Travels, Healthy Foods & Tomatoes

One of the many reasons I love travelling is that I get to meet and learn from people from all walks of life! The world is so big and beautiful with so many different kinds of people living in it. 🙂

During my stay in South Korea this summer, I had the fortune to stay with my dear friend Lucy and her wonderful family after my teaching assignment ended. I was excited to experience the Korean family lifestyle!

I discovered that Lucy’s family usually eats a very big breakfast to start the day which includes all sorts of vegetables and fruits, from fermented vegetables to fresh vegetables and fruits, and a combination of hot and cold dishes. They do not eat meat for breakfast. From my previous readings when I was exploring the possibility of becoming vegetarian or vegan (I’m still on the journey), I already know that consuming too much animal protein creates toxins and acidity in the body and eventually ages the skin and body (The Beauty Detox Foods by Kimberly Snyder, page 14). Furthermore, animal protein is the most complex of all foods, and it takes almost twice as long as other foods to pass through the digestive system, which allows a greater chance of toxins to be created. Eating whole, unrefined plant foods with some fermented foods (has probiotics and enzymes that are good for healthy digestion and elimination) and complex carbohydrates is a much better choice in improving overall health and energy. Therefore, I loved the healthy vegetarian concept behind these big delicious breakfasts!

A healthy filling vegetarian Korean breakfast that includes salad, pumpkin porridge, cold Korean Soybean Noodle Soup (Kong Gooksu), rice,  kimchi, fermented eggplants, pickled green plum, garlic and grapes.

A typical healthy filling vegetarian Korean breakfast from my friend’s family that includes salad, pumpkin porridge (hobak jook), cold Korean soybean noodle soup (kong gooksu), rice, kimchi, fermented eggplants, pickled green plums, fermented garlic and grapes.

One morning I was introduced to this healthy, hearty delicious soup cooked by Lucy’s dad, Mr. P. Mr. P is an active, happy, health conscious and nature-loving gentleman who frequently hikes up on the highest mountain near his home. He loves cooking and eating this soup for breakfast. It just requires two ingredients: tomatoes and olive oil. Mr. P told me that both tomatoes and olive oil are very healthy and when combined, they are very good for the body because they lower risks of many diseases and cancers. I would never have thought of having soup for breakfast, but the inner healthy foodie in me was eager to give it a try. We also sprinkled some pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds into the soup. The minute I tasted it, I was sold on having soup for breakfast and gained a new appreciation for tomatoes! I asked Mr. P immediately for the recipe and he simply told me to put these two ingredients into a pot and then you have a meal.

I cooked the Tomato Olive Oil Soup successfully this morning and I can’t wait to share with you this simple recipe made literally in under 15 minutes! I think Mr. P would be so proud of me!!

I hope you give this soup recipe a try and let me know what you think! 🙂

Happy Cooking!!

XO,

Violet

Tomato Soup_Korea

 

Serves: 1 person

Preparation Time: 2 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 washed and chopped tomato

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,

Toppings: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds/hemp hearts, raisins

Optional toppings: any type of nuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds

 

Instructions:

1. Put one tablespoon of olive oil into pot on medium heat.

2. Place chopped tomatoes into pot to be cooked with olive oil.

2. Mash and stir tomatoes for a bit. Leave some tomatoes in partly whole form.

3. Allow soup to simmer a few minutes.

4. Once the soup boils, pour it into a serving bowl and add one tablespoon of olive oil.

5. Sprinkle a handful of your favourite toppings and mix everything. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Special Notes:

Tomatoes- has carotenoid lycopene, an antioxidant that gives them their red colour and may be useful in decreasing the risk of some cancers and heart disease; cooking tomatoes increases the lycopene content

Olive Oil- rich in monounsaturated fats which is important for optimal health; it can help with healthier blood cholesterol level and control blood glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity and a fatty liver and lower the amount of fat around the abdomen; good quality extra virgin olive oil has a high smoke point of around 210 degrees so it can be used for stir-fries, roasting foods in oven and pan-frying

*Information for both ingredients are taken from Superfoods by The Australian Women’s Weekly, pages 103 and 112

http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/australian-womens-weekly-weekly/aww-superfoods-9781742454733.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PappaRoti: Most Delicious Bun in Vancouver!

