Vibrant Summer Slaw

Before I begin, I just want to say that I am officially obsessed with Boom Clap by Charli XCX. I think you all should listen to the song while you read this post. It’s on the soundtrack for The Fault in Our Stars, and though I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I love the video because it’s shot in Amsterdam. Most of tthe video is even shot on the Prinsengracht, the canal of the houseboat I stayed on last summer! Amsterdam is one of my favourite places in the world, and the video makes me miss it so much.

This week has been amazing: blue skies, sunshine, and one of my best friends is engaged! When she asked to Skype earlier this week, I had a feeling that she had something special to tell me. Maybe it’s because we’re telepathic like that. The news put the biggest smile on my face, and I know for a fact that if she had told me in person, we would have jumped up and down together squealing like little girls. And we did, but on Skype. I know that most engaged couples around my age (early twenties) are on the receiving end of questioning looks from others, and I, for one, can’t imagine myself getting married so young. But everyone is different. Some of us don’t know what we want or who we want to be with for the rest of our lives, but those who do should not be judged for their decisions- especially if it’s what makes them happy. I have, in the past, been guilty of questioning the decision of those who decide to marry young. Seeing my friend so happy, however, made me realize that those judgements are silly. I have never questioned her decisions, and I am not about to question her decision now. No one knows the inside of a relationship better than the people in them, and I am confident that her and her fiancé will have a lifetime of happiness (+ some really cute kids) ahead of them. I am so excited and happy for her that I’m already planning what to buy as a wedding present (kitchen equipment, obviously) and hoping that I get to go wedding dress shopping with her! Congratulations, gorgeous. You deserve all the happiness in the world!

Onto today’s recipe… Summer is in full swing, and it is barbecue season. Barbecue season also means coleslaw season, which is unfortunate for me, because I have never really liked coleslaw. I find nothing appealing about eating soggy cabbage that is swimming in mayonnaise, but maybe it’s because I’ve never had really good coleslaw. The coleslaw I remember from my childhood came in little tubs alongside the KFC takeout my mom would take home. Yep, that’s right. There was a time when my mom would occasionally bring home a KFC family bucket, and I loved it. I’m happy to say that I have since moved on from that phase in my life. This summer slaw is by no means an attempt to recreate classic coleslaw. There’s no creamy dressing used, and the flavours are very different. If I’m being perfectly honest, I really just wanted to make something colourful for dinner. Red cabbage, maroon carrots, pan-grilled red pearl onions, shiitake mushrooms, and mung bean sprouts dressed in a soy tahini dressing make for a vibrant slaw that is crisp and savoury, and perfect for summer nights. I chose to dress the slaw in a soy tahini dressing, but lemon and extra virgin olive oil would be delicious, too.

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Vibrant Summer Slaw
*yields four servings
4-5 cups red cabbage
3 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 regular orange carrots, thinly sliced
5 small maroon carrots, thinly sliced
10 red pearl onions
1 cup mung bean sprouts
sesame oil/cooking oil of choice
tamari soy sauce

1. Using a sharp knife, shred the red cabbage. Place the red cabbage in a mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Peel the red pearl onions and cut them in half.
3. Heat the sesame oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the red pearl onions face down, and cook until they are tender and the bottoms are browned. Once finished, add the red onions to the red cabbage.

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4. Add the onions to the red cabbage. Set aside.
6. Add a tablespoon of sesame oil and a teaspoon of tamari to the frying pan. Sautée the mushrooms until they are soft.
7. Once the mushrooms are done, pour the mushrooms, sliced carrots, and mung bean sprouts into the mixing bowl with the red cabbage and grilled onions.
8. Prepare the dressing.

Soy Tahini Dressing
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 teaspoons tamari soy sauce
juice of half a lemon
sea salt, to taste

1. In a bowl, whisk the ingredients together.
2. Season with salt, to taste.
3. Pour the dressing into the mixing bowl and toss to mix well.

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Serve and enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen.

