New Things

A new thing from last week: moving for my first time. I’m scarred.

#sleptonthefloorforfivenights #nevermovingagain

Another new thing: before I left Waterloo, I visited Perimeter Institute with my friends. One of them works at Perimeter, which is an institute for theoretical physics. It’s a beautiful, massive, modern, bright building with a lovely bistro and great desserts. You can bet that I had two desserts + two mugs of tea with milk and honey.

New thing #3: I met up with Vivian, an incredible Schulich Leader and WE Day speaker from UBC. We enjoyed dinner at The Chickpea, a new vegan restaurant on Main Street in Vancouver. I ordered the fried eggplant dish, which was topped with yams, chickpeas, and garlicky tahini. There was a great hummus on the side, along with salad and chickpea fries.

Not including the lovely conversation, dessert was the highlight of my night. This was a vegan carrot cake, super tender and just sweet enough, served with the richest, creamiest vanilla ice cream (vegan, made with coconut milk). L-O-V-E. Honestly I cannot say enough good things about this coconut vanilla ice cream.

Mom made a great dinner a couple days ago – braised chicken with taro. On the side, I made a rolled black sesame and red bean crepe sweetened with brown sugar.

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Indian food! I need some. Where is my palak paneer at?

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A couple days ago, I made pesto pizza on naan flatbread, topped with stir-fried mushrooms.

So yummy! Seline’s had garlic tomato sauce instead of pesto, and some Tex Mex cheese on top. We loved, loved, loved this dinner. 5 stars from me, 4 from Seline 😉

This morning, I savoured some buns that Grandma bought for me. I’m super lucky to have a lovely 奶奶 (granny) who buys me all kinds of buns. Here, we have:

  • cocktail buns filled with sweetened shredded coconut
  • red bean bun
  • taro bun (my #1 favourite because it was soft and perfectly sweetened, with a “bolo” topping)

On another note, another new thing: I went skating yesterday. I grew up doing competitive figure skating, so it completely filled my heart to be back on the ice after three years.

Grandma ❤ Her nails are always on point, as her her hand-knitted sweaters.

Grandma and I had lunch at Pho99, a Vietnamese restaurant where we both enjoyed lemongrass chicken with rice, bone broth soup, and fresh cabbage.

The best new thing! À la Evangeline (check out her new post, by the way – I have hearts in my eyes), I enjoyed a waffle breakfast yesterday. I made the batter with one egg, 1/2 a banana, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp baking soda, and plenty of vanilla and cinnamon. After a few minutes in the waffle maker, my waffle tasted great with nut butter and blueberries. ❤ Have I been converted? Maybe 70% 😉

An oldie, but a goodie – I made some chocolate banana bread. It’s my favourite recipe, which uses applesauce, a small amount of sugar, and no eggs. It tasted wonderful with yogurt, more summery blueberries, and crispy coconut cookies. I had seconds thirds.

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Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone!

Crunchy Chocolate-Dipped Granola Bars

Hello, friends! Is anyone else in shock that it’s already July? I can’t believe it. June sort of flew by in a blur of midterms (I had TEN already, and one more to go before final exams start in the last week of July. I wish I were kidding). There was also plenty of great food consumed during the month of June – check out this great arugula salad with grilled halloumi, pesto pasta, and sautéed veggies.

One afternoon, I had a horrible headache and thought my head was going to explode! It was terrible; I’m normally not someone who gets headaches at all and feel so sorry for people who have regular migraines 😥

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One afternoon, I went to Aroma Cafe. I’ve been there a few times before, and their soup and sandwich combination is always such a treat. This time, their soup was creamy cauliflower, and was definitely one of the Top 5 soups I’ve ever enjoyed. Creamy, rich, mushroom-y, with a touch of sweetness, this perfectly velvet-textured soup was unforgettable. My sandwich was turkey and harvarti with roasted red peppers and avocado on homemade sourdough.

For dessert, the owner of the cafe, a lovely woman called Kiki, made taiyaki, a sweet fish-shaped waffle filled with red bean. It’s a traditional Korean street food. I’ve never been to Korea, but I think Kiki nailed this recipe! It was such an enjoyable dessert. Next time, I want to buy some to take home and enjoy with ice cream!

Speaking of desserts, say hello to my new favourite. I made this recipe twice in a week, and enjoyed every single square myself. As you can see, I am pretty selfish when it comes to good food, especially desserts 😉

These taste the best straight out of the fridge, with a scoop of yogurt or some fruit. They are chewy, just-sweet enough, with a touch of saltiness, and great crunch from the nuts and richness from the nut butter binder.

