Re: Dairy-Free Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

soup in bowl

Just in time for the fall season, this dairy-free roasted butternut squash soup is one of the most comforting and flavourful soups I’ve had recently. I’ve been testing and developing a few dairy-free and gluten-free recipes since my last food post. Some still need a little tweaking, but this soup was so simple and goof-proof that I just had to share it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • Neutral oil (I used grapeseed but you can use whatever you have in stock)
  • 1 can regular coconut milk (I use Arroy-D brand, but use whatever you prefer)
  • Fresh tarragon bunch
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1-inch ginger
  • 3 allspice whole
  • 1-2 dried bay leaf
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1-2 tbsp fish sauce 
  • ½ lime juice
  • Salt & pepper

Special equipment:

  • Twine
  • Cheesecloth
  • Ladle 
  • Heatproof blender 

Roasted butternut squash

Procedure:

  1. Cut butternut squash into 4 pieces and clean out the seeds
  2. Preheat the oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit 
  3. Put butternut squash pieces in a lined baking tray
  4. Slather neutral oil on each piece then season with salt and pepper
  5. Roast for 25 min or until the flesh of the squash is soft throughout but not totally mushy
  6. Set aside to cool 

Soup

Procedure:

  1. Use the cheesecloth and twine to create a bouquet made of tarragon, whole garlic cloves, ginger, dried bay leaf, and whole allspice
  2. In a cold saucepan, combine 1 full can of coconut milk, 1 cup chicken broth and 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
  3. Add the bouquet to the coconut milk mixture 
  4. Let the coconut milk simmer for 30-40 min. Taste the coconut milk mixture for tarragon, garlic and ginger notes. The longer the bouquet steeps in the mixture, the stronger the tarragon taste. 
  5. Once you’re satisfied with the flavour intensity of the coconut mixture, turn off the stove and remove the bouquet but leaving ginger and garlic bits that may have drifted out of the cheesecloth.
  6. In a heatproof blender, put half of the roasted butternut squash and lime juice then ladle in some of the coconut mixture.
  7. Pour out the first batch of the soup into a container then add the remaining butternut squash and coconut mixture to the blender.
  8. Combine both batches in the pitcher then blend to your desired consistency. (I blended mine until it was smooth, with no lumps).
  9. Taste the soup mixture for salt, i.e. does the mixture need more salt? Adjust the seasoning to your preference. 

This soup was super cozy to eat and it stores nicely in the fridge. If you have some chili oil, I recommend garnishing with it to add some heat and another layer of flavour. The best part about this soup is that you can easily switch up the bouquet to whatever spice and herb combo and create a brand new soup! I actually originally planned on using fresh lemon grass but couldn’t find it in the store. Nonetheless, this is what makes cooking fun, at least for me!

Always,

K

To my 30-year-old self

I’m writing this days before our birthday weekend. I’ve actually tried to write this earlier, but something felt off. And the truth of the matter is, I think I was trying to write that letter too smug. We may have learned a lot in the past decade, but we’re still a work in progress. Some days, months or years may come better than others but we’ll still need to work on ourselves every day. Not necessarily to reach perfection, just to be a little bit better every day. Better on ourselves, other people, and the world. 

20s was a decade filled with memories for the ages. Exciting adventures at unfamiliar landscapes, heartbreaks, disappointments, achievements and new beginnings. You’ve shown up for yourself in ways that you never thought you needed to. You’ve grown to love yourself and actually like yourself, even if you do get snotty sometimes and may need some reassurance from time to time. You’ve accepted the freedom of being wrong and being wrong often (sometimes we still need to accept this more if we’re really being honest). You’ve started to have more faith and trust, even when times feel desolate and futile. You’ve allowed yourself to feel every crashing wave of emotion instead of holding your breath until it passes. And you’ve been humbled, and continue to be humbled, to know that you didn’t do any of this on your own. You’ve been gifted the strength to fight through circumstances, but nothing compares to the grace, love, joy, courage, wisdom, peace, and power that surrendering to Christ brings. He is your most trusted friend, heavenly father and faithful partner.

There’s so much to look forward to, even if they are unknown. Many more things to learn and unlearn. And even if sharing with your best friend, Tatay and Nanay, may not be physically possible, they’ll be here in mind, heart and sometimes with a little attitude to bring yours down back to Earth. It’s okay to miss them and wish they were here. That’s part of grieving and moving forward.

Lean into your discomfort. To access the deepest and undiscovered parts of you, you have to let yourself sink into the discomfort. Floating only keeps you on the surface, wandering and wondering – half in and half out. You and I know that staying on the superficial surface has never been our style. So sink. Forgotten shipwrecks remain dormant underneath the surface could still carry treasures. You found the one true refuge amidst a shipwreck, remember?

And one last thing before I leave, you’re going to hate this but I’m going to say it anyway, fall in love with someone else again. You know how to love unconditionally, that’s not what I’m saying. Fall in love again slowly, and let yourself be loved… I saw that eye roll. Do it for us and because we deserve to. 

