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]

 

 


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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Kale, Zucchini, and Heirloom Tomatoes with Wild Rice

Here’s the thing about long distance relationships: everyone who tells you it’s ‘not that bad’ is lying. It is possible and it is worth it, but it most certainly is not easy. You realize just how much your other half is a part of your life when you don’t have your usual Masterchef couch and dinner session with them, your bed feels a little emptier, and you finally realize just how many shoes you have because none of the shoes lying around the house belong to them. Or when you’re at home and you hope they will pick some coconut water up for you on the way home, only to remember they’re in a completely different place and that you have to drag your lazy bum off the couch to get it yourself if you really, really want it. Big, on-demand bear hugs are pretty great, too. I especially miss the conversations we’d have brainstorming on what to make for dinner. This happened whenever and wherever: in the library when we were tired of working, when we went for walks, or when one of us had a sudden craving for a certain flavour or dish.

We took turns making dinner, but what I miss, above all, are the nights when both of us were able to cook together. I will admit that we sometimes butt heads in the kitchen (“Gen, I love quinoa and kale, but… can we eat something other than quinoa and kale?”), but there is something so satisfying about sitting down to a meal you’ve made with someone else, especially if that someone else happens to be your other half. Being able to cook with someone else is exactly like being in a romantic relationship: there’s a lot of team work involved, you have to be patient and honest with one another, you have to be willing to take risks, and most of all, you have to have fun.

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At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how far apart you are. Sure, there’s no cuddling involved, but I take pleasure in sending off care packages (chocolate from my favourite chocolate maker in Toronto, cookies from Momofuku + handwritten letters), and it’s nice to know that someone, somewhere in the world, is missing me just as much. I also finally get to flood him with pictures of microbrewed kombucha, my meals, and my favourite moments and places during the day via Snapchat. And I am always excited to talk via messaging or Skype. I made this wild rice dish while Skyping (oh, the beauty of the Internet), since Lewis had told me on multiple occasions how wonderful wild rice was, and I was finally using it for the first time. It almost felt as if he was in the kitchen with me, except no one was constantly trying to taste the food. With summer in full swing, I decided to use ingredients with bright, vibrant colours: yellow zucchinis and beautiful red and yellow heirloom tomatoes. I roasted some garlic and tossed basil in for some additional flavour, and added black kale, because dishes without greens are, to me, incomplete.

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IMG_9463As someone who maintains a plant-based diet, I often get asked if I consume enough protein. Wild rice is actually not a bad source of protein: one cup of cooked wild rice provides the body with 6.5 grams of protein, not to mention 3 grams of fibre and only a mere .55 grams of fat. Wild rice is also rich in essential vitamins and minerals, such as manganese, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, magnesium, niacin, and iron. To top it off, wild rice is home to all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.

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Photo credit: The Kitchn.

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Kale, Zucchini, and Heirloom Tomatoes with Wild Rice
*yields 4 servings
5 cups black kale
4-5 heirloom tomatoes
3 yellow zucchini
1 cup wild rice
1/2 cup basil
4 large cloves of garlic
coconut oil or rapeseed oil for roasting
extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
sea salt and pepper, to taste
lemon juice or aged balsamic vinegar, optional

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1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.

2. Place the cup of rice with four cups of water in a pot and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 45 minutes.

3. While the rice is cooking, cut the tomatoes into wedges, and the zucchini into slices.

4. Place the tomatoes and the zucchini into baking trays with your cooking oil of choice, and roast until they begin to blister, around 25-30 minutes.

5. In a separate tray, roast the whole cloves of unpeeled garlic for 45-50 minutes or until soft.

6. While the vegetables are in the oven, roughly chop the kale. I chose to steam the kale, but it can be eaten either raw or cooked. If you’d like to eat the kale raw, massage the kale with some olive oil in a large mixing bowl until it begins to soften.

7. Chop the basil, and add to the kale.

8. Once the rice is done, drain any remaining liquid. Place the rice in the bowl with the kale and basil.

9. Add the roast vegetables and the garlic (peeled) to the bowl. Toss with extra virgin olive and lemon juice or aged balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

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Enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen.

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Sources: [1] [2]