 

PappaRoti_frontshop

While we were in Vancouver, we discovered this cute little café, PappaRoti, right across from our hotel. We fell in love with its signature caramel coffee bun! In my opinion, it’s kind of like a mix of a Chinese pineapple bun and a fluffy pancake. Its caramelized-coated top is crispy and crunchy while the inside is soft and warm, filled with butter that simply melts in your mouth! This bun is a combination of salty and sweet.

PappaRoti_bunandtea
The bun can be eaten separately, paired nicely with a cup of coffee or tea, or with a combo which consists of a variety of toppings (e.g. local organic jams, kaya etc.). I tried their recommended combos: Banana & Nutella, Strawberries & Whipped Cream, and Ice Cream & Maple Syrup. All these combos were delicious. The Ice Cream & Maple Syrup adds a little Canadian flavour and is simply decadent! I found the toppings from these 3 combos were a lot, so I had to order a second bun to enjoy every single indulgent bite. 🙂

Bun with Kaya (coconut jam)

Bun with Cream Cheese

Bun with Banana & Nutella

Bun with Banana & Nutella

Bun with Strawberries & Whipped Cream

Bun with Strawberries & Whipped Cream

Bun with Ice Cream & Maple Syrup

Bun with Ice Cream & Maple Syrup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We loved the buns so much that we actually returned to this café a few times during our week stay in Vancouver. The cafe seems to have a steady flow of customers from morning till night, from tourists, to regulars in the neighbourhood to friends finding it as a nice place to hang out. We even observed what seems to be an English conversational group holding a session there in the morning. This means that people find the environment very comfortable, and conducive to conversations.

Aside from its signature bun, PappaRoti also has…

-a warm and welcoming ambiance

Cozy back area for people to sit and chat comfortably

Cozy back area for people to sit and chat comfortably

A view of cafe from the front

A view of cafe from the front

A nice sunny area during the daytime to sit and even read a book from the bookshelf if you like!

A nice sunny area during the daytime to sit and even read a book from the bookshelf if you like!

A communal table facing the TV

A communal table facing the TV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-friendly and courteous staff

-beautiful presentation of food as shown in photos above

Sample of bun for customers to try

Sample of bun for customers to try

-an array of local organic jam and tea

Samples of local jams and teas that they serve

Samples of local jams and teas that they serve

-this cool tea timer to make your perfect cup of tea!

PappaRoti_tea timer

For someone who has been gluten-free and dairy-free for over a year now, eating PappaRoti’s bun is worth breaking my dietary restrictions, while on vacation. The way I see it, just like its motto, I’m enjoying life one scrumptious bun at a time. 😉

PappaRoti is a must visit and eat place in Vancouver!!

I’m excited to find out that PappaRoti is actually an international chain and has one in South Korea, which is my next summer travel destination. I’m looking forward to finding it there!!

I’m excited to find out that PappaRoti is actually an international chain and has one in South Korea, which is my next summer travel destination. I’m looking forward to finding it there!!

To check out PappaRoti Canada, go on their website: http://papparoti.ca/

PappaRoti on Urbanspoon

Freshly-Baked Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread Photo

 

So I was on a pumpkin baking frenzy, trying to finish up the pumpkin puree I had stored.  Unfortunately I ran out of gluten-free flour, but had some whole wheat flour left from before I became gluten-free. Therefore, I decided to use it to make some pumpkin bread for my classmates from my cooking class and even had extra to share with a friend.

According to everyone, the pumpkin bread is very healthy, fresh and tastes “organic”.

Here’s the recipe to this high fibre and low sugar pumpkin bread that will go nicely with your cup of milk/tea/coffee in the morning! 🙂

 

Makes: 1 loaf

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

 

Special Note:

-To make it sugar-free, you can choose not to add in the honey.

 

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

 

Wet Ingredients

2 large eggs

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree

 

Optional:

If you have sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and raisins, mix them together and you can sprinkle a handful of them on top of the loaf.

