For the Love of Tennis!

My teen idol wore shorts and a headband. No, it was not Richard Simmons but a blond Swedish god. A tennis god, Bjorn Borg. Everything about him appealed to my shy, self-conscious teenage self; his lean physique, his flowing blond locks, those piercing blue eyes, his deadly two-handed backhand and his graceful moves on the court. Because of him I took up tennis and found I was pretty good at it, not like soccer (I hate running, especially into people) or volleyball (not good for pianists as I once sprained a finger when the ball hit my hand at a bad angle and I couldn’t play piano for two weeks).

Strawberry and White Chocolate Muffins by Kake2Kale.com

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Choco Chip Cookies to Chase Away the Blues

I haven’t had such a disheartening day in a long time.  Lately I’ve been asked to audition more and acting is something that I’ve done in the past, but have taken a break from it to focus on other pursuits.  I had prepared for this audition well and by the time it was my turn to go in I had been stewing in the waiting room with the other actors for well over an hour.  It didn’t go the way I had hoped and I left feeling like a failure.   Once I got home I put on some Harry Connick Jr. music, a mood lifter for sure, and then headed to the kitchen to make these baked treats.

These chocolate chip cookies are the perfect indulgence to soothe my soul without having to say “I shouldn’t have” afterwards.  For our followers, you might recall that I recently confessed to breaking a five day liquid fast by eating half a bag of Chip Ahoy cookies, not my proudest moment.  Since then, I have made thousands of cookies and have a few “go to” recipes.  Lately, the avocado is having its moment in the spotlight.  So much so that global demand for this once exotic fruit, (yes, it is a fruit) has skyrocketed.  No longer is it just for California rolls and quacamole, but it is topping quinoa salads, sandwiches, as well as being grilled, made into fries, used for chocolate mousse and now baked into cookies!

chocolate chip cookie Kake2Kale.com

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Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

“There’s a party goin’ on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times and your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you…”

Celebration” by Kool & The Gang is the perfect song to celebrate our one year anniversary of Kake2Kale!  Well, it is the perfect song for any celebration.  It came out in 1980, the year that our family moved out to the West Coast and the rest, as they say, is history.  This song was part of the soundtrack of my life as I acclimatized to a new city, school and friends.

Kale Lime Cake by Kake2Kale

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Pseudo French Toast

What is your earliest breakfast memory?  Mine goes back to my childhood in Hong Kong when I stayed for the weekend at my grandmother’s home and shared her breakfast.  She was born in Japan, hence, she served me pickled daikon, soft-boiled egg, toast, fruit and then a cup of tea with a generous amount of condensed milk.  I always looked forward to those weekends.  That hot cup of, beyond sweet, creamy flavourful tea still fortifies my soul when I think of it.  And I still use her technique to make the perfect soft-boiled egg.  I suppose I looked forward to those weekends because it was just the two of us.  She really made me feel special.

French Toast Kake2Kale.com

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The Ultimate Hot Chocolate

Is it too early to talk about chocolate?  Valentine’s Day is a month away, but oh what the heck.  Chocolate never goes out of style, is never passé, and no one will ever says “Chocolate is so yesterday!”

One year when the season of Lent was approaching, I was wondering what I would give up for 40 days.  Christians observe Lent by going through a season of self-denial to make room for the presence of God in our lives, and as a preparation for Easter.  One should give up something that will be missed, something that will hurt a little.  And so I gave up chocolate for 40 days because it had become something I had to have every day.  It did hurt, but it made me aware of how much I thought I needed it.  Was I on my way to becoming a chocolate addict?  This might be overstating it, but I want to live a life where I am free to choose.  And the act of giving up chocolate was a stark slap in the face, that is – I wasn’t free to choose chocolate as it had become something I had to have and not something I “get” to have.  Once Lent was over, that first bite of chocolate tasted divine!

My relationship with chocolate has since become more balanced, and I don’t have to have it everyday.  When I do have it, it should be really good.  So, as I  think about some food related highlights from 2014, I feel that visiting Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France with {Kale} was one of them.  You can read about our visit here.  We had the drinking chocolate and I have been meaning to make a version that was a little less rich, but no less satisfying.  As a result, here is my ultimate hot chocolate!

Hot Chocolate 1 kake2kale

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The Ins and Outs of Coconut Oil

Did you buy a jar of coconut oil because everyone is telling you it has soooo many benefits and you should jump on the coconut oil band wagon? Now your jar is in the pantry, but you remember that its got a reputation as being a bad fat.  Instead of using it, you eye it suspiciously as your hand reaches past it for the good ole olive oil.  Fear not, I am here to answer your queries about the controversy around coconut oil.

Coconut oil has received bad press because it was studied years ago, but the oil that was used was hydrogenated. As we now know, anytime you hydrogenate an oil it turns into a trans fat, which we should all stay away from.  So, naturally, those studies came to the conclusion that coconut oil was bad for you.

