Delicious, Fun & Healthy Food


"Homemade Bibimbap"

Asian, Dinner, LunchLina Liwag4 Comments

It's been a rainy Saturday so I thought it's just perfect timing for one of those recipes that require a longer time to prepare.  What a treat for someone who usually only has 30 minutes to whip up meals during the week.   


Bibimbap is a Korean dish which literally means "mixed rice." The traditional one is usually served on a hot stone pot (pre-heated in the oven) with steamed rice, topped with "namul" (a mix of sauteed and seasoned vegetables) and a chilli paste called "gochujang."   Other additions are raw or sunny side egg, meat or tofu.  The ingredients are then stirred together before eating.  This dish is nutritious and looks so colourful.

Every now and then, we would visit a Korean restaurant in the Uptown area of Toronto to eat bibimbap. Lately, I've been making my own homemade version and so I've finally decided  share it.  The ingredients are not written in stone and would really be all up to you.  This is one of those that anyone can get creative on.  I'm using tempeh with this mix and I pretty much did everything non-tradional.   Sometimes, Austin even wants a different version by omitting the rice and substituting it with soba noodles. Some veggies can also be raw.  


"Homemade Bibimbap"
Serves 4
Maple ginger tempeh, recipe below
Pickled daikon radish and carrots, recipe below
1 cup black rice for cooking
Sautéed enoki  mushrooms, recipe below
Sautéed shiitake or oyster mushrooms, recipe below
1 package bean sprouts, blanched
1 lb. baby bokchoy cleaned, washed and blanched
Boiling water for blanching
1 sheet nori, cut into strips
3 Tbsps. sesame seeds, roasted
Asian sesame sauce, recipe below or this option

Maple Ginger Tempeh
1 block organic tempeh (250 g.) cut into 5 strips
( I used this brand)
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. walnut oil

2 Tbsp. Braggs liquid aminos, tamari or Nama shoyu
2 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1. Lay the tempeh strips in a glass container.  Mix the marinade and pour over. Coat and marinate the slices for 1 hour and up to overnight.
2. Transfer the tempeh slices into a skillet and add the water. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to medium. Let them cook until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes, turning over once halfway thru cooking.
3. Add the oil then finalize cooking by browning at  approximately 2 1/2 minutes each side.
4. Cut into smaller cubes before serving.



Quick Pickled Daikon Radish & Carrots
1 small daikon radish, julienned, about 2 cups
2 medium sized carrots julienned, about 2 cups
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. water, boiled then cooled down
2 cloves garlic, grated

1. Wash, peel and julienne the daikon and carrots. Transfer to a bowl and add the salt. Stir and leave for approximately 10 minutes to soften. Transfer to a colander or wire sieve and rinse in water. Squeeze and drain well.
2. Place the vegetables in a clean jar . Mix the pickling ingredients together and pour over. Best eaten after a day or two but they're good to go after 1 hour.

Sautéed Shiitake and Enoki Mushrooms
.75 - 1 lb. shiitake or oyster mushrooms, sliced
1 pack (150 g.) enoki mushrooms , bottom end cut 
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. chopped tomatoes
1/4 c. water


In a pan on medium heat, sauté the onions until soft, approximately 3 minutes then stir in the garlic and tomatoes and continue to cook until the tomatoes soften.  Add the shiitake mushrooms. Let them sweat then add the water. Stir and cook for about 8-10 minutes at which time the water will be absorbed. Move them to one side of the pan then add the oyster mushrooms on the other side. These will cook in 2 minutes with just the heat of the pan. Remove and transfer them to separate bowls.


Cooking the black rice: wash and soak the rice  for 2  hours if time allows. In a saucepan, place the washed rice with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to low until water is absorbed, approximately  30-40 minutes.

Blanching the sprouts and greens: boil water in a medium sauce pan. Place the sprouts in a wire sieve then lower into boiling water for only 20 seconds. Transfer in a bowl with filtered cold water to stop it from cooking further. Drain and transfer to another bowl.  In the same water, place the bokchoy and leave to blanch for 2 minutes then repeat the same cooling down process as the sprouts. Place in a bowl.

Dry roasting the sesame seeds: in a skillet on low heat, place the sesame seeds and let them roast until they turn fragrant, approximately 5 minutes.

