mushroom forever considered a mysterious delicacy in the culinary world and super expensive (over $1,000 per gr.). People can delight themselves with the pleasure of tasting many food prepared with truffle: Cheeses Entrée with honey and truffle, truffle antipasti fantasy, meat rolls with prosciutto and truffle, fowl meat with truffle, lasagna with truffle and so much more. I say: Eat truffle in small amounts, but eat it often!

The sagra’s themes vary from town to town.

We celebrate the harvest of watermelon, chestnuts, San Marzano tomatoes and many products from the earth. Sagra for the prepared food as grilled meat, prosciutto, salami and sausages, rice arancini and potato croquettes, pizza rustica, polenta and birds, mushrooms and much more, not only emanate mouth watery aromas miles away, but they give an opportunity to get familiar with very traditional home cooking not otherwise prepared in restaurants.

Modern Italy goes on vacation during August and September, but farmers are at work to bring us the pleasure of food from the earth that is going to sustain us during the winter. Therefore we celebrate their harvest, their hard work and the abundance of Italy.
Italian Family Festa in San Jose, CA in the way will turn into a sagra due to so much food available, but mainly is about being Italian in a foreign country and to remind ourselves of the contributions we have made in the world with our culture, art, history, architecture, philanthropy, inventions and of course food appreciated by the entire world. Being Italian is an art not taught in any school!

I have been invited to speak at our Italian Family Festa about my Puglia native land  and my books on Puglia cuisine. I will be on the stage Sat. Aug. 27th at 2:30 pm.

Please come to the Italian Family Festa at Guadalupe River Park downtown San Jose between Julian and Santa Clara Street. Guadalupe River Park is conveniently located two blocks from San Jose Diridon Station. Hope to see you there. Ciao,


Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms.
She is a published author of two Italian regional cuisine books, available here in the Books page and in various locations, including Amazon:


Flavoured Olives | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

In my last blog, I wrote that olives picked directly from the tree must be cured first, otherwise they are totally not eatable.  Curing and flavoring olives is an ancient culinary art, which we are rediscovering as today we are more in tune with the earth and healthy living.

I can think of five or six methods of flavoring olives, mostly from the memories of my grandmother’s kitchen. I use these methods for my enjoyment and for holiday gifts I prepare from my kitchen. My friends’ faces lit up like Christmas tree when they receive such a gift.
To make it fun, I will list only some of the easiest procedures, but you can always contact me, if you like to know more.

Baked Black Olives
Get black olives freshly picked and not cured. Place the olives in a glass bowl, cover them with cooking salt over night. The next day clean the salt away with a cloth, place them on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour at 248°-230°F. until crinkled and dried. Cool down, add a few garlic cloves finely sliced, orange or tangerine peel finely sliced and a hand full of fennel seeds. Mix well, fill a glass jar with the baked olives and after 4-5 days of marinating in the spices the olives are ready to eat.

White Olives In Olive Oil
The large and fleshy green olives are also called white olives due to the bright color they pick up if they have been curing, but no need to cure them for this flavoring method. Take the pit out, wash under current water and leave them in a clean water for a couple of days. Change water every so often until the bitter taste is gone. Dry them with a cloth. Place the olives in a glass jars, add salt, oregano, chili pepper to your liking and cover with extra-virgin olive oil, cap the jar tight. After a couple of months they are ready to eat.

Black Olives Under Salt
Use freshly picked black olives, clean them with a cloth. Place all the olives in a large glass bowl, add a good amount of coarse salt to coat well, orange peels without the white flesh, wild fennel fronds and a few garlic cloves mashed up.  Keep them like that for about three days, but turn them over every so often. The olives will exude some water, drain it a couple of times a day, otherwise if the olives rest in that water, will not lose the bitter taste. After three days and after the water doesn’t come out anymore, place olives in a cloth and dry well. Eliminate orange peels, fennel fronds and garlic. Put the olives in a glass jars, fill with extra-virgin olive oil and close tight with a lid. They are ready to eat after one week and will keep for three months.

