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"Triple-Decker" Raw (Birthday) Cheesecake

Dessert, Cheesecake, Raw Desserts, Raw CheesecakeLina Liwag4 Comments
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So January flew by fast...although it feels like the latest buzzword (in Toronto), the "polar vortex" is here indefinitely.  The media calls it "the winter visitor that refuses to leave."  But in the midst of these consistent sub-zero temps and record high snow falls, it was a time for celebration.  It was the big month of birthdays in my mini community.   I first wrote about it on this post here last year. 

So for an update, my dad who lives in the Philippines, turned 89 on January 15th.  What's really exciting to share about him is that he has started drinking green juice!  My brother and I bought him this kind of juicer here as a Christmas present.  The first juice recipe that my sister made for him was a mix of carrots, apple and the awesome moringa leaves (malunggay) -  fresh and organic from our backyard  there.  How cool is that!  You can definitely start a healthy practice at any stage in life.  I think having an open mind is the key. 

This year, the number of celebrants on my floor at work has increased to 11.  Half of that is from  my team.  Just imagine how many candles were being blown every time. Crazy! 

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It's then predictable that it's also a time for making birthday treats, right?  But the real question is: how can I possibly squeeze this in to my ever so tight schedule? I managed...made a huge Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake for the birthday celebrants at work (check it here on my Instagram page) and then there's this special one for my husband who happens to celebrate his birthday back to back with me.   So here goes "Triple-Decker Raw (Birthday) Cheesecake.  Delicious and colourful bites and tastes of sunshine on this gloomy season of the polar vortex! Happy Birthday everyone especially to my soulmate, Angel! 

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"Triple-Decker" Raw (Birthday) Cheesecake
Ingredients (Preferably Organic)

For The Crust:
3/4 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup dried Turkish figs, chopped
1 Tbsp. water
Method:
Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes sticky and holds together.  Transfer to a 6" x 2 3/4" springform pan and press firmly.  A 7" one can also be used.  The cake will be a bit thiner.

First Layer: Persimmon Cheesecake
1/2 cup raw cashews soaked for 6 hours
1 cup Vanilla or Fuyu persimmon, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fresh clementine or orange juice
2 Tbsp. coconut  butter, softened
1 Tbsp. coconut oil melted
2 tsp. maple syrup
1/8 tsp. vanilla powder
Method:
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until the mixture becomes very smooth. Adjust the taste.  Pour into the crust and place it in the freezer while you get to work on the next layers.

Second Layer: Matcha Green Tea and Avocado Cream
1/2 cup young coconut meat
1 medium size avocado
2 tsp. matcha green tea powder
3 Tbsp. coconut water
1  1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp. maple syrup (or more depending on your taste)
Method:
Dissolve the green tea with the coconut water and set aside.  Rinse either your food processor or high speed blender and process all the ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Adjust the taste.  Take out the pan from the freezer and pour the avocado cream on top of the persimmon layer. Return the pan into the freezer.  

Top Layer: Blueberry Cheesecake
1/2 cup raw cashews soaked for 6 hours
1 cup  fresh or frozen (then thawed) blueberries (see suggestions)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fresh clementine or orange juice
2 Tbsp. coconut  butter, softened
1 Tbsp. coconut oil melted
1  1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup 
1/8 tsp. vanilla powder

Method:
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until the mixture becomes very smooth. Adjust the taste.  Pour on top of the avocado cream layer.  Freeze the cake for 2-3 hours.  To serve, remove from freezer at least 30 minutes (or more) before serving.   Run a knife under hot water and cut into slices.    Enjoy!

Suggestions:
1.  If young coconuts are not available in your area, you can use cashews as a substitute.  I would say use 1/3 cup and soak them.  The coconut water can just be replaced with filtered water.  
2. If you want the colour of the top layer to be more vibrant, use organic frozen blueberries and thaw them first.  A mix of fresh and frozen is also great.  This is my second time to make this cake so I noticed the difference. 
 

