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Hemp hearts

Easy To Make Energy Bars + "Primary Foods"

Snacks, Energy Bars, DessertLina Liwag2 Comments

It feels like we just blinked and June is here!  I'm excited that Summer is just around the corner!   Although our weather here has been very unpredictable lately with lots of rain and thunderstorms, I'm still grateful for the changing of the seasons. 

Summer is also for vacations and we're trying to get ready for ours.  One of the things I think about of course is food...munchies to pack when you go swimming or hiking.  So this weekend, I made some energy bars just to get myself into that vacation mode.



Energy bars are really popular these days...they are no longer just sold at the Health Food stores but they are now at your regular supermarkets,  drugstores and even at gas stations.  Yes,  they can be handy for snacks but have you ever tried reading their ingredients?  They can be loaded with high amounts of processed sugars and preservatives.  Sometimes, it's even hard to figure out what's in them as the fonts in some of their packaging are too small to read.

There was a time when I used to shell out $4.99 for a raw and healthy version of these but one day, I made the decision to start making them in my own kitchen. There's nothing like being aware of what you're putting into your own food and saving money at the same time.  And the best thing is...  there's hardly any processing involved here and it's easy to make.   This was originally inspired by a recipe from a Canadian health magazine called Vitality.  I tweaked it to my own version and here it is now. 


Easy To Make Energy Bars

Ingredients (Preferably Organic):
2 c. almonds
1 c. dehydrated coconut flakes or unsweetened shredded coconuts 
1 c. hemp hearts
1/4 c. sprouted chia powder (I used this brand) or chia seeds
1/4 c. unhulled sesame seeds
1/2 c. goji berries 
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
4  Medjool dates, pitted and chopped 
1/3 c.  filtered water (for soaking the dates)
1 c. protein powder (optional, see notes)
1/2 tsp. vanilla powder (omit if using a vanilla flavoured protein powder)

1. Soak the dates for 15 minutes and  reserve the water.  
2. While the dates are soaking, grind the almonds in a food processor or in a blender until they turn into a coarse meal.  Transfer into a pan or container where you plan to store the bars (I used an 8" x 8" Pyrex glass dish).  Combine the other dry ingredients.
3. If you are using coconut flakes, lightly pulse them as well until they resemble the size of shredded coconuts then add them to the mixture.
4.. Blend the dates and the water until smooth.
5. Add  the date paste and the melted coconut oil into the dry ingredients.  Mix well then spread evenly into the pan.  Press firmly to about 3/4" thick.
 6.  Let it set in the freezer for 1 hour then cut them up into bars (the size is all up to you).  I cut mine at 1 1/2" x 3" and this recipe yielded about 16 bars.  They can be stored in the fridge for about 5 days and in the freezer for later use. I actually enjoy the semi-frozen state of this bar better so maybe try that as well.  Enjoy!

1.  You can pretty much be creative with your own additions to this recipe. For those who love maca, lucuma, spirulina  or mesquite powder - feel free to experiment (I don't react very well to some of these ingredients).  Other nuts and seeds are fine as well.
2.  You can definitely increase the dates to 5.  I brought some to my workplace and my co-workers thought that the sweetness was perfect. 
3.  I use Sun Warrior Vanilla Brown Rice Protein Powder.  Hemp protein powder is also a good option although I haven't tried it yet (check this brand) . If you decide to omit the protein powder, the taste will still be fine.   I don't always include it.



 At The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I learned that there are two types of foods: "Primary Foods" and "Secondary Foods." (check this article).   Primary foods in detail are: spirituality, healthy relationships, regular physical activity and a fulfilling career.  If all of these things are in working order and are balanced, the food we eat becomes secondary.   

For me, my spiritual beliefs are the driving force in my life.  I have not always had great takes so much effort to love someone who has hurt me.  This continues to be a journey in my life.   With the help of the Scriptures, my husband and my close friends, I am being transformed slowly but surely.


