Delicious, Fun & Healthy Food

Homemade Chocolate Milk (Making Your Own Nut Milks)

DrinkLina LiwagComment

Happy 2016!  What have you been up to recently?  It felt like the holidays and even the year went by so fast as we’re now approaching the middle part of January.   

2015 was quite a hectic year for me.  My body feels it and knows it all too well that I have decided to take a slower pace.  Now, I’ve been going to bed so much earlier than I used to.  I’ve taken a break from Instagram (yay!).  I’ve also decided to connect more with family and old friends, not just by social media but face to face and hanging out. And I’m back to the yoga studio again!  I'll look forward to re-evaluating myself at the end of the year and let's see how things will turn out then.  I'm hoping that I will do well!

When it comes to healthy eating, I know that we all can do something.  It doesn’t have to be complicated.  It can be drinking more water.  Maybe eating more plants or packing our own lunch.   Something we can sustain over time.

One of the simple things that I teach in my cooking classes is making nut milks.  This is great for those who are trying to avoid  dairy.  Also, even the packaged nut milks contain unnecessary processed ingredients.    And isn’t it exciting if we can make homemade chocolate milks for us and our children?   We can count our own ingredients - maximum 4-5, instead of unfamiliar ones shown here.

Homemade Chocolate Milk
Serves 2

2 cups homemade almond milk or cashew milk (see recipe below)
1 cup warm or room temperature filtered water
2 Tbsp. cacao powder, I used this
2 Tbsp. coconut sugar or maple syrup
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped  or 1/4 tsp. vanilla powder

Optional add-ins (create additional flavours and really delicious)
1 Tbsp. lucuma powder
2 tsp. maca powder
pinch of good salt

Blend all ingredients until well incorporated.  It can be served warm or iced cold.

Homemade Nut Milk

1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
or 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 6 hours, drained and rinsed
4 cups filtered water

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and whizz for up to 60 seconds until the water turns opaque.  You would need a nut milk bag to strain the pulp from the almonds.  If using cashews, it's not necessary.   If you want to sweeten your nut milk, you can add 2 pitted Medjool dates.   You can also check this older post  on how to make homemade coconut milk or macadamia milk. 


Wishing you the best of 2016!



Fall Abundance Bowl

Dinner, Lunch, SaladLina Liwag1 Comment


Fall.  Such a beautiful season!   The air is cool. The trees are bursting with colours.  Even the fashion has more character. At this time, we also see a lot of colourful vegetables: squash, beets, radishes, heirloom carrots and kohlrabi in various shades and varieties.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I visited Montreal.  Our friend Chloe took us around this charming city.  We explored the place mostly by foot.  We checked out markets, spice and tea stores, unique cafes and artisanal shops.  We ate awesome food and met new friends.  One of the places we visited was Marche Jean Talon, a huge market displaying all the wonderful produce of Quebec.  The sights, smell and energy of this place was intoxicating to a foodie.   I just had that urge to cook when I was there!

So here's a dish I made this weekend - inspired by the new season and our recent trip to Montreal.  I call it 'Fall Abundance Bowl.' This is a mix of raw and cooked salad, a bit more satisfying and grounding as our bodies also change with the season.  You can definitely design your own abundance bowl with whatever vegetables and other ingredients available in your own kitchen.  This is a huge dish which is also great for packed lunches.

Roasted Veggie: 
1  medium delicata squash, cut into 1/2" thick ( no need to peel if not too mature) 
4- 5  sprigs of thyme
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Place the cut squash in a roasting pan and mix it up with the other ingredients.  Roast for 25-30 minutes until slightly brown and tender. 

3 cups shredded purple cabbage
2 carrots, shredded or shaved using a veggie peeler
A few radishes, thinly sliced
2 handful of microgreens
4-6 Romaine leaves, chopped or any greens of choice
2 c. cooked quinoa or grain of choice
1 c. cooked white beans or chickpeas
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. pumpkin seeds (lightly toasted for more flavour) 
4 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally

1/3 c. tahini
1/3 c. water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. apple  cider vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. tamari (optional) 
1 small garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
salt  and pepper to taste 

Serve on bowls arranging the different components to show off their different colours. Drizzle the  dressing. 

Suggestions:  Use different vegetables and a different dressing.  I had these two older posts here and here

Here are the photos from Montreal.  


I hope you're enjoying Fall with its rich colours, wonderful food at the market and even just taking out your jacket, scarf and boots from storage.  



"Vietnamese Style" Rainbow Noodle Salad

Salad, Dinner, LunchLina LiwagComment

It feels like an endless summer here in Toronto and I'm loving it!  Salads are still the way to go when it's hot and sticky outside.  Vietnamese vermicelli salad used to be one of my favourite Asian-inspired dishes and I've since tweaked this classic to make it more enjoyable for my family and guests.  My friend Pressie loved it when we had her family over three weeks ago.

