Delicious, Fun & Healthy Food

Mango & Blueberry Popsicles (Two Versions)

Dessert, Frozen TreatsLina LiwagComment

It’s been a hot Summer in Toronto.   The heat wave kinda weather that’s consistent every single day.   As I'm writing this, it's 29 degrees but feels like 37!  I love it being the tropical kind of girl that I am but I have to make sure that I cool down and hydrate myself  as well as my family.

In addition to water, high raw food is the way to go when it comes to surviving the constant heat – green juices, smoothies, fruits, salads and the special cold treats like these popsicles.   I shared a mango salad in my last post and also mentioned my love for mangoes!   I love pairing them with blueberries in smoothies and desserts!  Personally, I think that they’re just the perfect match, complementing each other’s flavours, colours and textures.

This recipe is simple and so easy to make.  It only has 5 ingredients and as long as you also have a blender and a mould of some sort, you’re good to go.  And did I tell you that no sugar is necessary as mango will sweeten this  for you?  Just make sure they're extra ripe.  Both of the layers have it.   The recipe has  2 versions, one lighter and the other more creamy.  

Mango & Blueberry Popsicle

Mango layer:

1 3/4 cups very ripe mangoes cut in cubes, approximately 1 1/2 large mangoes
3/4 c.  coconut milk
1 Tbsp. sprouted chia powder (I used this brand), optional and see variation
1 Tbsp. lime

Blueberry layer:

1 1/4 c. frozen blueberries
1/2  c. mango cut in cubes
1/4 c. coconut milk
1 tsp. sprouted chia powder (optional)
1 tsp. lime

Blend the ingredients for each layer separately and pour into a container with a spout.  Pour alternately into a popsicle mould. Use a spoon to help ease filling them.   Tap the mould into the counter a few times to prevent air bubbles.  Sometimes you can't really prevent them, it will still taste great.  Insert the popsicle sticks.  Freeze for minimum of 4 hours or overnight.  To serve, run warm water into the mould and pull them out gently.  

Variation - same measurements as above but with the following changes:
Coconut cream creates a more creamy and silky mango layer
Fresh blueberries also yield a different hue as seen in the photo below


A more creamy version using coconut cream instead of coconut milk + fresh blueberries and no chia

A more creamy version using coconut cream instead of coconut milk + fresh blueberries and no chia

It's been a busy and great Summer for me and my family.  You can check my Instagram page here
where you can see what I've been up to.  I've been making food for family and friends while teaching others how to make plant based recipes whenever I get the chance.  And while were talking about this hot weather,  we also love infused water as seen here and here.  And what's Summer without beautiful wild flowers like these Queen Anne's Lace near our home.  

Summer Mango Salad

SaladLina LiwagComment

It's definitely the height of Summer here in Toronto.  It's so hot and humid!  Some people complain but I definitely love this kind of weather.  Tropical is the word.  It reminds me of beach days in the Philippines.  I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can 'cuz I know that down the road snow will becoming.  

This is the also the season for lighter meals.  Lots of water, green juices, smoothies, fruits and veggies are what our bodies naturally crave at this time.  Hydration is the key.  We've been cranking our old but reliable Blendtec these days and chopping fruits and veggies for salads and snacks.  

Mangoes have been showing up at the markets in their best form lately - the ripe and juicy kind with the smoothest flesh - best enjoyed by self-proclaimed mango connoisseurs like me.  I grew up in a mango growing region in the Philippines and I've eaten tons, that's my only qualification I must say.  I love a great tasting mango!

So it's not so surprising that we've been using them in our favourite recipes while they're here: smoothies, popsicles and of course, salads.  Yesterday, my friends Sam and Rowena came over to learn how to make more plant-based meals and this is one of the salad recipes that I shared with them.  Light and refreshing is how I would describe Summer Mango Salad.  It's also nut-free and soy-free.

Summer Mango Salad


2 large ripe but firm mangoes, cut into matchsticks size
2 cups purple cabbage, cut into julienne size strips
1 large or 2 small carrots, julienned
1/2 of a cucumber, julienned  
1 small sweet pepper, julienned
8-10 mint leaves, sliced thinly
3 Tbsp. minced red onions
1/3 c. pumpkin seeds, toasted

Wash and prep all ingredients.  I used a mandolin to cut the mangoes, carrots and cucumber in uniform thickness then I sliced them into julienne sizes.   I also used it to shred the purple cabbage in the same thickness.  It's such a helpful tool.  Toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan on medium heat for about 3 to 4 mins. and to watch carefully making sure they do not burn. 


