FreshnCrunchy

Delicious, Fun & Healthy Food

Cauliflower and Roasted Squash Soup With Miso

SoupLina Liwag2 Comments
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Happy 2013!  It seems like 2012 went by so fast although personally, I would have wanted to hold on to it a bit much longer…just to sort of organize my mind and my surroundings before the new year came in full force.  Can you relate?  I didn’t really have a break during the holidays and it felt like a blur to me….did everything in a rush in between my regular work days.  And I think in my mind I now deserve a mini- vacation or maybe keep warm in the comforts of my living room instead of bundling up to go to work on a snowy day.  Anyway, after hanging out with good friends with their excitement and inspiration rubbing off on me, I eventually made the switch to the present and now I’m excited for 2013!

Snow…yes we’ve been getting a lot of snow in Toronto lately.  And if you’re like me who works full time with long public transit commute, it’s still dark when you leave in the morning and even darker by the time you get home.  There’s nothing like a nice soup to warm you up and get you comforted from the cold and the flurries… let the winter fly fast!

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This is normally the time when most people start detoxing by juicing vegetables and eating more greens.  I usually do that in the spring when the weather here gets warmer.  My body feels more balanced if I eat seasonally based on my own observation and what my health practitioners tell me.  We are all different.  My husband is the opposite.  He is regularly using our  Nutribullet by blending his greens with some pears or apples.  

This soup originally came about when I had some leftovers one day and I just sort of combined them all in the blender.  It actually tasted good so I have decided to formally make it into a regular soup recipe for the family and also to share it with everyone.

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Cauliflower and Roasted Squash Soup With Miso

Ingredients:

1/2 of Autumn cup squash, cut into cubes, about 3 1/2 cups (see notes)

1 small cauliflower, cut into florets, about 3 1/2 cups

1 stalk of celery, cut in cubes

1/2  of a yellow onion, cut into strips, about 1/4 cup

3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1/4 tsp. black pepper

4 Tbsp. non-GMO miso paste

5 cups of water (or more)

1/4 c.  chopped coriander leaves for garnish (see notes)

Method:

1.Preheat the oven to 425F.  Place the squash, garlic and onions  in a roasting pan then coat them with the coconut oil and black pepper.  Roast for 20-25 mins. in the middle rack of the oven.

2. While the squash is roasting, cut the cauliflower into florets and the celery into cubes.  Put both vegetables in a steamer basket.  Add the water to the pot and bring it to a boil. Insert the steamer basket.  Steam the vegetables until soft but not mushy, about 5-8 minutes.  Do not discard the hot water.  If you have a smaller pot, you can also use  half of the water and can add the rest later.

3. Dissolve the miso paste in the hot water.

4. When the squash is cooked, transfer it to the blender (including the onions and garlic) along with the  cooked cauliflower and celery.  Add the water/miso mixture.  Process until smooth. You can do this in batches.  Add more water if you want a thinner consistency. 

5. Adjust the taste and warm the soup if necessary.  Garnish with coriander and serve.  Enjoy!

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Notes:

1. You can also use kabocha or buttercup squash as they seem to have the same flavour.  If both of these are not available then you can definitely use butternut squash although the flavour is slightly different.

2. If you do not have a steamer, you can  boil the vegetables but make sure they do not over cook. 

3. It’s also good to add half of the coriander leaves (and use the rest as garnish)  while blending.  It gives deeper flavour to the soup.

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Sun-dried Tomato Flavoured Crackers (Made with Wonderful Seeds) - How Are You Celebrating New Year's Eve?

AppetizerLina Liwag1 Comment
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My friend and co-worker Shirin loves these crackers…she asks for them all time and keeps reminding me that I haven’t brought them to work for so long so I finally decided to make a bunch of them last week just in time for me to wrap her a big pile (way more than what she usually gets)  as her Christmas present.  She was a happy girl! 

This is recipe is simple  to make.  You would need a dehydrator which will cook the crackers in a much lower temperature (between 115F to 105F) than regular oven to preserve their nutrients. The process will take about 8-9 hours.   However, if you don’t have one, you can definitely use your oven with the lowest setting and cook it for approximately 5-6 hours.  This will depend on how soft or crispy you want them to be.

I’m making them again for the New Year’s eve party that we’re having at our home.  They are great as appetizers especially when you pair them with your favourite dips (I’m making 2 varieties of hummus). The ingredients are natural…no preservatives or suspect ingredients like the commercial ones  and you don’t have to guess how long they’ve seen sitting at the supermarket’s shelf!  They are also nut-free and gluten-free.

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My hubby took the pictures and he loves the cracker with the imperfection!  A little hole, he says, shows that it’s really homemade, shot by amateur photographers like us - no food stylist to make it look too perfect and overly pretty.  We also didn’t edit these pictures (one day I’ll learn that process).

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Sun-dried Tomato Flavoured Crackers (Made with Wonderful Seeds)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c.  golden flax seeds (you can also use brown)

1/4 - 1/3 c. organic or sulfur-free sliced sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 c. water to soak the sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 c. raw pumpkin seeds

1/3 c. chia seeds

1/3 c. raw sunflower seeds

1/4 c. unhulled sesame seeds

1 clove garlic

2 Tbsp. red onions

1/4 t. Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt

1 1/2 c. to 1 3/4 c. water 

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Method:

1. Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in water for about 20 minutes until soft.  Do not discard the water but use it to blend the sun-dried tomatoes in a blender or food processor with the garlic and onions until the mixture turns into a paste.

2. Briefly grind the flax seed in a personal blender or coffee grinder making sure to just get a coarse meal not ending with a powder.

3. In a  mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together, stirring a few times.  It may initially look watery but in 5-10 minutes as the seeds absorb the water, the mixture will thicken a little and will be easy to spread (do not wait too long or it will harden).

4. Spread the mixture in solid, non-stick dehydrating trays with the back of a spoon .  I have an apartment-size Excalibur dehydrator and I used 3 of the 12” x12 ” trays.  If you want thicker crackers then you can definitely use 2 trays.   Alternately, you can spread it in oiled cookie sheet if you are using the oven.

5.  Dehydrate at 115F for 4 hours. With a knife, score to desired sizes then flip into the dehydrating mesh trays and peel off the non-stick sheets.  Lower the temperature to 104F and dehydrate 4 more hours or until desired crispiness.  If you are cooking in the oven, bake at the lowest temperature between 5-6 hours until crispy, flipping the crackers halfway of the cooking time.  These will store in sealed container up to 2 weeks.  Enjoy with your favourite dips!

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As I write this, it’s snowing outside.  We didn’t get any of this wonderful fluffy white stuff before Christmas in Toronto.  It finally came 2 days ago and this weekend, we are getting a bit more! Happy New Year to all of you!  Best wishes for 2013!  May we all be grateful for God’s gifts in 2012 and welcome the new one with joy and great expectations!  My new website is under construction, I will soon let you know when it’s complete.  I would like to thank you all for the wonderful feedback especially to all my  supporters at Instagram. 

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So as the ticking of the clock continues and we get closer to 2013, we should pause and give thanks. 2012 was a great year for me and my family.  God is good and will always be.  

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Decadent Raw Brownies - Angel's Favourite Dessert

Raw DessertsLina LiwagComment
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So this post did not make it before Christmas because I was too busy.  I didn’t have any time off and worked until December 24th.  But  hey, we can all use a dessert for New Year’s Eve party, right?  Anyway, this is my husband’s favourite dessert.  His brownie-fascination started at the age of 5 in the Philippines when his Tita Jessie baked this North American dessert…so different from the typical Filipino rice cake sweets.  To this day, having a piece of brownie brings him back to this joyful childhood memory.

