Porridge

I’ve always been kind of obsessed with Japanese and Korean food. In the past five years I’ve become very fond of Korean food since most Japanese restaurants offer an identical selection of sushi, teriyaki, tempura, etc. The thing that I really hated is that I could never taste REAL home-cooked Japanese food. With Korean food however, I could go to many restaurants that cater to a Korean crowd and have the same delicious and amazing home-cooked food.

Today I found a great recipe for vegetable porridge online and decided to try it out for the first time. Most Koreans eat porridge either when they are feeling sick or have digestive problems. Since I am a huge fan of porridge I could probably eat this stuff everyday.

Vegetable Rice Porridge:

1.5 cups sushi rice

2 small carrots

3/4 cup spinach

1/2 cup zucchini

1 cup enoki mushrooms

3 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp salt

1. Wash the rice and drain 3 times (this lowers the carb content). Soak the rice for 2 hours.

2. Chop carrots and zucchini. Cut off the roots of the enoki mushrooms.

3. Blend the rice for about a minute or less until the grains are broken up a little. Pour into a pot and add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then let simmer on low heat.

4. Bring another small pot of water to a boil and add the spinach for one minute. Drain under some cold water and set aside.

5. Allow the water in the rice to evaporate, mix occasionally to avoid burning. Add the vegetables and leave on low heat for another 40 minutes or more until the vegetables are cooked. Add more water to reach the desired consistency and don’t forget to mix occasionally.

6. Add sesame oil and salt.

I used these locally grown farmers’ market carrots!

I have always been a fan of white rice although I wish I enjoyed the healthy version more. I find it quite fascinating that it’s pretty much the only unhealthy part of a Korean diet since most recipes contain a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit is often served for dessert.

I read this article yesterday and it made me feel really depressed. I have not visited Korea yet, but I imagine I will have a hard time in terms of food because most meals contain pork or beef.

Beaches

The weather in Toronto has been insane recently with temperatures going up to 35 degrees in the past few days. On Sunday we decided to go to the beaches despite the sacrifice of suffering the packed and sweaty streetcar to get there.

We figured that after days of scorching hot weather, the water would be especially warm in the evening. The weirdest thing was that it was ice cold. I’m not sure if it’s because of the current or if there is some other reason.

On our way there we saw this amazing green truck loaded with Ontario grown produce.

You can tell how nice the water was by looking at my awesome face.

The most depressing thing about the beach was that it was full of people’s trash. This made me really angry because there were garbage bins EVERYWHERE and people were just tossing their garbage on the sand. I just don’t understand why someone would do something like that, not only is it rude but it made the beach look like a dump.

Cruda Cafe

Most of the time when I crave healthy vegan/vegetarian food, we visit Fresh (freshrestaurants.ca) with my boyfriend. This time I really wanted to try something different and we ventured into St. Lawrence market in search of Cruda Cafe, a raw food cafe known for its organic ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. I ordered their house salad and my boyfriend had a sandwich. I was impressed with the bread, which was made with flax seeds bound together to form a sort of cracker. Since the food court was packed, we had our breakfast on the picnic benches just outside.

The salad was delicious and all the ingredients were incredibly fresh. The only thing I didn’t like was how sweet the salad tasted. The dressing had a lot of agave and the dried figs, cranberries and goji berries really intensified the sweetness.
Fig and coconut dessert
Pink Lemonade!
Some of the menu items were a little pricey for me, but I definitely want to give it a second try. Next time I am determined to try the raw key lime pie!

Going back to basics

Growing up, my parents always had me spend the summer at my grandma’s cottage a few hours away from Moscow. She was an avid gardener and we had all kinds of fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, zucchinis, tomatoes, blackberries, apple trees, etc. Of course being the youngest grandchild I was often given the chore of watering the garden morning and afternoon. Although it seemed like such a boring activity at the time, I think it really shaped my appreciation of nature and taught me many valuable lessons.