Make these as soon as possible. I promise you won’t regret it! Oh, and don’t leave out the chocolate dip.

Crunchy Chocolate-Dipped Granola Bars

Makes 1 8×8 pan

Ingredients

GRANOLA BARS

  • 1 cup (90 g) quick oats
  • 1/3 cup (30 g) pecans
  • 1/4 cup (28 g) flax
  • 2/3 cup (49 g) shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup (about 5) chopped prunes
  • 2 Tbsp (32 g) nut butter
  • 2 heaping Tbsp (45 g) melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 heaping cup (60 ml) maple syrup

FOR TOPPING

  • 1/2 heaping cup (60 g) chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping Tbsp (15 g) coconut oil

Instructions

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and arrange oats and pecans on a bare baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly toasted. They shouldn’t be browned, just slightly toasted for more flavor. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees F (162 C). The second time I made this recipe, I skipped this step, and it turned out fantastic as well.

2.In the meantime, add flaxseed, coconut, and salt to a large mixing bowl and stir. Set aside.

3.Once oats and pecans are toasted, add to the mixing bowl along with chopped prunes. Loosely stir to combine and set aside.

4.Add nut butter, coconut oil, and maple syrup to a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Then remove from heat and immediately add to the oats.

5.Mix thoroughly, ensuring that the prunes and the sunflower butter mixture are evenly dispersed and coating all of the dry ingredients.

6.Add the mixture to a parchment-lined 8×8-inch baking pan and spread into an even layer. Then top with another layer of parchment paper and press down with something flat – such as a measuring cup – to press into an even, uniform layer.

7.Bake at 325 degrees F (162 C) for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan. Transfer to the freezer to speed cooling time.

8.Once cooled, lift out of the pan and slice into desired number of bars. I cut them into 16 squares, but I ended up eating two squares each time anyways. Maybe try 8 or 9 instead?

9.Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a small mixing bowl over a double boiler on the stovetop. Dip squares in chocolate and set on parchment paper to harden. Place in freezer. Once bars have dried/cooled, store in the fridge.

I hope all my fellow Canadians had a wonderful long weekend!

Top 24 Favourite Recipes on The Flying Foodie

I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for a while!

I scoured my Recipes page and browsed through so many old posts to compile this listicle (you know, list + article).

Most of my favourite recipes are easy to make, require minimal ingredients, and are super flavourful and filling.