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I usually take the time to meditate on the things that I'm thankful about every time I turn a year older.  Here are the big ones:  the Lord's kindness and blessings, my family, my friends. Canada, my job and my health.  It's been pretty amazing for a 54 year old I must say!  I hope you're enjoying the first part of the year.  Let me know what you think of this Birthday cake!

Warmly,

Lina

Veggie Rice Paper Rolls & Creamy Almond Dipping Sauce (A Perfect Dish to End the Summer)

Appetizers, Asian, Lunch, DinnerLina LiwagComment
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Ahh...Summer...we thought you would stay with us forever but it's time to say goodbye. We've had great weather and also enjoyed our local harvest.  But before embracing Fall with all its beautiful colours and bounty, I thought it would be fitting to post one of my favourite Summer dishes. 

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Veggie rice paper rolls or wraps are a regular in our family...it's everyone's favourite!  I started making them after realizing that the commercial ones out there did not have the ingredients that would really satisfy me or my loved ones.  Most of them have a lot of noodles with barely any vegetables.  And how about the sauces?  You may not even know what exactly is in there.  Mind you, it may seem intimidating to make a perfect roll to begin with...it kinda looks messy and even sticky.  However, think about it as if you were wrapping or rolling a burrito...with just a different and more delicate wrap.  It gets better over time.    

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Veggie Rice Paper Rolls & Creamy Almond Dipping Sauce

Filling: 
2 carrots
1/2 English cucumber
1/4 of a small purple cabbage
1/2 jicama
1 avocado
handful of sunflower sprouts
fresh mint or Thai basil

rice paper rolls or wraps
(I used 10 large rolls, 22cm in diameter)

Dipping Sauce:
1/3 c. raw almond butter 
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. lime
3 Tbsp. unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. tamari or Bragg's liquid aminos
1/3 c. filtered water

 

22 cm rice paper roll

22 cm rice paper roll

Method: 

1.  Wash then cut all the vegetables into matchstick sizes and set them aside. The mint leaves can be used as whole, no need to cut them.   Cut the avocado and slice it into thin segments. 
2. Place all the ingredients of the dip into a blender and blend until well incorporated.
3. Put some water in a large dish and dip one rice roll at a time until it starts to become soft and pliable, about 30 seconds.  Do not leave it in the water too long or it will get too sticky.
4. Transfer it in a clean chopping board or a plate then place your fillings in the middle of the wrap leaving about  2" allowance on each side.  Fold the bottom of the wrap over the fillings then fold in the 2 sides and lastly, roll it like a burrito to finish off.  This is the "closed" style.  If using a large roll (22 cm. in diameter), they can be cut in half before serving (see first photo).
5. You can also try the "open-end" one: dip the roll in water, transfer it to the plate then fold it into half.  Place the fillings in the middle making sure to leave 2" allowance on the bottom.  Fold the bottom over the fillings and roll from right to left.  The fillings should be peeking out of the open end.  
6. If it gets messy, try again...it gets better with practice. There's plenty of rolls in a pack. 

Suggestions:
Be creative and use any vegetables, herbs or even fruits like mango...other kinds of sprouts, red peppers, zucchini, lettuce or spinach.  The rice paper rolls come in 16 cm. or 22 cm. size (where I shop anyway).  They can be found at Asian stores or even at Whole Foods Market. Hope you can try making them soon!

 "open-end style rolls

 "open-end style rolls

Happy Fall everyone!  I hope you enjoyed your summer!  I graduated 2 weeks ago as  heath coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  I am so excited that I have reached this point of my learning journey in holistic health.   

Sincerely,

Lina

 

Peaches & Kale With Avocado & Poppy Seed Dressing + More Healthy Tips

Salad, Raw, LunchLina LiwagComment
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It's peach season in Ontario so we've been enjoying these lovely local produce lately.  Sweet and juicy, they are great to munch on, awesome on green smoothies and if you're like me, I've been throwing them into our salads...peaches and greens instead of the usual "peaches and cream." They look so inviting with their red and yellow colours.  My teenage son became interested in eating raw salads several years ago when I started adding colourful fruits and vegetables into my recipes.  They say that "we eat with our eyes first" and my experiment worked out very well with him.  To this day, he still enjoys them.  He just came back from a Christian summer camp in New England and I was very encouraged when he told me  that he ate salads 2x a day for the whole week that he was there.  

