Long Live Quinoa

Living in a youth obsessed culture makes it difficult not to be influenced by all the subliminal and some not so subliminal messages that bombard our surroundings.  I have been told many times that I don’t look my age and my ego always swells a little when I hear this.  I think next time someone says I look younger I will say, “Oh, I wish I looked older.”  Then there will be awkward silence………..yes just like this.  On second thought, my strict proper Asian upbringing won’t permit me to be ungracious, so I will just have to say, “Good genes”.

I would like to change how I view people who may be considered old.  Even just typing the word “old” is not comfortable for me right now.  We have come up with ways to avoid using that word, “more experienced”, “golden years”,”senior years, “women of a certain age” (or does this mean women in their middle years).  Working in a retail health food store gives me lots of opportunity to have fantastic conversations with all sorts of people and I especially delight in my exchanges with the older customers.  Hearing about their life experiences, sharing their knowledge, is so very enriching to me.  “Old people know stuff!”

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers from Kake2kale.com

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Artichoke Attraction

Artichokes were not introduced into my life until I was well into adulthood.  When my friend found out that I had not eaten it before, she immediately invited me over to her place and prepared an artichoke for me.  She basically boiled it and served it alongside mayonnaise.  She claimed that “Eating artichoke was an excuse to eat mayonnaise!” “Mmmm”, I replied, happily dipping another leaf into the creamy emulsion.  The taste was unusual but it grew on me as I continued to dip and scrape the flesh off the leaf with my teeth.  What I really loved about the whole experience was eating it with my hands and licking my fingers.  It is the equivalent of eating a whole crab, but for vegetarians.

So on this note, my one piece of advice for what not to eat on a first date is a whole crab, as the business of breaking the legs and digging into the shell for every last bit of flesh is very primal.  And really, when you use the word primal to describe anything, it’s just another way to say “unattractive”.  I get into a zone where nothing else exists but me and the crab and to hell with black bean sauce dribbling down my chin.

Stuffed Artichoke Kake2Kale.com

But back to what is attractive, it’s the artichoke.  Not only is it a beautiful vegetable, it definitely qualifies as a superfood as it is loaded with antioxidants such as quercetin (a natural anti-histamine), as well as the antioxidants cynarin and silymarin, these may be helpful in regenerating liver cells.  Cynarin also stimulates the production of bile, which aids in the digestion of fats.

I came across a stuffed artichoke recipe many years ago, which I made with great success; it is slightly more elegant than just serving it alongside a sauce. The recipe below is a version of what I made. Please refer to the photos of the cross section of artichoke before and after I scooped out the inner pointy leaves and the fuzzy choke.

I’d like to point out that the serving “dishes” that we used are actually trivets that Kale made from wine corks collected on her travels – ingenious!

Stuffed Artichoke Kake2Kale.com

Other superfoods in this recipe:

Garlic – The major player in the allium family ( includes: leeks, onions, shallots, chives, green onion) contains sulphuric compounds that may help with lowering blood pressure and destroying cancer cells.  Allicin, one of these compounds in garlic is not only anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal, but research has shown that allicin can help your body to neutralize dangerous free radicals.

Tomato – Technically a fruit. High in vitamin C and potassium as well as lycopene, fights free-radicals, supports prostate health, and protects skin from sun damage.   It also contains zea-xanthin, which is good for eye health.

Stuffed Artichoke Kake2Kale.com

Stuffed Artichokes makes 4 appetizer servings or 2 main course servings


  • 2 large artichokes
  • 4 slices sundried sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
  • ½ c. grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ breadcrumbs or panko crumbs (use gluten-free if needed)
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • ¼ c. olive oil (or more as needed)
  • ¼ c. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. salt

Stuffed Artichoke Kake2Kale 5


  • Cut the tops off the artichokes, about an inch from the top.
  • Then trim the sharp tip of each leaf.
  • Fill a pot big enough to fit the two artichokes, with water.
  • Bring water to a boil and then put the artichokes in right side up.  Add ¼ c. of lemon juice and 2 tsp. of salt.   Bring water back to a boil for about 20-25 minutes or until a skewer pokes easily through the stem.
  • While artichokes are cooking, put sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, olive oil and ¼ c. parmesan cheese into a blender and puree.  If the mixture is too dry add more olive oil.
  • Mix the rest of the parmesan cheese with the breadcrumbs.
  • Preheat oven to 375˚F
  • Once the artichokes are cooked, cut them in half lengthwise, then scrape out the fuzzy choke out of the core.  Cut the stem off, peel the outer layer, finely chop the inner flesh and add to the pureed sun-dried tomato mixture.
  • Fill the center with the sundried tomato mixture and then sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the whole surface of the artichoke.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes  and then turn to broil and broil for 2-3 minutes or until crumbs turn golden brown.  Keep an eye on it, it turns colour quite quickly.
  • Now devour!