Some of the benefits of coconut oil are that it is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, and it also fights yeast (candida), because of its high lauric acid content.  Coconut oil contains about 50% lauric acid.  But, isn’t coconut oil a saturated fat and isn’t saturated fat bad for you?  It is a saturated fat, but not all saturated fats are created equal.  Coconut oil’s fat is made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which behave differently in the body from other saturated fats.  MCT’s get metabolized quickly and doesn’t get stored as fat, but gets converted directly into energy.  There have also been studies done where high amounts of MCT’s help reverse Alzheimer’s.  A doctor, whose husband was diagnosed with the disease, wrote the book ‘Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?’ to document how adding coconut oil to her husband’s diet cured him.

Apart from the occasional times that you pull it out for frying and perhaps use as a moisturizer, what else is there to do with that fabulous jar of coconut oil that’s just sitting on your shelf like a Ferrari in a garage full of Chevettes?

Below are some of my favourite ways to use coconut oil.  The following three recipes are vegan, gluten free and dairy free:

Coconut Oil use 5 kake2kale
Dulse-licious Popcorn serves one hungry snacker

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup popcorn
  • 1 T melted coconut oil
  • 1 ½ T Red Star nutritional yeast
  • 1 T dulse flakes
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  • Pop the corn kernels in which ever fashion you desire, I use a hot air popper.
  • Melt the coconut oil.
  • Then pour oil over the popped corn, sprinkle with nutritional yeast, dulse flakes and salt.
  • Devour while watching your favourite movie.

Coconut Oil use 3 kake2kale

Cheezy Toast* makes one slice
Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of bread (Gluten Free if you wish)
  • ½ T coconut oil
  • ½ T Red Star nutritional yeast
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  • Spread coconut oil on top of bread, then sprinkle yeast and sea salt on top.
  • Put in toaster oven for about 3 minutes.

Voila, delicious crispy cheesiness!

* When you see the words cheez or cheezy, most of the time it means there is no cheese in it, but still has cheesy flavour.  Note there is a cheese cracker out there with the “z” spelling.  But if you are in a health food store and see “z” spelling, chances are it is dairy free.

coconut Oil use 4 kake2kale

5 minute Chocolate Mousse serves 4
Ingredients:

  • I can (398 ml or 14 oz) pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ small avocado (mashed)
  • ½ t vanilla extract
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ½ t sea salt
  • sesame seeds for sprinking on top (optional)

Directions:

  • Put all ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 30 sec. or more if needed.
  • Portion into pretty bowls and serve.  At this time of year we have pumpkins of all sizes everywhere you go, so I served the mousse in a hollowed out mini-pumpkin.
    Note:  This recipe was inspired by Must Have Been Something I Ate by Peggy Kotsopoulos.

Pumpkin Mousse kake2kale

Other Superfoods in my recipes:
Coconut oil:  see above.
Red Star Nutritional Yeast: 
Full of B vitamins, nutritional yeast is really good for vegans and vegetarians because it has B 12, which comes mostly from animal products.  I often use this as a substitute for grated cheese.
Dulse: 
High in vitamins and minerals, iodine (good for thyroid).  Removes heavy metals from the body.  
Pumpkin: 
High in Vitamin A, lutein, cancer fighting antioxidant and also beta carotene which is good for eye health.  High in fiber as well.
Cocoa: 
High in vitamin B’s and magnesium, both of which supports the nervous system. It also has phenylethylamine, which stirs up happy feelings, and releases stress.
Avocado: 
Contains monosaturated fat which may help reduce bad cholesterol.  It also contains lots of vitamins, in particular C, B’s and E and also minerals.

coconut Oil use 2 kake2kale

Other ways I like to use coconut oil, besides putting them in smoothies and chocolate peanut butter cups, I also like to put them in my coffee.  There is a trend going around and perhaps you’ve heard of it – Bulletproof coffee.  It’s coffee made with fat, either grass fed butter or MCT (a form of coconut oil).  Drinking Bulletproof coffee in the morning is supposed to give you energy that will last until lunch.  So essentially lunch would be your first meal of the day.

Well, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day so I can’t give it up.  But I do make my own version, which is just coffee and coconut oil that is blended making a creamy satisfying drink that gives me a good boost through the morning.

One thing to remember about coffee is that it freezes your digestive system, so I wait at least 20 minutes after I’ve had my coffee before eating.

As for buying coconut oil for cooking and consuming, I use organic virgin coconut oil. It will have more of a coconut aroma/flavour, which I like. The version without aroma will be refined, which means more processed.  If the oil is  just for moisturizing skin then non-organic is fine and is less costly.

Coconut Oil use kake2kale

I leave you with a beauty tip, that is – I have been making my own exfoliator with coconut oil, which works really well.  It has lactic acid containing yogurt, which has moisturizing and exfoliating properties.  Yogurt also helps with lightening spots, as does the lemon juice.  Coconut oil is moisturizing of course.

