Delicious, Fun & Healthy Food


"Ice Buko" (Coconut Popsicle)

DessertLina LiwagComment

I ate many of these as a young girl growing up in the Philippines. We had many coconuts in our backyard and we would make them as treats in the summertime. Ice buko (pronounced boo-koh) comes in different variations (check out this link). The base is either evaporated milk and sugar or condensed milk and young coconut water. Fresh and delicious coconut shreds are added to the mix before they get frozen,  hence the name" ice buko" which literally means ice and young coconuts.

I started making my own version using coconut milk when we were in Maui.  I had to postpone sharing it here as I didn't have a popsicle mold that was photogenic enough. When we came back from our vacation,  I went to several stores in Toronto but just couldn't find any...Amazon eventually  saved the day!



I made them again today as some homesickness struck me.  I miss my family back home. I also miss all the tropical fruits in our backyard especially "buko." I was lucky to be able to get some fresh ones this time. My friend Lenie brought them for me from an Oriental store. So here is "Ice Buko." I hope you'll try and enjoy them as much as I do.

"Ice Buko" (Coconut Popsicles)

1  13.5 oz. can organic coconut milk ( see suggestions)
1/4 c. (or more) maple syrup 
1/2 c. shredded young coconut meat   (or  coconut flakes)


1.Cut up the young coconut meat into small shreds or if using the dried version, just crunch them with your hand into smaller pieces. Place them into the popsicle molds, approximately 2 Tbsp.  each.
2.  Blend the coconut milk and maple syrup until well incorporated. Adjust the taste then pour the mixture into each mold until it reaches full capacity.
3. Place a popsicle stick in each mold and freeze for approximately 5-6 hours.
4. To remove the popsicles, place the mold in warm water until they loosen and come off.

1. Make sure not to use light coconut milk as it does not have the same  ice cream like taste.
2. You can also add strawberries (or any fruit of your choice), chopped into small pieces. I tried this a few weeks ago and loved it!



Of course the best place to eat this popsicle would be by the beach...especially in Hawaii. 



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! 



Spring Chia Pudding With Blueberries and Champagne Mango

BreakfastLina Liwag6 Comments

Happy Easter!  What a beautiful weekend we've had so far especially celebrating Easter Sunday.  And what better way to celebrate than having  a breakfast of chia pudding (or porridge)  - my all time favourite.  I posted a recipe in November which you can find here but I eat this regularly and just add different toppings depending on the fruits in season.   Many of us are fans of chia...I am a big chia cheerleader among my friends  and co-workers.  It works very well with keeps me full until lunch time without any snacks in between.  It's been believed that the Aztecs and the Mayans relied on it for increased stamina and energy over periods of time.  But then again we also hear of others who cannot tolerate it and it's because we are all different...I am learning more about bio-individuality at IIN.  One man's food may be another's poison despite the media telling us that there is just one perfect diet  every time a new best-seller book comes out.  Our bodies are made differently and therefore react differently with different kinds of foods.   You can read a short article here which best describes bio-individuality frrom Joshua Rosenthal, founder and director of IIN.


So back to our chia pudding ... blueberries and champagne mangoes I think are just so perfect around this time of year and so I have tweaked an old recipe little bit for a variation. The blueberries were blended and then mixed with the pudding so it has that purple colour.  And this is exciting to me because I love Champagne mangoes  with their golden yellow colour and  smooth texture... similar to the Manila mangoes I used to eat back home in the Philippines when I was growing up. This is also the time when they are in season there.

Spring Chia Pudding With Blueberries and Champagne Mango
Ingredients:  (Preferably organic)

For the base:
4 Tbsp. chia seeds
 1/4 c. raw cashews
 1/4 c. coconut flakes
1 piece of Medjool dates, cut into small pieces
1 c. blueberries
1/4 t. vanilla powder
 1 1/2 c. filtered water for blending (or more if you prefer a thinner consistency)
water to soak the cashews and coconut flakes (see Method)

For the toppings: 
1 -  1 1/2 Champagne mangoes, cut into cubes
1/2 c. blueberries
4 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
4 Tbsp. desiccated coconuts