Eat superfoods, live a super life! {Kake}

Stuffed Artichoke Kake2Kale.com

From the Culinary Trail – Ciaoing Down in Italy Part 1

The Trofie al Pesto Trail of Cinque Terre

You say pesto, I now say trofie! Let me explain. Despite all of us living in different parts of the world, my closest girlfriends from our university days continue to meet up whenever and wherever possible.  I was thrilled when Italy was selected as the get-together destination this year.  The land of  ‘dolce vita’ is likely number one or two on my list of countries worth visiting umpteenth times.   Italy feeds not only my travel photography appetite, but also a craving for my favourite cuisine.  I adore all Italian food, but my best-loved item is pesto. It is simple to make, is healthy for you and produces a luscious flavour for so few ingredients. I add this bold green, fragrant sauce with nearly everything – from salad dressing, sandwich spread, to chip dip.  With pasta, Pesto with angel hair pasta was my combo of choice; but now, it is Trofie al Pesto!  This part 1 of 3 posts, covering my adventure with superfoods found in Italy,  focuses on Trofie al Pesto from Cinque Terre.

Early this July, our group of friends met up in Cinque Terre which is a portion of the Liqurian coast (stretching from Genoa to Pisa) in north-western Italy.   When people think of Cinque Terre, the popular perception is about hiking between the five colourful villages perched on the rugged coast. This was our main reason for going.  And, lucky for me, I found out that Liquria is also a pesto paradise!  Originating in Genoa, around the 16th century, the name is derived from the Genose word pestâ, meaning to pound or crush.  The traditional pesto is made from fresh Genovese basil, garlic, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino cheeses.  I’ve tried pesto after pesto variations – from sun dried tomatoes to kale, but I still prefer the classic Pesto Genovese.  Below is the easy pesto perfect recipe that I use.

Basil Cinque Terre kake2kale
Pesto Genovese
– makes 1 cup

  • 2 cups fresh basil (add more as desired)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t. sea salt (add more to taste)


  •  Combine the first four ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended.
  • Add the olive oil in a steady stream as the processor is running on slow. Blend until smooth.
  • Add sea salt to taste.

I have visited Italy on many occasions, but only discovered the wonderful trofie pasta on this trip.   Trofie also originates from Genoa and is a small, thin squiggly pasta that is made from flour and water (no eggs).  It is best accompanied with Pesto Genovese.  I love the pasta’s texture and the way the pesto wraps around its twisted form.  A popular version of Trofie al Pesto includes potatoes and green beans.  We enjoyed adding tasty Italian tomatoes when we made it on the trip. During our time in Cinque Terre, I couldn’t get enough of Trofie al Pesto and ate it every day.  It was already a dream to hang with my friends in Italy, but being on the trail of trofie and pesto was a special treat!

Trofie Pasta Kake2kale
To my surprise, we didn’t see the trofie pasta again on the rest of the trip in Italy and I have yet to find it in Vancouver.  However, it is easy to make.

Trofie Pasta 
– serves 4

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 3/4 cup water


  • Place the flour and sea salt in a bowl, then make a well in the middle.
  • Add the water in the well and create the dough by mixing the ingredients in a bowl with a fork then with your hands, adding more water or flour as needed to avoid the dough being too sticky or dry.
  • Place dough on floured flat surface, then knead it with your hand by folding and turning repeatedly until the dough is smooth.
  • Create a ball and wrap it in plastic.  Let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  • After the dough has rested, place a small portion (eg 1/4) of the dough on a floured surface and roll the dough into a 1/3″ roll or rope with your hands.
  • Cut the roll into 1/4″ pieces and sprinkle flour over them.
  • To shape, pick up each piece and roll it quickly between the palms of your hands, in one direction, to create a twisted tube with tapered ends.
  • Open your palms to drop the trofie piece onto a floured cookie sheet but pieces should not touch.
  • Repeat with remaining dough.
  • Cook fresh the pasta in boiling water (usually a few minutes for al dente) within 1-2 hours or refrigerate for later use.  As an option, I like adding a bit of salt and olive oil to the boiling water.

Superfoods to highlight are:

Basil – Rich in vitamin C, A, K, Magnesium, potassium and calcium.  Basil’s antioxidants are good for heart health.  Loaded with beta-caryophyllene, basil offers anti-inflammatory benefits.  It also has high anti-bacterial and anti-aging properties.  Basil can help fight against various medical conditions.  Its phenolics (specifically, vicenin and orientin) are a DNA protector.  It is a  great source of essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Garlic – The major player in the allium family ( includes, leeks, onions, shallots, chives, green onion) contains sulphuric compounds that may help with lowering blood pressure and destroy cancer cells.  Allicin, one of these compounds in garlic is not only anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal, but research has shown that allicin helps your body to neutralize dangerous free radicals.
Olive Oil – The benefits of olive oil are extensive and best described on the Olive Oil Times website. To summarize, olive oil has been found to be effective against heart disease, cancer, stress, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis.
Pine Nuts – This seed has the highest amount of protein found in any nut.  They are the only source of pinoleic acid, an appetite suppressant.  They contain a high concentration of oleic acid which is good for heart health. Pine nuts are also rich in iron and packed with antioxidants.

Buon Appetito!   Travel Far, Explore More! – {Kale}