"Vietnamese Style" Rainbow Noodle Salad

1/2  package brown rice and millet noodles (cooked according to package directions)
or your choice of gluten-free noodles
3 cups shredded purple cabbage
2 carrots, peeled and  spiralized or cut into thin julienne
1 zucchini spiralized or cut into thin julienne
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/3 c. sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
1/4 c. mint leaves, thinly cut
1/4 c. cilantro, thinly cut

1/4 c. lime juice
4 Tbs. Braggs liquid aminos
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1  1/2 Tbsp. avocado oil or walnut oil
1  1/2  Tbsp. toasted sesame seed oil
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced

Prep all ingredients and assemble the salad 30 mins. before serving.  Leave some of the herbs, peas and sunflower seeds for topping.  This can serve from 6-8 people.  See some variations below.



There's a lot of ways this can be made:  adding your own choices of veggies and protein.  Sprouts and cucumber are great as well.  For a 100% plant-based option, I added green peas and toasted sunflower seeds.  Instead of using rice vermicelli, I went for brown rice and millet noodles (I used this brand).  For the dressing, I've replaced fish sauce with Braggs liquid aminos like this but  feel free to use coconut aminos or soya sauce or tamari. 

I hope you've been enjoying the last part of the Summer.  Tomorrow most kids go back to school in Canada.  My son started University a bit early last Thursday...exciting times for our family!  We're so grateful for this new milestone.    To celebrate the Labour Day weekend, we get to join our friends at a beach day yesterday.  We drove 2 hours to the Sandbanks and we had a blast!  I'm sharing some of the photos we took.


Peach & Blueberry Mini-Cheesecakes

Lina LiwagComment

Peaches and blueberries.  Bright.  Colourful.  Delicious.  We have a lovely harvest of organic local peaches here in Ontario at this time.  And there's always blueberries in our freezer every single day (thanks to my husband).  Combining these  two fruits in a dessert is just wonderful.  A perfect Sunday afternoon project for me. 

I usually make regular size cheesecakes but this time, I opted for the  mini ones.  They are easier to serve and also to store in the freezer.  You would need a 6-cup jumbo silicone or non-stick muffin pan as  a mould.  I used  this one.  If you're using a non silicone mould, line the muffin holes with plastic wrap for easier removal later. 


Peach & Blueberry Mini-Cheesecakes

Ingredients: Organic is preferable

1 1/4 c. raw pecans or almonds
6 large Turkish figs, chopped
2 Tbsp. water

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you achieve a sticky consistency.  Scoop 2 1/2 - 3 Tbsp. of the crust into each muffin hole and press into the bottom.  Everything should perfectly fit into all 6.  Store into the freezer while making the Filling.


2 c.raw cashews soaked overnight, rinsed
2 medium peaches, peeled and chopped, approximately 2 cups.
1 c.  frozen (and thawed) or fresh blueberries (frozen gives it a darker hue)
2/3 c. coconut oil, melted
1/3  - 1/2 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla essence

Add the cashews, maple syrup, lemon and vanilla into a high speed blender.  Blend until smooth.  Set aside half of the mixture and leave the rest in the blender.  Add the peaches into this and blend until well combined.  Add half of the coconut oil and whizz briefly. Adjust the taste.  Reserve 1/4 c.  to be used for swirling.  Pour halfway into each muffin hole then place in the freezer  for at least 15 mins. while you go prep the next layer.  Rinse the blender .  Add the rest of the cashews  and blueberries and blend until smooth.  Mix the rest of the coconut oil and whizz briefly.  Adjust the taste.  Pour over the peach layer.  To make swirls:  Place a few dots (about 1/2 tsp ea.) of the peach mixture over the blueberry mixture then using the end of a chopstick (others use a toothpick), create some swirl designs.   Freeze until firm, approximately 3- 3 1/2 hours. 

As mentioned in my earlier post, I hosted a Mini-Raw Cafe at our home in the early part of Summer.   I served many of my raw creations to my friends.  They even came early to help me prep and set up.  How about that for guests!  It was a lot of work but it was a blast!  Here are some of the photos.  I'm hoping to have another project like this is in the future again.  It was so much fun!

 Organic teas.  Flowers from my friend Aleni's garden. 

Organic teas.  Flowers from my friend Aleni's garden. 

 Hawaiian Toast.  Raw Almond Bread.  Avocado.  Purple Cabbage.  Mango Salsa. Herbs.  Edible Flowers. Cashew Cream.

Hawaiian Toast.  Raw Almond Bread.  Avocado.  Purple Cabbage.  Mango Salsa. Herbs.  Edible Flowers. Cashew Cream.

 Flax Crackers in various flavours. 

Flax Crackers in various flavours. 

 Candy cane beets.  Raw Macadamia Cheese. Capers. Microgreens.  Edible Flowers. 

