Delicious, Fun & Healthy Food


"Vietnamese Style" Rainbow Noodle Salad

Salad, Dinner, LunchLina LiwagComment

It feels like an endless summer here in Toronto and I'm loving it!  Salads are still the way to go when it's hot and sticky outside.  Vietnamese vermicelli salad used to be one of my favourite Asian-inspired dishes and I've since tweaked this classic to make it more enjoyable for my family and guests.  My friend Pressie loved it when we had her family over three weeks ago.

"Vietnamese Style" Rainbow Noodle Salad

1/2  package brown rice and millet noodles (cooked according to package directions)
or your choice of gluten-free noodles
3 cups shredded purple cabbage
2 carrots, peeled and  spiralized or cut into thin julienne
1 zucchini spiralized or cut into thin julienne
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/3 c. sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
1/4 c. mint leaves, thinly cut
1/4 c. cilantro, thinly cut

1/4 c. lime juice
4 Tbs. Braggs liquid aminos
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1  1/2 Tbsp. avocado oil or walnut oil
1  1/2  Tbsp. toasted sesame seed oil
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced

Prep all ingredients and assemble the salad 30 mins. before serving.  Leave some of the herbs, peas and sunflower seeds for topping.  This can serve from 6-8 people.  See some variations below.



There's a lot of ways this can be made:  adding your own choices of veggies and protein.  Sprouts and cucumber are great as well.  For a 100% plant-based option, I added green peas and toasted sunflower seeds.  Instead of using rice vermicelli, I went for brown rice and millet noodles (I used this brand).  For the dressing, I've replaced fish sauce with Braggs liquid aminos like this but  feel free to use coconut aminos or soya sauce or tamari. 

I hope you've been enjoying the last part of the Summer.  Tomorrow most kids go back to school in Canada.  My son started University a bit early last Thursday...exciting times for our family!  We're so grateful for this new milestone.    To celebrate the Labour Day weekend, we get to join our friends at a beach day yesterday.  We drove 2 hours to the Sandbanks and we had a blast!  I'm sharing some of the photos we took.


Black Rice Noodle Salad With Purple & White Cauliflower + A Few Healthy Tips

Lunch, Salad, Asian, DinnerLina LiwagComment

When I saw this purple cauliflower at the market the other day, I just knew right away that I had to buy it.  Some girls are charmed by pretty flowers...I get carried away with fresh and colourful produce!  I originally wanted to make soup out of this pretty thing. Purple soup would really be amazing but it's summer and having soup now just didn't feel right to me so I've decided to postpone that soup for the fall.  Here's a noodle salad that's a little bit more appropriate for the season.  

Why purple? The colour actually means the presence of anthocyanin.  Anthocyanin  is responsible for the red, purple and blue colours present in vegetables, grains and fruits like blueberries or blackberries. Health experts say it’s a cancer fighter and  helps prevent  heart disease and improves memory.  Cauliflower (both varieties) is rich in vitamin C.  It also provides a good amount of fiber,  B Vitamins as well as Vitamin K, manganese and potassium. 



Before I get to the recipe, let me talk a little bit about a couple of  healthy tips.  In a previous post, I touched on Primary Foods (check the article here)   which I consider to be the core of  my health and wellness journey.  At this time, I would like to share  some of the practical things that I've done and continue to do.

Tip #1 - I was open to learning and the first book  I read was "Fit For Life" by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.  It was in 1994 when I made a shift from an all-Filipino diet to a lifestyle of eating differently.  The reason I desired for a change was due to regular migraine headaches that I was having then. 

Tip#2 - It's not easy to make a lifestyle keep it simple and start slowly. Based on my culture, eating white rice (and a lot of it) with meat was a norm.  Although I was not a big meat small change came about  by being more conscious of eating less rice and  then adding raw foods in the form of salads.



Black Rice Noodle Salad With Purple & White Cauliflower
Ingredients (Preferably Organic) 

1 pack (250 g.) black rice noodles (I used this brand) 
or soba noodles 
2 c purple cauliflower, cut into florets and lightly steamed
2 c. white cauliflower, cut into florets and lightly steamed
3 heads baby bok choy,  chopped to bite size pieces, lightly steamed

3 Tbsp. tamari (can also use coconut aminos or Bragg liquid aminos)
1 Tbsp. roasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp. brown rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. coconut nectar or maple syrup
1/2 to 1 tsp. grated ginger
a pinch of cayenne

3 Tbsp. unhulled sesame seeds, dry roasted
3 spring onions, sliced

1.  Mix together all the dressing ingredients in a small dish.  Adjust the taste if necessary and set aside.
2. Boil a pot of water, approximately 6 cups.  Cook the noodles according to package directions, about 4-5 minutes for this type and brand.  Make sure not to overcook as they will get mushy beyond those cooking times.  Rinse with cold water and set aside to cool down.  It's a good idea to let the noodles soak in filtered water if the dish is not being assembled for serving right away.  It prevents them from getting sticky. 
3. In a skillet or toaster oven, dry roast the sesame seeds until they turn fragrant.  Remove from heat and set aside.
4.  Lightly steam the cauliflower, about 3-4 minutes from the time the water boils.  Add the baby bok choy at the last minute of steaming then remove the vegetables right away to cool them down.
5. To assemble: mix noodles and vegetables, add the dressing and top with sesame seeds and green onions.  Serves 3-4.  Enjoy!

