Monday, December 23, 2013

Tender Roasted Brussels Sprouts

When I was younger, Brussels sprouts were not among my favorite vegetables.  They were mostly boiled whole until they were on the mushy side and their tightly wrapped green-yellow leaves began to turn slightly grayish.  And to get past the bitterness, I would often have to douse them with some kind of sauce, whether it be melted garlic butter, ranch, or mayo.  So, no, these "tiny cabbages" were not my favorite.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Beauty of Next

I know I'm a broken record, but I love cooking and baking in the Fall.   I honestly cannot say it enough.    From the beautiful seasonal produce in hues to match the foliage on trees, the comfort of a hot oven warming the kitchen aromatically as winds, rain, and snow swirl outside, to gatherings and reunions that allow us to see one another in a light of gratitude and blessings, there isn't another time of year that inspires me more.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Gluten-Free & Vegan Granola Cookies: Now We're Talking...

According to my boss and mentor (she's the first to have coined me a "canary"), this is "a real cookie."  Not that she was saying that my other cookies haven't been "real," but that this was clearly a cookie, as opposed to a biscuit, and this was also clearly a dessert.  And when she went so far as to say that perhaps I should think about selling her the recipe so she could add them to the restaurant menu, I knew I had a winning recipe on my hands.

[commence proud papa dance]

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mulled Hibiscus Ginger Tea

I love hibiscus tea.  I love ginger tea.  So why had I never thought to put the two together?  Alas, it took a visit to the Philippines and meeting a cousin of mine for the first time over lunch to kindle the spark.  She has quite the reputation as a vegan chef there, so naturally we met at a vegetarian restaurant with beautiful food.  After exchanging pleasantries, hugs, and taking photos (of course), we sat down for an awesome family style gluten-free, vegan meal.  To drink, I had what they called a roselle cooler - a hibiscus iced tea with cardamom, lemongrass, and vanilla - and was instantly smitten.  Normally, I am not a shy consumer of liquids, but with this drink, so interesting, layered, and complementary to the many bold flavors of our meal, I was happy to sip leisurely, not wanting the experience to be over too soon.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Day: What to Make?

While that is one of my favorite questions, it's also one of the most difficult for me to answer.  And the problem is not lack of ideas.  Quite the contrary, it is the sheer, often overwhelming, abundance of them.  Do you ever feel that way?  That all your ideas are "good ideas," but you're not quite sure which one will be "the best?"  It's a tricky spot to put ourselves in, trying so hard to make the right decision.  But speaking for myself, when I take a step back and realize that there isn't actually a "right decision" - that any and all food shared in the spirit of togetherness, communion, and celebrating a connection that defies words will already be "right" and "the best" - then I'm allowed to relax and really set my sights on what I feel is the meaning behind the Holidays.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pickled Apple & Carrot Relish:
An Autumn-Inspired Take on a Filipino Classic

Atsara [ahtchah-ra] is a classic Filipino appetizer/condiment that normally consists of pickled green papaya, carrots, ginger, red bell pepper, onion, and raisins.  Served alongside grilled, fried, or barbecued meat, the acidity and brightness is perfect for cutting through the richness of any dish and keeping the palate lively.  As a child, and even into my young adult years, I was never really a fan of pickled anything.  But my Mother, on the other hand, loved pickles.  Cucumbers with white vinegar and sugar was one of her favorite afternoon snacks, and for dessert, she was fond of eating fresh fruit, especially pears, with balsamic vinegar.  [cue flashback to child me wrinkling his nose]

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reflecting, Praying, & Believing

Stained glass window of the Paoay Church before the earthquake.

In November, the question, "What are you thankful for?" can quickly turn cliche.  It's everywhere, from social networks, retail merchandising, ads in the newspaper and on television, to the little known celebration marking the end of the month.  But ironically, with that question saturating our everyday, many of us can lose sight of it.  It's so constant that we forget that it's even there - that there can be a far greater meaning behind the question, beyond pleasantries and politeness.  An unexpected event, whether fortunate or tragic, often serves to take away our blinders and bring a more expansive view of the world into focus.