Now fast forward to the present…our new lifestyle inspires us to make a healthier version of this popular dessert.  This means no processed sugar, no eggs, no flour, no butter.  And best of all no oven time!  And it tastes as good as it looks.  Oh, by the way…I almost forgot…my son loves it too!  This was originally adapted from Julie Morrisbut over time, I have since added my own personal spin on this wonderful recipe.  

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The above picture shows the ingredients minus the salt  (although not in exact measurements..pls. see the recipe).

I highly suggest that you visit a health food store near you and buy the organic version of these ingredients as the quality will be tremendously better.  Also, make sure that you use an organic cacao powder which is not the same as cocoa.  Organic cacao powder is milled cacao beans at a low temperature (to keep the nutrients intact) in order to remove the fat (cacao butter)  which then becomes powdery.  Cocoa, on the other hand, is prepared by grinding the cacao beans into a paste between very hot rollers and are then mixed with white sugar and starch.  The processing system is really the key.   Cacao has high levels of magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and chromium.  This has now been considered a Superfood because of its richness in antioxidants and minerals.  However, we have to eat this in moderation because it also contains an element called theobromine which is a powerful stimulant.

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Medjool Dates are a wonderful replacement for processed sugar and are really popular in raw dessert making.  They are actually called the “king of dates” and are exceptional because they come in larger sizes and contain considerable amounts of “fruit meat” than other varieties.  They are very sweet with complex flavours and are a good sourceof fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. They also have some copper, iron and zinc.   Make sure to get the ones that were naturally dried, free of sulphites.

Walnuts are great source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids which our bodies cannot manufacture and must come from the food we eat.  Walnuts also rank highestamong the other nuts in its antioxidant properties. 

How about our wonderful light green gem called pistachios?  I thought they are just the perfect addition to this recipe. Pistachios are considered a tree nut variety and are also a good source of protein, fats and minerals.  You can read more about their benefits here.

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Decadent Raw Brownies

Ingredients: (preferably organic)

1 1/4 c. raw walnuts

1 c. Medjool dates, pitted

1/2 c. raw cacao powder

1/4 t. sea salt

1 small vanilla bean, scraped or 1/2 t. vanilla powder

1/4 c. to 1/3 c.  shelled raw pistachios,  chopped

Method: 

1. In a food processor, grind walnuts to a fine powder. 

2. Add the cacao powder, salt and vanilla then pulse to combine.

3. Add the dates through the feed tube one a time and process until a sticky consistency is reached.

4. Transfer the mixture from the food processor into a pan or a container where you plan to store the brownies (I used an 8” x 6 1/2”  Pyrex glass container) then mix half of the chopped pistachios.  

5.  Press firmly into the pan then sprinkle the rest of the pistachios as toppings.

6.  Place in the fridge or freezer until ready to eat.  Cut into even squares, and serve. This would yield at least 12 squares. Enjoy!

Suggestions:

1. You can definitely use other nuts like almonds instead of pistachios.  I used 1 1/4 cup walnuts as I just find it too sweet with just 1 cup.  However, you can experiment and increase the dates or lessen the nuts as you please.

2.  I observed that if you pulse a little longer, some of the oil from the walnuts will moisten the mixture and therefore you will then have a moist brownie.  

3. This is a very rich dessert  and a little goes a long way.  It should be eaten in moderation. It is meant for holidays and celebrations but not an everyday food!

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Green Beans and Roasted Butternut Squash Topped With Roasted Chestnuts And Citrus Poppy Seed Dressing - Celebrating Christmas "freshncrunchy way"

SaladLina LiwagComment
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Our extended family had Christmas dinner this Saturday at my sister-in-law’s home which was a little early this year. There were 5 families with some guests  and as expected in Filipino tradition,  tons of food to partake of.  Each family brought their own specialties and as usual, we had an awesome buffet!  What’s been really encouraging lately is the openness of relatives to a better way of eating.  And this inspires me even more to continue on my passion.

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So let’s just say that there were many vegetable and healthy grain dishes… and surprisingly, my brother-in-law excitedly volunteered to roast an organic turkey!  So what’s a plant-based eating gal bring to a a family get together?  Well, I made black rice, roasted some root vegetables and the usual,  salads -  ”freshncruncy way.”  I did the black kale salad recipe posted earlier on this blog and because it’s Christmas, I thought why not another salad that would introduce CHESTNUTS!

Yes, I finally roasted some chestnuts!   I’ve never really done this before.  Angel’s dad used to roast chestnuts several years ago but I didn’t really pay much attention at that time.  It’s not really that complicated.  I thought they would explode on me.  Anyway, I cooked them in the toaster oven for 15 minutes and then added them to this salad.  

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Green Beans and Roasted Butternut Squash Topped with Roasted Chestnuts And Citrus Poppy Seed Dressing

Ingredients:

1 lb. organic green beans (see note)

2 c. butternut squash cut in cubes

2 tsp. coconut oil

2 cloves garlic, cut lengthwise and lightly smashed 

8- 10  pieces roasted chestnuts, roughly chopped

1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced 

1/4 c. parsley, chopped

1/4 c. goji berry (softened in 1 t. of water) or dried cranberries

Dressing:

3 Tbsp. cold pressed extra virgin olive oil 

juice of 1 1/2 - 2 tangerines or clementines

juice of 3/4 lime

1 Tbsp. poppy seed, lightly toasted  

1 clove garlic, grated

1 tsp. grated ginger

1 tsp. Dijon or brown mustard 

1/4 tsp. Celtic sea salt

pinch of black pepper 

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Method:

1.Preheat the oven to 425F.  Place the squash in a roasting pan then coat them with the oil and and add the garlic.  Roast for 20-25 minutes.

2.  Roast the chestnuts by following the instructions above.  They have to be peeled immediately otherwise, it becomes a challenge.  Chop them roughly. 

3. While squash and chestnuts are roasting, remove the ends of the green beans and wash them. Boil about 6 cups of water and blanch the green beans for about 2 minutes and drain through a sieve. Set aside.

5.  Toast the poppy seed in a skillet for about 1 -2 minutes then whisk together all the ingredients of the dressing with the red onions to soften.

4. When squash is cooked, discard the garlic.  In a big salad bow, mix the squash and green beans and toss with the dressing.  Top with goji berry, chestnuts and parsley.  Enjoy!

Note:  Green beans and kale have been recently added to thelist of produce with high pesticide residues so it’s important to buy these organic. 

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 I hope you and your family will have some fun and make good memories this Christmas.  I know that this season can sometimes become too commercial with what’s going on around us but we have to remember that in the midst of our busy lives and the gift buying frenzy, there is a bigger reason why we celebrate the occasion.  This hit a note on me as I was listening to a message shared at church today -  ”What are we giving to God as a gift?”   It could be making peace with a relative or a friend, letting go of old time grudges  or improving our relationship with our spouse; as for me, it’s to spend more time with the Lord with my bible studies.  I’ve been pursuing so many things all at the same time that this part of my life has been somewhat neglected.   May we all take the time to consider one thing to give as a gift to God.  Merry Christmas!  

And yes the Liwag family enjoyed our time last night with lots of food and good conversations.  The kids received gifts which gave them lots of joy.   I saw all my highly technical relatives and got some good tips in photography…hopefully I will remember them all!

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This was taken at my sister-in-law’s home.

