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Black Rice Noodle Salad With Purple & White Cauliflower + A Few Healthy Tips

Lunch, Salad, Asian, DinnerLina LiwagComment

When I saw this purple cauliflower at the market the other day, I just knew right away that I had to buy it.  Some girls are charmed by pretty flowers...I get carried away with fresh and colourful produce!  I originally wanted to make soup out of this pretty thing. Purple soup would really be amazing but it's summer and having soup now just didn't feel right to me so I've decided to postpone that soup for the fall.  Here's a noodle salad that's a little bit more appropriate for the season.  

Why purple? The colour actually means the presence of anthocyanin.  Anthocyanin  is responsible for the red, purple and blue colours present in vegetables, grains and fruits like blueberries or blackberries. Health experts say it’s a cancer fighter and  helps prevent  heart disease and improves memory.  Cauliflower (both varieties) is rich in vitamin C.  It also provides a good amount of fiber,  B Vitamins as well as Vitamin K, manganese and potassium. 



Before I get to the recipe, let me talk a little bit about a couple of  healthy tips.  In a previous post, I touched on Primary Foods (check the article here)   which I consider to be the core of  my health and wellness journey.  At this time, I would like to share  some of the practical things that I've done and continue to do.

Tip #1 - I was open to learning and the first book  I read was "Fit For Life" by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.  It was in 1994 when I made a shift from an all-Filipino diet to a lifestyle of eating differently.  The reason I desired for a change was due to regular migraine headaches that I was having then. 

Tip#2 - It's not easy to make a lifestyle keep it simple and start slowly. Based on my culture, eating white rice (and a lot of it) with meat was a norm.  Although I was not a big meat small change came about  by being more conscious of eating less rice and  then adding raw foods in the form of salads.



Black Rice Noodle Salad With Purple & White Cauliflower
Ingredients (Preferably Organic) 

1 pack (250 g.) black rice noodles (I used this brand) 
or soba noodles 
2 c purple cauliflower, cut into florets and lightly steamed
2 c. white cauliflower, cut into florets and lightly steamed
3 heads baby bok choy,  chopped to bite size pieces, lightly steamed

3 Tbsp. tamari (can also use coconut aminos or Bragg liquid aminos)
1 Tbsp. roasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp. brown rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. coconut nectar or maple syrup
1/2 to 1 tsp. grated ginger
a pinch of cayenne

3 Tbsp. unhulled sesame seeds, dry roasted
3 spring onions, sliced

1.  Mix together all the dressing ingredients in a small dish.  Adjust the taste if necessary and set aside.
2. Boil a pot of water, approximately 6 cups.  Cook the noodles according to package directions, about 4-5 minutes for this type and brand.  Make sure not to overcook as they will get mushy beyond those cooking times.  Rinse with cold water and set aside to cool down.  It's a good idea to let the noodles soak in filtered water if the dish is not being assembled for serving right away.  It prevents them from getting sticky. 
3. In a skillet or toaster oven, dry roast the sesame seeds until they turn fragrant.  Remove from heat and set aside.
4.  Lightly steam the cauliflower, about 3-4 minutes from the time the water boils.  Add the baby bok choy at the last minute of steaming then remove the vegetables right away to cool them down.
5. To assemble: mix noodles and vegetables, add the dressing and top with sesame seeds and green onions.  Serves 3-4.  Enjoy!

Note:  The purple cauliflower can stain other vegetables so it's a good idea to separate them when steaming or even when mixing the salad.  I think preserving their own colour especially if serving guests is a good tip so they would look even more pretty! You may also like this other noodle recipe here. 


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! 



Soba Salad - "A Prelude To Spring"

Lunch, Asian, DinnerLina Liwag2 Comments

I was originally thinking of posting another soup recipe this week since our “soup season”  here in the Great White North has been greatly extended this year.  However, I changed my mind at the last minute and opted for this Soba Salad instead...something I call “a prelude to spring”.  It’s my way of  being  more positive with the tail end of our long Canadian winter.  I love to say the line “I dream of spring” and most Torontians will probably agree with me.   As I write this post, it snowed heavily overnight and then it turned wet and very slushy all day.   My beautiful niece Mailelani from Dallas  would actually love to come and play with all our snow.  If I had the power, I would make our families switch places now...even for just a week. That would be an awesome break except for my Canadian teenager who loves winter so much!  Although it's not possible for her now, I really hope that one day Mailelani will be able to experience a small part of our winter.