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Make a hole in the centre and put in eggs, coconut oil, honey and vanilla; mix well.
  4. Fold in the pumpkin puree and mix.
  5. Pour batter into a well-greased large loaf pan.
  6. Sprinkle sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and raisins on top (if you have).
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes; check if it’s completely done by inserting a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.
  8. Let bread cool completely, or wait about 10-15 minutes to eat it freshly hot/warm. :)

 

Healthy Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

Life has been very crazy busy lately.  For example, within one week (last week), I witnessed 3 beautiful weddings, new beginnings for 3 amazing couples, and experienced the passing of a loved one.  Such is the circle of life, and the joys and sorrows that is all part of living.  The only thing we can do is enjoy and appreciate every moment, including the ups and downs of life, and just go with the flow; and cherish memories.

Today I finally have a chance to really sit back, and reflect upon what happened the past week, also take comfort and joy in baking on this rainy day. 🙂

Fortunately my father still has an appetite and a sweet tooth, despite his disease.  I know he secretly craves his Tim Hortons’ muffins but he is no longer allowed to eat “outside” or processed food, so homemade food is the way to go.

Using only natural ingredients such as pumpkins, bananas and raisins, I dedicate this Fall-inspired gluten-free and dairy-free muffin recipe to him.  He really liked eating these muffins that I made especially for him!

I hope you enjoy making and eating these yummy, light and moist muffins with your loved ones! 🙂

 

PumpkinRaisinMuffins

 

Makes: 24

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Bake Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

 

Special Notes:

-To make it sugar-free, you can choose not to add in the maple syrup.  I added it, because my father does have a sweet tooth, and I think maple syrup is a healthy natural sweetener.  See: health and nutritional benefits of eating maple syrup: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=115

 

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

2 cups Gluten-Free Oat Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Oat Flour)

2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground clove

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

Wet Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unsweetened pumpkin

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegan buttery spread, melted

4-5 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 cup raisins

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  5. Slowly add raisins into batter.
  6. Fill each baking cup evenly with the batter.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Let the muffins cool completely, or eat one while still warm. 🙂

 

 

Quinoa for Breakfast!

Quinoa Breakfast

I first tasted quinoa when I was travelling throughout Peru in 2011 and learned that it was a staple to the Peruvian diet.  While I was in Peru, I really enjoyed quinoa in a variety of culinary ways, from hearty soups to delicious desserts.  In fact, my favourite memory of eating quinoa was having it as a scrumptious strawberry quinoa pudding for dessert after dinner on top of a mountain, as we settle in for the night, eagerly awaiting to see Machu Picchu at sunrise the next day. 🙂

Fast forward 2 years later, quinoa seems to be the new health buzz word in North America.  Everywhere I go, it is on restaurants’ menus and in grocery stores.  It is even included in all the health books and magazines I’m hungrily reading to learn more about healthy food and diet.

To sum it up: Quinoa is a seed (many people assume it is a grain, but it isn’t!!) that comes in white, red or black.  It is a superfood because it is a good source of protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins B and E.  It is also gluten-free!  Therefore, it is perfect for vegetarians, vegans and people with gluten sensitivity or celiacs.

As I’m now gluten-free and also trying to cut down on my meat consumption, quinoa is another great alternative I can turn to for protein, and substitute for rice or pasta.  I am by no means an expert in cooking quinoa, and have been reading books and websites to learn how to cook it well, and getting some more recipe ideas.

Anyways, I got really excited when I was chatting with my vegetarian friend Mythili and she mentioned she eats quinoa for breakfast!  I thought what a wonderful way to start off the day with energy and happiness!!

I will now share with you a recipe Mythili passed on to me, and I tweaked it a bit with whatever I found in my kitchen, and as you know, I like to experiment with some of the ingredients in recipes.  After all, creativity in the kitchen is so much fun!! 😀

 

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Total TIme: about 25 minutes

 

Special notes:

-Turmeric- has health and beauty properties, mostly anti-inflammatory effects and helps increase blood circulation thus contributing to healthier and radiant looking skin!

Milk- you can replace the unsweetened almond milk with any other type of non-dairy milk you like!  For example, Mythili used rice milk for this recipe.

-Spice- instead of turmeric, you can replace it with cinnamon if you prefer a more flavourful tang, as turmeric is slightly bitter to taste

-Fruit toppings- you can put any fruits you like on top!  Mythili put blueberries in hers.