And the disasters in the Philippines have done that for me - bringing not only the world around me into view, but also my world within, and how it all fits together so delicately.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Creamy Whipped Parsnips

Something I always look forward to during Autumn is the amazing selection of tubers/root vegetables to roast, mash, and make into soup.  From rutabagas, turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, sunchokes, to parsnips, I love them all.  Ideal for warming the body from the inside out, they epitomize comfort food for me as the days grow progressively shorter and the refreshing crispness in the air begins to transition to a more pointed chill.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Red Lentil with Sun Dried Tomato Soup: Celebrating Autumn

It's right around now that I start to believe that there's another season other than Summer here in Austin.  Sure, it happens every year, but with the mercurial nature of the weather worldwide, I figure the only thing that I can be sure of is that there's nothing to be sure of.  But as the days grow impatiently shorter, and the warmth of the sun gives way to a drastic drop in temperature at night, I find a certain joy in the food and the flavors that the cooler months inspire.  To be honest, it's my favorite season of the year to be in the kitchen and at the table.  Roasted vegetables, herbal infusions, warm spices like clove, cinnamon, and turmeric, robust herbs like sage, oregano, and thyme, and of course, hot soup.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Coconut Date Truffles: Trick or Treat

When I was younger, Halloween was definitely a favorite time of year.  A roly-poly child with chubby cheeks, a bowl cut, and a natural talent for charming a crowd, I was a popular trick-or-treater with the neighbors.  In fact, there was a frequent inclination for them to give me extra candy 'by mistake,' which, of course, made my siblings and friends jealous.  I would take my stash of candy, and to avoid my brother and sister stealing it, or perhaps even worse, my Mom taking it to ration it to me, I hid it in a drawer in my bedroom.   Candy and I were close, to say the least. 

[cue sound of door quietly closing and the sound of candy wrappers being torn open]

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gluten-Free & Vegan in the Philippines

How do I know that jet lag has subsided?  Not waking up and feeling confused at my surroundings.  The first few days back from the Philippines were definitely like that - disoriented and wondering if I was truly awake upon the random motorcycle revving of my alarm clock.  But now I feel 100% back in Texas.  Back to my daily routines and the things that are comfortable and familiar, like my bed, my car, the drive to and from work, teaching Pilates, grocery stores, and my favorite restaurants where they know me by name.  

But allow me to say that it was nice to be uncomfortable for that month on the other side of the world.

Monday, October 14, 2013

From Across the Ocean

It has been 4 days since I returned from the Philippines, and luckily I budgeted in a few days to recover before I returned to work.  Last year, I also arrived in the evening after over 24 hours of transit, and the very next morning at 8am I was back to the daily grind, convinced that I would somehow be able to will myself through the fatigue of the previous days' journey and the jet lag of a 13 hour time difference.  

"Oops" would sum that up.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Taste Life Through Food

I’m super jazzed that Jonathan asked me to stop by and say hi!

For me, the last decade has been all about an ever-deepening practice of letting food become love. To be really clear, I don’t mean “using” food as a substitute for love, or, say, only eating mint chocolate ice cream ‘cause you love it so much. Instead, I mean savoring every bite and letting each bite be a love-song.  This Zen Buddhist saying sums it up best:

“In this food I see clearly the presence of the entire universe supporting my existence.” 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Sleeping Bear Dunes: A Knitted Journey

Toes in the
 Toes in the photo for scale.  Inspired by this most beautiful place that I visited in May.  From the dense forests full of ferns and white trillium in full bloom to the endless dunes of sand with fascinating trees, grasses, and plants.  The small shells and rocks I found by the shore.  The Point Betsie Lighthouse.  The multi-layered Lake Michigan of hundreds of shades of teal, turquoise, and sapphire.  The most dramatic sunsets off the edge of the shore...

