Delicious, Fun & Healthy Food

hemp hearts

Creamy (No Mayo) Winter Slaw + Physical Activity

Salad, Lunch, DinnerLina Liwag3 Comments

Coleslaw with all it's different variations is one of my favourite salads.  It's a powerhouse of nutrition, easy to make and inexpensive. I have several recipes in the blog.  One of these is an Asian inspired variety which you can check here. There's another one  that's  bright and  pretty with the addition of blood orange and a hint of lemongrass. I've got it here. And how about this summer variety of slaw, inspired by our trip to Hawaii in July. 

But on this new post I've decided to go monochromatic in my choice of be a little different and using what's available at the market this time of year.  The dressing is creamy as you may have already noticed on the title of the post. And the creaminess is not coming from a jar of mayo that's been commercially prepared but one that can be made in our own kitchen.  And the magic ingredient that helps create that "mayo-kind" of consistency and taste is hemp hearts.  Hemp hearts are shelled hemp seeds, bursting with proteins (10 g/3 T.), essential fats, vitamins and minerals (please check out this link).  What’s really great is that Canada is a big producer of hemp hearts...check this out.


Creamy (No Mayo) Winter Slaw
Ingredients (Preferably Organic):

4 cups shredded green cabbage
1 rutabaga, washed, peeled and julienned, approximately 2 cups
1 1/2 green apples, washed and julienned
1 cucumber, washed and julienned
1/4 cups coriander leaves, washed and chopped
3 Tbsp. black sesame seeds for topping, lightly toasted

1/2 cup hemp hearts
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
2 dates, pitted, chopped and soaked in 1/3 cup of water (save the water)
1 Tbsp.  (or more)wheat-free tamari or Braggs liquid aminos
1/2 - 1 clove steamed or roasted garlic (optional, see suggestions
 water from soaking the dates

Prep all the salad ingredients then place them in a big bowl.  Blend the dressing until creamy.  The salad can be assembled one hour before serving except for the topping so the vegetables can have enough time to soak into the delicious dressing.  

1.  Other root vegetables like parsnip, celeriac or even jicama can be used to substitute rutabaga.  Kohlrabi was my first choice but I didn't find them at the market  this week.  
2. Steaming or roasting garlic tames down its strong taste and flavour.  This is just a personal preference so fresh can also be an option.


 And now, I'd like to talk about something that's in a lot of people's minds at this time of year: PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.  Personally, I struggle with consistency in this particular area.  Can you relate?  I do very well in the warmer months but as October rolls in and the days get shorter, my tendency is to start making excuses and then I do it less and less. In Toronto, winter-like weather is basically half of the year.  Imagine  the repercussions on one's health and wellness not exercising regularly for that long? 

You see, I grew up  in rural Philippines at a time when functional exercise was the norm: walking a lot (sometimes too much), playing outside as we had no TV then, manually doing all chores  since we had no electricity in the 60 's.  Even water had to be pumped from a "hand pump well" at that time.  It may be hard to imagine this but laundry was done by hand.  There were 7 kids in our family...laundry day can really be a major exercise especially if you include all the beddings and cloth diapers!  Fast forward to  Canada and functional exercise has become almost nonexistent for me. So what to do? 

Thank God I'm married to someone who's my opposite. My husband loves to exercise and it has become second nature to him.  He inspires and  motivates me but like most people, I still have to work hard on my consistency. Here are some practicals that I've learned over time:

1)Create an intention, meditate and pray about it so that the when, where and how (and maybe even the why)  of exercising will become a reality. 
2) Do something you love.  You don't really need gym membership or expensive exercise machines that will not serve you.  My husband does it  efficiently at home. 
3. Find a friend, a mentor or a support system who will help make exercising more fun and the consistency more attainable. Workout together.  If your budget allows you, hire a trainer.
4) Be aware of your limitations and injuries. Don't run or spin if your knees are weak...there's other form of physical activity that makes sense to everyone. 
5) Form is more important than intensity especially if you're just  starting out. You may have noticed those guys at the gym who love to jerk the heavy weights so hard they actually look silly...injuries can happen any time.
6) Just move and have fun!  The technical aspects of exercising can come later.  The hardest part is doing it. 