Time to harvest olives goes from late August to November, there is plenty time to cure or flavor them, or both and enjoy all that bounty for the holidays with aperitif and appetizers.
Tonight on my table there will be celery stalks filled with creamy Gorgonzola cheese, charred green peppers, red wine, a small piece of focaccia and an abundance of olives.

I shall be here to answer any questions you might have. Ciao,

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and  entertainment rooms. She is a published  author of two Italian regional cuisine books, available here on the Books Page and
©Come Mia Nonna – A Return To Simplicity
©Sins Of A Queen
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Cure Olives, Eat Olives, Live Longer | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Time to harvest olives goes from late August through November at any stage from totally green not mature to fully ripened. The stage of the harvest depends on whether  the olives will be used for eating or oil production. Olives for eating are handpicked to avoid bruising. Olives cannot be eaten directly from the tree, they are very, very bitter and very unpleasant. The first thing to do is curing them using various methods for each type of olives. The most effective curing method is using lye, good for large, fleshy green olives such as Spanish Manzanilla, Italian Bella di Cerignola and the Queen green olives, which are often  stuffed with garlic.

Curing Green Olives
Dissolve 0.7 oz. of lye in warm water for each 2.2 lbs of olives. Place the olives in a large plastic bucket or stainless steel pot, add the water with dissolved lye, cover with tap water to the top. Leave them to cure for 2 days, mixing every so often using kitchen gloves and a long wood spoon or stick. After this time, rinse the olives with clean water many times and leave them again in a clean water for 24 hours. After this time, change water one more time, add 3.5 oz. of salt for each 2.2 lbs. of olives. Place the olives and the salty water in glass jars (only glass) with air tight lids and store in a dark cool place. They will be ready for consumption after two weeks and will keep up to two years, but once the jar is open, you must consume it.

Curing Black Olives
Black olives must be large and mature. Put them in a large plastic container filled with water and with a lid that will close tightly. Add 4.5 oz. of salt for each 2.2 lbs of olives, stir well and leave it to macerate for one year in a cool place.  Stir every so often during the year.


Curing With A Brine 
The elongated green olives are the best to cure in a brine. The round green olives become sweet only when they are mature, or if they are left in the sun to dry with lot of salt.  Add 3.5 oz. of salt to each 34 fluid oz of water, place the olives in this brine and leave to macerate for one month. Rinse the olives and make a new brine with 2.8 oz. of salt for each 34 fluid oz. of water. Dump the olives in the new brine, they will be ready in a month.

To accelerate the process without the brine, make small cuts to each olive, put them in a large colander with lot of salt and leave to drain for 3-4 days. In a large pot bring water to a boil with a couple of peeled garlic heads, throw all the olives in it and bring the water to a boil again for about 10 minutes. Fill glass jars with water and olives while the water is still warm. Close with an airtight lid. With this method the olives are ready to eat right away.


Some Health Talk
Olives contain the good elements our body needs for a natural and nutritional diet: fat, proteins and minerals.
Olives have a therapeutic effect on the liver as they help drainage, help with constipation and have a beneficial effect on colitis.
Eat olives to get just as good proteins as meat but without the animal fat. Thus olives consumed every day with a mixed salad, whole wheat bread and a glass of red wine constitute really a good balanced nutrition.

After curing olives comes the pleasure of eating them. I am including one typical recipe from Puglia, Italy, not even well-known anywhere else in Italy and which I have included also in my book ©Come Mia Nonna-A Return To Simplicity.

Pan Fried Black Olives With Peanuts
1/2 lb. of pitted black olives in water not treated (olives in t he can OK)
a hand full of raw peanut  shelled
2 tablespoons of olive oil
a hand full of finely chopped Italian parsley
salt, black pepper or chilli pepper to taste

Drain the water out of the olives, pat them dry.
In a frying skillet sauté the peanuts in olive oil at medium fire, for about fifteen minutes or until they are golden brown.
Take them out the pan and drain the excess oil on paper towel.
In the same pan sauté the olives until they become crinkled.
Drain the oil, mix with the peanuts.
Season with salt and black pepper or chilli peppers if you like them hot. Sprinkle parsley finely chopped.
Be generous with the condiments.
Serve warm as an appetizer.