Here is my Sleeping Bear Dunes Knitted Journey:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Recipe for Happy

When Jonathan asked me to write a guest post for him, I was more than happy to do so. I absolutely love Jonathan’s blog, and while I enjoy his unique recipes, the real reason I follow him year after year is his personal posts. He has a positive way of approaching life, and always shares wisdom and insights that apply to my life as well.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reconnection: Never Too Soon

In less than five hours, I will be on a plane to the Philippines.  It's astounding even just typing those words, that reality - that decision that I made earlier this year.  You may be thinking, "So soon?  Weren't you just there like a year ago, Jonathan?"  And the answer would be, "Yes."  But as I enter the final leg of 2013, and I reflect on the several experiences of  loss that have been the seemingly dark thread holding everything together, the importance of family, of connection, and capitalizing on the moments that pass us by so quickly and often before we know it, are lessons that have not been lost on me.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Gluten-Free & Vegan Fruit Galettes: Not Your Everyday Pie

Ahhhh...pie.  There are few other foods that can invoke such nostalgia and feelings of comfort.  Cherry pie used to be my hands-down favorite, and I would often turn my nose up at the pumpkin, apple, blueberry, or custard type varieties (which did not mean that I did not eat them, mind you).  I would look for it at every party, in every diner dessert display case, and Hostess cherry pies were a conveniently handheld guilty pleasure at every gas station stop.  But, like so many other foods that weighed heavy in my "life before listening" (i.e., the decades before discovering my gluten allergy), reforming my diet included eliminating those as an option.  Not that pie was no longer an option - it was more the excess sugar, the fat, the artificial colors, the preservatives, and the filling the void within with meaningless calories.  So, needless to say, it's been a long time since I've had pie.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Looking Beyond

"It's not who you are that holds you back.
It's who you think you're not."
- Denis Waitley

This quote first entered my consciousness last Friday, told to me by a fellow actor in my current production.  We were discussing the first half, the fact that we knew there was at least one reviewer in the audience, and how knowing that fact inevitably alters the cast dynamic.  The pressure to be somehow "better" than we normally are, the pressure to drive home the intention behind our words, the pressure to hit all our marks and be perfect.  No matter how counterproductive we know that pressure to be, it creeps in all the same.  And so this quote could not have come at a better time.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fruits n' Greens Smoothie

Ahhhhh.....Summer and smoothies.  They go hand in hand, don't they?  May through July, I was at my local juice bar on the daily, grabbing a powerpacked drink to go as I zipped from place to place.  But starting in August, I finally took a step back and asked myself, "Why are you buying your smoothies and juices when you can make them yourself?"

Valid question.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Oven-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Garlic: An Homage to Filipino Street Food

It's hard to believe that in less than a month, I will be traveling back to the Philippines.   [pinches self a little too hard]  During my visit last Fall, the first since 1987, I promised everyone that I would I never let that much time go by again before making it back.  Despite the passage of 25 years, and the myriad ways in which the country has expanded, and my aunts, uncles, and cousins have changed, it was remarkable how familiar everything felt.  Never mind that I was born in the States half a world away - I felt "at home" in the Philippines.  I felt like I belonged there.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chilled Watermelon Soup

The first time I had what was referred to as a "watermelon gazpacho," my initial reaction was a mixture of confusion, doubt, and curiosity.  I had never had a gazpacho that did not call for tomatoes, and as someone who (1) does not mind, but does not prefer, sweet things, and (2) does not mind, but does not prefer, cold soups, I was prepared to find it "okay" or "interesting" at best, but nothing I would ever seek out again, let alone recreate in my kitchen.  


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lychee Coconut "Ice Cream"

Ice cream and I go waaaaay back.  When I was a husky toddler, I was obsessed with fudge ripple and orange sherbet (or as I would pronounce it, "shur-bay"), and I would make any excuse to upgrade a drink into a float or a milkshake.  As a teenager, the dance studio where I trained was next door to a Baskin Robbins, and I made a habit of finishing each day of classes with a frozen treat, especially my favorite, Daiquiri Ice.  And after completing my undergrad at University of Michigan, I was assistant manager at a Ben & Jerry's for a year, which was a real growing experience - for my waistband.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Spiced Carob Hemp Brownie Bites: Baking with Gratitude

For the past two years, I have avoided making my birthday into a big deal.  And by "big deal," I mean creating a situation where others might feel obligated to do something for me above and beyond what they would do for me on any given day.   My birthday is another day I am blessed to breathe another breath, to live in this world, to smile, laugh, cry, and sing, and it is another day for me to marvel at the beauty of the souls around me.  Those that gave me life and raised me, those that have both challenged and/or nurtured me, those I can turn to when I need support, and even those I do not know but with whom I still feel honored to share this existence.  Which, to me, already makes it a "big deal."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wings to Fly

People often refer to my birthday as "my day."  But on this day commemorating 35 years of my being here, it's not really about me at all.