 Soba: this is the Japanese name for buckwheat  and is also synonymous with the noodle made from buckwheat flour.  Some fun facts about this noodle or buckwheat: 
 -buckwheat is not really related to wheat at all; not a grain but considered a fruit seed related to the rhubarb family
 -  soba is gluten free according to the Celiac Association of Canada as long as it's 100% made of buckwheat  flour as some others maybe mixed with wheat
 - they are a good source of manganese and thiamin

 Soba is considered the king of noodles in Japan because of its versatility: chilled with dipping sauce in the summer or hot noodle soup in the colder days.  We may be familiar with the popular "zaru soba" which is basically cold soba served in a bamboo basket and eaten with a dipping sauce.   My sister-in-law Asako who is from Northern Japan usually makes 'bukkake soba" a cold version (non-vegan) with toppings of okra, daikon radish, mushrooms, sometimes with natto (fermented soya beans), a Japanese yam called yamato-imo and  then dashi broth (made of fish stock, kelp, dried shitake mushrooms and others) is poured over the dish.  You can check her page (photos by Dex) here.

 Here's my own version of quick go-to dish when I'm in a hurry or having some late nights during the week.   I like to make the noodles with vegetables in order to add fibre, more nutrients and some crunch. This is great with  miso soup or any other soup this time of year.  With my own family's  own issues of  food sensitivities, this is a perfect dish that we can all enjoy and hoping that you will enjoy it too.  

Soba Salad
Ingredients: (Preferably Organic) 

1  pack of  250 g. organic buckwheat noodle ( I used this brand)
2 c. purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 carrot, julienned
8 green beans blanched for 2-3 minutes and sliced diagonally
3 green onions, sliced diagonally  in thin pieces, about 1/4"
3 Tbsp. unhulled  sesame seeds, dry roasted


 3 Tbsp. Bragg liquid aminos 
1 1/2 Tbsp. organic roasted sesame seed oil
4 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. coconut nectar or maple syrup
1/4 tsp. grated ginger


 1. Wash and prep all the veggies.  You can blanch  the green beans in
the same boiling water that you are going to cook the noodles in to simplify the steps.
2. Dry roast the sesame seeds in a skillet or in the toaster oven.
3. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small jar and with the lid tight, shake a few times to incorporate.
4. If you want your cabbage a little softer and not too crunchy, you have the option of  adding  2 Tbsp. of the dressing  to the cabbage and set aside while waiting for everything to be ready.  However, its not  advisable to leave the dressing too long on the green beans as they will discolour.
5.  Boil about 6 cups of water in a pot  and briefly blanch the greens beans for about 2-3 minutes.  Do not discard the water.
6. In that same pot and water, add the noodles and cook them according to package instructions and stir several times so the noodles do not stick to each other.  Also, test the noodles for doneness a few  times making sure they end up being al dente and not too mushy ( 6 minutes is perfect for this brand) .  While the noodles are cooking, cut up the greens beans.  You will  notice that the cooking water turns starchy....not to worry as this is perfectly normal.
7. When noodles are ready, rinse them in cold water to drain the extra starch and to stop them from cooking any further.  If you are not yet ready to assemble the salad, you can soak them in water.
8. Before serving, combine the noodles, veggies and dressing. Garnish with green onions and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

1. Snap peas or snow peas can be used  in place of green beans. 
2. Feel free to add more sesame seeds as they really give the dish a nice crunch and flavour.
3. Lemon can also be substituted for lime.
4. In Toronto, liquid aminos is sold as Bragg All Purpose Seasoning  Please feel free to substitute this with regular soya sauce although you may need to use less considering the salt content.  For other people, nama shoyu which is unpasteurized soy sauce could also be an alternative although an expensive one.





I'm looking forward to spring and  I sincerely hope you are too!

Warm wishes,