1/3 c. avocado or walnut  oil
3 1/2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. stone ground mustard (I used this)
2 tsp. maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

Place everything in a NutriBullet or a blender and whizz briefly until the dressing turns smooth.  Adjust the taste if necessary,  

In a large bowl, mix the carrots, purple cabbage, sweet peppers and red onions.  Add some dressing.  Let it sit for 15-20 mins. for them to soften.   Before plating and serving, add the mangoes, cucumber and some of the mint with more dressing.  Top with pumpkin seeds and the rest of the mint.  Enjoy!

You can also add greens and slices of avocado if you want this to be more substantial.  

Hope you're having a fabulous Summer. You'll see more mangoes in the next few posts, I promise. I'm trying my best to take 'blog worthy' photos in between my busy schedule at my 9-5 job and my family.  I'm looking forward to sharing them soon.    Cheers!




Strawberry & Chocolate Ice Cream Cups (Raw)

Raw Dessert, DessertLina LiwagComment

Strawberries and chocolates.  This combo is seriously delicious!  It's not just my favourite but the whole family's especially my son.  This dessert is made specifically for him.  I usually get a list of what he wants to eat during the week.  Now that he has a summer job, it includes his packed lunches and snacks but this is for that special treat usually enjoyed after those few days where he has to take a 2 hour bus ride home.  

Desserts doesn't have to be complicated.  They should have wholesome ingredients, quick to make and the serving just enough to satisfy that sweet craving.  This recipe is all that.  Here are the tools necessary in making this recipe:
- A high speed blender (this is a must to get that smooth consistency of the ice cream cups).
-  Silicone mini-moulds (I used these) or mini muffin liners
- Muffin tray like one of these
- Small sauce pan to melt the coconut oil and/or cacao butter.


Strawberry & Chocolate Ice Cream Cups

Strawberry Layer
1/2 lb. organic strawberries, approximately 1/2 pack
+ a few more for toppings (thinly sliced)
2 c. raw cashews, soaked overnight and rinsed
1/4 c. fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. maple syrup or raw honey
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence or powder
2 Tbsp. frozen blueberries (optional and for colour balance only)

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender with the berries and all the liquid ingredients being on the bottom and the cashews on top for easier blending.  Whizz until smooth.  Adjust the taste. Line the muffin tray with the silicone moulds or muffin liners then pour the mixture into each cavity, leaving approximately 1/8" for the chocolate topping (see photo above).  Lightly bang the tray a few times into the counter so the mixture settle.  Freeze for 3 - 3/12 hours.

Chocolate Topping
1/2 c. chopped cacao butter or coconut oil
1/2 c. raw cacao powder
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla

A few drops of orange oil (optional)
pinch of good salt

In a small sauce pan, boil water then lower the heat.  Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and then place the bowl on top of the pan and stir until the mixture is well incorporated.  Take  out the frozen berry cups then spoon 2 - 2/12 Tbsp. of the chocolate sauce on top.  Let it set for 2-3 minutes then top with thinly sliced strawberries and other things that you may fancy like flowers or chopped nuts.   Peel off the liners, let it thaw for 8-10 mins. and serve.  Enjoy!

So it's Father's Day tomorrow.  I hope you will make this day a special one for the special dad in your family.  My hubby doesn't want any gifts so I decided to make him my version of homemade chocolates.  They usually give him that big smile.

For this month of June, I'm learning about the heart, my own heart specifically.  It's the perfect time to understand God's wisdom about it and see where I can change.  And as always, every time you embark on learning something, you sure get tested.  Change is not always easy but everything will all work out in the end. 

"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."
Proverbs 4:23, NLT

Avocado Toast, Tropical Style

Breakfast, Appetizers, SnacksLina LiwagComment

I just love avocado toast!  It's so delicious, easy to make, comforting and it always makes me smile!  Especially when Spring in Toronto can't seem to make up her mind.  

There are so many versions or flavours of this wonderful thing.  And the good news is: the components are not complicated and anybody can make it!  This is a great family activity on a Saturday morning which the kids would love to join in.  


Fresh bread with the best ingredients is the most important thing for this recipe.  I love to use organic sourdough or rye bread.  For those who are sensitive to gluten, use your favourite gluten-free bread.  Raw flat bread made of almonds and flax seed is also a great option.  I've served the recipe using them in my last raw food tea party and they were a hit just the same.  Ripe but firm avocado is also a must - unless you're a fan of the more mushy ones like my hubby.  The rest of the components is a mix and match at your own preference -  be creative. 

Here's my own version of the avocado toast, tropical style.  It reminds me of Hawaii and Philippines.  I have served them many times to friends and family.  They're always  a crowd pleaser I must say!  The combination of creamy, sweet, tart, and crunchy items + herbs and toasted bread makes it a perfect and delicious option for breakfast, brunch or snack.  It will make you smile!

