Sometimes a girl needs a break from bread. And bread. And more bread. Needless to say, I have been eating a lot of bread while in Italy. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a slice [or two] of warm, soft baguette. I even joked to my boyfriend that I am turning into a loaf of pane. But sometimes, white just ain’t right.
This past weekend I took a trip to Sestriere, a ski village just miles from the border of France. While my host family skied I set out on a walk, which turned into a three hour trek in the snow. It was quite a workout, to say the least. But more importantly, it was a glorious adventure. I spent those hours marveling at how I could be snowshoeing on three feet of snow and at the same time sweating in a tank top. I took a cat nap in the snow, in awe of how close I was to the shining sun, how grateful I am to have seen this part of the world. And I was savoring. Savoring the majestic mountains around me with all their pristine and profound silence.
My days have been filled with a language I find incredibly beautiful but still hard to understand. There have been moments of frustration, when the language barrier makes it difficult to express myself exactly how I would like. Luckily, these moments are few. Most moments involve me sitting back and happily listening to those double r’s and rolling words.
But that walk was just what I needed. Alone in the snowy mountains, 7000 feet high, I was able to connect back to a language that is so clear to me, a language that wraps me in that wonderful balance of feeling so small yet part of something so grand and divine. This language reminds me of the connection to myself, to a space where my own beauty and light are realized and celebrated. Oh, the beautiful language of silence. I am reminded in times like these, surrounded by nature and all of its mysteriousness, that silence is truly a gift.
I came back from the mountains feeling reinvigorated and inspired, which usually means my brain is dancing with yoga poses and food ideas. I also came back more in touch with my body, with its needs and its language. My body was asking me for nourishment and groundedness. I listened. The result? A luscious morning yoga practice, a walk along the lake, and a craving for ginger.
I start my mornings with ginger and lemon tea. Simply cut up some ginger and drop into a tea cup, squeeze lemon juice over it, and add boiling water. Voilà. A simple way to flush out your digestive system, stimulate the livers and kidneys, and alkalize the body. Drink before your morning coffee and breakfast for best detoxifying benefits.
Ginger is soothing for the stomach, anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, contains anti-cancer properties, and has been found to relieve pain and muscle aches. Ginger contains loads of antioxidants, which are especially great as summer rolls around [YAY!] because they help prevent free radical damage caused by sun exposure. Plus the zesty nature of ginger will give you that ZING! you’re looking for in the morning. Feeling gingery yet?
Flavor profile: aromatic, spicy, pungent, zingy, invigorating.
And then lunch rolls around with a grand appearance by farro, an old Italian favorite. I love farro for its nourishing and comforting nature. Farro has been used in Italy since Roman times and is mostly grown in Lazio, Umbria, and Abruzzo. A cup of farro contains about 8 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein, vegetarians rejoice! Farro also contains magnesium, which relieves tension and menstrual cramps. It is a complex carb which means it breaks down slowly, keeping your energy levels stable. This versatile grain can be used to make a cheesy risotto, sprinkled over salads, tossed with grilled veggies, used in desserts, or made into a breakfast porridge [which is what I did with my leftover farro].
Flavor profile: slightly nutty, toothsome, earthy, undertones of oats, versatile.
And from ginger and farro was born this flavorful, hearty, nourishing lunch. Just what the doctor ordered.
Farro with a Gingered Vegetable Medley
1/2 cup farro
1 1/4 cup water
eggplant & zucchini, cut into cubes (however much you desire)
4-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
sliced avocado for topping
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup raisins
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tsp paprika
3 tbsp. olive oil for marinating
1. Coat eggplant and zucchini in olive oil and toss with curry powder and paprika. Set in the fridge and let marinate for at least one hour.
2. Rinse farro. Combine farro and water in a pot and set on high. When it starts to boil turn to low heat, add a pinch of salt, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. If you like your farro on the chewier side, simmer for around 15 minutes. If you like it more tender, simmer for longer until you achieve your desired texture.
3. Set a pan over medium heat. Coat with 1 tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil and add the marinated eggplant and zucchini. Cook until soft (mine took about 5-7 minutes) then add the tomatoes, pine nuts, raisins, garlic and ginger. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and stir occasionally so the garlic and ginger don’t burn.
4. Spoon the veggie medley over a bowl of farro and top with sliced avocado. Enjoy!