Getting our Hands Dirty in SoMa

How would you spend a couple of hours on a drizzly, gloomy day in Vancouver with a good friend?

Binge watch Game of Thrones?

Find pins to add to my Pinterest boards?

Curl up by the fire and devour this year’s Man Booker prize winner?

Polish my silverware (this would take 5 minutes)?

Nope, {Kale} and I did none of those, instead, we donned our rain gear and braved the wild terrain of South Main Street, also known as SoMa in Vancouver.  It is a multi-ethnic neighbourhood that is rapidly shedding its rundown image and becoming trendier by the minute.  Old junk shops, used book stores, and second-hand stores are giving way to funky new eateries, one-of-a kind designer boutiques, and modern food shops.  There are still lots of original shops to find, and hopefully the hip and the modern won’t crowd them out.

{Kale} and I headed to SoMa with the sole purpose of finding superfoodie fare that we could only eat with our hands.  Because some say that foods taste better when eaten with your hands.  So, armed with {Kale’s} hand sanitizer, we went ready to get our hands dirty and to give our taste buds a thrill.

SoMa Vegie Pie 2 kake2kale

First stop was a shop that I have driven by numerous times and have always found their name, Yek O Yek, amusing. How can you forget a name like that!  It is a Mediterranean grocery store that also sells pastries and serves hot food.  While perusing the pastries our eyes immediately landed on a pastry version of Princess Leia’s hairstyle.  It even had the requisite superfoods in the filling – cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots.

It is simply called the “Veggie Pie”. Because the filling is rolled into the filo pastry there is quite a good ratio of pastry to filling. My motto is – “you can never have too much pastry”.  We declared it simply delicious when we took a bit.  What a great deal as it was only $3.99 and the serving was generous.  Once the pie was devoured, we pushed on.

SoMa Salmonito kake2kale

The Fish Counter drew us in, because we could see people happily eating in the window.  That is a good sign in and of itself.  It is half seafood shop and half fish & chips counter.  But besides fish & chips, they also serve tacos, Oyster Po Boy’s and more.  For the sake of this post, we ordered the Salmonito, as it was one of the few items not deep-fried.  This tasty tortilla was stuffed with superfoods, from the omega-3 rich salmon, to a slaw made with fennel, onion, and cilantro.  The crunch of the slaw balanced out the tenderness of the fish.  Even though we shared the Salmonito, it was a handful, as they were very generous with the salmon!

SoMa Candied Smoked Sable Fish kake2kale

While we were waiting for our Salmonito we perused the seafood shop and saw they had a candied smoked sablefish…intriguing.  Who hasn’t tried candied salmon?  But sablefish?  So we got a small piece and to be honest, it tasted very similar to candied salmon.  Nonetheless, it was still scrumptious.  We got our omega-3 dose for sure that day.

SoMa Bird's Nest Baghlawa kake2kale

We saw this eye catching treat at Yek O Yek, called Bird’s Nest Pistachio Baklava, and just had to have it.  It is aptly named, as it looks like delicate little eggs in a bird’s nest.  It is a variation on the usual baklava that we normally see, with layers upon layers of filo, ground up nuts, honey and butter.  This bird’s nest was less rich but just as satisfying, with the finely wrought circle of crispy filo cupping the honey drizzled whole superfood pistachios.  Finger licking good!

SoMa chocolates kake2kale

The final place we bumbled into was Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France, a mouthful to say, but if you are a serious chocolate connoisseur, this is the place pour vous!  Having chocolate was the perfect way to our day, especially dark chocolate as it has a host of antioxidants, minerals and increases serotonin, which lifts your mood.