Always,

K

P.S. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Re: Gluten & dairy-free meal ideas for active lifestyles

fried egg, smoked salmon, clementine, mixed nuts, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks
Gluten-free bread, microgreens, fried egg, smoked salmon, clementine, mixed nuts, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes

Over the past couple of years, I’ve changed my diet to mostly gluten and dairy-free. Admittedly, I have enjoyed some bread, cheese and dairy-forward desserts from time to time. Regulating my hormonal imbalance and newly gained food sensitivities/intolerance while satisfying my foodie heart has been challenging. I love food and all of its many facets. This blog is mostly comprised of recipes and my food experiences of the past decade. And so shifting my diet, in the beginning, felt like pieces of this relationship I had with food were getting compromised. But it doesn’t have to feel that way. Gluten and dairy-free meals are flavourful, creative and vibrant. It doesn’t have to be a deprivation of some sort, unlike what it may seem like right off the bat. In fact, many cuisines outside of the West are filled with gluten and dairy-free delicacies. For me, the challenge is eating enough food to sustain a physically active lifestyle. In not so many words – I eat often. 

Seeing that I couldn’t remember the last time I actually posted a recipe on here, I’m going to make a more conscious effort to share some of my tasty gluten and dairy-free creations/discoveries with you all. In the meantime, below are some meal/snacking ideas for meal planning gluten and dairy-free meals.

Breakfast:

  1. Peanut butter-banana almond flour pancakes, celery sticks, fresh fruits
  2. Chia seed pudding (you choice milk alternative, I like using coconut milk), unsweetened shredded coconuts or coconut chips, fresh fruits, unsalted raw seeds and cinnamon
  3. Savoury buckwheat crepes, eggs (over easy), smoked salmon, clementines, celery sticks
  4. Toasted or fried gluten-free bread, sunnyside up eggs with chives, avocado slices, sprouts, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, nuts

Lunch:

  1. Vietnamese fresh rolls using rice paper, choice of protein and greens with hoisin sauce with fresh fruits on the side and kombucha 
  2. Rice and canned tuna (in oil, not water) mixed with soy sauce, sambal, grated garlic, green onions, lemon juice and seaweed (or furikake), and steamed bok choy with balsamic glaze and crispy garlic or onions on the side
  3. Corn cob salad, your choice of protein, avocado slices
  4. Lettuce wraps (your choice protein, green onion, butter lettuce, pickled radish, thinly sliced red onions and peanut teriyaki sauce) and apple slices

Dinner: 

  1. Ramen with soba noodles, your choice of broth, blanched bok choy, lotus root, enoki mushrooms, chili oil
  2. Corn tortilla tacos, your choice protein, pickled onions, cilantro, pico de gallo
  3. Roasted sunchokes and red bell peppers, your choice protein, sauteed greens or salad
  4. Savoy cabbage slaw with carrots and fermented beets, your choice BBQ protein, celery sticks

Snacks:

  1. Guacamole (avocadoes, cilantro, garlic, S&P), corn tortilla chips or green plantain chips or cassava chips 
  2. Chia seed pudding with fruits 
  3. Apples with nut butter and cinnamon
  4. Roasted chickpeas with spices (smoked paprika, garlic powder, S&P, dash or sugar for balance)

Desserts:

  1. Coconut rice pudding with cacao nibs and coconut chips
  2. Frozen banana dipped in dark chocolate, your choice of toppings
  3. Japanese mochi
  4. Flourless souffle (this does have butter and some recipes have milk but substitutions are available!)

There are many more food ideas, these are only some I’ve recently enjoyed. I’m working on a few recipes from this list and will definitely start sharing them soon! It’s been amazing to rediscover food and get introduced to new ones in this part of my food and health journey. Thanks for sticking around and being part of this blog community over the years! It’s definitely become my personal time capsule in some ways. 

Always,

K

Dear Gomer

I was reflecting on the book of Hosea when it dawned on me that you are among the select women in the bible whose story was told in more detail than a few verses. Perhaps not the most commonly known or the most sought after character to emulate like Hannah or Ruth, but your story lives and it’s an important story to hear.

Was it hard to accept that you could be loved so deeply and unconditionally by someone? Was it hard to see yourself as lovable? Was it hard to trust and believe that someone can embrace your past despite all its thorns and choose you, out of all people?

Was it hard to let yourself be loved? 

Living a life of prostitution was probably not your desired first choice. The piercing glances that you may have come across along the streets of the northern kingdom of Israel further etched markers of promiscuity, sin, and judgment in your mind and heart. Did you ever conceive that an alternate life was possible? Or did it seem like a fruitless endeavour to hope for such a thing? To not only be loved but relentlessly pursued by a prophet called by God over and over again. Hosea pursued you over and over again. 

Did it seem too good to be true? Did you wonder how it could be real? I imagine the experience could have felt jarring. To have already accepted all your life that poverty and survival was all life was, and yet unexpectedly there’s more. To see yourself, a woman ostracized in society, all of a sudden receive status and privilege without having to work for it or be born in the right family or look a certain way. Will Hosea wake up one day and realize that you’re not the woman he should be married to, let alone pursue? But I don’t think God made a mistake selecting your story to be told. Choosing you was a choice that God equally relentlessly made. No matter how many times you went back to sin, forgiveness welcomed you with open arms and a warm embrace. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:13-14

God chose to see the woman, not the sins. The beauty that He created carefully for you to eventually accept within. 

Always, 

K

P.S. 

You are not too much. 

You are not too little. 

You are not too broken. 

You are not too unlovable. 

You are not too weird.

You are not too sensitive. 

You are not too loud. 

You are not too shy. 

You are not too strong.

You did not make too many mistakes.

You are accepted. 

You are wanted.

You are loved.