3 Tbsp. Braggs liquid aminos or tamari
3  Tbsp. brown rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice
1/2 tsp. grated garlic
1/4 tsp. grated ginger|
1 Tbsp. tsp. roasted sesame oil
Hot sauce to taste (I used this)

Assembly: in four bowls, place a serving of each ingredient. Add sauce and top with roasted sesame and nori strips. Stir before eating. Enjoy!

Other options:  kimchi, tofu, zucchini, other greens like spinach, watercress or choysum.


I've been thinking that maybe next time I can make something sweet as my tendency is always on the savoury side.  Freshncrunchy just turned one and I should be posting something celebratory like a cake, right?  I'm hoping I can come up with a good one...desserts are a challenging projects to me.  Wish me luck:)





Roasted Kabocha Squash Salad With Balsamic & Citrus Dressing

Salad, Dinner, LunchLina LiwagComment

Happy Fall!  I know I'm a few weeks late in getting into the  Autumn spirit...let's just say this tropical girl at heart was stuck in a summer frame of mind as usual.  Then as I walk out everyday lately, the colourful leaves just kept reminding me that it's time to move on and embrace the new season.

So here we go...October calls for squash dishes.  My son is a big lover of this yellow vegetable and if it was up to him, he would have squash soup everyday. I bought a few organic ones from The Big Carrot two days ago and today, I cut up a whole kabocha squash for 2 dishes, one for his soup and another for a roasted squash salad.  We will post the salad recipe now and the soup next week.

In the Philippines, we call "winter squash" "kalabasa" and we didn't really have all the different North American varieties.  It's mostly just kabocha and maybe his cousins autumn cup or buttercup. And so growing up, I was so accustomed to their sweet, creamy and nutty qualities that even now, I'm still more inclined to buy these varieties than maybe a butternut or a delicata.   At any rate, winter squash is a great source of beta-carotene...that yellow/orange pigment in foods.  Beta-carotene is converted by the body into Vitamin A which is an antioxidant. We need this vitamin for good eye health, protection against cancer and heart disease and for healthy skin. You can check this link for a good read about winter squash.




Roasted Kabocha Squash Salad With Balsamic and Citrus Dressing
Ingredients (Preferably Organic)


1/2 of kabocha squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes, about 2 1/2 cups
2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
2 tsp. olive oil
pinch of black pepper

6-7 oz. greens ( I used baby spinach and baby romaine leaves)
1/4 c. thinly sliced red onions
1/4 c. toasted  coconut flakes
3 T. dried Goji berries

1 Tbsp. cold pressed olive oil
2 Tbsp. sulphite-free balsamic vinegar
juice of 1/2 mandarin
pinch of black pepper
optional salt to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut the squash into half, peel and scoop the seeds out then cut them into 1" cubes.  Place them in a baking dish.  Add the  olive oil, garlic and black pepper then toss to combine.  Roast until tender but not too mushy approximately 25-30 minutes .  When cooked, cool it down and set aside.
2. While the squash is roasting, dry toast the coconut flakes in a skillet on medium heat until they turn lightly brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes. Prep the greens and slice the onions.
3. Combine the dressing in a small bowl.
4. Assemble the salad by mixing the roasted squash with the greens, the red onions then pour the dressing. Top with toasted coconut flakes and goji berries. Enjoy!

1. You can use a different variety of winter squash that's available in your market.
2. Other greens like arugula or lettuce are also great options.
3. Instead of goji berries, pomegranates will also give the dish that bursting red colour. I was planning on using pomegranates but found out on the last minute that the one I had in my kitchen was rotten.
4. And incase coconuts are not your thing, substitute them with either walnuts or pecans. 
5.  You may also like these older recipes for squash here or here.



Enjoy the colours of Fall!  To my friends and relatives  in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy your Spring!




"Indian-inspired Meals" - Red Lentil Curry + Potato With Kale and Mehti Leaves Curry

Indian, Soup, Dinner, LunchLina Liwag4 Comments

I've been making a lot of soups and stews lately...we need all these warming foods to get us through the winter.  As I write this post, we're enjoying some snow on a Saturday.  Since my family is a big fan of Indian spices (yes, even our 15-year old is), curried lentils, beans and vegetables are a regular fare  in our kitchen.  They are great as leftovers and therefore  one of my favourite packed lunches.  