Candy cane beets.  Raw Macadamia Cheese. Capers. Microgreens.  Edible Flowers. 

 Red peppercorn fermented cashew cream cheese on flax crackers.  Pickled radish. Amaranth microgreens.  Flowers.

Red peppercorn fermented cashew cream cheese on flax crackers.  Pickled radish. Amaranth microgreens.  Flowers.

Cauliflower & Hemp Couscous on Romaine Boats + More Culinary Training in Raw Cuisine

Lunch, Dinner, RawLina LiwagComment

It's Summer!  And what best way to celebrate the hot and sunny days than making food from fresh and local produce.  Cauliflower is not just meant for dishes like "Aloo Gobi" (which I love by the way) but can also be eaten raw!   

Cauliflower Couscous -  what is it anyway?  It's raw cauliflower processed into  "couscous-like" size by using a food processor, usually served as a salad or as a component of a salad.   It may not be too appealing to some but with the right ingredients, it actually tastes rad.  Here's one of my favourite recipes. 

Cauliflower and Hemp Couscous 0n Romaine Boats

1 small cauliflower, any variety (I used an orange one),
chopped (approx. 3 cups or 383 g.)
1/2 c. hemp hearts
1/3 c. parsley, roughly chopped
1/3 c. basil, cut into chiffonade
1/4 c. chives, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. pine nuts ( or increase hemp hearts)
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional, gives it a "cheesy taste") 
Salt and pepper to taste 

In a food processor, place the cauliflower and all the other ingredients except the hemp hearts.  Pulse until the mixture turns into grain-like or couscous-like size (see above photo).  Add the hemp hearts and pulse briefly.  Adjust the taste.  Leave for 30 minutes to marinate.  It even tastes better the next day.  

Romaine Boats:
A few romaine hearts (Boston bibb or butter lettuce leaves can also be used)
1 -  1 1/2 avocados, seeded, peeled and cut into cubes
1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or pieces
A few microgreens
Edible flowers if available
quick red onion pickles (or any pickles of choice)

Red Onion Pickles:
 medium red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. maple syrup
1½ teaspoons Himalayan salt
A few peppercorns and coriander seeds

In a small bowl, combine the water, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and spices and stir to dissolve the salt and sweetener.  Place the onions in a clean mason jar and pour the liquid over.  Let it marinate for one hour to use in this recipe but overnight is better. 

Sauce: (optional but tastes great)
Tahini sauce, see the recipe here

To Assemble:
Spread the couscous on the romaine leaves.  If using the sauce, add a few dollops on over the couscous  then add the rest of the toppings.  It can also be served with greens on a salad.  Enjoy!

 Basil, one of my fav herbs

Basil, one of my fav herbs

 Annabelle hydrangea from our backyard

Annabelle hydrangea from our backyard

In addition to fresh produce, there's tons of lovely flowers around us these days.  I love my walks as I get to visit a mini-forest in our neighbourhood which has various wild varieties of flowers.  I hope Summer won't fly too fast!  

I received my Certification in Advanced Raw Cuisine from the Matthew Kenney Culinary in April.  With this comes 270 hours of training including a Plant-based Desserts course.

 In May, I also had the opportunity to go to England and train further in Raw Cuisine with Deborah Durrant.  The program was called "Taste."   It was an intensive one week course held in the beautiful city of Bath.   Deb is a teacher that everyone would want to have: passionate, inspirational and kind hearted.  Her courses in Raw Cuisine are not just about teaching recipes but more so on practical techniques and real life application.  You can check her website here.

While in London, I also met  Amy Levin, the awesome raw chocolate guru.  I spent an afternoon with her learning about raw chocolate making.

I have such  great memories in Bath, Kent and London meeting new friends, reconnecting with relatives and childhood friends and most of all learning new things.  Below are some of the photos.  For more, please visit my Instagram page here.

 Carrot Pate.  English Veggies.  Celery and Fennel Gastrique.  Balsamic Reduction.  One of my final projects in Bath, England.  Photo courtesy of Dawn Langley.

Carrot Pate.  English Veggies.  Celery and Fennel Gastrique.  Balsamic Reduction.  One of my final projects in Bath, England.  Photo courtesy of Dawn Langley.

 Lavender & Citrus Ice Cream.  English Strawberries.  Berry Coulis.  Hazelnut & Ginger Crumb.  Photo by Dawn Langley.

Lavender & Citrus Ice Cream.  English Strawberries.  Berry Coulis.  Hazelnut & Ginger Crumb.  Photo by Dawn Langley.

And here are some photos that I took as a Canadian tourist.  

 Bath, such a beautiful and romantic place. 

Bath, such a beautiful and romantic place. 

I hope you're enjoying your Summer!  Recently, I threw a "Mini-Raw Cafe" at home for some of my friends.  We all had a blast and enjoyed raw snacks and sweets.  I will be sharing that on my next post.   Hope to touch base soon!