If you have food questions, or questions on kitchen design I shall be here to answer them all and I shall be ready to find the best solutions for you, just leave your name down below in the box. Ciao,

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. She is the author of two published books of Italian regional cuisine, available in this site at the Books page and on:
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

What Else Can We Grill? | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Summer is so perfect for grilling and outdoor BBQ. Nature is so abundant this time of the year. Besides grilling vegetables, I have experimented with many food combinations mixing savory and sweet, fruit and cheese, meat, and fruit and I must say all the combinations I have tried so far are delicious. I want you to try them too, share your thoughts and your taste with me.

Wikimedia-Author Keith Weller


Grilled Pears – Use either a European Forelle pear, sweet, small, elongated, and green with some red spot or the American Bartlett, round, yellow and sweet.
Slice the pears, season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Grill until there are some nice grill marks.
Slice a French baguette, place a smooth, creamy blue cheese, gorgonzola, or brie on each bread slice and then place a slice of grilled pear on top.
Arrange them in a baking sheet. Place under the broiler in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted.


Grilled Peaches – Preheat the grill to medium heat and brush the grates with oil.
Wash the peaches, then cut them in half. With a spoon remove the pit from each peach.
Brush the cut side of the peaches with olive oil. Place the peaches on the grill cut side down.
Grill for 3-5 minutes or until the peaches start to soften and show nice grill marks. Serve each peach with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of honey.

(Above original drawing by Valentina Cirasola in the book: ©Sins Of A Queen-Italian Appetizers and Desserts)

Grilled Pineapple with Chicken – Prepare the marinade for the chicken first.
Jalapeño peppers, cilantro or parsley, 3 or 4 garlic cloves, juice of ½ lemon, 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt to your taste.
Transfer the marinade to a bowl, place the chicken pieces in and let them marinate for about 30 minutes.
Then either grill the chicken or bake it at 400° F. until golden brown.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the pineapple.
Peel the outer shell of a pineapple. Cut a pineapple in four halves and then slice it thick. Brush olive oil, season with salt & pepper.
Grill until nice grill marks have formed.
Mix chicken and pineapple together and serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley.

Find some of these recipes and more in my books ©Sins Of A Queen-Italian Appetizers and Desserts.

Enjoy your outdoor cooking, think healthy, save money by cooking vegetables and fruit from your vegetable patch, be in the sun at least one hour a day to absorb its beneficial vitamin D, relax with a glass of red wine and never eat alone. Ciao,


Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. 

She is a published author of two regional Italian cuisine books available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble




Plates and Chopping Boards | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

When we sit at the dining table, we hardly waste much time thinking of how tableware originated and evolved in time.  We might briefly admire the beauty of a plate or a particular decoration perhaps just  as ice breaker and small conversation. We might treat ourselves with the elegant newest collection of dish ware made by Alessi called “Dressed”, or some hand painted ceramic plates, or we might end up eating in any casual dinnerware with nonchalance. The important thing is to have food into a washable or throw away vessel and assign a plate to each person sitting at a dining table. It was not this way a few centuries ago. (Photo: marcel wanders alessi)

Think about how it was in the Middle Age when diners in noble courts and taverns alike shared bowls, glasses, chopping blocks and tin plates.  This meant that diners sharing tableware had to pay attention to each other and respect table ethics because they were facing each other while eating from the same plate.

Each person had a spoon to dip in a common soup bowl and in a common sauce bowl. Meat and solid food were cut in a serving dish placed in the center table from which each person took a piece and place it on the chopping block shared with another person. If the other person was a woman and supposedly not a master in the art of cutting, the man sharing the chopping block with her would cut a pieces and offer it to the woman.

