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

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

Re: 4 Kitchen tools I use everyday

From left to right: Scraper, measuring spoons, Microplane grater, rubber spatula

If you’re an OG follower of my blog over the years, you’d know that I started in the blogging world with a food blog. Well, it has been around a decade and if you’re still here, thank you. For those recently joining, welcome! In many ways I’ve grown up with this blog amongst other creative writing ventures. Today’s post is continued encouragement for fellow home cooks and new home cooks who have been inspired during this longer COVID season. Below are the top 4 kitchen tools that I use on a daily basis for savoury and sweet cooks: 

  1. Microplane grater – I love this tool! Yes, I know there are other zesters and graters that have the same function. And yes, I’ve used those too. But I love Microplane graters specifically because they’re durable, versatile and beautifully designed. The rubber handle has prevented quite a bit of fingertip grating and knuckle scrapes every time I looked for it in my drawer. The versatility when using the tool between ingredients is also really convenient, grating fresh nutmeg to ginger. 
  2. Small rubber spatula – When I bought this spatula, I initially thought it was meant for kids and maybe it is. I love using this tool when cooking with different cookware materials because it doesn’t damage the surface of the pan, e.g. cooking on stainless steel and non-stick surface pans. It’s also the perfect size when cooking scrambled eggs and sauces to get every ounce. 
  3. Measuring spoons – Most of the time, I don’t actually follow a recipe so measuring something may not be top of mind. However, I’ve gotten the habit of using measuring spoons when experimenting dishes in case the outcome turns out really well. I may still ballpark the measurements when recreating at a later date but at least it would be easier than racking my brain for the ratios. Of course, for baking this tool is a must. 
  4. Scraper – This tool lessens the mess I have to clean up when transferring ingredients from the cutting board to the pan/pot. Whether it’s chopped herbs, onion, garlic or other ingredients cut in brunoise, it’s a great tool to add to your counter for easy access. Also, this tool can be used when handling doughs for pasta, pastry, bread or pizza. 

I hope you’re all having a blast cooking and baking at home! There’s nothing like a warm meal to comfort the soul. 

Always, 

K

P.S. Signing off with one of my favourite tunes when cooking. 

Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars (video retrieved from Vevo Mark Ronson YouTube channel)

Re: Chocolate chip walnut cookies

This cookie has dark chocolate, white chocolate chips and walnuts

There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. Two words come to mind – home and smile. And isn’t that what warm chocolate chip cookies are? I don’t know anyone who frowns upon receiving cookies. It’s a cozy sweet hug and smile adorned with ooey gooey melted chocolates and crunchy walnuts wrapped in a comforting cookie package. Before you get yourself some warm milk, below is my tried and tested chocolate chip walnut cookie recipe. If you want to go nut free, skip the walnuts and substitute another kind of chocolate or dried fruit. 

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted room temperature butter

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cup all purpose flour (sifted)

¼ tsp ground coffee 

Pinch of salt

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp baking powder

½ cup bar 70% dark chocolate shards (around 1 bar) 

½ cup chopped walnuts 

Dash of ground cinnamon

Procedure:

  1. Chop dark chocolate and walnuts to pea size pieces then set aside in a bowl
  2. In a large bowl cream unsalted room temperature butter with brown sugar and white sugar
  3. Once the sugars are incorporated in the butter (the butter tends to turn lighter in colour), add the egg and vanilla extract to the mixture
  4. Sift together all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt 
  5. Add cinnamon and ground coffee to the flour mixture then stir with a fork to ensure even distribution 
  6. Combine the flour mixture in the butter mixture
  7. Add chopped walnuts and chocolates in the bowl
  8. Form cookies using an ice cream scoop or a regular spoon
  9. After forming the cookies, place in the fridge until the oven is preheated to 375 degree fahrenheit 
  10. Take out the cookies and bake for 14 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown

**This recipe makes 12 cookies.** You can use white chocolate or milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate. This cookie dough also freezes well if you’d like to save some for a rainy day. 

Always,

K