Another Festive Drink - Pomegranates, Apples and Cranberries With A Dash of Cinnamon

DrinksLina LiwagComment
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It’s almost Christmas and our family is having our celebration this weekend so i’ve been thinking about salads, desserts and of course drinks!  Yes, another drink yet again …festive that is.  And my tropical roots is saying sweet, tart and a little touch of the holidays.   So as I woke up this morning, I felt like I needed to make that drink… a precursor to our weekend party.   My fruit tray happens to have all these wonderful red goodies from our organic market so why not a red drink with a holiday feel?   And then how about adding some cinnamon?  Doesn’t that make it even more festive?

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Okay…okay…I’ve been a little obsessed with pomegranates and have eating them everyday for the longest time.   A friend of mine wonders at the amount of time I spend in prying out those seeds out of that fruit.  I just don’t mind the work it entails…I really love pomegranates! Anyway, here are some facts about our ingredients for this drink:

Pomegranates - they are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C and potassium.  Dr. Joel Fuhrman has written a great article about pomegranates here.

Cranberries -  they have been known for their ability to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections.  Recently, there has been studiesthat this berry may also promote gastrointestinal,  oral health, lower LDL and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, aid in recovery from stroke, and even help prevent cancer.  

Apples - we’ve heard that saying over and over again “an apple a day drives the doctor away” and  here’s some good stats about apples that we may not be too aware of:

Apple Nutrition Facts

(*One medium 2-1/2 inch apple, fresh, raw, with skin)

Calories 81

Carbohydrate 21 grams

Dietary Fiber 4 grams

Soluble Fiber 

Insoluble fiber

Calcium 10 mg

Phosphorus 10 mg

Iron .25 mg

Sodium 0.00 mg

Potassium 159 mg

Vitamin C 8 mg 

Vitamin A 73 IU

Folate 4 mcg

*The nutritional value of apples will vary slightly depending on the variety and size.

Source: USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory — Apple

Cinnamon - this spice has been gaining a lot of popularity lately as we have been hearing more about its ability in blood sugar regulation.  Cinnamon in other cultures like China and India have been using this spice in their healing because of its warming and energizing properties.  It contains iron, calcium, manganese, and fiber, and can be used to temper sugar cravings.  

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Another Festive Drink - Pomegranates, Apples and Cranberries With A Dash of Cinnamon

Ingredients: (preferably organic)

 seeds of 1 pomegranate, about 1 1/2 c.

2 fuji or lady pink apples

1 c. fresh cranberries

4 c. filtered water

1/4 - 1/2  t. cinnamon powder 

2 Tbsp. (or to taste)  coconut nectar, maple syrup or raw honey (optional, see notes)

cranberries and lemon slices as garnish 

Method:

1. Remove the pomegranate seeds by following these steps.  

2. Juice all the fruits.  In a pitcher or a large jar,  combine the juice with the water, cinnamon powder and sweetener if using.  Stir well making sure the cinnamon powder is well incorporated.  It’s good to use either 1 or 2 jars so you can shake the drink and get the cinnamon diluted.  You can add some ice if you live in a warm climate.  This can also be warmed a little bit (don’t boil) if you live in colder places like Canada.   

3. Serve and garnish with lemons and cranberries.  Enjoy!

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Notes:

1. The juice yielded about 3 cups.  If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a high-speed blender then use a nut bag or a cheesecloth to remove the pulp.

2. The mixture with the water is fine with just the added cinnamon.  However, it may be a little tart to some  because of the cranberry juice so feel free to add your own sweetener.

3.  You can omit the cinnamon if it’s something that you do not enjoy in a drink. 

Satsuma and Pomegranate Punch - A Festive Drink And Some Childhood Memories

DrinksLina LiwagComment
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I grew up in the Philippines where eggnog was never heard of.  Christmas was warm and  we drank “punch.”  It wasn’t the healthy kind of punch mind you. We had a lot of oranges and lime called “kalamansi” in our backyard but there was a brand called “Tang” which we thought was kind of special because it came from the US of A.  Fast forward to the early 90’s and as a new immigrant in Canada, I was fascinated with those huge punch bowls at parties and at that time, it was a different mixture all together  - frozen juice, water and some pop or soda as they call it in other places.  I made and drank a few of those not knowing then how much artificial sugar it had and that their ingredients except for the water were highly processed.

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So I have evolved and the healthier version of me still wants to drink punch but this time, it has to be a better quality than my childhood Tang or the 90’s sugary version.  And two fruits in season are my inspiration: satsuma and pomegranate.

Satsumas…aren’t they pretty with their golden colour?   Sweet and just the perfect tartness, refreshing, fragrant and aromatic - they are the perfect Christmas kind of fruit and an awesome ingredient for a drink.  And the ruby red pomegranate is just the “made in heaven” pair.  Satsumas are a thin, loose skinned and seedless mandarin oranges. They were originally cultivated in Japan and were brought to the United States in 1876. It can sometimes be mistaken with clementine due to the relatively similar size and appearance.  However, one of the distinguishing feature of this orange is its thin, leathery skin with prominent oil glands, making it easier to peel.  

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Satsuma and Pomegranate Punch - A Festive Drink 

Ingredients:

8-10 satsumas, peeled

seeds of 1 pomegranate, about 1 1/2 cups 

4 c. filtered water or more (see suggestions)

several thin slices of lemon for garnish

Method:

1. Juice the satsumas and the pomegranate seeds.  Mine yielded 4 cups of juice.   If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a high speed blender and blend the fruits.  Use a nut bag or a cheese cloth to remove the pulp.

2. Combine the water and stir in the lemon slices.  It’s good to leave the drink for an hour before serving as the lemons will give it a nice infused flavour.  Enjoy!

Suggestions:

 You may use up to 8 cups of water if you have more guests to serve.  You can then add 1/4 cup of maple syrup or honey.  Of course you can always make your own variation. Clementines can be used if you can’t find satsumas in your area.   Apples and fresh cranberries are good options as well.  

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The pictures below show mandarin oranges from my dad’s orchard in the Philippines  taken on my last visit there in August of 2011. They probably have one more month to go before they are ripe and ready.  These trees were planted when we were very young and they are still around bearing fruits today!  This variety is the Filipino relative of Satsuma I must say.  

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 I had good memories eating many of these growing up in a small rural community located in the Northern-most part of the country.  When ripe, the skin of this type of mandarin does not turn orange at all but becomes lighter green with some yellow  patches or streaks (maybe due to the climate)  but they are sweet and organic.  I definitely miss home just remembering this part of my childhood.

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Scarlet Salad - Beets, Carrots, Quinoa and Romaine Hearts in Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing

SaladLina LiwagComment
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I tend to be drawn to vegetables and fruits with explosive colours.  Red, orange, purple, bright green and yellow.  If we look deeper, colours actually represent nutrients and antioxidants.  For instance the different  berries, purple cabbage and pomegranates.  One of those colourful vegetables is beets. Yes, beets!  I know, I know…we don’t normally get inspired with beets especially with how they are usually presented out there but trust me, this one is yummy and refreshing.  Just ask my husband as I’m usually ask to update his list of favourite meals.  This can also be enjoyed in the holidays since it has that festive look.  Instead of mixing the greens with the beets, you can also use them as a bed for the red salad when serving. 

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What’s with beetsyou may ask.  Well, they are rich in folate, fiber, vitamin C, manganese and potassium. They are also a tonic for the liver and a blood purifier.  The red pigment in beets is called Betanin which is a phytonutrient that provides antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support.   However, there is also a small percentage of people that cannot eat beets…read here.  But for most of us who can eat them, here is a recipe that we can all enjoy.