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Recipe Redux: Mango Raspberry Kombucha Mocktail

I normally don’t post two days in a row, but today is Recipe Redux day! This month’s theme is A Spirited Redux:

From plain Jane vanilla extract to fancy-pants elderflower liqueur, we like to keep a little liquor in the kitchen. Show us how you like to cook, bake or mix-it-up with spirits, extracts and other alcohols. A splash of vodka makes summer sauces shine – and liqueurs brighten desserts: What’s your healthy recipe with spirit?

There was a time in high school when I found bars, clubs, and alcoholic beverages very exciting. As silly as it sounds, the prospect of being able to drink made sixteen year old me feel like I could be one of the classy ladies I saw on television- you know, Carrie from Sex and the City, or the glamorous teenagers on Gossip Girl. My very first experiences with alcohol weren’t very great, and a night where I had a drink rarely ended well. Drinking makes me feel very hot and flushed, my heart beat extremely rapidly, and my body feels physically uncomfortable. For some reason, I thought everyone experienced the same thing when they had alcohol, but I was wrong: only those with Asian flush do! I always thought the terms ‘Asian glow’ or ‘Asian flush’ were used to describe the intense blush I got when I consumed alcohol. Recently, however, I found out that Asian flush is a phenomenon that effects not just the glow of my skin, but occurs on a much deeper level within my body. As it turns out, numerous individuals of Asian descent are unable to process alcohol, as we lack a liver enzyme (ALDH2) necessary to do so.

Within the human body, alcohol is processed by two enzymes: alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). ADH helps to convert alcohol to the carcinogenic substance acetaldehyde, which is then converted by ALDH into acetate. ALDH2 is a mutated form of ALDH, making it difficult for me, and everyone else who has Asian flush, to convert the acetaldehyde into acetate. The result? A flushed face, racing heartbeat, and nausea. As I mentioned above, acetaldehyde is carcinogenic. This, unfortunately, means that those who drink often despite lacking the enzyme to do so are at an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. I will occasionally indulge in a very small serving of wine or beer, but it takes me an astonishingly long time (an hour, maybe an hour and a half) to finish 1/3 of a pint without experiencing the effects of Asian flush.

Since I seldom drink, I decided not to invest in an entire bottle of alcohol for this month’s theme. In keeping with the spirit of the theme, I came up with a mocktail recipe involving one of my favourite beverages: kombucha! What better time to enjoy a mocktail than during the summer? This recipe is lazy and easy, and perfect for a sunny summer afternoon.

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Why drink kombucha? Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been around for 2000 years. It is slightly sweet, a little bit sour, and is carbonated. It is made by adding SCOBY, a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, to sweetened tea. Due to its fermented nature, kombucha has significant levels of healthy bacteria. Lauren from The Holy Kale writes, “Much like yogurt, kefir or sauerkraut, it [kombucha] contains live strains of good cultures that help to re-populate the intestine. This is important because it is the good bacteria in the digestive system that protects you from the bad guys that lead to illness. These bacteria work the same way that probiotics do, which are key to a healthy immune system. This is where kombucha and other fermented foods are so important and effect.” Kombucha is also high in B vitamins and organic acids that promote immune system and help the liver detox. For a more detailed discussion of kombucha’s health benefits, check out my sources below.

IMG_9554This is not a product placement post. I just love kombucha from Synergy! 

Mango Raspberry Kombucha Mocktail
*yields one serving
1 cup Synergy Mystic Mango kombucha
1 cup coconut water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup mango chunks or mango purée
1/2 cup raspberry chunks or raspberry purée
maple syrup or agave to sweeten, if desired

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1. Pour the kombucha, coconut water, and lemon juice into a large glass.
2. Chop the fruit into chunks, or purée in a food processor.
3. Add the fruit to the liquid.
4. I didn’t feel the need to sweeten my drink, but if you prefer a sweeter beverage, add some maple syrup or agave.

Enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

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Multi-Coloured Quinoa Salad


“When we rise in the morning and listen to the radio or read the newspaper, we are confronted with the same sad news: violence, crime, wars, and disasters. I cannot recall a single day without a report of something terrible happening somewhere. Even in these modern times it is clear that one’s precious life is not safe. No former generation has had to experience so much bad news as we face today; this constant awareness of fear and tension should make any sensitive and compassionate person question seriously the progress of our modern world…

Science and technology, though capable of creating immeasurable material comfort, cannot replace the age-old spiritual and humanitarian values that have largely shaped world civilization, in all its national forms, as we know it today. No one can deny the unprecedented material benefit of science and technology, but our basic human problems remain; we are still faced with the same, if not more, suffering, fear, and tension…

Of the many problems we face today, some are natural calamities and must be accepted and faced with equanimity. Others, however, are of our own making, created by misunderstanding, and can be corrected. One such type arises from the conflict of ideologies, political or religious, when people fight each other for petty ends, losing sight of the basic humanity that binds us all together as a single human family. We must remember that the different religions, ideologies, and political systems of the world are meant for human beings to achieve happiness. We must not lose sight of this fundamental goal and at no time should we place means above ends; the supremacy of humanity over matter and ideology must always be maintained.” – The Dalai Lama

With the ongoing violence in Gaza and Israel, and the death of all passengers on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17, the latter of which many suspect was downed by missiles supplied to rebels by the Russian state, this week has been especially tragic. Four years of studying international relations has taught me that self-interest is at the heart of politics, and those who seek power are likely to use it to their advantage and at the expense of others. This world is home to seven billion individuals, and each of us are born and raised with a different set of beliefs and values. Society has, time after time, reminded us to recognize and cherish these differences, without realizing that it is just as, if not more, important to acknowledge the similarities between us. In the words of the Dalai Lama, we have lost sight of “the basic humanity that binds us all together as a single human family.” We are experiencing amnesia: the constant emphasis on our differences has led too many of us to forget that, despite cultural, religious, and political differences, all human beings desire the same things. We all seek love, kindness, safety, and happiness. This week has, more than anything, reminded me to be compassionate, to empathize with others, and to cherish my loved ones.

On a much brighter note, I became the proud owner of Deborah Madison’s book Vegetable Literacy this week. I’ve wanted a copy of the book for as long as I remember, and this week I found solace in her beautiful recipes, descriptions, and photographs of all vegetables imaginable. I have, only ever so slightly, adapted her recipe for Black Quinoa Salad with Lemon, Avocado, and Pistachios. At the end of a long week, sometimes all you need is a bowl of comfort food.

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Multi-Coloured Quinoa Salad
*yields four servings
2 cups greens, I used a mix of chard, kale, and spinach
2 cups yellow and black quinoa, cooked
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup curly-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chives, sliced
feta, optional but delicious
pistachios or walnuts, chopped, optional but delicious

For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
juice of half a lemon
sea salt and pepper, to taste

IMG_9530Quinoa: A How-To
I realize that I have very few ‘how-to’ posts. Since I love to cook with quinoa, I figured now is a good time to make a how-to post! I always cook quinoa with the following proportions: 2 cups of water or vegetable broth to 1 cup of uncooked quinoa. One cup of quinoa will yield around four cups of cooked quinoa.

Why eat quinoa? Quinoa is a gluten-free seed that is high in fibre and, as it contains all the essential amino acids, a complete protein. Quinoa’s excellent nutrient profile is comprised of high levels of iron, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin B6, just to name a few. The complex and diverse nutrient profile of quinoa gives it anti-inflammatory (and some say even anti-cancer) properties. Eat up! As it is a versatile ingredient, there are many ways to eat quinoa. My favourite way to eat quinoa, however, is very simple. Once the quinoa is done, I drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper, and add in some chopped curly-leaf parsley.

1. Bring two cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add one cup of quinoa and reduce the heat. Simmer for twenty minutes with the lid on.

And that’s it for making quinoa! 

2. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare your greens. You can choose to serve the greens raw or cooked: I served half of my greens raw, and half of them steamed. Once prepared, set aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Set aside.

4. Once the quinoa is done, pour the quinoa into a mixing bowl and toss with the greens, avocado, parsley, chives, feta, and nuts. Add the dressing and mix well.

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Enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen.

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