Forks did not exist yet, they arrived on the Italian Florentine tables around the 1300. Women held each piece of solid food between two fingers and brought it to the mouth gently. Men stabbed solid food or meat with a knife and ate directly from the blade.

Napkins did not exist yet either. It was an accepted custom to clean oily hands on the tablecloth, but it was not acceptable to suck the fingers clean with the mouth. To avoid offending table decency, a piece of food which had been in the mouth first, could not be put on the shared chopping board, or shared thin plate, that was not acceptable.

Why I am talking about table customs in the Middle Age and what does it have to do with the way we eat today? It seems that every thing old at some point become new again. I was really surprised to see that some restaurants in Italy have taken this historical table custom and twisted to today’s novelty.

In a restaurant on the Amalfi cost in Italy, I observed some appetizers being served on a cold stone or some others on a pre-heated stones depending on the type of food. Some restaurants serve also the main entrée on hot stones and it becomes really spectacular. Food arrives at the table seared halfway, the rest of the cooking is completed at the table by the customers, the way they like it.
(Himalayan Sal Slab: surlatable.com)

This trend is spreading throughout the U.S. too. I have eaten at upscale restaurants in California where one time I enjoyed appetizers on a Himalayan salt plate, the next time I delighted myself with an Argentinean Seared Flank Stake on hot slate with chimichuri sauce and the next time again I tried a fried kale with parmesan churros. All three times it was an enjoyable experience in that cooking at the table with friends evolves in a pleasant conversation.

Just like in the Middle Age, in trendy restaurants of today food is brought to the table on a hot stone  with another plate to eat off of it, but today there is an array of flatware, glassware and tablecloths to help us being more comfortable or civilized at the dining table.

These stones are available at gourmet shops and they are affordable.

I shall be here to answer any question you might have on the “mise en place”, staging a table, or staging a dinner party. Ciao,

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. Robert Taitano, a friend and business associate says:
“Valentina – an International Professional Interior Designer is now giving you an opportunity to redesign your palate”.

She is the author of two Italian regional cuisine books available on this site in the Books section, on Amazon and through the publisher:

Tomato, The Golden Apple | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Everyday is the perfect occasion to celebrate a little something. Did you know that June 1st  is the national day of tomatoes? So many things are possible with tomatoes from food to beauty treatments, tomato is the golden apple. In Italian tomato translates in pomodoro which means exactly golden apple and it holds the secret for a good health.

My day often start with artisan bread, a couple of tomatoes with basil leaves and extra-virgin olive oil seasoned with salt  & pepper. To this, I add a couple of fruit, a couple of cups of espresso coffee and off I go to work.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

San Marzano Tomatoes

Tomato is food of good nutritional balance, poor of calories, with a good content of minerals and vitamins, rich in water, about 94%, therefore it is refreshing, good for high heat areas. The only carbohydrates present in a tomato are fructose and glucose.

Consuming tomatoes on a regular basis facilitates the digestion of starches found in food such as pasta, rice, potatoes and helps to remove excess of proteins deriving from a diet rich of meat products.

People who suffer a slow digestion should eat a good quantity of tomatoes daily, in that the arabic acid and lactic acid activates the gastric system, along with sulfur, which acts as a detoxifying. The golden apple contains potassium to help with cramps of the legs, fatigue, retention of liquids and hypertension.

It also contains calcium to help with migraines and keep bones healthy. It contains phosphorus to help metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, iron to help with anemia, selenium and zinc, which are the essential elements to fight aging, but a substance called solanine could be the enemy in the tomatoes. Solanine is a toxic alkaloid present in green tomatoes and in tomatoes not totally ripe, thus not really good to eat.


Give the soil lot of nutrients, a good compost, especially if you produce your own from kitchen scraps, place the tomato seeds in an all-day full sun areas and you will have an elixir of love and health in large quantity.