Scarlet Salad - Beets, Carrots, Quinoa and Romaine Hearts in Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing

Ingredients:

3 c. grated red beets (about 4-5 pieces)

1 large carrot, grated

1 cup dry quinoa (light or red)

2 c. water

3 c. shredded Romaine hearts 

1/3 c.  sulphites-free dried cranberries

1/2 c. sunflower seeds, lightly toasted

Dressing:

3 Tbsp. organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1/3 c. lemon juice

1 tsp. stone ground brown mustard or Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

1/4 tsp. salt

pinch of black pepper

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Method:

  1. Pour 2 cups of water into a small pot and bring to a boil.  Wash the quinoa in a wire sieve then stir into the boiling water.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa turns transparent.  When cooked,  transfer to a bowl to cool.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, wash the vegetables.  Shred the Romaine hearts and grate the beets and carrots. Use a pair of gloves if grating to prevent your hands form turning red.  Better yet, if you happen to have a food processor with those nifty attachments, use it and will even do the job faster for you. Place the grated beets and carrots with the lettuce  in a salad or mixing bowl. 
  3. Lightly toast the sunflower seeds in a skillet or toaster oven.
  4. Mix the cooled quinoa with the beets, carrots,  Romaine hearts, cranberries and half of the sunflower seeds.  
  5. In a small jar, place the ingredients for the dressing and with the lid secure, shake well to incorporate.  Pour the dressing into the beet mixture and toss well.  Top it with the rest of the sunflower seeds. Enjoy!
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Quinoa Tabouli Salad

SaladLina LiwagComment

My 15-year old son’s opinion is huge when it comes to planning and making our  meals.  And it gets exciting when the big sporting events come up.  He actually has “the say” about the menu for that particular party and also invites friends and relatives to come and celebrate the occasion. When he was much younger, we used to even dress up for Oscar night to enjoy a special meal and grandma was usually his special guest. Well, he’s grown a bit now and has moved on from the Oscar celebrations (how I miss those times).

Last weekend was the Grey Cup and although the excitement can never match that of the Superbowl, we still made some special food and Austin gave mom one day’s notice for the menu: vegan black bean and corn chili, guacamole, baked falafel and tabouli salad.  Most friends were away and it was too late to invite relatives so the three of us enjoyed our little Grey Cup party and we had some leftovers which we could really use for a day or two. I have decided to post our Quinoa Tabouli Salad and will share our chili recipe at a later time.

This dish is on our top 20’s list of favourite foods.  It is so nutritious and refreshing!  I made a party size one but  you can always make half of the recipe if you find this too big for you.   It can be stored in the fridge as a lunch option for the next few days.   Add some chickpeas or beans to the leftovers for a great variation.

Tabouli or tabouleh salad  is a Middle Eastern dish traditionally made with bulghur or cracked wheat grains, parsley and  other vegetables.  It can also be substituted with quinoa which, to me, is a better grain as it is considered a complete protein source. Parsley, usually seen and used as a garnish is actually a powerhouse of nutrients.  It’s a  good source of folic acid, iron, Vitamins A, C and K.  What’s really great is that they are an inexpensive but nutritious additions to our meals and even when juicing vegetables and fruits. 

Quinoa Tabouli Salad

Ingredients:

2 big bunches of organic flat leaf parsley finely chopped

1 c.  dry quinoa

2 c. water

1 organic English cucumber, cut into small cubes, about 2 1/2 cups 

4 organic plum tomatoes, cut into small cubes, about 2 cups

1/2 c.  mint leaves finely chopped

1/2 c. red onions, minced

Dressing:

3 Tbsp. organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil 

juice of 2 medium size lemons 

1/2 tsp. sea salt  

pinch of black pepper

1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cumin (optional)  

Method: 

1. Pour 2 cups of water into a small pot and bring to a boil.  Wash the quinoa in a wire sieve then stir into the boiling water.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa turns transparent.  When cooked,  transfer to a bowl to cool. 

2. While the quinoa is cooking, remove the hard stems of the parsley and wash very well.  Dry the leaves in a salad spinner then chop them finely.  Set aside in a mixing or salad bowl. 

3. Wash and prepare the rest of the vegetables including the mint leaves and cut them accordingly. Combine them with the parsley.  

4. In a small jar, place the ingredients for the dressing and with the lid secure, shake well to incorporate.  

5. Add the cooled quinoa to the vegetables then toss with the dressing.  Adjust the taste. It’s a good idea to prepare it at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving for a more tasty salad. Enjoy! 

Goodbye to the colours of fall:)

Persimmon, Black Kale and Pomegranate Salad With Creamy Almond Dressing

SaladLina LiwagComment

Persimmon and pomegranates are two of my fascinations this fall.  I’ve been eating them everyday…adding them in my fruit bowl, chia porridge and salads.  I am so in love with both their colours…deep orange and ruby red.   One sweet while the other tangy and when mixed with greens and avocado —it makes for perfect salad!  

Persimmon has two popular varieties:  the heart-shaped  Hachiya which can only be eaten when soft and fully ripe; otherwise, it will be astringent or unpalatable.  The other variety is Fuyu  which looks squat, a bit like a tomato and can be eaten while still firm (slightly unripe).  It can also be enjoyed when it’s ripe.  I normally buy Fuyu as it is more available in the market although I also enjoy the very ripe Hachiya which is great in smoothies and puddings.  I am looking forward to making other recipes using persimmon  in the coming days.

And who has not heard about pomegranates?  Here is a description of this awesome fruit from this link.

“Pomegranates have been cherished for their exquisite beauty, flavor, color, and health benefits for centuries. From their distinctive crown to their ruby red arils, pomegranates are royalty amongst fruits. They are symbolic of prosperity and abundance in virtually every civilization. Fortunately, this treasure’s versatility and possibilities are as abundant as the juicy arils bursting forth from within.”

Persimmon, Black Kale and Pomegranate Salad With Creamy Almond Dressing

Ingredients:

2 small bunches of black kale

2 Fuyu persimmon, peeled and thinly sliced in wedges

1 small avocado, cut in cubes

seeds of 1 small pomegranate 

1 cup of broccoli spouts or sunflower sprouts

1/4 c. lightly toasted pumpkin seed (sunflower seeds are also fine)

Dressing:

1/3 c. almond butter, preferably raw

1/4 c. unpasteurized apple cider vinegar

1 clove of garlic

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup

1/4 c.  filtered water

Method:

  1. To remove the seeds of the pomegranate, cut it in half then get a bowl and fill it with water. Submerge them into the water  then pry out the seeds from the rind with your fingers.  Remove the white pith as much as you can. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl while the white pith will float.
  2. Remove the hard stem of the kale, wash them well and slice them into thin strips then spin dry and set aside in a mixing bowl.
  3. Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. “Massage” the dressing into the kale until it gets soft and nicely coated.  Let it sit for 15 minutes in order for the dressing to be absorbed.  
  5. Transfer in a serving or salad bowl and add the persimmon, avocado, sprouts and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds.  Enjoy!

Roasted Squash Boats with Black Rice

Lina LiwagComment

This dish was enjoyed by my family last weekend. It’s a lovely fall lunch item and can be paired with soup or salad. It’s also simple to make and there are so many ways to create your own stuffing depending on what’s available in your refrigerator and pantry. It could be quinoa, lentils, greens and other vegetables or healthy grains.  I used black rice on this recipe and both the Liwag boys gave it a thumbs up!  Lightly toasting the sunflower seeds is highly recommended as it will bring the flavour of the dish to another level!