This spring I finally planted a small garden of my own. Although it’s tiny and the ground in my parents’ backyard is more clay than dirt, there were still a lot of worms in the soil which meant that gardening was possible!

I planted zucchinis, three kinds of tomatoes, swiss chard, carrots, chives, and mint. I planted radishes as well but I guess they were the most delicious because they got eaten by someone while they were still in the ground, so I had to throw all of them out.

My mom checking the baby zucchinis!

Coconut chocolate nut dessert‏

Yesterday was one of the hottest days in Toronto since 1948 and unfortunately it was a no air-conditioner kind of day. I ended up making this dessert because I was really craving something sweet, rich and cold at the same time. It was definitely an effort to even get up off the couch and start moving, but my craving for chocolate gave me the strength.

Initially I wanted to make a raw dessert with dates, but couldn’t find any after thoroughly searching my kitchen. Luckily I came across some shredded coconut and nuts I bought a while ago. This dessert was really satisfying and reminded me of thick ice cream.

Coconut chocolate nut dessert:
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut (i prefer the coarse kind)

5 tbsp agave nectar
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3 or more tbsp coconut milk
2 heaping tbsp peanut butter
1. mix coconut, agave, cocoa powder, coconut oil and chopped nuts in a big bowl.
2. add coconut milk little by little to achieve the desired consistency.
3. gently fold in peanut butter and freeze for about an hour.

Natural Sunscreen

Growing up nobody in my family used sunscreen. In fact I only discovered it when I was already 14 or 15 years old. When I think about it, probably 90% of the population in Russia doesn’t use sunscreen. I still have a hard time convincing my mother or sister to use it because they don’t see it as a necessary precaution. I often find this extremely irritating since skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada and accounts for one third of all new cancer diagnoses.

Unfortunately being sun safe does not always mean regularly applying commercial sunscreen:

1. Regular sunscreen generates a lot of free radical activity (increases cellular damage and leads to cancer).

2. Are a cause of allergic reactions for users with sensitive skin.

3. These chemicals are actually responsible for damaging the coral reef! It is crazy to think that so much damage can be done just by small amounts of sunscreen washing off in the water daily.

I am currently using this chemical-free sunscreen from Green Beaver. This sunscreen is certified organic and 100% natural. It contains mineral zinc oxide which is not chemically altered which means it doesn’t enter the bloodstream. It coats the skin to offer broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB.

Some of the other ingredients include raspberry seed oil and naturally derived jojoba. There are no chemical preservatives, synthetic fragrances, dyes or phthalates. The product is waterproof and does not leave a chalky residue like some of the other natural sunscreen brands.

A 90 ml bottle cost me about 20$. The only complaint I have with this product is that it stays a little greasy on my skin throughout the day. But because of this I apply a small amount once a day, so it will probably last me for the whole summer. Your safest bet of course is to stay out of the sun as much as possible, which I try hard to do since I really don’t enjoy the scorching hot weather anyway.

Blueberry pancakes

Breakfast is definitely my favourite part of the morning. Not only is it the most important meal of the day, but it can be so delicious! Most of my breakfasts include one of the following: fruit, oatmeal, yogurt or eggs. I don’t think pancakes are the most healthy way to start the day, but after discovering this recipe I decided to make them for the first time.

Blueberry pancakes:

2 cups flour (mixing in some whole wheat tastes great too)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups coconut milk
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 cup blueberries
oil for the pan

1. Mix flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a bowl. Add coconut milk, oil and finally blueberries.

2. Add some oil to a frying pan and pour a ladle-full amount of batter onto pan. Spread to make an even circle and cook for approximately 2 minutes on each side.

The blueberries and coconut really made these pancakes taste incredible. We had these with Canadian maple syrup and some watermelon afterwards. I imagine they taste really good with berries as well. My boyfriend was surprised and excited that I finally cooked pancakes for him and that they were healthy despite the flour! I only recently discovered coconut milk, but I will definitely be using it often in the future.