It's about the people who bless my life, both past and present, who have helped me become the person I am today and inspire me towards the person I will be tomorrow.  Through observing them, I know beauty, through accepting their guidance, I know wisdom.  And through the love they entrusted to me, especially at times when I did not deserve it, I know faith.

So on this day, and every moment that may follow, I celebrate and honor them - in my words, my actions, my heart, and my soul.

Thank you so much.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Seeds That Grow

It still takes me off guard when someone tells me how much they enjoy my blog.  Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of The Canary Files and I hope that people will read it and that it will impact their lives for the better.  But it still surprises me when the evidence of what I've wished for is actually revealed to me.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Banana Bread Version 3.0:
Gluten-Free, Nut-Free & Vegan

I shared a banana bread-inspired recipe for peanut butter banana cupcakes nearly two years ago that discussed my history with banana bread.  It was the very first thing I ever attempted to bake:  numero uno.  And luckily for us, it turned out deliciously, and banana bread soon became a firm staple in my growing culinary repertoire.  Mind you, that was at a time when I was neither gluten-free nor vegan, so wheat, milk, and eggs were all involved.  Version 1.0.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Coconut Limeade: Refreshingly Simple

Well, it was inevitable.  After the shock of actually having a bona fide Spring, with happy green lawns, prolific flowering and fruiting, and the chirp and buzz of thriving birds and bees, we were shocked yet again when triple digits ambushed us a few days ago, the weight of the heat visible in the droop of plants, the seemingly overnight crisp of grass, and the ghost town nature of restaurant patios everywhere.  

There's no way to deny it:  Summer is here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gluten-Free, Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

And the parade of favorites continues.  

My affection for peanut butter cookies began when I was in elementary.  Mrs. Prim, our next-door neighbor, would occasionally babysit my siblings and I in the afternoon when our parents had to stay late at work.  And without fail, whenever we would ring the doorbell, she would greet us at the door with a plateful of warm, peanut butter cookies.  Soft, chewy, lightly golden brown, and with the trademark criss-cross hash-marks, they were melt-in-your-mouth amazing.  I loved those afternoons, peanut butter cookie in one hand, a tall glass of cold milk in the other, and crumbs all over my smiling, chubby face. And when the doorbell would ring again, signaling my Mom or Dad's arrival, she would always flash a knowing smile and give me one more to take with me - like it was our little secret.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bitter Melon Salad:
Honoring the Memory of My Lola
40 Days After

For those that do not already know, my grandmother passed away in her sleep about 5 weeks ago at the regal age of 104.  In the days since, there have been plenty of tears, with little things from everyday life suddenly reminding me of her and reducing me to a blubbering mess. A rose in full bloom, a woman crossing the street with a walker, the pop of bubble wrap, an organ playing at Church.   Even writing this now is extremely difficult without tears blurring my vision.  But when someone has lived such a bountiful life, how can one truly be sad?  When I think about all that she's seen, the ways in which the world has changed, the things she has risen above, and all the lives that she's touched, from friends, family, to her countless grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I see a life and a legacy to be celebrated.

But regardless, the tears still come.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ginataang Halo-Halo:
Sweet Coconut Milk Stew to Comfort the Heart & Soul

According to Merriam-Webster, comfort food is "food prepared in a traditional style" with "nostalgic or sentimental appeal."  Often connected with our childhood and/or the culture we were raised in, comfort food can be associated with a sense of security,  connection, and satisfaction and is consumed either in efforts to balance negative emotions or to pique positive emotions.  It would be an understatement to say that my diet has undergone a radical upheaval in the last 6 years.  I often look back in shock at the foods I use to put in my body - it seriously boggles my mind.  But as the saying goes, "the more things change, the more they stay the same," and for the foods that epitomize comfort for me, that is most definitely true.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Thai Green Coconut Curried Hummus

I often dream of opening a restaurant.  Sometimes I actually make-believe that I'm shopping for the restaurant when I'm at the grocery or market, planning the day's menu based upon what's in season and looks good.  It's a small pleasure I keep for myself that always brings a smile to my face.