What do you think? They are in no particular order. 🙂

Personal Favourite Recipes My Blog

  1. Chocolate Banana Almond Flour Cake: rich, banana-y, with a great texture, it’s easy to see why this is one of my all-time favourites.
  2. Chickpea Blondies: I make this all the time, swapping peanut butter for almond or cashew, and the honey for maple. It always, always, turns out wonderfully.
  3. Vegan Banana Bread Buckwheat Bake: like a cake made a baby with a muffin, this breakfast cake reminds me of a modern baked oatmeal.
  4. African Peanut Stew: this recipe is why I love cumin.
  5. Peanut Butter Cookie Baked Oats: do I need to explain?
  6. Almond Flour Berry Cake: I make this all the time, changing up the fruit to match what’s in season. I’ve done it with blueberries (frozen), and even peaches and blackberries. Most of the time, I double or even triple the recipe!
  7. Baked Banana Oatmeal: it’s a classic. I often always pair this with Greek yogurt and nut butter.
  8. Paleo Coconut Flour Cake: I had a deep, dark hatred for coconut flour… until I attempted this recipe. Sweet, rich with coconut flavour, and with a spongy texture, this recipe is coconut flour perfection.
  9. Loaded Mexican Sweet Potatoes: believe me when I say that this recipe is so good, you might not even need the cheese! I’m a huge cheese lover, so that says something…
  10. 100-Calorie Chocolate Banana Cake Squares: YES. This one is in the Top 3 for sure. You would never guess that it’s made completely oil-free by swapping the butter for applesauce, and with a rich, deep chocolatey flavour, this satisfies all my dessert cravings with minimal oil and sugar. I buy extra bananas to make this. Heck, my roommates “preserve” their bananas so these cake squares can be made.
  11. Sweet Potato Tofu Hash: I am not a savoury breakfast person, but if I had to choose, this would 100% be the one.
  12. Black Bean Brownies: try it.
  13. Maple-Soy Salmon: I make this at least twice a month.
  14. Homemade Cinnamon Vanilla Almond Milk: okay, so I’ve only made this once. But it was so tasty that I don’t think I ever want to buy store-bought almond milk again.
  15. Sweet Potato Spice Muffins: I made a whole batch of these to bring to Toronto when I moved here a couple months ago. They vanished in less than a week.
  16. Spicy Butter Salmon: when my salmon isn’t marinated in maple syrup and soy sauce, this is the one. It pairs beautifully with any grain or veggie.
  17. The Best Banana Muffins: from raisins to pistachios to chocolate chips, my mom and I have done it all. It always turns out well, and is incredibly popular with friends and family.
  18. Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Snack Bread: this recipe does require more ingredients than most, but it’s chewy, oat-y, and flavoured with just the right amount of peanut butter and cocoa powder. I love it for a quick pick-me-up snack in between during classes.
  19. Spicy Spinach Coconut Noodles: noodle lovers, this one is for you! Just save me a plate.
  20. Healthy “Costco” Blueberry Muffins: so close to the real thing, minus the diglycerides, sulphites, and all that…. whatever it is.
  21. Decadent 2-Minute Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake for One: last summer, my roommates and I made this recipe every night. The same recipe for weeks. It’s THAT good. I like mine with peanut butter… but then again, is there anything I won’t add nut butter to?
  22. Creamy Vegetable Quinoa Casserole: this is made on a weekly rotation. It’s the best meal prep!
  23. Peanut Sauce: from drizzling on tofu to a dip for fresh summer rolls, this recipe is versatile and balances all the right flavours of spice, sourness, and sweetness. I always find myself licking plates and bowls when peanut sauce is involved.
  24. Quinoa and Almond Flour Carrot Cake: this cake is truly amazing. It uses nutritious quinoa flour and a good dose of almond flour for a carrot cake with excellent flavour and health benefits. It’s one of my #1 favourite toppers for yogurt or oatmeal!

I love revisiting old posts and thinking about how my recipe preferences change over time, though the old favourites stay the same.

What are the top recipes on your blog?

Goals and Green Oats

On Saturday, I lounged around the house all day before heading to Tabülè, a Lebanese restaurant in Midtown Toronto. There are two locations – one on Queen Street, and one on Yonge Street. They serve lunch from their dinner menu on Saturdays and Sundays.

My entree was the eggplant dish, which was absolutely divine. The eggplant reminded me of tempura, being lightly crispy on the outside but steaming hot and creamy inside. The tahini dressing was lemony and full of sesame flavour, and the lentil-rice base was hearty and flavourful.

Eggplant Vegetarian Plate
drizzled with taheena on a bed of müjaddara and topped with fresh pomegranate seeds

I’ve always loved eggplant, but this dish takes the cake for the #1 eggplant dish I’ve ever had.

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Dessert was equally impressive. The waitress recommended the custard, and I was happy to try it. On the side, I had two scoops of gelato (smaller than I’d expected): one vanilla halva, the other pistachio. The Künafa Ashta blew my mind. Warm, lightly-sweetened custard with tiny curds and a rich milky flavour, topped with crisp “threads” and a honey-like syrup and crushed pistachios. This dessert was certainly one to remember. A must-try if ever visit Tabülè.

Künafa Ashta
filo layered with custard and topped off with rose water syrup

Oatmeal has been in my bowl every morning. I like having a side of yogurt with granola.

These eggs were cooked in the last little bit of my spaghetti sauce and topped with smoked Gruyere cheese. Like a lazy girl’s shakshuka! The runny egg yolks tasted awesome with avocado toast.

St. Patrick’s day on Friday was celebrated with green oatmeal! I know it doesn’t look appetizing. It didn’t smell appetizing either, when it was cooking – I was preparing myself for the worst as I stirred some quick oats into the pureed spinach and banana. Fortunately, this breakfast was actually JUST AS TASTY as my usual banana oatmeals. I couldn’t detect the spinach at all.

Toronto’s Reference Library is an incredible place. Like a museum!

I love pancakes! Where did my pictures go?

Raspberry Oat Pancakes

Serves 1 (2 pancakes)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup quick or rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 medium ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • coconut oil or butter, for greasing
  • raspberries, to decorate the top (I used frozen, unthawed)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until very smooth. If the batter is too thick, add a splash of milk. If the batter is too watery, add a little flour (or extra oats) to thicken. I used a bit of coconut flour, which is extremely absorbent.
  2. Set batter aside to thicken for a few minutes.
  3. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with butter or coconut oil. Drop batter onto skillet. Place raspberries on top. Cook until bubbles appear, then flip and cook until both sides are golden brown. This recipe makes 2 pancakes.