Since eating out is a big challenge for me due to my food sensitivities, I decided a few years ago to learn how to cook Indian food.  I have several Indian friends and I happen to work closely with a few of them.  I ask them a lot of questions and they offer me tons of suggestions...sometimes I even get free spices!  These ladies grew up making these wonderful and delicious recipes without following exact  I don't really get complete recipes from them, just a list of ingredients.  It works for me as I learn better by doing and experimenting on my own.  My good friend Raminder is actually my tester...I get to bring the food to work and she usually gives me the thumbs up or offers more input on how to do it better. 



On this post, I made two dishes:  Red Lentil Curry + Potato With Kale and Mehti  Leaves Curry.  Some interesting facts about red lentil - they are high in fibre, folate, protein, iron, manganese, phosphorous, copper, Vitamin B1 and potassium.  It's actually high in a nutrient called molybdenum (something I just learned recently) and is supposed to be helpful in regulating some of the important enzymes of the body and in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and iron.  I love making lentil dishes as they cook in under 30 minutes which, to  a working mom like me,  is just a gem especially during weekdays.  Mehti or fenugreek leaves look like watercress (see photo above).  They are slightly bitter but delicious.  Rich in iron as well as significant levels of potassium, fibre, calcium and Vitamin K, they are believed to be equally as nutritious as the spinach.  Fresh mehti leaves are usually found in Indian and Middle Eastern stores.  I  first started cooking with this herb last summer and since we live in a predominantly South Asian community, I don't have a problem finding them at my regular grocery store. 


Red Lentil Curry
Ingredients (preferably organic)

1 1/2 cups red lentil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
1 1/4  t. (or to taste) Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
1 medium tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 t. turmeric
2 t. cumin powder
1 Tbsp. coriander powder
5 green cardamom, lightly smashed (optional)
half of jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped
6 cups unsalted vegetable broth or filtered water
juice of 1/2 lime (or more)
1/3 cup chopped coriander leaves

In a stock pot, saute the onions, garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes then add coriander powder, cumin, turmeric, jalapeno, cardamom and salt.  Stir the mixture and wait until the spices become fragrant then add the tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes until they turn soft.  Add the lentils and water.  Boil then turn down the heat to simmer for 25 minutes until the lentils are tender and the mixture becomes thick.  You can add more water if you prefer a thinner consistency.  Add  the lime juice and half of the coriander leaves.  Adjust the taste.  Serve and garnish with the rest of the coriander leaves. Enjoy!

You can definitely adjust the spices to suit your taste.  This is a little mild considering that my 15-year old son cannot tolerate a more spicy blend.  You can also add greens to the lentil like spinach or kale if you are not planning to cook a vegetable side dish.    This dish  tastes better the next day... so definitely a good option for leftovers. 



Potato With Kale and Mehti Leaves Curry
Ingredients (preferably organic)

2 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 bunch black kale, washed and chopped into bite size pieces
1 bunch fresh mehti leaves, washed and chopped (see suggestions)
1 cup chopped tomatoes (about 1 tomato)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t. (or to taste) Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
1 Tbsp. coriander powder
1/4 t. cumin seeds
1 1/2 t. cumin powder
2 t. turmeric powder
1/4- 1/2 t. cayenne
1 1/4 c. water

In a pan, saute the onions, garlic and ginger for about 5 minutes then add coriander powder, cumin seeds and powder, turmeric, cayenne and salt.  Stir the mixture and wait until the spices become fragrant then add the tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes until they turn soft.  Add the potatoes and water and cook until they become tender but not mushy, approximately 20 minutes or so. Combine the kale and mehti leaves and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the lemon juice.  Adjust the taste then serve.  Enjoy!

If you can't find mehti leaves, increase the black kale to 2 bunches.  If you prefer spinach,  that works fine as well.  Another option is mixing 1 bunch of black kale and 1 bunch of spinach.


This is the view from our window as it was snowing today.  it's our "Family Day" weekend here in Toronto which is a fairly new holiday for us, being just on its second year.  It's a welcome break and hoping to enjoy it with family and friends.  I hope you are all enjoying your weekend:)

Much wishes,