Delicious, Fun & Healthy Food


Spring Smoothies + My Recent Trip To New York

Smoothies, BreakfastLina LiwagComment

I truly am excited about Spring being here!  It's been a long winter and now my coat and boots have been put away.  I am also excited that we can have lots of berries, mangoes and watermelons... not just the usual apples or pears.

So with this new season, my family has been making lots of smoothies using the fruits and vegetables of the season.  While we have our own favourites, I try to be creative and regularly come up with different varieties just to make things fun and exciting.  Part of that is also embracing new healthy ingredients.  

Just recently,  we organized a “Lunch and Learn” smoothie making session at work and it was an opportunity for me to share some of my smoothie recipes with 15 ladies in our department (you can check my Instagram account here to see our picture posted that day).  A few of them were familiar with smoothie making while others were just starting.   After an hour, we all had a great time.  For me, I felt very encouraged that we can all learn together no matter where we’re at in our own pursuit of healthy eating. 


So here are two recipes that I shared with my co-workers.  The green smoothie (to my surprise) turned out to be their favourite!  I purposely did not bring kale, chard or any other "hard core" greens that may be too much for others.  I find that that spinach and microgreens are the best introductory options for greens.  And yes, they love the  addition of dried golden berries, sunflower microgreens and hemp hearts to their new and improved smoothie making times. There's  an earlier post for a green smoothie in January with more of the "technical stuff" and you can check it here.

Spring Blast Green Smoothie
Ingredients: (Preferebly Organic) 
2 c. baby spinach
1 handful sunflower microgreens (about 1 c.)
 1 champagne mango, cubed (about 1/2 c.)
1  ripe pear, chopped
2 Tbsp. hemp hearts
2 Tbsp. sprouted chia powder (I used this)
1 Tbsp. coconut butter
 2 Tbsp. dried golden berries
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 of a small avocado
1 3/4 c. filtered water
2 very small slices of fresh turmeric or ginger (optional)
ice (optional)

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.  Serves 2.   The fresh turmeric is something new that my husband and I found to be a nice addition in smoothies and juices.  This was not used  at the lunch and learn session.  You can also use ginger if you prefer.  Ice is also an option if you like a much colder drink.



Berry Blast Smoothie
 Ingredients: (Preferably Organic) 
1 c. spinach
1 c. red kale microgreens
1 c. blueberries
1/2 c. blackberries
3/4 c. strawberries
1 champagne mango, cubed (about 1/2 c.)
2 Tbsp. hemp hearts
2 Tbsp. sprouted chia powder (I used this)
2 Tbsp. lemon 
1/4 of a small avocado
1 1/2 c.  filtered water 
ice (optional)
1/4 c. coconut flakes (optional)

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.  Serves 2.    Add ice if you want a colder drink or freeze the berries before blending.  My son does not like coconut so I have marked the coconut flakes as an option (I love anything with coconuts).  This was his smoothie today:)  If you're a banana lover, you can also substitute the mango with 1/2 of a banana.

Other options: 

Different nut milks or coconut water.  
Other nuts and seeds of choice (nuts or bigger seeds like pumpkin and sunflower seeds when soaked overnight are best for digestibility) .




Hopefully, you can try these recipes and enjoy them as well.   If you happen to be new in smoothie making, it may take a while to get use to it but it gets better with time.  Experiment with your favourite fruits and vegetables and be open with new and unfamiliar ingredients.  It wasn't easy for me personally.  I grew up in the Philippines where we didn't eat our vegetables raw.   Green smoothies?  Who knew?


Here are some pics of my recent trip to New York.  The Institute for Integrative Nutrition had a Live Conference on May 4-5 for its students.  What an empowering and inspirational time to listen to great speakers and motivators.  It was also a great time to connect with so many future health coaches like me...about 1,100 of us during those two days at the Jazz at Lincoln Center.  Here's a page that shows the list the speakers. I just did not learn about Nutrition but also the call for mentorship, of becoming an agent of transformation and change and that showing people is more important than just telling them what to do.  I was inspired by these speakers who changed their lives first and are now helping to change other people's lives: Joe Cross (Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead), Christine Hassler and Michael Ellsberg.  