So this time around,   I became proactive.  I made my intention to beat the "exercise blues" that starts to hit me late Fall every year.  In addition to hot yoga, I have added HIIT into my weekly routine with the help of a friend.  I have ditched "body pump" due to a  recovering shoulder and neck injury.  I realized too that spinning hurt my knees and I don't really enjoy it as much.  So far so good...I even exercised through the Christmas holidays.  I'm hoping I'll be able to master this thing called consistency.  And currently, I've been fascinated with exercise and its role in increasing  the number of mitochondria in a cell.  I'll be reading more about it and hopefully share my findings next time.  Before I sign out, here's an awesome scripture to meditate on:

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
Philippians 4:8



Oil-free Basil & Hemp Hearts Pesto Sauce + Preparing Food For School Lunches

Sauce, Pasta SauceLina Liwag4 Comments

School starts tomorrow for Austin who is now going to be in Grade 11 (junior high in the US).  I wasn't too surprised when he wrote down a list of what he wants for his lunches and snacks.  My boy has always been pro-active with meal planning at home.  He sometimes even has meetings with me about our weekly menu, believe it or not.  So here's part of his list: "blueberries, peaches, cut up veggies and one of your dips." Wow, where did the time go?  I seem to have been stuck in a summer kind of hard to let go.  I can't believe it's back to school again.

I know that this can be a busy time for parents especially for working moms like me. I try to make "prepping up" as simple as possible.  I always make a big  dinner and pack the leftovers for lunch. Sometimes I make extra salads or steam vegetables to pair with these leftovers. Since I'm not a big fan of buying highly processed and pre-packaged food from the stores, the items that I always have to prepare are the following:

1) dips (check out my recipes here)
2) salad dressings ( check here for a sample of a delicious dressing)
3) cooked beans, lentils, quinoa, brown, wild or black rice
4) veggie sticks and steamed veggies



Although it may take some work, "homemade" is really my preference  due to the following reasons:

1) Chemicals, additives and preservatives are added to processed foods (even in salad dressings) to extend their shelf life.
2) Deli  meats are cured with chemicals like nitrates and are also high in salt and fat so these should not be the the ideal choice for our children's lunch.
3) Ingredients on mass produced food items do not have the highest quality ( rancid or refined oils, high fructose corn syrup, sugar,  genetically modified and food dyes).

My son has a few meatless days during the week and this pesto sauce with gluten-free pasta  is one of his favourites (I used it on wild rice pasta today). I keep a jar of this sauce in my fridge...handy,  convenient and delicious.  Conventional pesto sauces are usually heavy in oil and Parmesan cheese.   I find that too "rich" for my taste so one day I thought of using hemp hearts, omitting the oil and substituting it with lime (or lemon) and water...perfect mix.  

Oil-free Basil and Hemp Hearts Pesto Sauce
Ingredients (Preferably  Organic)

1 c. basil
1/2 c. hemp  hearts
2-3 cloves fresh (or roasted ) garlic
1/3 c. lime juice (or lemon)
1/3 c. filtered water
2 Tbsp. extra hemp hearts (to be mixed with the sauce)

Blend all but the last ingredient until you reach a creamy and smooth consistency.  Adjust the taste...add more water or lime as needed. Mix the extra hemp hearts into the sauce. Enjoy!  

 Please feel free to use a little oil if you prefer.  I use lemon or lime depending on what I have available and it works either way.  This mixture can also be thinned out with a bit more water or lime/lemon especially when using it on pasta.  This is also good on raw zucchini pasta, as a topping to roasted veggies, fresh heirloom tomatoes or in raw or cooked tomato soups.  Before I forget, I must mention that I also add this on balsamic vinegar dressing and it's delicious!  You can also try a different variation of this sauce in this older recipe here.



Happy first day of school to everyone! I wish all the children (and all the parents too)  a great school year.