Basic Tomato Sauce or Passata di Pomodoro in Italian  

I often use tomatoes called San Marzano to make the passata, but any large round tomatoes will do. Use ripe tomatoes, about 12-15 to make a sauce for four people, cut in half, squeeze the water out and some seeds. Place all the tomatoes in saucepan for about 10-15 minutes at medium low heat until the tomatoes are soft and collapsed. Transfer them a spoon at a time in a food mill to eliminate the skin. Place the food mill on top of a bowl to collect the juice and turn the handle until you see a thick juice going into the bowl.  At this point the sauce is almost ready. Place the tomato juice back into the saucepan, add salt to your liking, olive oil and a few leaves of basil.  Simmer for about 15 minutes at low heat.

This basic sauce can be used fresh as it is on any pasta or rice, but it can be enhanced with tuna, chicken, lamb, or any vegetables. Cook them separately, then add them to the sauce. The same sauce can be pasteurized and kept in jars for the winter, so you can enjoy a home made tomato sauce when there are no tomatoes around. In this picture down below, I am preparing Pachino tomatoes  with Italian zucchini  and onions, when the sauce is ready in about 15 minutes, I will add some spaghetti, grated Pecorino cheese and nothing else to this dish. It will be perfect with a glass of red wine.  Buon appetito!

Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes By ©Valentina Cirasola

Find more of this simple recipe in my two books, available in this site on the Books page and on Amazon.

©Come Mia Nonna – A Return To Simplicity
©Sins Of A Queen – Italian Appetizers and Desserts


Robert Taitano, a friend and business associate says:
“Valentina – an International Professional Interior Designer is now giving you an opportunity to redesign your palate”.

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms.
Get your copy of the books on:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Light and Filling Food | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

I am in the mood for a light lunch, something I crave when Summer is approaching.
Nothing better than shopping for food in my refrigerator, there is always something light and filling to cook, or something raw to put together and I don’t mean cold cut meats.

©Valentina Cirasola

First I will prepare a veggie mixage, powerful, filling and healthy. I will make a large pot to keep for a few days.
This is something to make into a warm soup one day and a power drink the next day.
If you make a soup add either croutons, quinoa or pearled barley, olive oil, Parmigiano cheese is optional.
If you make a veggie drink, spice it up with salt and pepper and drink it cold.

I will put together carrots, red beets, celery, red cabbage, collard greens, broccoli and lemon grass in a pot half full of salted water. The salt will keep the greens very green. Boil until tender. With a boat motor crush all the ingredients until you have a smooth reddish velute’. Spoon this creamy mixture into a bowl or glass.

My light lunch will also have one hard-boiled egg and five – six radishes sliced, seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil, 2 oz. of bread I made yesterday and a couple of oranges from my tree. Italian espresso coffee, a hand full of dry nuts and one piece of chocolate will follow about thirty minutes later.

Notice the plates in my photograph? They are appetizers size plates, I can only fill them up to the rim, visually they look full and the brain already feels satisfied, but in reality the quantity of food is very small. Afterwards, when the food is gone, it will be so natural to have the sensation of a full stomach.

In restaurants I have the same attitude towards portions. My question is always the same:  “how big is the plate?” and if the waiter says it is a good portion, I select something smaller. Personally, I don’t like to leave the restaurant with a doggy bag in my hands, I only order what I can eat, but that is just my Italian upbringing.

With this type of light lunch, you can allow yourself to eat more often during the day, enjoy small tasty meals and never get to the dinner table with the hunger stuck to your eyes.

Give me five ingredients and I will make you a royal dinner! What can you do with five ingredients? I like to know, leave your name down below. Ciao,

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved 

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe.  She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos. 
She is the author of two Italian regional cuisine books available in this page on the Books page and in various other places:

Let’s Return To Simple, Shall We? | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

I knew I had a message for the world when I started to write my first book:
©Come Mia Nonna – A Return To Simplicity.

The book is about cooking in the Pugliese style. It is a cuisine of the South-East Region of Italy called Puglia on the Adriatic Sea. I come from there.