Last week’s module on my course at the Nutrition Schoolwas about healthy cooking. We talked about incorporating sweet vegetables in our meals… a great way to satisfy our cravings for sweets and can definitely help us let go of the processed sugar. These are sweet potatoes, yams, squash or carrots. So as a way of putting that lesson into practice, I thought it was fitting to make this wonderful dish!

Roasted  Squash Boats With Black Rice 

Ingredients:

For the roasted squash:

1 medium size kabocha squash (see notes)

1Tbsp melted coconut oil or cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of black pepper 

For the stuffing :

3/4 c. uncooked black rice

1 3/4 c. water

1  1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil or cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1/2 onions, diced, about 1/2 c.

1c. organic  frozen peas

1 carrot, peeled and cut into cubes

6 c. of baby kale or your choice of greens (see notes)

1/2 c. toasted sunflower seeds

1/4 c.organic dried cranberries

For the dressing:

1/4 c. lemon juice

1 tsp. grainy mustard

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt

2 tsp. maple syrup or honey

pinch  of black pepper

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.

2. Wash the squash well. Pat dry. Cut into half and scoop the seeds out using a spoon.

3. Mix the oil, cinnamon and black pepper in a small bowl then rub the mixture into the squash flesh. 

4. In a roasting pan, add 1/4 inch water then place the squash, cut side up

and roast between 30-40 mins. or until tender.

5. While the squash is roasting, wash the black rice then place in a small cooking pot with water. Bring to a boil, remove the lid and turn to simmer once it starts boiling. Cook for about 40-45 mins. 

6. In a pan, sauté the onions until soft then add the carrots and frozen peas and cook for about 5 minutes stirring a few times. Combine the greens then turn off the stove as the heat is enough to wilt them. Stir a few times then remove the pan  from the heat after 2-3 minutes.

7. Place the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar and shake well until well incorporated.

8. Combine the cooked black rice, cranberries and half of the toasted sunflower seeds with the sautéed vegetables. Add the dressing and toss well. Adjust the taste if necessary.

9. Remove the squash  from the oven and scoop the stuffing into each half. Top with the rest of the sunflower seeds. Enjoy!

Notes:

1. Some of the other varieties of squash that can be used are acorn, butter cup or autumn cup.

2. Use quinoa or wild rice if you don’t have black rice.

3. Black or curly kale, Swiss chard or spinach are other options for greens. Just chop them into bite size pieces and remember to just lightly cook them.

4. Some roast their squash cut side down but I prefer cut side up.  However, you can experiment and try both ways, inverting it halfway thru the cooking time.

Fall Chia Porridge With Apples, Pomegranates and Avocado

Lina LiwagComment

I can never get tired of eating chia porridge (or pudding) and all its different variations.  If you were on Instagram, you would notice that I post pictures of it all year round.  As the weather changes, I just use the fruits in season and maybe change the nut milk or the other toppings every now and then.  In the fall, I sometimes warm up my liquid a little bit but in the warmer days, I would soak the chia overnight in the fridge.   

So what’s my fascination about chia porridge?  Well for one, it keeps me full and prevents me from snacking before lunch.  Secondly, it has no  starch which is my nemesis at this stage of my life.  Most of all, it’s delicious and nutritious and does not require cooking or a lot of prep.  All you need with the chia seeds is your choice of nut milk, fruits and some nuts and seeds for toppings.  I add 1/2 of an avocado all the time.  I just like the different flavours of creamy, nutty, sweet, tangy and crunchy on that bowl of chia porridge.  After soaking the chia seeds in the nut milk for a minimum of 20 minutes, they will swell and will look like mini tapioca.

 Almond milk is a good choice.  Some days I use hemp or cashew milk.  Other times, I  would blend a mix of  3 Tbsp. dehydrated organic coconuts and 1 Tbsp. melted coconut butter with 1 1/2 cups of water and  this serves as my light version of “coconut milk.”   This is actually what I used when I took this picture but to make it simpler, I have indicated almond milk or your choice of any nut milk in this recipe.  

Salvia hispanica, also known as Chia (pronounced chee’ah), is  one of the richest and  unprocessed, whole food source of pure Omega3. A member of the mint family, Chia is native to Central America and has been used traditionally for over 3000 years.  Chia seeds have:

• 3 times the iron of spinach

• 5 times the calcium of milk

• 2 times the potassium of bananas

• 2 times the protein of any other seed or grains

• 3 times the antioxidant potency of blueberries

• It contains 20% Omega 3 ALA, making it a super food for the brain and heart. Chia has eight times more Omega 3 than salmon

Fall Chia Porridge With Apples, Pomegranates and Avocado

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp.  chia seeds (you can use white or black)

1 - 1 1/2 c. almond milk (depending on how thick you want it)

1 Tbsp. coconut nectar or maple syrup

1 organic Fuji apple, cut in cubes

1 c. pomegranate seeds

1/2 avocado cut in cubes

1/4 c. raw almonds

2 Tbsp. hemp hearts

2-3 Tbsp. dehydrated organic coconut flakes

1/2 tsp. organic vanilla powder (optional)

1/4 tsp. organic cinnamon (optional)

Method:

  1. Warm your nut milk  for 1-2 minutes (optional).
  2. In a bowl or a mason jar, mix the chia seeds and almond milk.   Let it soak for  20 minutes or longer making sure to stir it a few times so they don’t get too lumpy.  Soaking it longer would be ideal.
  3. When it’s ready, serve them in a bowl or large glass and add the toppings.   This serves 2.   Enjoy!

Suggestions:

  1. Nut milks -  feel free to experiment with different nut milks.   I love the coconut flavour.  I have a Nutribullet and it’s a fast way of making quick nut milks or my version of  light coconut milk.   Make sure you soak your nuts at least 8 hours to overnight.   It’s not even necessary to strain them through a nut bag or a cheese cloth  after blending as it will taste good in the porridge.  I will post an article about nut milk making in the coming days!
  2. Fruits - berries and mangoes are great in the summer time.  In the fall, I use persimmon, apple, pear figs and my latest obsession - pomegranate.
  3. Nuts and seeds - almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds are some of my favourites.  I also add hemp hearts a lot since this is such a healthy seed.

Banana Bread

BakedLina LiwagComment

So I’m not a regular or an expert baker… a little rusty actually. Lately, my son has been asking me to bake for him. So I went to work and started experimenting on this particular recipe and thanks to him, to my husband and to my co-workers who have all participated in my little “test kitchen” exercises,  I can now share our new and improved version of Banana Bread.  

When my family developed food allergies, lactose intolerance and as we became more conscious of the food we eat, I have slowed down in making baked goodies.  One day when I have more time in my hands, I’d  like to test more recipes using clean and wholesome ingredients…hopefully improve old time favourites and perhaps pick up the pace and bake some more - for the occasional treat or for entertaining like last weekend when I hosted a jewelry party for friends.

When  I first attempted to work on this, I wasn’t really sure about the idea of an egg-less recipe without substituting it with chia or flax meal but while reading the book,  The New Enlightened Eating by  Caroline Dupont, I found her egg-less Banana Bread  recipe.  It has inspired me to try making my own version using my old  recipe  and adapting a bit of  hers  and so here we are today. Don’t worry, it will all come together like a real banana bread even without the eggs! 