On a completely different note, let’s talk GOALS.

I took a peek at my calendar. It is Sunday, March 19th as I write this, and I have 8 practices left before I am no longer eligible to practice at Cirque-Ability. On an unrelated note, can you believe it’s already mid/late-March? Where did January go? What happened to February? What did I do for the first three weeks of March?

Anyways. 8 practices left. That rounds to a little over 15 hours of aerials left in this month. I should have done this before, but I am going to set some goals and update at the beginning of April.

  • Silks goal: feel solid doing a ginger-isadora, and be confident in a helicopter-flag. Plan a routine to do, and run through it until it is memorized and comfortable.  Film myself doing all tricks from Levels I to IV. Straight leg inverts in the air (a small beat is okay).
  • Hoop goal: learn all Level II tricks, and do a Level II routine. Do a pullover without cheating. I just finished Level I and feel comfortable doing a Level I routine. Do a solid knee hang backbend with straight arms.
  • Acro goal: do a good roundoff, and hold a handstand for 5 seconds.
  • Other goal: register for a 1-month unlimited membership at the gym and at the yoga studio YogaTree on Bay/Dundas. Register for aerials classes at Brass Butterflies, Waterloo for May-August. Register for a one-month membership at the City Dance Corps.
  • Goals’ goal: set April goals for flexibility and conditioning. Take ‘before’ photos for flexibility and determine number of max repetitions for strength at the beginning of April.

Back to the food! New recipe for you guys. This was created when I realized I didn’t have 2 cups of hazelnut flour… I had 3/4 cup. Sad.

Pantry-Clearing Raspberry Cake

Serves 16

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup hazelnut flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • toppings: chocolate chips, berries, coconut, etc. as desired

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 320°F degrees. Grease 8×8 pan and line with parchment.
  2. Whisk all ingredients together.
  3. Pour into pan and top with desired toppings. I used frozen raspberries.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, until top is golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan.
  6. Enjoy!

If this cake is cut into 16 squares, each piece will have under 190 calories, 5 grams of protein, 2 grams of fibre, and 6 grams of sugar.


Cool link for you: scrambled eggs around the world!

Speaking of around the world, I’ve been visiting lots of restaurants and cafes around Toronto that serve food from different countries. It’s been great! I can’t wait to go to Rol San, a Chinese dim sum place.

Do you like dim sum? What would you order from their menu?

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This is what I’d have:

  • 2: steamed BBQ pork buns
  • 3: steamed custard buns
  • 24: pan fried pancakes
  • 27: fried eggplant
  • 38: puff BBQ pork pastry
  • 40: deep fried taro puffs with pork
  • 41: coconut red bean cake
  • 42: sesame paste ball
  • 43: baked milk tart
  • 50: deep fried pumpkin with yolk, cashew, sweet potato
  • 53: homemade steamed rice rolls

Okay, happy Monday!

Have You Tried These 3 Recipes?

I made all three of these recipes last week… and didn’t take a single picture.

Food blogger award of the year, right? 😉

Either way, I did really want to share these recipe so I hope you enjoy as much as I did. All three will certainly be made again in the future.

 

Mujaddara (مجدرة in Arabic) is the glorious combination of rice, lentils, and onions. It’s actually an ancient dish that has been traced back to an Iraqi cookbook from 1226! It’s the Middle Eastern rendition of rice and beans, AKA a comfort food at its finest. This tasty mixture is flavourful, with earthy notes and aromatic seasoning. On top of its great flavour, mujaddara is super cheap to make.

From Wikipedia:

Mujaddara, with alternative spellings in English majadra, mejadra, moujadara, mudardara, and megadarra) is the Arabic word for “pockmarked”; the lentils among the rice resemble pockmarks. Because of its importance in the diet, a saying in the Eastern Arab world is, “A hungry man would be willing to sell his soul for a dish of mujaddara.”

Serve with sautéed green vegetables, roasted veggies, or a refreshing salad.