My first goal was to let people know about my Puglia as I have known it and to bring the simplicity of Pugliese food into many American homes.

Yes, there is elegance in simplicity. Food does not have to be outrageously contorted to be sophisticated. Besides, a twenty or thirty minutes cooking time to prepare a delicious Italian meal could be a real convenience to any busy person.

Surprisingly, there are some people who have bought the book and are using it to lose weight. After all the Mediterranean diet has been considered the best and healthier of all nutrition, my ancestors have eaten the kind of food portrayed in my book for centuries , which kept them healthy through their lives, why am I surprised that my book is also serving the purpose of losing weight?

This is good, other than being an attractive book, other than my personal artwork and funny stories, my book is helping people with real struggles.

Losing weight is one of the greatest challenge a person can have and just like everything, there must be an inner desire to want to make changes. Zach, the young man in the video below, is going through this challenge with humor. He is participating in his own life by taking charge and resolving the eating disorder of many years. We will root for Zach until he succeeds. Click on the link below to see  the video Zach produced: 


Zach has been persistent in following all the suggestions that his weight control coach gives him and he diligently prepares food from my book at least three times a week.

He is losing weight while enjoying cooking at home and learning about my Puglia food, such a different type of food he was used to eat.

My book is also cost conscious, ingredients are easy to find in any local supermarket, no need to go to Paris to find them. All recipes are not expensive to produce and being made of a few ingredients, they also help staying on excellent low calories diet.
There are no mayonnaise, no ketchup, no other last-minute invented creams and combinations of not better-identified food.
The main ingredient is olive oil, often a sauce comes from cherry tomatoes, or from wine and garlic combination, lemons and aromatic vinegars are some of the condiments, sweets are mostly made with fruits.

This news from Zach using my book to stay healthy, lose weight and return to simple cooking comes at Easter time, a time  to cherish, share and celebrate life, our family and friends and I celebrate you Zach! Thank you so much.
With this book I wanted to give the gift of health, youth and long life just like my ancestors lived with a smile on their face and the red on their cheeks.

Wishing you an Easter filled with joy! Buona Pasqua a tutti! Ciao,
Author and Designer

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe.  She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos.

Centuries Old Mediterranean Diet | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

As the economy has turned considerably sour, there has been some serious thinking going on in people’s minds and many have really shifted their thinking about what is really important and what matters to them.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

As a designer I have seen lot of kitchens being remodeled and rooms around the kitchen, family room, great room, dining room and even wine cellar to assure more comfort while we are staying at home. I have noticed that people are not eating out as much, but cooking and eating at home, making a meal together has become a social activity and planting food in the backyard to get more natural healthy food seems a new necessity.  Suddenly family, friends and times we share have taken center stage in people’s life.

I read that at the Harokopio University in Greece, researchers examined 50 published studies and more than half a million people who went under test and found that those who followed a traditional Mediterranean diet had a less risk of developing the metabolic syndrome which is the combination of conditions that increases the chances of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Mediterranean diet is made of all those foods the industry of “loosing weight” tells us not to eat: carbohydrate in general, grains, sugar, chocolates, wines, even fruit and so on. Have they realized that our body needs all the elements of the nutrition, oils, fat, carbohydrate, cheese, meat, salt, sugar and so on?
The key of the Mediterranean diet is quantity and portions, not elimination of one or more nutrients.

For example 2 oz. of pasta per person once a week, as I mentioned in both of my books, is not a tragedy, but a huge plate of pasta with all the condiments, the toppings and the cheese is. Butter, another example. Anything cooked in butter tastes luscious, but if we substitute it with olive oil, even when making cakes and sweets, we get the antioxidant from the olives and the monounsaturated fat, which is very good for the heart. On that note, eat olives as much as you can, any time of the day and all types, use olive oil on your skin anytime you can, you will see that your skin will turn soft and supple very soon. My grandfather used olive oil on his hair, they turned white, but he had a voluminous and thick hair until the last moment.