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Before getting into  the recipe, I’d like to add more healthy tips as a continuation of what I wrote on my last article (please read here).

Tip#3  -  Cook/prepare food at home.  Many health and wellness goals fail in  the absence of home cooking.  We need to know what ingredients go into the food that we eat on a daily basis.  Salt, oil, sugar and flavour enhancers are some of the things we do not have any control of when relying on food made outside our own kitchens.  Everyone has their own challenges when it comes to home cooking.  As I've been talking to several people, these are some of the reasons given: takes too long to  wash, chop or cut vegetables, not familiar with healthy ingredients or not good in the kitchen.  These are all valid reasons and with very minor adjustments, they can change.

Start with organic pre-washed greens if you don't enjoy the prep.  Take baby steps...make simple vegetable dishes one day at time.  A good example would be sauteing greens like bok choy in chopped garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes just until they wilt.  Season with a little tamari or braggs liquid aminos.  If you need assistance around the kitchen, ask for help.  I've been giving free mini workshops  to some of my friends recently... let me tell you, even one short week makes a difference. 

 

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Peaches & Kale With Avocado & Poppy Seed Dressing

Ingredients:
(Preferably Organic)

For the salad:

7-8 cups of shredded or chopped kale leaves (see suggestions)
a handful of  sunflower microgreens or other sprouts
2-3 ripe peaches
2 Tbsp. lightly toasted poppy seeds

For the dressing:
1 medium size avocado, cut and seed removed
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 clove garlic, grated or chopped finely
optional salt (I didn’t use any)

Method:

1. Wash the kale very well, remove hard stems and chop, shred or tear leaves into bite size pieces.   Spin dry them and then place them in a mixing bowl.  
2. On a skillet on low heat, toast the poppy seeduntil it turns fragrant, about1 minute.
3. Mash the avocado with the garlic, lemon and maple syrup until the mixture turns creamy.  You can also blend this in a personal blender if you prefer a smoother consistency.
4. Massage the kale with the avocado mixture until the leaves turn soft and then let them sit for at least 10-15 minutes so they soften even more.  Adjust the taste if necessary.
5.  Mix  ½ of the poppy seeds with the kale then transfer to a serving bowl.   Add  the sprouts on top.
6. Before serving, cut  the peaches and arrange them nicely on top of the greens.
7. Sprinkle the rest of the poppy seeds.   Enjoy!

Suggestions: 
1.  I used black kale, also known as lacinato or dino kale.  Any variety will do.  I have used curly kale previously and I like them both.
2.  If peaches are not available, you can substitute them with nectarine or strawberries.

 

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I hope you're having a great summer.  We can't stop thinking of Hawaii...so here are some more of our memories. 

Warmly, 

Lina

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"Hawaiian Inspired" Taco Salad

Salad, LunchLina Liwag2 Comments
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Aloha!  I've been absent from the blog for four weeks now as my family went for a vacation to Hawaii recently.  In coming back, there were a few days of unpacking...after that... a much needed break from the internet.  This created a quieting of the mind which is necessary from time to time to refocus on the more important things in life.  For me, it's my time with my God and my family...it's refreshing and a really wonderful chance to grow.

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Hawaii - what an awesome place on earth!  It created impressionable memories and the the icing on the cake was that our family grew even closer than ever before.  Although I have lived in Europe in my mid 20's, there's no other place that has charmed me most than the islands of Hawaii.  I can't wait to go back!

When we were in Maui, I noticed that fish tacos were popular there.  My son actually enjoyed eating at a place called Coconut's Fish Cafe.  Inspired by their popular fish taco recipe, I thought of creating my own version, plant based style.  This can also be done without the tacos as an option.  Corn and corn products are considered one of those popular items that have been genetically modified.  However, this brand is the only one I trust as they do not use any GMO ingredients in their products.  Check out their website here.

