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Sweet potatoes

Ginger & Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Soup

Soup, Lunch, Dinner, VeganLina LiwagComment

It's been uber cold and snowing in Toronto lately.  This weather calls for soup.  I just love the mix of cauliflower + a sweet vegetable like squash and sweet potato with herbs and spices to help warm and nourish me.  My teenager enjoys these types of soups and depending if my day is busy or not, I would do the long or short versions of it.  This is the long one but cooking and prep time would be at least 30-40 mins. max.  Nothing too complicated especially to working moms and career women like me.

Fun facts about the ingredients:

Cauliflower - rich in Vitamins C, K and B6, folate and is linked to cancer-prevention
Sweet Potato - very rich in Vitamins A & C.  The bright colour is the presence of anthocyanin which is an antioxidant.  It has anti-inflammatory and blood regulating nutrients.  It's also believed to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Ginger - anti-inflammatory and helps with nausea and absorption of nutrients in the body.  It has warming benefits and helps clear out throat and nose congestion.  
Turmeric - it has been getting a lot of attention lately.  It is anti-inflammatory and helps in the relief of rheumatoid arthritis and is also linked to cancer prevention and improved liver function. 
Cilantro - also known as coriander leaves.  It has cholesterol  and blood sugar lowering properties.  It has high phytonutrient content and is also beneficial in helping the body get rid of toxins. Detox supplements usually has cilantro as one of its ingredients. 


Ginger & Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup

1 small cauliflower, cut into florets, approximately 3 cups
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes, approximately 3 cups
3 stalks celery, chopped
2" ginger, peeled and grated
1 small red onions, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cumin
Himalayan or sea salt to taste
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
5 - 6 cups water or veggie stock or a combination of both

On a large pot and on medium heat, saute the ginger and onions with the coconut oil for 2 minutes.  Add the coriander powder, turmeric and cumin and stir until fragrant.  Pour in the water or stock and boil. then add all the vegetables.  Let it boil then simmer until they are tender, approximately 10-12 minutes.   Make sure they do not overcook.  Add the salt and adjust the taste. You can add more grated ginger or a pinch of cayenne for more heat.  Blend in batches in an upright blender until smooth.  Reheat if necessary. Serve with a few drops of cilantro oil.

Cilantro Oil (Optional)
1/2 cups cilantro
1/4 cup hemp or flaxseed oil
Pinch of salt

Blend until smooth.

I also have older posts for soups here and here which you may like.  For a short version of this current post, steam all the veggies  for 8-10 minutes  and use the water to blend the soup.  Add salt, herbs and all spices and blend until smooth.  Adjust the taste and serve.


I had a quiet "me-day" today as my hubby was at work and my son left yesterday for "Winterblast 2015."  He joined other teenagers at our Church for a fun-filled weekend up North.  They get to learn from God's Word and at the same time strengthen  their relationship with each other - without social media and electronic gadgets -  amidst the  beauty of this Season.  It's also a snow day in the city, one that is serene since it did not have that blizzard-type and windy characteristic like other days.  

I hope February is great for you so far.  I'm also writing about my "Plant-based Desserts" course at Matthew Keeney and will be posted mid-week in time for Valentines Day.  It has some chocolates in it!



Celeriac, Sweet Potato & Leek Soup + Lessons of Letting Go

Soup, Lunch, DinnerLina LiwagComment

Hello and Happy New Year! As you may have noticed, I was MIA for the whole month of December.  It was never my intention to do that.   In fact I had plans for at least 2-3 posts before the year was over. However, things took a life of their own so to speak.  Before I knew it, the month was done and over with.  Welcome to  2014!

Nothing really major happened in the big scheme of things if you asked me.  But somehow even  small  or insignificant matters can take a lot of our time and energy.   Sometimes, they even test our very core.

To me this came in the form of technology malfunction that happened all at the same time: our fairly new desktop computer (we have no spare lap tops), our home telephone and internet connections.  This took place in the midst of the two busy weeks at my work, record high snowfalls and frigid temps of the season.

At the onset, I thought they could all be fixed quickly and I would then have time for my projects but boy, was I ever wrong!  It took almost 3 weeks, 3 visits from 3 different technicians and countless calls to customer service managers  before our phone and internet started working properly...with no more interruptions.