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

5 ripe organic  bananas, peeled and cut into halves (see notes) 

2 1/4 c. stone ground spelt flour (see notes) 

1 tsp. aluminum free baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. organic vanilla powder or alcohol-free vanilla extract 

1/4 tsp. sea salt 

1/3 c. raw sunflower seeds

1/3 c. raw pumpkin seeds

1/3 c. raw walnuts, broken into small pieces 

1/2 c. unsweetened  cacao nibs 

1/2 c. almond milk or any nut milk 

1/4 c.  melted coconut oil or cold pressed extra virgin olive oil 

2 pitted organic dates, cut into small pieces (optional, see notes)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. If using dates, soak them in the almond milk for 15-20 mins. to soften then place them either in a food processor or a high speed blender and process until smooth.

3. Add the bananas  and oil into the date/almond milk mixture and pulse a few times until well incorporated.

4. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla powder and salt and stir a few times.  Add the nuts, seeds and cacao nibs. 

5. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine making sure not to over mix.

6.  Lightly oil an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2 ” loaf pan then pour the mixture into it.

7. Bake for 45 mins. or until a fork or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cooking time varies depending on your oven. Try checking within 30 mins. but mine cooked in 45 mins. Enjoy!

Notes:

1.  If you have overripe bananas, you don’t really need the dates or any sweetener. 

2. If dates are not available and you have to use a  sweetener, it can be substituted with 1/4 c. coconut nectar or coconut sugar or maple  syrup 

3. You can use gluten-free flour. I’d love to experiment with a mix of buckwheat flour and almond flour very soon to see how that would work out. 

4. You can use your own choice of nuts. I like this mix so far.  

Quinoa Salad With Snap Peas, Black Beans and Chickpeas

SaladLina LiwagComment

This dish is my version of comfort food especially in the cooler days of fall.  It’s also one of our packed lunch options for work.  It has that perfect mix of protein, complex carbs, the crunchiness of the snap peas and some tartness from the tomatoes and the dressing. It definitely helps fuel us on our busy work days.  

I think quinoa no longer needs much of an introduction these days.  It seems like it has already been adapted by a lot of people into their day to day meals.  As I went through my journey of finding the right foods to eat because of my digestion issues, this is one of the healthy whole grains (or pseudo grain like how others call it) that I can handle without any reactions.   And so for the last 2 years, I have experimented with so many different ways of  preparing it  and this is one of my favourites.  

Cooking quinoa: 1 cup of  dry quinoa will yield approximately 3 cups cooked quinoa.

Rinse the quinoa  well under cold water by using a wire sieve and drain.  Put the rinsed quinoa into a saucepan and add cold water. The quinoa to water ratio is one part quinoa to 2 parts water.  Cover and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, and open the lid to prevent boiling over. Simmer for 15-20 minutes and the lid can be put back once the water has been absorbed. The quinoa becomes a little  transparent when it’s cooked, except for a little spiral sprout.  

Quinoa With Snap Peas, Black Beans and Chickpeas

Ingredients:

1 c. dry quinoa (equal parts of white and red quinoa was used)

2 c. water 

1 c.  cooked chickpeas

1 c.  cooked black beans

3 c. snap peas

1 c.  cherry tomatoes, cut into  2 or 3  pieces depending on the size

1/4  of a red onion thinly sliced

1/3 c. coriander leaves chopped finely

Dressing:

juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. roasted sesame seed oil

2 Tbsp. braggs liquid aminos

1/2 tsp. grated ginger

Method:

1. Wash and cook the quinoa by following the steps above.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, wash the  the snap peas and trim the hard ends.    Boil water in a pot and blanch the snap peas for 1 minute and drain through a wire sieve.  Make sure not to leave it too long as they will end up mushy.  Set aside to cool. 

3. In a salad or mixing bowl, mix the quinoa, chickpeas and black beans.  Add the cooled snap peas. 

4. Combine the dressing ingredients  in a small bowl including the red onions and half of the coriander leaves and stir to incorporate.  Leave for about 2 minutes just to soften the red onions.

5. Pour the salad dressing into the quinoa mixture and toss.  Adjust the taste if necessary but the amount of the dressing is just perfect for the whole dish.  Garnish with the rest of the coriander leaves.  Enjoy! 

Note:  The snap peas can change colour if the dressing is left too long so it’s a good idea to add them just a few minutes before serving the salad.  

"Fall Slaw" With Sesame, Lime and Ginger Dressing

SaladLina LiwagComment

Cabbage in my opinion is an underdog among the other veggies.  For such a powerhouse I don’t seem to see its popularity.  I’m even thinking of a billboard that would say something like “I may not be as popular as my cousin Kale but I’m also very nutritious so I’m hoping you’ll get to  know me more.”  

This may sound cheesy and I’m sure our good friend Marvin who is an art director  can come up with a better line than that but  you know what I’m getting at.

I’m not sure what your experiences or memories are about this vegetable.  If they’re not positive, I hope you can be open and try one more time.

And so here’s my take on cabbage salad… trying to promote our cruciferous, vitamin packed,  cancer fighting, antioxidant giver friend and hopefully get more fans.

“Fall  Slaw” With Sesame, Lime and Ginger Dressing

Ingredients:
3 c. green cabbage finely sliced
2 c. purple cabbage, finely sliced
3 medium sized carrots, julienned
1 parsnip, julienned
1  organic Fuji apple, sliced in thin wedges
1/4 c. green onions, cut into thin slices
1/4 c. unhulled sesame seed

Dressing:
3 Tbsp. organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. organic roasted sesame seed oil
juice of 1 lime, approximately 1/4 c.
1 Tbsp. organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. braggs liquid aminos
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp.  grated ginger

Method:

1. In a skillet or toaster oven, lightly roast the sesame seeds  for about 2 minutes making sure to watch closely as they can burn quickly.

2. In a big salad or mixing bowl, combine all the salad ingredients except  the green onions, apples and sesame seeds.

3. Place the ingredients for the dressing  in small jar and with the lid tight, shake well  to incorporate.

4. Pour the dressing into the cabbage mixture and toss well. Adjust the taste. It’s a good idea to let the salad sit for 15 minutes in order for the dressing to be absorbed.

5. Just before serving, garnish with green onions, add the apples and sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Suggestions: For a variation, the  tahini dressing  which was posted earlier can  also be used if you desire a creamy dressing.  For another twist, omit the apples and add wakame seaweed using the lime dressing.

Fig and Arugula Salad

SaladLina LiwagComment

Introducing salads to family members can be challenging sometimes.  It certainly wasn’t easy for me in the beginning.  What helped open the door for my 15-year old son when he was much younger was mixing some fruits with greens. I think it’s a great way of having a serving of both in a dish and a not too radical way of presenting greens  to those who are not too fond of them.  Personally, I just enjoy the combination of  sweet, tangy, creamy, crunchy and sometimes bitter flavours in a fresh serving of salad!

One of my favourite fruits in the fall is fig.  I just find figs so beautiful especially after you cut them. They are purple on the outside but have that exciting red or pinkish hue inside. They are a good source of potassium, fiber, manganese and B6. There are many varieties of figs but the more popular ones are:

  • Black Mission: blackish-purple skin and pink coloured flesh 
  • Kadota: green skin and purplish flesh 
  • Calimyrna: greenish-yellow skin and amber flesh 
  • Brown Turkey: purple skin and red flesh 
  • Adriatic: the variety most often used to make fig bars, which has a light green skin and pink-tan flesh 

Figs are best eaten one or two days after buying them as they are one of the most perishable fruits. They should be fresh, plump and tender, not bruised or mushy.  Before eating figs, their stems must be removed, washed and wiped dry.