Mujaddara: Arabic Rice with Lentils

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2/3 cup dry brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • sprinkle salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • sprinkle cinnamon
  • sprinkle cayenne pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • drizzle oil
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 white onions, sliced into rings

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook onions until browned and caramelized. Remove.
  2. Combine lentils, 2 cups water, sprinkle salt, cumin, and garlic powder in the same pot over medium heat. Simmer and reduce heat to low. Cook until lentils are soft, about 20-30 mins.
  3. Stir rice, remaining 1/2 cup water, 1/4 tsp salt, and a drizzle of oil into the lentils. Cover the pot. Cook until lentils and rice are tender, about 40 mins.
  4. Add onions back, and mix. Serve.

Each 330-calorie serving boasts over 12 grams of protein, lots of iron, as well as hire and manganese. This recipe is also low in saturated fat, is cholesterol-free, and low in sugar. Eat up!

 

Special Scrambled Tofu

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 block medium-firm tofu
  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic, or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • scant 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tbsp water
  • freshly ground black pepper, about 1/8 tsp

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix all ingredients except tofu and oil.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Use your hands to break the tofu into large chunks. Add the tofu and garlic to the hot oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is golden brown on all or most sides. As the tofu is cooking you can break up larger pieces of tofu with your wooden spoon.
  3. Once the tofu is golden brown, add the spice mixture. Stir and continue cooking until the tofu absorbs the nutritional yeast.
  4. Serve the scrambled tofu with a side of toast, avocado, salsa, or more – fresh fruit is a neat idea too! I added sautéed peppers and mushrooms to mine.

 

Golden Coconut Lentil Soup

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic or 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated or minced ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
  • red pepper flakes
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup red or yellow lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 13.5 oz coconut milk
  • 1/2 heaping tsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add oil to a large pot.
  2. Sauté onion, garlic, and ginger over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until onions are soft and transparent.
  3. Add turmeric and red pepper. Sautee for another minute. Add carrots and sauté again. Add lentils and water.
  4. Place a lid on the pot. Boil over high heat. Turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk. Blend half of the warm soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. Add 1/2 tsp salt, or more/less to taste. Serve with cooked rice or quinoa.

The 42-Ingredient Salad

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a Thai restaurant. I’m pretty leery of them since I love cooking Thai food at home, whether that’s a flavourful curry or a tasty pad thai. This meal, from PAI Toronto, did not disappoint. I loved scraping the coconut meat out of the coconut itself!

I know you want this. It’s a cinnamon sugar cone, chocolate soft-serve, Nutella spread, butter toffee bits, cocoa drizzle and salted caramel brownies.

From the website: Chimneys, or Kurtoskalacs, are freshly baked Hungarian bread-like pastries that have a satisfying crunch on the outside and a light and fluffy dough on the inside. They have a hollow, cylindrical shape and you can pull them apart like a spiral as you eat. We bake traditional Chimneys Cakes and also Chimney Cones™ (aka “Doughnut Cones”). Our base dough is made fresh on the premises daily with 100% natural and mostly organic ingredients and is vegan. There are only seven ingredients.

Croissants freeze so well. These were stored in the freezer until a sad day that I ran out of bread. 🙂

Banana smoothie in a bowl with muffin on top.

A Cuban brunch spot in Roncesvalles, called La Cubana, serves up some mean baked eggs! The queso cheese and spicy rice and beans were my favourite. Yuca was so tasty with the crispy cabbage.

Oatmeal gives me life. Especially pear oatmeal with granola and PB, one of my new favourite combinations.

So many eggs have been devoured lately!

Chabrol is a French restaurant in Yorkville. I enjoyed this entire escarole gratin and an apple tart which is baked on the SPOT, with homemade puff pastry. I enjoyed every bite of this classic, simple, but ultra-satisfying meal.

Toronto truly has so much to offer. The Royal Ontario Museum is such a spectacular place. I’m the first to admit that I’m not a big art lover or history buff, but I thoroughly enjoyed browsing the Biodiversity floor, where I learned that 99% of known species are smaller than a bee. WHOA!

The famous 45-ingredient salad from Hibiscus was also enjoyed. The glass noodles on top had incredible texture, and I loved the creamy ginger soup. That’s a raw cracker on the side, made with dehydrated rye and other cracker-ish ingredients. I liked the kidney beans and sweet potato mash in this bowl, which I do want to recreate!

My doggie Arnie is doing great back home in BC. He had surgery a couple weeks ago to remove a tumour on his back, and recovery has been going quite well. He still loves to run and play!

I’m not really sure why I’m showing you these half-eaten meals, but I already uploaded the photos, so…

Have a phenomenal rest of the week, all!