Note:  The purple cauliflower can stain other vegetables so it's a good idea to separate them when steaming or even when mixing the salad.  I think preserving their own colour especially if serving guests is a good tip so they would look even more pretty! You may also like this other noodle recipe here. 


Soba Salad - "A Prelude To Spring"

Lunch, Asian, DinnerLina Liwag2 Comments

I was originally thinking of posting another soup recipe this week since our “soup season”  here in the Great White North has been greatly extended this year.  However, I changed my mind at the last minute and opted for this Soba Salad instead...something I call “a prelude to spring”.  It’s my way of  being  more positive with the tail end of our long Canadian winter.  I love to say the line “I dream of spring” and most Torontians will probably agree with me.   As I write this post, it snowed heavily overnight and then it turned wet and very slushy all day.   My beautiful niece Mailelani from Dallas  would actually love to come and play with all our snow.  If I had the power, I would make our families switch places now...even for just a week. That would be an awesome break except for my Canadian teenager who loves winter so much!  Although it's not possible for her now, I really hope that one day Mailelani will be able to experience a small part of our winter.


 Soba: this is the Japanese name for buckwheat  and is also synonymous with the noodle made from buckwheat flour.  Some fun facts about this noodle or buckwheat: 
 -buckwheat is not really related to wheat at all; not a grain but considered a fruit seed related to the rhubarb family
 -  soba is gluten free according to the Celiac Association of Canada as long as it's 100% made of buckwheat  flour as some others maybe mixed with wheat
 - they are a good source of manganese and thiamin

 Soba is considered the king of noodles in Japan because of its versatility: chilled with dipping sauce in the summer or hot noodle soup in the colder days.  We may be familiar with the popular "zaru soba" which is basically cold soba served in a bamboo basket and eaten with a dipping sauce.   My sister-in-law Asako who is from Northern Japan usually makes 'bukkake soba" a cold version (non-vegan) with toppings of okra, daikon radish, mushrooms, sometimes with natto (fermented soya beans), a Japanese yam called yamato-imo and  then dashi broth (made of fish stock, kelp, dried shitake mushrooms and others) is poured over the dish.  You can check her page (photos by Dex) here.

 Here's my own version of quick go-to dish when I'm in a hurry or having some late nights during the week.   I like to make the noodles with vegetables in order to add fibre, more nutrients and some crunch. This is great with  miso soup or any other soup this time of year.  With my own family's  own issues of  food sensitivities, this is a perfect dish that we can all enjoy and hoping that you will enjoy it too.  

Soba Salad
Ingredients: (Preferably Organic) 

1  pack of  250 g. organic buckwheat noodle ( I used this brand)
2 c. purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 carrot, julienned
8 green beans blanched for 2-3 minutes and sliced diagonally
3 green onions, sliced diagonally  in thin pieces, about 1/4"
3 Tbsp. unhulled  sesame seeds, dry roasted


 3 Tbsp. Bragg liquid aminos 
1 1/2 Tbsp. organic roasted sesame seed oil
4 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. coconut nectar or maple syrup
1/4 tsp. grated ginger


 1. Wash and prep all the veggies.  You can blanch  the green beans in
the same boiling water that you are going to cook the noodles in to simplify the steps.
2. Dry roast the sesame seeds in a skillet or in the toaster oven.
3. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small jar and with the lid tight, shake a few times to incorporate.
4. If you want your cabbage a little softer and not too crunchy, you have the option of  adding  2 Tbsp. of the dressing  to the cabbage and set aside while waiting for everything to be ready.  However, its not  advisable to leave the dressing too long on the green beans as they will discolour.
5.  Boil about 6 cups of water in a pot  and briefly blanch the greens beans for about 2-3 minutes.  Do not discard the water.
6. In that same pot and water, add the noodles and cook them according to package instructions and stir several times so the noodles do not stick to each other.  Also, test the noodles for doneness a few  times making sure they end up being al dente and not too mushy ( 6 minutes is perfect for this brand) .  While the noodles are cooking, cut up the greens beans.  You will  notice that the cooking water turns starchy....not to worry as this is perfectly normal.
7. When noodles are ready, rinse them in cold water to drain the extra starch and to stop them from cooking any further.  If you are not yet ready to assemble the salad, you can soak them in water.
8. Before serving, combine the noodles, veggies and dressing. Garnish with green onions and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

1. Snap peas or snow peas can be used  in place of green beans. 
2. Feel free to add more sesame seeds as they really give the dish a nice crunch and flavour.
3. Lemon can also be substituted for lime.
4. In Toronto, liquid aminos is sold as Bragg All Purpose Seasoning  Please feel free to substitute this with regular soya sauce although you may need to use less considering the salt content.  For other people, nama shoyu which is unpasteurized soy sauce could also be an alternative although an expensive one.





I'm looking forward to spring and  I sincerely hope you are too!

Warm wishes,