Once you are inside the shop you feel transported to a special place where you know they don’t take chocolate lightly.  The décor is sparse in the compact space, with just a handful of chairs and tables.  The chocolate is the star, whether in a display case or in wide-bellied glass jars.  The owner makes them by hand and she really knows her stuff. You can tell she is passionate about what she does and it comes through in her chocolates.  {Kale} and I decided to try her drinking chocolate (made with dark chocolate) with almond milk.  I wanted to be adventurous and so I asked for my drinking chocolate to be infused with jasmine, as I love jasmine tea.  My expectations weren’t too high, as I thought the pairing would be a little mismatched, but to my surprise the slight floral note to the chocolate was very uplifting.  But I must say, though we each ordered the half size, it was plenty rich.  {Kale} and I probably could’ve shared one order and be satisfied.

We each had a milk chocolate square. {Kale’s} was the coconut, almond and fleur de sel, and mine was the same but without the coconut.  It was the perfect thickness, and melted in your mouth with the fleur de sel cutting through the sweetness of the chocolate.  What a wonderful way to bring our hands-on adventure to a close.  With our friendship and our bodies nourished, {Kale} and I bid a fond farewell and knew that not even the relentless Vancouver rain could dampen our spirits that day.   C’est magnifique!

Eat healthy, live great! {Kake}

p.s. The places we mention above are just a small sample of places to explore in SoMa, which makes me want to go back sooner for another adventure.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

I will be forever grateful to whoever was the first person to combine chocolate and peanut butter.   The classic pairing that found its way into my mouth by way of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups when I was a child, still has a special place in my heart.  When our family first immigrated to Canada I remember tasting peanut butter and almost gagged.  I wasn’t used to the texture, and taste, because it wasn’t popular in Hong Kong at all. Over time Mom got me to eat it in PBJ sandwiches, but the combo of chocolate and peanut butter made it much more palatable.

Having a Peanut Butter (PB) cup always brings me back to my happy place; savouring one and listening to my Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road cassette tape and not caring that other kids were playing with their friends, while my friend was my piano.  Our family moved a lot so making friends was always a challenge for me since I was usually the only non-white kid in the class.  Are you playing a tiny violin now for me?  No need, because now I have friends, and not just my piano, and I get to eat home-made-good-for-you PB cups, YAY for me!!

It seems that peanut butter has fallen out of favour, since so many people have developed allergies to it.  So, for those of you who are allergic or are partial to almond butter, by all means, replace peanut butter with almond butter, or any other nut butter that you have on hand. How can I indulge in this treat but do away with the sugar and up the health quotient?  Make it with superfoods of course, and in my recipe they are:

Coconut oil – Gives healthy fat burning benefits.
Dark Chocolate – Contains antioxidants and magnesium which can help with lowering blood pressure.
Maca – Increases energy, helps the body handle stress and contains antioxidants.
Peanuts – Contains protein, vitamin E and resveratrol (also in red wine).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Kake2Kale

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups makes 10 mini cups

  •     2/3 c. dark chocolate chips
  •     ¼ c. peanut butter (or almond butter)
  •     1 T. coconut oil
  •     2/3 t. maca
  •     *Maldon sea salt

Directions:

  • Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler.
  • While chocolate chips are melting, stir the rest of the ingredients together, except for the sea salt.  Set the filling aside.
  • Coat silicone 10 mini muffin cups with a layer of melted chocolate, make sure the chocolate goes up the sides about 2/3 of the way. You should only be using half of the chocolate. Then put in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • Then fill each cup with the filling.  Freeze for 10 minutes.
  • Then with a small spoon, put a dollop of chocolate over the filling and smooth it out.  Then sprinkle a little Maldon sea salt on top.
  • Put back in the freezer to set.  These should be stored in there until they are ready to be eaten.

*If you don’t have Maldon sea salt, then put a pinch of regular sea salt in the filling, or you can leave it out altogether.
For more benefits of the superfoods in this recipe look them up in our superfoods list.

