Delicious, Fun & Healthy Food


Creamy Spiced Apple and Maqui Berry Kale Chips

Snacks, RawLina LiwagComment

This Summer, we've seen the best organic Ontario kale in great abundance.  I’ve been turning them into salads like this or juicing them with other Ontario produce as shown here.  Sometimes when we had cold weather, I added the greens into an Asian miso bowl like this one.  At other times,  I just quickly sauteed them with grated ginger and a bit of lemon juice. But as the season is quickly coming to and end... I’m wishing for an "Endless Summer" - kale chips came to mind.

Ahh.. kale chips!  Aren't they awesome to snack on?  But they cost so much...they range from $6.99 - $7.99 for a 2.5 oz. pack depending on what brand you're buying.  The owner of the reliable Brad's Kale Chips, Mr. Brad Gruno explains it here.  And now more and more people are making their own kale chips like me.  It's the best time to make them while kale is still abundant locally.

Personally, I like to be a little creative.  I'm inspired by my childhood memories, places I've visited, a current craving or maybe with just what's available in my kitchen. About five months ago when I attended Matthew Kenney Culinary, we created our own flavour of kale chips and then sampled the varied and interesting creations afterward (for those of you who maybe interested in taking either in-class or online courses at the culinary school, check them out at this link).

So this is the same flavour that I made on that Project except I used lacinato kale and acai berry powder at that time (check this photo). My hubby regularly buys organic freeze dried maqui berry for his daily smoothies and so I thought it would be a great sub for acai. Other freeze dried berry powder would work too.  If this is not available to you, not to worry as it’s optional.  It just gives the recipe an added dimension so to speak.  And  a bit of that wonderful purple colour.   And apple?  Yes, it works so well, it’s delicious!  My husband gave it a two thumbs up I might add.  As a note, please use organic kale and apple as they are high in pesticide residues and part of the on the Dirty Dozen+ List  as shown here.


Creamy Spiced Apple And Maqui Berry Kale Chips

1 bunch curly green kale, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
 cup raw cashews, soaked for 6 hours to overnight
1 green apple, cored and cubed 
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. grated ginger
1/2 - 3/4  tsp. garam masala
1/4 tsp. Himalayan salt
pinch (or more) chipotle or cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. Maqui berry or other freeze dried berry powder


1. Wash the kale then strip the green leaves off the tough center stems then tear leaves into large bite size pieces (note they will shrink in size as they dehydrate) and dry them in a salad spinner or with a clean tea towel.  Transfer them into a big mixing bowl where you plan to mix the sauce later.
2.  In a high speed blender, add the cashews with the rest of the other ingredients and blend until smooth.  Adjust the taste as you may want it more hot, spicy or more tart.
3.  Pour the sauce into the kale leaves and massage them with your hands making sure they are fully coated.
4. Lay the coated leaves flat on dehydrator screens and dehydrate at 115F until crisp, approximately 10-12 hours.  
Some dehydrate their kale on teflex sheets.  I like doing them just on the screens as I think the air flows freely this way.  If you don't have a dehydrator, check this link out for helpful tips in baking them.


You can try other varieties of kale for this recipe like Lacinato, Red Russian or Redbor.  The creaminess of the end product depends on how big your bunch of kale is.  You will have to increase the cashew accordingly with how much leaves to coat.  Mine had 12 small leaves and the consistency was just perfect.    Remember, a recipe is just a guide so don't be afraid to be creative. Add your own spice or special ingredients. Experiment.  And don't forget to taste it. Enjoy!

As August winds down and we embrace a new month,  my tendency is to want to hold on longer to warmer weather, lots of sunshine and abundant local produce.  I also wish my favourite hydrangea flower can withstand all seasons.  However, I am yet again reminded of Ecclesiastes 3 that I read on my uncle's funeral in Arizona recently. "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..."  

Happy Labour Day and welcome September!




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

Salad, Raw, LunchLina LiwagComment

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.  


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. 



Peaches & Kale With Avocado & Poppy Seed Dressing

(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)


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!

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.



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




"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,



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.