Coconut Lemon Facial Polish/Mask single application

Ingredients:

  • 1 t coconut oil
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 1/4 t lemon juice
  • 1 T plain yogurt

Directions:

  • Combine coconut oil, sugar and lemon juice, then apply to face and massage the paste into face with a circular motion.  Avoiding eye area.
  • Smooth yogurt over the polish and let it sit for 10 minutes and then rinse it all off.
  • Use this once or twice a week.
  • If you have sensitive skin test on a small area by your jawline.

What I’ve shared is just the tip of the iceberg of all that coconut oil can do for you and what you can do with it, so I encourage you to crack the coconut shell wide open to find out more of its benefits for your insides and your outsides.

Eat healthy, live and look great! {Kake}

The Laaracino

I don’t come from a family of coffee drinkers or even tea drinkers for that matter.  Just water and milk when I was growing up.  But that would change when my Dad spent some time in France studying French, it was there that he got accustomed to drinking coffee.  Not too long after that Dad took my brother and I on our first European trip.  It was in Paris where Dad encouraged me to have my first cappuccino.  As a teenager obsessed with Vogue magazine, it seemed like this cup of creamy, foamy coffee was the perfect entry point into the world of Catherine Deneuve, Chanel, the Concorde.

Since then, I will have the occasional latte when going out for coffee.  My husband has learned that drinking coffee has all sorts of benefits such as reducing the risk of diabetes, staving off Alzheimer’s disease, it may also be helpful to those suffering from depression.  So now we make coffee at home a few times a week.

My Dad is Mr. Health, and his knowledge and lifestyle has influenced how I eat and take care of myself.  So when I found a whole stack of McCafe coffee cups on his kitchen counter I knew I was on the right track.  One night after family dinner we ended up at Dairy Queen, and my Dad was the first one to order and I was wondering what he could be getting, because he doesn’t eat ice cream, or anything sugary.  Then we saw him picking up 3 cups of coffee, and I thought, “Strange, why three?”  None of us drink coffee after dinner.  So when I asked about it, he said, he paid for one and got 2 refills, to drink in the next day or two.  Is my Dad smart or what?

I have inherited my frugalness from my Dad.  Every year I will allow myself one Frappacino for the whole summer.  But very rarely do I ever take myself up on that offer.  First of all, it’s an expensive drink that is mostly crushed ice.  And, if I want it to taste good, there’s going to be tons of sugary syrup.  So I have come up with my own version, thus naming it after myself.  My version is dairy free, gluten free, sugar free and has superfoods. One thing about coffee is that it can inhibit absorption of vitamins and minerals, so for those who have a morning coffee, take your supplements an hour away from it. Because of this my Laaracino actually does not have coffee in it.  I do not miss the coffee taste because the maca, malt and the cocoa satisfies my coffee loving taste buds.  But by all means add coffee to my Laaracino, if that is what pleases you.

 

Laaricino 3 Kake2kale

The superfoods in my Laaracino:
Cocoa – High in vitamin B’s and magnesium, both of which supports the nervous system. It also has phenylethylamine, which stirs up happy feelings, and releases stress. Cacao has an even higher amount of antioxidants than blueberries.
Maca – This root from Peru has lots of nutrients, but it is mainly known for increasing cognitive function, libido, energy levels. It is also an adaptogen which means it helps the bring the body into balance.  For instance, when the body in under stress, maca helps support the adrenal glands to deal with the stress.
Coconut oil –Has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiparasitic properties and contains lauric acid which is found in mother’s milk. Breast-fed babies are better able to fend off infections than babies not given mother’s milk.
Vanilla powder – This is simply the seeds that are inside the vanilla pods. They contain a phytochemical called vanilloid that reduces inflammation and improves brain function.
Cinnamon – Can be beneficial for reducing risk from diabetes and heart disease.
Laaricino Kake2Kale

Laaracino serves 2

  • 2 cups almond milk (or any type of milk)
  • 2 t. maca powder
  • 2 T. malt powder, gluten free if made from rice (optional)
  • 4 T. cocoa powder
  • 2 T. coconut oil
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1  t. vanilla powder
  • 5 drops stevia (or other type of sweetener)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 4 cups of ice

Directions:

  • Put all the ingredients in a good blender, whiz until the ice has been blended and serve in two frosty glasses.
  • Feel free to experiment with this recipe and make it your own, ie. add a banana, frozen yogurt, liquer, coffee if you must, you get the idea.

*You may wonder if it is possible to substitute vanilla extract for the vanilla powder, I haven’t simply because extract wouldn’t be as nutritious as the powder.  If any of you do make this with the extract let me know how it goes.

Eat healthy, live great! – {Kake}

Laaricino 2 Kake2Kale

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