In the Mediterranean diet all meals end with fruit and not with sweets. If there is no more room in the stomach for a piece of fruit at the end of the meal, then it would be best to eat it before the meal. Fruit plays a major role in detoxifying the system, supplying a great deal of energy for activities of everyday life and especially when people are in the process of loosing weight.

The consumption of food variety in the Mediterranean diet evolves in the following fashion:
A. Daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, and low-fat dairy products, meaning all the cheeses containing water, such as fresh mozzarella sold in water, fresh ricotta, robiola, taleggio and chèvre cheeses, just to mention a few;
B. Weekly consumption of fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes;
C. Red meat intake is kept to a minimum, a couple of times a week;
D. A moderate daily consumption of wine or other alcoholic beverages, always with meals.

Do not overlook all the legumes, they contain all the proteins the meat has without the animal fat. In my second book ©Sins Of A Queen I touch on this subject:
“All beans contain oligosaccharides sugar (simple sugar found in carbohydrate) that the human body cannot process. The lining of the small intestine cannot break down and absorbed the large molecule of oligosaccharides, because the body does not produce the enzyme that breaks them down. Many people have problems when eating beans. Adding a hand full of bay leaves to the beans during cooking helps the digestion immensely”.

In my first book “ ©Come Mia Nonna – A Return To Simplicity, I talk about the value of some overlooked vegetables:
“Spring onions are energetic.
Celery is diuretic. It is also good dipped in red wine.
Chicory, or dandelion is diuretic, tonic, a cleansing and a laxative.
Artichoke reinforces the liver and prevents diseases of the liver.
Fennel is much used in pharmaceutical industry as an aromatic substance and is a good source of water.
Lettuce is calming.
Radishes is stimulating, modest in nourishing value, but rich in vitamin C.
No wonder we eat so much of all this! “

Eat and drink purple things anytime you can. Red wine, concord grapes, blueberries, eggplant, purple cabbage, purple cauliflower. That deep rich color come from polyphenols-compounds (antioxidant), which reduce heart disease risk and may even protect against Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research.

Our ancestors did not know sodas. Skip soda, even the diet type. Scientists recently found that the caramel color added to cola drinks might double the risk of metabolic syndrome (combination of conditions that increase your chances of heart disease, stroke and diabetes), just by drinking one or more regular or diet sodas every day. Furthermore, the sweet fizzy flavor of sodas sends a message to the brain that sweet stuff is good and conditions it to crave more sugary foods, which can lead to weight gain.
If you need a boost of energy during the day, eat fruit.

Drink water, 
an essential element for all healthy body functions. Please don’t drink water stored in plastic bottles, but choose filtered water through activated charcoal, which removes the impurities and leaves the water-soluble minerals.
In the Mediterranean diet, at the end of the meal, we drink warm water,  warm tea or coffee and even warm liqueurs. The warm liquids help dissolve oils and fat ingested during eating, while cold water will solidify the oils in the food leaving those particles attached to the walls of the intestines. Not good at all.

Eating five small meals a day is less stressing on the digestive system. It is easier to process small amount of food instead of large meals; smaller amounts of food deliver a steady stream of nutrients, blood sugar, and energy to our body throughout the day. Eating this way also reduces the risk of heart disease.

It takes 21 to 30 days of repetitive behavior to form a new pattern in the brain. Once the pattern is formed, it becomes an automatic behavioral response. While developing new healthy habits, the good habits will replace bad ones. Stay on track with healthier food, adopt the Mediterranean food to reduce the risk of obesity and cholesterol, eat everything in moderation, have a glass of Pinot with your meal every day and don’t worry about anything else. Above all laugh anytime you can, start to love your body and put your wellbeing, happiness self confidence in the center of your life. Ciao,

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Author of two regional Italian cuisine books. They are both about the Mediterranean diet, both available on the Books page here in this site.
Come Mia Nonna–A Return to Simplicity
Sins Of A Queen – Italian Appetizers and Desserts

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe.  She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos.

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