Eat healthy, live great! -{Kake}

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup 2 Kake2Kale

The Iron Dinner Party

Most people probably decide on a dinner party menu by selecting dishes that they’re comfortable making or would be crowd-pleasingly practical.  It is less likely that social dinners are designed solely around one health benefit; however, that is what we did. When several family members developed significant iron deficiencies, we thought it would be helpful and fun to focus on iron-rich foods at family gatherings.  In the most recent dinner party, we kicked into iron chef mode with our best feast yet. Our iron-powerhouse meal included:

Baked Kale Chips – Kale has loads of calcium and vitamin K.
Liverwurst with rice crackers – Pork liver is a good source of vitamin A, D, B and C but also zinc.
Panko-Crusted Fried Oysters – Oysters are high in zinc, good for immunity, protein and Omega 3’s.
Steamed Mussels with gluten-free beer – Mussels are high in minerals.
Marinated Octopus – High in selenium, an antioxidant and vitamin B12 good for energy.
Grilled Asparagus with Spinach salad – Asparagus is high in B vitamins, good for nervous system. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K and Omega 3.
Baked Yam Fries – High in antioxidants like beta carotene, great for eyes.
Chocolate and Raspberry Trifle – Beets and spelt flour adds iron to this dessert.

All deliciously healthy but easy and fun to make! We’ve included Kake’s dessert recipe and Kale’s directions for preparing the oysters and octopus.  Enjoy! {Kake} & {Kale}

iron dinner 1

Panko Crusted Oysters serves 4-6 as an appetizer

Directions:

  • Rinse raw oysters (18-20 medium size) and drain on paper towel.
  • Coat each oyster with flour then dip in egg mixture (1-2 beaten) followed by a dip in panko (Japanese style bread crumbs). Make sure the oyster is fully covered.
  • Pan fry the oysters in hot oil until they are golden brown and cooked through.  Lay on paper towel to drain oil.

Marinated Octopus serves 4-6 as an appetizer

Directions:

  • Simmer fresh Octopus (2 lbs) in hot water for about 40 minutes until tender (pinch with fork).
  • Let cool a bit and lay tentacles over an upside down bowl or hang them over the ridge of a bowl.
  • Place in fridge for 2 hours.
  • Cut octopus into slices.  Make a marinade by mixing pressed garlic with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon (approximate amounts by taste).
  • Toss octopus in marinade and add cut parsley. Place in fridge for another 30 minutes prior to serving.

iron dinner 2

Grilled Asparagus with Spinach Salad & Baked Yam Fries

iron dinner 4

Kale Chips & Steamed Mussels

iron dinner 3

Chocolate and Raspberry Trifle Serves 10

  • 1 1/4 cups light spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 398 ml can beets drained
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  •  2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 T. Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 2 T. Chocolate syrup
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  • Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Puree the beets.
  • With an electric mixer beat the sugar with the oil in a medium sized bowl for 2 minutes, then add the egg and vanilla.  Then add the beets.
  • Gradually beat in 1/3 dry ingredients, till just blended. (Don’t over do it, or cake will be tough)  Then 1/2 of buttermilk, keep alternating and end with dry ingredients.
  • Pour batter into pan till 3/4 full, if you have more batter, make cupcakes.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Test with a toothpick inserted in the center, if it comes out clean or with a few crumbs it is ready.
  • While cake is cooling whip the cream until it is partly whipped, then add the Bailey’s and chocolate syrup. Continue to beat until cream is fully whipped. (Coconut cream may be substituted, just make sure the beaters and the coconut cream is chilled prior to whipping.  Buttermilk has very low lactose so if coconut cream is used, this dessert is safe for those who are lactose intolerant.)
  • Once cake is completely cooled, cut into squares and place half of the cake chunks in a serving bowl (a glass one is pretty) dollop half of the cream over top, and repeat, then sprinkle the raspberries over the top.  Chill for a couple of hours, then serve to oohs and ahhs!!

You don’t even have to let on that this dessert is nutritious, I even had some for breakfast the next day and did not feel the slightest guilt, now that’s having your cake and eating it too!  {Kake}