And while I was going through my technology pains and as the city was continually being inundated with snow and even at one point blanketed in tons of ice that we’ve never seen before, I was making soups.  Soups to warm me and my family.  And after a month when our iMac is now as good as new…many thanks to Pat, the tech genius of the family… here is my first post of the year!  So forgive me as this is rather a long one.



For me personally,  this is not the time to do a “Detox.”  I find that I can handle that better in the Spring as the weather gets warmer.  I still make green juices at least 3 times a week but my body feels balanced with more warming foods in the winter.  I learned this through the guidance of my Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner as I was going through rough times in my health. 

This soup is a winning combination of celeriac, sweet potatoes and leeks.  Celeriac is that root vegetable that looks hairy, knobbly and rather uninteresting like the photo above.  It is the root of the celery plant so it's also known as celery root. It has a mild celery-like flavour with starchy consistency when cooked.   Did you know that this is a great source of Vitamin K and essential minerals such as phosphorus ,iron, calcium, copper, and manganese?


Celeriac, Sweet Potato & Leek Soup 

1 medium size celeriac,washed, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
(approximately 3 cups)
1 big  or 2 small sweet potato, washed, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
(approximately 1  1/2  cups)
1 leek, washed and chopped, white and light green part only
1  1/2" ginger, grated
thyme leaves from 3 sprigs
1 Tbsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
Himalayan pink salt to taste
6-7 cups water or vegetable broth (or a combination of both)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (see other options below)
1 -2 tsp. pepper flakes 

1. In a big stock pan, saute the leeks in coconut oil until they soften.  Add the ginger, thyme, coriander powder and turmeric and let the flavours incorporate.
2. Combine the celery, celeriac and sweet potato and stir for a minute or so.  Pour the liquid, add some salt and let it boil then lower heat to simmer until the root vegetables are cooked, about 15-18 minutes.  
3. Adjust the taste and add the milk.
4. Blend by using a hand blender or in batches using a blender.
5. Before serving,  sprinkle with pepper flakes.


1.  This is a large soup and great for leftovers.  Please feel free to cook half of the recipe if required.
2. You can substitute cauliflower if celeriac is not available and adjust the liquid (5 cups)  and  less cooking time .
3.  I've used almond, cashew and coconut milk in the past and they all worked well.  It all depends on your taste.  1/2 avocado can  also be substituted for creaminess.  If preferred, not adding any of these is also fine .


Deep Freeze in Toronto


So what did I learn through these situations?  “Let go and let God.”    We live in a world where everything must always be done fast and according to our own timing and schedule.   There is so much liberation from letting go!  Of course I was frustrated and at times angry with my phone and internet provider.   Then one day as I was feeling so stressed about the whole thing,  I stopped and prayed...first for my heart  then secondly for the situation and left it all to the Lord.

This scripture at Philippians 4:67 reminds us:  “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition with THANKSGIVING, present your request to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Thanksgiving in the midst of stress, how is that possible?  Well it’s part of letting go and letting God.

 Amazing how everything started to fall into place.  I interacted with amazing managers and technicians who were empathetic and kind. Although it took almost 3 weeks, the company sent Thasan, one of their their most senior technicians.   On that  3rd visit, he was able figure out the root cause of our problem. We now even have his direct line in case something may happen again in the future.

As for our desktop, I just had to wait for my brother-in-law to be able to come by (he lives on the other side of the city).  I didn’t have to bring the computer to the Apple store and spend money for the repair.  He even made it more efficient by updating and simplifying what’s in there.  To tech-challenged people like my husband and I, this is priceless!

I hope you have your own lessons from 2013.  May I leave you with more verses from the bible that have become my inspirations lately. These last ones were from a message delivered last Sunday by Mark Kang.  Mark is an evangelist from our church in Milwaukee who was visiting his relatives during the holiday.  He also shared this powerful video that you can find on this link.  This is called the “Invisible Woman” by Nicole Johnson.  This is so moving... a reminder that it's not always about me but all about HIM.  I hope you too will get inspired!

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.

Ecclesiastes 7:9-10


May your 2014 be filled with great lessons in life!



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.