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 cup unsweetend almond milk

1/2 cup filtered water

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 banana, sliced

handful of sliced strawberries

 

Instructions:

  1. Mix the quinoa, almond milk, water and ground turmeric into a pan at medium heat.
  2. Mix contents once in a while.
  3. Add sliced banana into the pan.  When the quinoa is cooked, take the pan off the stove.
  4. Plate the food and add a handful of strawberries.
  5. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Resources I used on learning about and how to cook quinoa:

The Power of Food: 100 Essential Recipes for Abundant Health and Happiness by Adam Hart, page 111

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-quinoa-63344

http://lowfatveganchef.com/how-to-cook-quinoa-perfectly-every-time/

http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101/kitchen_tips_techniques/how_to_cook_quinoa

http://www.queenofquinoa.me/get-to-know-quinoa/

Healthy Banana, Date & Walnut Loaf

This Banana, Date & Walnut Loaf uses only bananas and dates as natural sweeteners.

This Banana, Date & Walnut Loaf uses only bananas and dates as natural sweeteners.

At the request of the guests of the weekend potluck party I attended, I created this loaf for dessert since I had extremely ripe bananas and I’ve been dying to use the medjool dates I bought a few weeks ago, to create a healthy, naturally sweet (minus artificial sugar) and moist Banana, Date & Walnut Loaf.  Actually, this loaf is inspired by fellow blogger Rhiarn’s recipe (see: http://rhicreations.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/banana-date-walnut-loaf/). I’ve been wanting to try her recipe since she shared it in June, and I finally had time to give it a go! (with some minor substitutions due to lack of some required ingredients)  Thanks so much for the inspiration, Rhiarn! 🙂

 

Makes: 8 slices

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 40 minutes

 

Special Notes:

-This is not a gluten-free recipe, since my guests are not gluten-free sensitive.  To make it gluten-free, you can replace it with any type of gluten-free flour.

-The riper the bananas, the sweeter they are.

-The medjool dates have a rich, almost honey or caramel-like taste, so they’re perfect as a natural sweetener.

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 ripe and mashed bananas

8 medjool non-pitted chopped dates (you have to take the pit out and chop dates into little pieces; I really like this brand: Natural Delights http://www.naturaldelights.com/about-perfect/; dates are a source of fibre and these ones are 100% fat free!)

1 egg white

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup white flour

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 heaped tablespoon cacao powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons chia seeds

4-6 whole walnuts, semi-crushed

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix bananas, dates, egg white and almond milk into a blender/food processor. (wet ingredients)
  3. Combine wholewheat flour, white flour, rolled oats, cacao powder, baking powder and chia seeds in a large bowl. (dry ingredients)
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  5. Line small-medium loaf tin with baking/parchment paper.
  6. Add mixture and sprinkle with semi-crushed walnuts on top.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until firm.
  8. Enjoy! 🙂

A Sweet Green Smoothie Combo!

Spring Mix + Banana + Papaya + Chia seeds = Sweetly Yummy

Spring Mix + Banana + Papaya + Chia seeds = Sweetly Yummy


As mentioned earlier in a post, I have now decided to challenge myself to drink one green smoothie a day!  I have started this for about a week now, and usually drink one for breakfast, but sometimes it’s for snack.  It is very fun to experiment with different combinations of dark leafy greens, vegetables and fruits, and I’m loving most of the green smoothies I made so far!!

Here’s one green smoothie combo that I would love to share with you since it’s simply and naturally so sweet and good! 🙂

 

Makes: 1 smoothie

Preparation Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

2 cups  spring mix

1 chopped banana

1 cup chopped papaya

2 tablespoons chia seeds (makes the smoothie filling as it has protein, and provides 4.4 g of protein)

1 cup unsweetened cold almond milk (if you prefer a sweeter taste, go with original)

1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs

6-8 blueberries

 

Instructions:

1. Put all ingredients (except the cacao nibs and blueberries) into the blender and mix.

2. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and blueberries on top, and enjoy!

 

I hope you will enjoy drinking it as much as I do! 🙂

 

Love, Violet