Paola di Giambattista: Healthy Food Specialist
Hi, I’m Paola, an incurable romantic fascinated by the world and those who live in it.
Every space, even the most hidden, intrigues me and with it its history and above all the history of those who live in it.
I love to travel, that journey that unfolds both inside and outside, that makes you advance in your steps, but also in your personality, in your growth and personal evolution.
I believe that the kilometres I have travelled have contributed to crystallising within me the ever stronger desire to be able to give back, one day, a small part of what I have seen, listened to, gained in terms of inner wealth, something that has no price, but whose value can be read in the eyes of those who possess it.
I chose to study linguistic mediation precisely because I believe that only communication, in all its forms, in all its colours, in all its expressions, can be able to save the world and above all the souls of those who populate it.
A drawing, a word, a gesture, a ritual, a recipe, an offer, all this is communication and gives you access to the other, like a key that enters a lock at the first strike.
As well as travelling, I love meeting new people and losing myself in all that is their experience, of yesterday and today, and sharing with them the dreams of tomorrow.
The world of cooking today is pervaded by a thousand incursions and as many labels, philosophies of thought, cooking methods, zero km foods, fusion or foods that come from far away, exotic and unobtainable.
Food culture has always belonged to the “made in Italy” but today more than ever, alongside a rediscovery of simplicity, nature and tradition, there are new incipits such as health, free from, ethics, intolerances and zero waste.
A dish must therefore respond to fairly strict diktats: aesthetics and functionality, colour and shape, active ingredients and modernity. This is why, over the years, the figures of the chefs have changed and, from their kitchens, they have increasingly conquered the stage and shown the world their face, as well as their preparations.
Alongside the traditional figures, there are also transversal professionals who deal with food in a very vertical and specific way, from nutritionists to food bloggers, from influencers to food educators, all adding notes and details to the dish that increasingly represents the signature of the thoughts of those who make it.
This constellation of figures and scenarios also includes my type of cooking.
I like to call myself a Healthy Food Specialist because the path that leads me to the practice of cooking actually starts with science, nutrition and the holistic world of naturopathy.
Food is first of all nourishment, a food nourishes body, mind and spirit, this is the reason why I make my dishes choosing raw materials in a not too traditional way.
Shape, colour, origin, texture, energy, functionality are the elements that go into creating my dishes. I like working in the kitchen, but my best comes when I can work live, with the public, when I can share what is in that dish, but above all its history, how and why it was created, what elements make it up and why they are so useful, bioavailable and sustainable for us and for the environment around us.
My cuisine is plant-based, and I firmly believe that I can, in my own small way, make my contribution to the environment, with as little impact as possible, using fresh, seasonal products, and as much local produce as possible.
My cooking does not include GMO products, I do not use microwaves to heat dishes, I use cooking methods that respect the ingredients, I favour steam, wok stir-fry, low temperatures, small quantities and preparations that are always fresh. Sometimes this desire of mine clashes with the rules of classic catering, especially those of the hotellerie, but I try to continue, as far as possible, in my mission, because this is how I live my work.
During cooking shows or cooking labs (where guests can put their ‘hands in the dough’) there is a lot of sharing, and from my experience there is more success in involving the public in the use of sustainable raw materials. Very often, the stumbling block in vegetable cooking is clichés, which need to be debunked.
Too much information, or should we call it fake news, is floating around on the web and people are rightly disoriented.
“It takes too long, tofu has no taste, soya is dangerous for the development of tumours”, these are just some of the examples I hear.
Eating well is an act of love towards ourselves, those around us and the planet.
By changing our eating habits, drastically reducing our consumption of meat and dairy products, we can really save the Earth and preserve ourselves by doing active primary prevention.
This is not the usual appeal of vegan extremists, but the report of a study published in Science and conducted at Oxford University, and certainly not the only study to go in this direction.
The Earth does not have a plan B and our individual intervention is required, the data speak for themselves:
drastically reduce farmland for grazing
subtract areas for intensive production
to avoid energy expenditure, gas emissions, packaging, transport and pollution.
If we take vegetable and animal proteins as an example, it is calculated that “the latter provide 18% of calories, 37% of proteins, but use 83% of agricultural land producing 60% of greenhouse gas emissions”, is it really worth it?
It is not an unequal fight between the production of meat and cheese or chickpeas and soya, it is a question of data and urgency in taking action. Among other things, the incriminated foods have already come under the WHO lens and have been placed at the top of the famous food pyramid: to be eaten occasionally.
Our bodies are increasingly subjected to environmental pollution, which puts our immune system in a constant state of alert, increasing the occurrence of autoimmune diseases and intolerances.
Our intestine, also known as the second brain, is constantly under attack from the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, a slow metabolism and blood values that are not too comforting due to low fibre use and excessive sugar and fat consumption. Our bacterial flora and consequently our microbiota is seriously endangered and, more often than not, requires drastic corrective measures. Although the symptoms are not always attributable in the first instance to intestinal dysbiosis, chronic tiredness, lack of energy, disturbed quality of sleep, skin rashes, abdominal bloating, weight gain and constipation are warning signs that we are not eating properly.
The use of a conscious diet based mainly on vegetable sources, organic whole foods, the use of unsaturated ‘good’ fats, seeds, nuts and fibre is our best investment for the future of our health and our planet.
Before leaving you, I leave you with a recipe of my own: pomegranate guacamole
M for Pomegranate
I chose this fruit because:
It is a pharmacy in every way, a healthy and gourmet food that protects the heart and prostate and was already included in Babylon in the hanging gardens and considered one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Did you know that they are even celebrated in the Old Testament, recognised by the Greeks and Ancient Egypt?
There’s more to it than fashion.
This fruit is healthy in every part: the seeds, the pulp, the peel, the root, the flower, even the bark of the tree. A concentration of polyphenols, antioxidant substances that are very useful in fighting various diseases, as well as in staying young.
The polyphenol content is also varied, from flavonoids to anthocyanins, from ellagic acid to punicic acid. All these antioxidants have in common their effectiveness in preventing and assisting in the treatment of strokes, circulatory diseases in general and cancer.
Pomegranate acts directly on the plaque that causes atherosclerosis and causes it to recede; heart problems due to hypercholesterolaemia and hypertension can also benefit.
The new scientific studies that have already included it among the superfoods are focusing on other very interesting uses, from dental care to erectile dysfunction, arthritis, Alzeihmer’s disease and ulcerative colitis – not bad for a fruit with such small seeds!
Symbol of health, luck, fertility and immortality.
Pomegranates originally grew on the slopes of the Himalayas, from northern India to Iran, but are now cultivated throughout the Mediterranean basin.
It is good to know that its seeds can be frozen or dried. Dried seeds are called anardana and are used as a spice in marinades, sauces and desserts.
Its juice can also be drunk fresh to benefit from all its properties or added to various preparations. With its sour note it goes well with orange and lemon, but also with cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, onion, fennel, mint, chilli mustard and ginger.
Remember that the pomegranate should be bought fresh from October to January, then it is better to opt for conservation.
1 cup finely sliced spring onions
4 garlic cloves (optional)
2-3 chopped jalapeños chillies
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Clean avocados, remove stone, douse with lime juice and mash, add spring onions, garlic, chilli, coriander, pomegranate juice. Continue mashing, getting the consistency you like best, top with pomegranate seeds, serve with tortillas or croutons.
If you want to follow me online: www.paoladigiambattista.com