Today is a Holiday Monday in Canada and it was a good time to chill with the family. We had an outdoor church service yesterday and a picnic followed after.  I will definitely be  sharing some of the picnic pics next week.  I hope your week had a great start.  Enjoy the rest of it!






Fennel and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Arugula and Avocado

Salad, Lunch, DinnerLina LiwagComment

It's now officially spring but if you live in Toronto like me it doesn't really feel like spring at all...yet.  We had snow everyday last week but thankfully, it was mixed with some sun and some blue skies every now and then.  We tend to have the tendency to complain and be impatient...we seem to forget that there were previous years with more snowy days. I keep on wishing that next week will be a bit warmer and I think it will be.  I'm looking forward to the pretty blooms of the season.  So while waiting for that ideal spring weather and hopefully crank up the blender and the juicer, this semi-warm salad is perfect for now...comfort food for me and my family.


Fennel is one of my favourite veggies  and I've been buying them weekly for different varieties of salads.  This mixture happens to be a hearty one...great for the last snowy days of the year.  Fennel is so delicious and's a good source of Vitamin C, folate, potassium and fiber.  It also contains a powerful phytonutrient called anethole which has anti-inflammatory properties.  This salad is a great mix of yummy goodies and big enough for some packed lunch for the next day.



Fennel and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Arugula and Avocado
Ingredients (Preferably organic) 

2 c.   thinly sliced fennel (about 3/4 of a large fennel bulb)
1 c. dry quinoa
2 c. water
5 oz.  pack of wild arugula ( read item #4 on Method)
 1  1/2 c. sweet potatoes,  peeled and cut in cubes
1 avocado cut in cubes
1/3 c. sulphite-free dried cherries (or cranberries)
 1/3 c. green onions, chopped
 1/4 c. lightly toasted sliced almonds
1/2 t. coconut oil, melted 

2 Tbsp. cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
 juice of 1  1/2 lemons
2 Tbsp. sulphite-free balsamic vinegar
1/4 t. (or to taste) Himalayan Crystal salt
pinch of black pepper

  Rinse the quinoa under cold water by using a wire sieve and then drain.  Put the rinsed quinoa into a sauce pan and add the 2 cups water.  Cover and bring to a boil and as soon as it starts boiling, turn the heat down to simmer.  Open the lid to prevent from  boiling over.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed  then the lid can be put back on.  The quinoa turns a little transparent with spiral sprout when cooked.   Fluff and let it cool down.
2.  While the quinoa is cooking,  add the coconut oil to the sweet potatoes and roast them at  at 350F (I used the toaster oven)  for about 20-25 mins.
3.  Wash the fennel, cut off the green tops and stalks close to the bulb and also about 1/4" off the root end.  You can reserve the stalks for vegetable broth or soups. You can peel off the tough outer layer but if the bulb is tender, no need to do that.   Cut the bulb in half and clean out the hard core in the middle then slice thinly.
4. You can use regular arugula leaves.  Cut the leaves into 2 segments (maybe 3 for longer leaves)  so that they are not too long and stringy and easier to manage when the salad is being eaten.   Prep the avocado, green onions and lightly toast the almonds.
5.  Place  all the ingredients of the dressing in a jar including 1/2 of the green onions and with the lid on and tightly  closed, shake until well combined.
6.  Assemble the salad in a big bowl  by mixing the quinoa, greens, fennel,  sweet potatoes and 1/2 of the dried cherries.  Add the dressing then top with avocado, almonds, the rest of the dried cherries and the rest of the green onions.  Enjoy!  

1. Feel free to use another type of greens (baby spinach, mixed greens or baby kale) 
if you happen not to be a fan of arugula.
2. Dried golden berries can also be substituted for the the dried cherries.



I hope your first week of spring was awesome!  And for the rest of us who are still waiting for that perfect weather of the season, I know it's just around the corner now and pretty soon we will be enjoying the beautiful flowers and trees all around us.