Avocado Toast, Tropical Style
1-2 ripe but firm avocado, cut and pitted
1-2 ripe mangoes, cut into cubes
1/2 - 3/4 c. cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
1 tbsp. red onion, minced
1 small purple daikon or a few red radish, thinly cut
juice of 1/2 lime or more
1/4 c. cilantro leaves
pinch of good salt and optional black pepper
Slices of sourdough, rye bread or gluten-free option

Prep all the ingredients and before serving, toast the bread. In a bowl, mix  the mango, tomatoes, onions, lime, salt and some of the cilantro leaves leaving some for topping.  Depending on how big your bread slices and your avocados, scoop 1/4- 1/2 of the avocado and spread on the bread by using the tines of a fork.  Top with mango salsa, a few daikon slices and more cilantro.  Enjoy!

Below is another version using homemade flat bread, shaved purple cabbage dressed in cashew cream and edible flowers.  We enjoyed this last year in my Raw Tea Party. 

Another  version using raw flatbread and purple cabbage

Another  version using raw flatbread and purple cabbage

Recently, I went home to the Philippines.   I had a good dose of my long missed tropical fixes and get to hang out with  my favourite people including high school classmates and teachers. My family lives in the northernmost tip of the country where we still grow our own rice, vegetables and lots of fruits since land is abundant there, thanks to our older generation who started it all.  The ocean is not too far away either although no beach days for me as it rained so much for the whole week that I was there.  I enjoyed spending time playing with my nephews and nieces in Manila, especially the younger ones.  I miss them so much!

  I'm very grateful that I have the best of both worlds: cosmopolitan Toronto and the muddy rice fields of my childhood.  I was able to ride in the same boats (just like in my high school days)  to cross the river in order to visit Aparri.  I still have several of my high school friends there.  Shopping in open markets  was fun!  There were fresh seaweeds and pako (tropical version of fiddleheads), taro shoots, the juiciest  jicama and the best bananas.  The supply of young and mature coconuts never runs out since all you need is a skillful young man to climb the tall trees in the backyard.  My sister is the new(er) modern-day  farmer, mixing some science and good old passed me down wisdom from older generation farming techniques.  She graduated from UP Los Banos many years ago specializing in Agriculture and is now managing what our ancestors left us.  These days, her garden has tons of red dragonfruits, bananas, pomelo in addition to trees my dad planted when we were young: mangos, tamarind, mandarin oranges, chico and coconuts.

 My dad is now 91.  He still has a sharp memory and is the classic story-teller who remembers things that happened so many years ago.  He loves to read using a magnifying glass and never his prescription glasses.  My heart was full.  Here are some of the photos.

My dad at 91.  

My dad at 91.  

Roasted Spaghetti Squash With Arugula and Hemp Pesto

Dinner, LunchLina LiwagComment

It's the middle of winter here in Toronto.  I'm making a lot of cooked and nourishing meals to keep us warm. This weekend, my boy was home relaxing from all his busy days at the University. I thought of making something new: spaghetti squash.  He loves good food and he's my biggest critic.  I'm so happy to say that he enjoyed this recipe!

Spaghetti squash is nutritious.  It's packed with Vitamins A, B and C.  It also has beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that promote good eye health.  Consider this as a better option than the regular pasta.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash With  Arugula and Hemp Pesto
Ingredients (preferably organic)

1 medium size spaghetti squash
1 Tbsp. avocado oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the squash into half and remove the seeds.  Drizzle the oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Transfer into a roasting pan lined with parchment paper and roast, cut side down until soft, approximately 45-50 mins. depending on the size of the squash.  While roasting, prep the arugula salad and pesto.  When the squash is cooked, use a fork to scrape the flesh into long strands.   Transfer into a bowl and add some of the pesto and toss to combine.   Martha Stewart has a neat video on cooking spaghetti squash by stove top method.   Take a look here.

Arugula Salad
2-3 handful of arugula leaves
1 small purple daikon or watermelon radish, cut thinly (I used a mandolin)
1  cup frozen edamame, soaked in boiling water for 3 mins. then drained
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4  tsp. stone ground mustard
1 tsp. maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste.

Prep the salad components and mix the dressing in a small jar.  Dress the greens just before serving.

Hemp Pesto
1 1/2 c. packed basil leaves
1/2 c. hemp hearts
2 Tbsp. pine nuts (or more hemp)
1/4 c. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic (depending on taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place everything in a food processor.  Pulse several times, scraping the sides.  Taste and adjust accordingly.  I was conservative in adding extra oil but feel free to add more to suit your taste.


In a salad bowl, combine the arugula leaves with half of the purple daikon and half of the edamame.   Add some of the dressing and toss. Adjust the taste.   To serve, use the arugula as a bed for the squash and top with the rest of the edamame and purple daikon or even more pesto.   Enjoy!


If you live in a cold place like I do,  I hope you're keeping warm.   This meal is also great with a good bowl of hot soup which I've also been making.  I love this older recipe here. I can't wait to catch some sunshine somewhere warm soon!