I just think that the soft and sweet qualities of fig complement the peppery flavour of arugula.  Arugula also known as rocket belongs to the brassica family and is closely related to watercress, mustard greens, radishes, kale and cauliflower.  The younger leaves are better and not as bitter or as peppery as the more mature ones.  They are rich in Vitamins A, C, K and B Vitamins.  

This salad is so simple yet refreshing and delicious! This has been added to the list of our family’s favourites.  Feel free to mix and match fruits and greens. Pears, pomegranates  and apples are good options at this time and berries, mangoes or pineapples are great in the summer time.  We are also using hemp hearts which are shelled hemp seeds.  These are excellent source of protein (10g. per 3 Tbsp), Omega 3 and Omega 6, Manganese, Zinc, Iron, Magnesium and some B Vitamins.

Fig and Arugula Salad

Ingredients:

1  pack organic arugula, about 7-8 cups 

12-18  figs depending on their size, 2-3 figs per person

1/3 c. Hemp hearts 

16 pieces walnuts 

Dressing 

3 Tbsp.  extra virgin olive oil

4 Tbsp.  organic, preservative free and sulphites free balsamic vinegar 

2 Tbsp. maple syrup 

1tsp. Dijon or stone ground grainy mustard 

pinch  of salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Wash and spin dry the arugula.  Put them in a mixing bowl.  Cut the figs into 4-5 slices depending on their size and set aside.
  2. Place the dressing in a bottle and shake well to emulsify.
  3. Pour half of the dressing into the greens and also add half of the hemp seeds and toss.  Adjust the taste and add more dressing if necessary.  
  4. Serve the salad and top with slices of figs, walnuts and sprinkle the rest of the hemp seeds.

Note:  I don’t follow the usual  oil and vinegar ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar in my measurements as I prefer a tart dressing and therefore less oil.  Please feel free to add more oil if you prefer.

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Black Rice, Chickpeas and Asparagus Salad

SaladLina LiwagComment
image

I first tasted black rice when I went home to the Philippines  last year and visited  my brother Bobby and his wife Joyce.  As a couple with 2 young children, they are also pursuing  a healthy way of eating and have replaced white rice with this exciting variety.

Black rice is widely grown in Asia.  It used to be called “forbidden rice” in China centuries ago and was believed  that only nobles were allowed to eat it.  This type of rice is unpolished, the outer husk being intact and is rich in  antioxidant called 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. 

When black rice is cooked, its colour turns into deep purple and has a delicious, chewy and nutty taste.  It’s  a great source of fiber, niacin, thiamin, magnesium and iron among other things.   Cooking takes longer than regular rice and soaking it for several hours or even overnight is recommended for better digestibility.  However, if you are pressed with time, it can be cooked right away after rinsing it a few times.  Use 2 cups of water for every cup of black rice and it cooks for about 45 minutes  Soaked rice would cook up to 30 mins.  One cup of black rice will yield just short of 4 cups.

In this dish, it is being paired with chickpeas.   Chickpeas are ever present in my pantry. They are so versatile….you can  add them in salads and can make  soups, stews, dips and even  salad  dressings out of them. A cup of these goodies contain 15 g of protein!  

image

Black Rice, Chickpeas and Asparagus Salad

Ingredients:

2 c. cooked black rice

2 c.  cooked chickpeas

2 1/2 bundles of asparagus, about 3 cups

1 c. radicchio, washed, dried and sliced finely

1 c. cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

1/4 c. coriander leaves, finely chopped

3 T. minced red onions 

1/3 c. lightly toasted sunflower seeds

1 carrot, julienned

1/4 c. dried cranberries

Dressing:

1 1/2 T. cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

2 t. toasted sesame seed oil

juice of 1 lime

1 1/2 t. grated ginger

2 T. braggs liquid aminos

1 1/2  T. maple syrup

pinch of black pepper

image

Method:

  1. Remove the hard ends of the asparagus, wash and cut them into 1 1/2 “ long.  Boil water and blanch them for 2 minutes and drain through a wire sieve.  Set aside. 
  2. Place all the ingredients of the dressing into a jar and with the lid secure, shake well to incorporate.
  3. Toast the sunflower seeds in either the toaster oven or skillet making sure to watch closely as it can easily get overdone.
  4. In a big salad or mixing bowl, put all the salad ingredients except for 1/2 of the coriander leaves and the sunflower seeds.  Pour about 1/2 of the salad dressing and toss the mixture making sure  that the dressing is well incorporated.  Adjust the taste and add more dressing if needed.   Garnish with the rest of the coriander and top with sunflower seed.  Enjoy!
image

 It was rice planting season in my hometown when I went home to visit last year and it it brought me back to many  childhood memories.   These rice fields were just behind our home and these folks are either relatives or neighbours doing the hard work very early in the morning.  The variety being planted here is usually known in the North American grocery store as white jasmine rice or white milagrosa rice.  As a little child growing up in this agricultural corner of the world, little did I know that  there would be so many varieties of rice out there.  Black rice - who knew?

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Spinach Salad With Mango and Goji Berries

SaladLina LiwagComment
image

This is one of those kid-friendly and crowd pleaser kind of a salad.  I make it for dinner parties, bring it to office potlucks and extended family get togethers. It has actually become my most requested salad these days.   I think it has that distinct appeal…just look at the vibrant colours! People actually eat it and it just doesn’t end up sitting in a lonely corner at a huge potluck table!  I grew up in a culture where raw salads were not popular and this certainly is an easy INTRO to eating greens.

image

It’s usually a summer item but I think it can still be eaten in the fall and can be paired with a warm broccoli or cauliflower soup.  Mango can also be replaced by Fuji apple, nectarine or pear.  Of course if you live in a warmer part of the globe like the Philippines, you can eat it all year round.

Spinach Salad With Mango, Sunflower Sprouts, Avocado and Goji Berry

Ingredients:

1 pack organic baby spinach about  11 oz.

2 medium size ripe (but firm) mangoes cut in cubes

1 1/2 c. sunflower  sprouts

1 small avocado cut in cubes

1/4 c. goji berry (or pomegranate seeds)

1/4 c. hemp seeds 

1/2 c. lightly toasted pumpkin seeds

Dressing:

3 T. cold pressed organic olive oil

juice of 1 1/2 small lemons (or 1 big lemon)

1 T. brown mustard

2 T. maple syrup

1/2 t. Himalayan salt

pinch of black pepper

image

Method:

1. Toast the pumpkin seeds for 2-3 mins. in a toaster oven or on the stove making sure to watch closely as it can easily get overdone.

2. Wash the greens,  spin dry and put them in a mixing bowl with the sprouts.

3.Place all the ingredients of the dressing in a small bottle and with the lid on and tightly closed, shake well to incorporate.

4. Just before serving, add the dressing into the greens and toss. Adjust the taste and  transfer to serving bowl.  Top it with the mangoes, avocado, goji berry, hemp hearts and pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!

Note: You  can also use the Creamy Sesame Dressing which was posted earlier if you desire a creamy dressing.

Roasted Butternut Squash With Snow Peas and Lentil

SaladLina LiwagComment
image

Fall is such a beautiful season.  The colours around us are so vibrant!   There is a little forest beside my home that displays the richness and wonders of  God’s watercolours and it is so awesome that I get to enjoy them everyday.  

With the changing of season, we are also seeing fall vegetables like squash.  I have a few varieties from my last CSA  (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery so I just made this dish for the family recently.  