1. Soak the following in different bowls or glass containers  and keep them in the fridge overnight:
a) the cashews in 3/4 c. of water
b) the chia in 1/2 c. of water, stirring it a few times before placing it in the fridge (this prevents it from clumping)
c.) the coconut flakes and the date in 1/4 c. of water (same container)  just to soften them
2.  In the morning, discard the water where the cashews have been soaked.  The coconuts and the date will rehydrate and absorb the water.  Place these ingredients  and the  1 1/2 c. of water in a high speed blender then blend for about 1-2 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy.  No need to strain as the pulp is quite soft and not grainy.  Add the blueberries and vanilla and continue to blend for a few seconds until the blueberries are liquified.
3.  Place the soaked chia in a mason jar or a bowl then pour the blueberries cashew/coconut milk mixture slowly and mix until well incorporated.  Add more water if you prefer a thinner consistency.  Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.  Serve in nice glasses then add the toppings.  Enjoy!  


This is truly delicious and if by chance you are not fond of chia pudding, give it a chance ...most people I know change their minds after the first try.


Today, I get to celebrate Easter with my family and close friends.  The message at Church was awesome: because of Christ's resurrection, we have no more confusion, no more fear and no more doubt!  It gives me such great confidence and makes me grateful.  




Green Smoothie

SmoothiesLina Liwag2 Comments

Well, it's now the end of January and I'm done with birthday celebrations!   I'm back to my green smoothies after making too many raw cheesecakes!

I'm pretty sure many of us have already settled in to a great start for 2013  especially in the areas of health and fitness.  I'm not one who puts her goals in paper at the beginning of each year.  However, I automatically find myself turning the switch on to the I'll exercise more" mode every 2nd of January.  Sounds familiar?  I don't really get carried away with all that food during the holidays but I tend to shy away from my yoga studio or my gym and then my mind go on a mini vacation so to speak.  Got my groove back now and hoping you got yours too.  

Some of you maybe trying to focus on eating more veggies which is awesome. I bet  you've also considered green smoothies or are already even making them.  They get very popular around this time of year.  I want to share a recipe of one of my favourite combinations. 


There are a few things I try to follow when making green smoothies which can also be helpful to you.

1. More greens than fruits is a good rule of thumb.  I know that it can be challenging in the beginning.   If you are new to green smoothies, using equal portions of fruits and veggies is a good place to start and then gradually increase the vegetables. Cucumbers, lettuce and spinach have mild flavours and are not too strong for a newbie.  Just be careful not to overpack on fruits as we can also overdo our sugar consumption depending on what we are eating daily. This is specially so to those who have medical issues like insulin resistance or if you just love eating sweets.  Dr. Joseph Mercola  has a great article regarding fructose from fruit which you can read here.   Experiment on your own and  pretty soon, you’ll be able to come up with your own favourite combinations.  

2.  Using organic produce or avoiding those fruits and veggies with high levels of pesticide. Check this list  By the way, kale/collard greens and green beans have been added to the original dirty dozen.

3. Rotating greens is also a great idea.  Here is a very informative article on the three top reasons why it is important.


Kale, Sprouts and Pear Smoothie
Ingredients: (Preferably Organic)
1 big leaf of curly kale, torn into pieces, about 1 cup
Handful of pea sprouts or sunflower sprouts, about 1 cup
1 pear, cut up
1/4 cup unsweetened dry coconuts (see notes)
2 Tbsp. walnuts
1 Tbsp. chia seeds or sprouted chia powder
2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 - 1/4 of an avocado (depending on how thick you want it)
2  1/2 cups water (or more)
2 Tbsp. dried golden berries or 1 piece Medjool dates (optional)
unsweetened cacao nibs for toppings

 Place all the ingredients into the blender and process until smooth.  Adjust the taste.  This serves two.  Transfer the smoothie to glasses and top with cacao nibs.  Enjoy!

This mixture maybe a little bland for other people.   Add 1 banana,  increase the water by 1 cup and exclude the dates.

I buy the raw and organic dehydrated coconuts from The Big Carrot, a natural food market located near the Danforth and Chester area of Toronto.  They may also be available at Whole Foods Market.  I also soak and blend these to make my version of coconut milk.  They are also great to add in salads, porridges and other drinks.