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"Hawaiian Inspired" Taco Salad
Ingredients (Preferably Organic

For the salad:
3 c. green cabbage, cut into strips or shredded
1 c. purple cabbage cut into strips or shredded
6-8 pcs.  Food For Life organic sprouted corn tortillas (this is frozen)

For the toppings: 
1 c. tomatoes, cut into cubes
1 c. ripe mangoes, cut into cubes
2 Tbsp. red onions, minced
1/2 to 1 piece jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1/4 c. coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. lime juice (extra lime to squeeze on top of taco)
1 avocado, sliced into segments or  into cubes 

For the dressing: 
1/4 c. tahini
1 small clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. maple syrup or coconut nectar
1 tsp. brown mustard
Celtic sea salt to taste (optional)
1/4 c. filtered water

Method:
1.
 Prepare the cabbage and defrost the tacos.  They can also be lightly toasted if desired.
2.  Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender and process until smooth.  
3.  Add the dressing to the cabbage and let it sit for about 10 mins. to soften them.  
4.  Mix the mangoes, tomatoes, lime juice, half of the onions, half of the coriander leaves and half of the jalapeno. 
5.  Assemble the tacos before serving: the cabbage on the bottom followed by the mango/tomato salsa then top with more onions, jalapeno and coriander leaves and then add the avocado last.   Squeeze extra lime on top of each taco if desired.   Enjoy!

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Here's a few pictures of Hawaii. More to come in the upcoming blogs.

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This last shot is a picture of Austin.  He definitely enjoyed the variety of  beaches of Maui and Oahu.  I  hope you're enjoying your summer. 

Mahalo,

Lina

Spring Salad With Strawberry and Orange Dressing

Salad, RawLina LiwagComment
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In the warmer months, our bodies crave for lighter foods .  This is not accidental as nature has its way of resetting our bodies according to the season.  In Ayurveda, Spring is the start of the ‘detox season.’  In contrast,  we eat high fat and high protein foods in the winter to keep ourselves warm and nurtured.  Fast forward to spring and summer and it’s clean up time.  Ever wonder why Spring’s harvest brings us greens, sprouts, microgreens, berries and cherries? Read this article here by one of my favourite teachers at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Dr. John Douillard. 

This is a Spring salad that my family has been enjoying recently.  It consists of fruits and vegetables of the season which I find very refreshing.  At this time, I’ve been trying to get away by not using oil in our dressings.  The good fats from the avocado and walnuts are enough.  Trust me, you will definitely not miss the olive oil that’s present in the dressings that we’re so accustomed to.  I highly suggest organic strawberries as the conventional ones are on the dirty dozen+ list of produce high in pesticides. You can check the full list here.  And by the way, this is also salt-free!

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Spring Salad With Strawberry and Orange Dressing

Ingredients (Preferably Organic)

6-8 Romaine lettuce leaves, torn to bite-size pieces
2 handfuls of baby arugula or other greens of choice
1 handful of mixed microgreens (pea, sunflower, daikon radish and corn) 
3-4  red radish, thinly sliced
20 organic strawberries
1/3 c. raw walnuts
1 avocado, sliced
2 tbsp. red onions, minced

Optional add-ins:
sulphite-free cranberries or
sulphite-free dried cherries or
dried golden berries

Dressing:

10-12 organic strawberries
juice of 1 medium orange
2 tbsp. lemon juice
a pinch of grated ginger (optional)

Method: 

1. Wash the lettuce, spin dry and tear them into bite-size pieces. Also wash and prep the rest of the ingredients and place them in a salad bowl.  
2. Juice the orange and lemon then put them with the strawberries in a blender and process until it becomes thick and smooth.  
3. Mix the dressing  into the salad just before serving.  Enjoy!

Suggestions:

1. Feel free to substitute the lettuce, greens, sprouts and the berries with fresh produce available in your own area.  I sometimes add mangoes in.

2. Another option for the dressing is using just oranges which you may have to increase accordingly so approximately 1 - 1 1/2 depending on their size.  You also have the option of blending the oranges instead of juicing them.  I sometimes do that if I happen not to have any fresh strawberries.