Roasted Butternut Squash With Snow Peas and Lentils

Ingredients:

4 c. butternut squash cut into cubes

3 cloves garlic cut lengthwise and lightly smashed

1Tbsp. coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 c. cooked  French green lentils or black lentils 

1 lb. snow peas

1/4 of a  red onion finely sliced

1/4 c. coriander leaves, washed and finely sliced

Dressing:

3 Tbsp. organic cold pressed extra Virgin olive oil

juice of 1  1/2  small lemons

2 tsp. grainy brown mustard

2 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

1/2 t. Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt

1/4 - 1/2  t. cumin (optional)

Method:

1.Preheat the oven to 425F.  Place the squash in a roasting pan then coat them with the oil and black pepper and add the garlic.  Roast for 20-25 mins. 

2. While squash is roasting, remove the ends of the snow peas and wash them. Boil about 6 cups of water and blanch the snow peas for 1 minute and drain through a sieve. Set aside.

3. Whisk together all the ingredients of the dressing then add the red onions to soften.

4. When squash is cooked, discard the garlic. In a big salad bow, mix the squash,lentils and snow peas and toss with the dressing.  Garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately. 

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Fall is such a lovely time of the year!

Kale Salad With Sunflower Sprouts, Carrot and Pomegranate

SaladLina LiwagComment
Kale Salad With Sunflower Sprouts Carrots and Pomegranates What a way to start a food blog with one of our family’s  favourite salads. Yes,  even my 15-year old love salads!  But this didn’t happen overnight. You see, my boy grew up not watching cartoons but the sports networks and The Food Channel.  So you can just imagine cooking for your child whose idea of a delicious meal being the celebrity chef’s creations!  But like they say patience and perseverance always pay off. One meal at a time and my foodie is finally on my side. He’s my greatest fan and hardline critic rolled into one.  I love it! My kitchen is always busy as he  doesn’t just have the appetite but also his own ideas about great flavours or what is exciting and yummy -  which makes food preparation  even more interesting for me. So kale has been getting a lot of attention lately which is deserving for the king of greens. It could very well be the new beef!  It’s packed with nutrients and is high in iron, Vitamins A, K, calcium and protein among other things.   Sunflower sprouts or micro greens are also powerhouses of nutrition. They are little  plants just breaking out from the seeds and are loaded with enzymes, Vitamins A, D, E and B complex and 3.5 oz. of these sprouts boasts 25 g. of proteins!  Adding carrots and pomegranates to this salad just make it a nutritious mix for our plates! Kale Salad With Sunflower Sprouts Carrots and Pomegranates Ingredients: 1 bunch curly kale de-stemmed, washed,  finely sliced and dried 2  medium size carrots peeled and grated 1 1/2 c. sunflower sprouts seeds of 1 pomegranate 1/4 c. Hemp seeds Creamy Sesame Dressing: 1/2 c.  unhulled sesame seeds 2 cloves  garlic 1/3 c. organic and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar 1 1/4 c. warm water 11/2  Tbsp. maple syrup 1/2 t. Himalayan salt 1 1/2  Tbsp. cold pressed extra virgin olive oil 1. To remove the seeds of the pomegranate, cut it in half then get a bowl and fill it with water. Submerge them into the water  then pry out the seeds from the rind with your fingers.  Remove the white pith as much as you can. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl while the white pith will float. 2. Place all the ingredients for the dressing into a blender,  a magic bullet or Nutribullet and blend until smooth. Add a little more water if you find it too thick.  With your hands, “massage” the dressing into your kale ‘til it gets soft and nicely coated. Taste the kale and adjust accordingly… it may need more sweetness, tanginess or salt.  Let it sit for 15 mins. in order for the dressing to be absorbed. 3. Just before serving, add the carrots, sprouts, pomegranate seeds and sprinkle the hemp hearts. When serving the salad to guests, put the toppings on each plate…it’s great for them to see and enjoy the vibrant colours of the dish! 

Kale Salad With Sunflower Sprouts Carrots and Pomegranates

What a way to start a food blog with one of our family’s  favourite salads. Yes,  even my 15-year old love salads!  But this didn’t happen overnight. You see, my boy grew up not watching cartoons but the sports networks and The Food Channel.  So you can just imagine cooking for your child whose idea of a delicious meal being the celebrity chef’s creations!  But like they say patience and perseverance always pay off. One meal at a time and my foodie is finally on my side. He’s my greatest fan and hardline critic rolled into one.  I love it! My kitchen is always busy as he  doesn’t just have the appetite but also his own ideas about great flavours or what is exciting and yummy -  which makes food preparation  even more interesting for me.

So kale has been getting a lot of attention lately which is deserving for the king of greens. It could very well be the new beef!  It’s packed with nutrients and is high in iron, Vitamins A, K, calcium and protein among other things.   Sunflower sprouts or micro greens are also powerhouses of nutrition. They are little  plants just breaking out from the seeds and are loaded with enzymes, Vitamins A, D, E and B complex and 3.5 oz. of these sprouts boasts 25 g. of proteins!  Adding carrots and pomegranates to this salad just make it a nutritious mix for our plates!

Kale Salad With Sunflower Sprouts Carrots and Pomegranates

Ingredients:

1 bunch curly kale de-stemmed, washed,  finely sliced and dried
2  medium size carrots peeled and grated
1 1/2 c. sunflower sprouts
seeds of 1 pomegranate
1/4 c. Hemp seeds

Creamy Sesame Dressing:

1/2 c.  unhulled sesame seeds
2 cloves  garlic
1/3 c. organic and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 c. warm water
11/2  Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 t. Himalayan salt
1 1/2  Tbsp. cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1. To remove the seeds of the pomegranate, cut it in half then get a bowl and fill it with water. Submerge them into the water  then pry out the seeds from the rind with your fingers.  Remove the white pith as much as you can. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl while the white pith will float.

2. Place all the ingredients for the dressing into a blender,  a magic bullet or Nutribullet and blend until smooth. Add a little more water if you find it too thick.  With your hands, “massage” the dressing into your kale ‘til it gets soft and nicely coated. Taste the kale and adjust accordingly… it may need more sweetness, tanginess or salt.  Let it sit for 15 mins. in order for the dressing to be absorbed.

3. Just before serving, add the carrots, sprouts, pomegranate seeds and sprinkle the hemp hearts. When serving the salad to guests, put the toppings on each plate…it’s great for them to see and enjoy the vibrant colours of the dish! 

Happy Thanksgiving

Lina LiwagComment
Happy Thanksgiving!  Hello! I’m finally starting my blog… very exciting and scary at the same time!  I get to share some of my recipes and healthy tips especially to busy moms like me and yet very intimidating with my lack of tech savviness and photography skills. I see successful food bloggers and I feel very tiny in this huge world of internet images and technology. But I can’t just shrug off this inner voice…I just have to share it and it is my hope that you can learn a recipe or two and start making your own garden treats!    With time, I also hope to and learn and grow  and I know you will be very patient and forgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Hello! I’m finally starting my blog… very exciting and scary at the same time!  I get to share some of my recipes and healthy tips especially to busy moms like me and yet very intimidating with my lack of tech savviness and photography skills. I see successful food bloggers and I feel very tiny in this huge world of internet images and technology. But I can’t just shrug off this inner voice…I just have to share it and it is my hope that you can learn a recipe or two and start making your own garden treats!    With time, I also hope to and learn and grow  and I know you will be very patient and forgiving.