I was recently inspired by these colourful hats at a store in downtown Toronto.  It makes me feel excited about the coming of Summer.  What are your plans for the Summer?  I wish you great times and memories with your loved ones! 



Zucchini Noodles With Rose Sauce + Happy Mother's Day

Salad, Dinner, LunchLina LiwagComment

Happy Mother’s Day!  I send love to all mothers out there...I hope you felt special and fab today.  I know one day is not enough for your recognition but take it all in and celebrate your day!

I’ve been absent from this blog for three weeks now.  It’s been quite busy for me.  Part of this was a trip to New York City.  The Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I'm training to become a holistic health coach held a Live Conference last week and I'm so thankful that I was able to attend.  I will be sharing about the conference on next week's post.

In the meantime, I am very excited to talk about my favourite season - spring.  If you live in Toronto like me, it’s been a long time coming.  This week the spring blooms are finally out,  the trees are no longer just branches and skeletons... their leaves are back.  How exciting to see the cycle of life moving on!

Part of spring is a different way of eating as with the new season come different harvest of foods: leafy greens, sprouts or microgreens and berries.  For me personally, my body crave for salads and green longer the soups and stews of winter.


Here is a favourite salad that we enjoy a lot at our home: zucchini pasta or noodles...UNCOOKED.  Yes you can definitely eat it raw and those days when you crave some starchy pasta, this baby is an awesome sub.  If you're familiar with raw food restaurants, this is one of their most popular dishes.  You can definitely make it at home without having to pay $14/order.  It will be just as good!  The zucchini can be spiralized by the use of this machine.   However, for budget conscious people like me, you can use this simple gadget called julienne peeler and it will do the job just the same.  Please make sure that you pick out organic zucchinis since it is now on the list of produce with high pesticide residue (please check this list). 

The dressing is my version of “Rose Sauce.” No cream necessary.  The simple creaminess here comes from hemp hearts mixed with organic sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil microgreens, lemon and a bit of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar.  Hemp hearts are shelled hemp seeds, bursting with proteins (10 g/3 T.), essential fats, vitamins and minerals (please check out this link).  What’s really great is that Canada is a big producer of hemp hearts...check this out.



Zucchini Noodles With Rose Sauce

Ingredients: (Preferably Organic)

For the salad:
4-5 pieces zucchini, washed, peeled and spiralized or julienned
microgreens for toppings ( I used radish)

For the dressing:
1/3 c. hemp hearts 
3 Tbsp. sliced sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for 20 mins. in 1/4 c. of filtered water
1/4 c. basil microgreens or 6 leaves of regular basil
1 clove of garlic, pressed and chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
1/2 - 3/4 c.  filtered water


1. Wash, peel (very lightly)  and spiralize or julienne the zucchinis.  Set aside.
2. Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender including the soaking water from the sun-dried tomato. Blend until smooth and creamy.  Adjust the taste may want the mixture more tart or a bit thinner so you can just add more lemon or water as you like it.  Salt or oil is not necessary as the mixture is perfect as is.  There will be some leftover of this dressing and it can be stored in a jar at the fridge.  It should be good for 2-3 days and can be used as a dressing for other kinds of salads (I love it on romaine salad) or even as dipping sauce for veggies.
3. Before serving, mix some sauce with the zucchini pasta and top with your own choice of microgreens.  

Note:  It is preferable to add the sauce just before serving as you do not want the zucchini to become watery.   Please feel free to add any toppings of your choice.  Enjoy!



I really hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration.  My family went out for dinner with my mother-in-law yesterday and we also enjoyed the beautiful flowers of spring in Toronto. My mom passed away 11 years ago in the Philippines and I do miss her on this special  occasion.  She was an avid gardener and her orchids are still around to this day being enjoyed by everyone.  The pretty blooms remind me of her.  She was a very special mother to all of her 7 children and as a wife to my 89-year old father.  I miss you Mamang!