And something that's always on that menu in my head is hummus.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Seared Baby Bok Choy
& Blood Orange Citronette

I found inspiration for this dish from about 7 years ago when I was having a barbecue dinner with two of my good friends over a long weekend.  They were vegan, so at that time when I was far, far away from any vegan tendencies, it was always an adventure dining with them.  This was no exception, as I watched them grilling halved romaine hearts, fire licking at the mellow green leaves.  When the romaine was plated with a flourish of extra virgin olive oil and grapefruit, my first thought may be like yours now:  not exactly "Yum."  But it smelled good, and they had never steered me wrong, so fork and knife in hand, I set aside my doubts and dove in.

And I was so glad that I did.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

"What Would Jonathan Buy?" :
Mindful Shopping for Mindful Eating

I'm actually approached with this question quite a bit.  It makes me a laugh, because just like gravity or the air I breathe, I take my everyday for granted.  But it's a good reminder that it wasn't too long ago that my "everyday" was far from everyday and far from healthy or compassionate to my body.

When I first began transitioning to a gluten-free lifestyle in 2007, I had to rediscover grocery shopping in many ways.  Breaking out of well-worn, comfortable habits, venturing into uncharted territory, and relying largely on recommendations and trial and error to help me figure it all out.  Naturally, I was overwhelmed at first, but as my body began to feel different based upon these new choices - stronger, less "broken," and more present - I became more confident with my grocery-shopping.  And soon I grew to love grocery shopping and frequenting the local farmers' markets, inviting opportunity and discovery at every turn to forge a new path to health for my body, mind, and spirit.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

2nd Blogoversary: Finding Meaning in the Here & Now

2 years.

Wow.  That truly snuck up on me, so much that I didn't even realize it had happened until after the fact.  I remember last year around this time, scrambling to publish posts detailing my favorite moments of the first year and the obligatory celebration cake.  I was in a very time consuming show that required me to arrive at the theater hours in advance for makeup and wardrobe, so in order to make my everyday life, my actor life, and my life as a blogger all fit into one I had to extend the hours in the day, sacrificing even more hours of sleep beyond my usual night-owl nature.  In short, I was not the happiest, nor the healthiest, camper.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Gluten-Free, Vegan Chai-Spiced Pancakes

I remember the first time I had homemade pancakes.  Growing up, I'd had plenty of pancakes made at home, but they always came from a box.  Just add water and eggs and voila - fluffy pancakes to stack high and then drown in maple syrup.  But the time I'm referring to is when I first had pancakes from scratch.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ratio Rally! Gluten-Free, Vegan Teff & Black Sesame Shortbread Cookies

Welcome to another Gluten Free Ratio Rally challenge!  After sitting the last four months out, it's good to be back, especially with this particular challenge:  shortbread.  Shortbread cookies were one of my first baking successes after transitioning to a gluten-free way of living, and in fact, my most popular and most requested recipe to date is for rosemary lemon shortbread cookies.  And while I could easily have rehashed or regurgitated that recipe, what fun would that be?  

Give me baking trials, give me learning opportunities, give me inspiration to re-envision and reinvent.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Operation "Feed Me" : Gaining Muscle on a Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet - Part 3

This is the final part of a 3 part series on how a super-busy, skinny guy like me was able to gain weight and lean muscle mass on a gluten-free, vegan diet.  I'm sharing it in response to several requests.  The title is an homage to one of my favorite musicals, "Little Shop of Horrors," and the mantra of the alien plant in its quest to grow bigger.

Well, here we are, finally at Part 3 where I will share with you my diet, not only the things that I ate, but also why I ate them, throwing in a little nerdy biology/chemistry, a dash of wisdom, and a few more photos charting my progress.  So back to it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Operation "Feed Me" : Gaining Muscle on a Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet - Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 3 part series on how a super-busy, skinny guy like me was able to gain weight and lean muscle mass on a gluten-free, vegan diet.  I'm sharing it in response to several requests.  The title is an homage to one of my favorite musicals, "Little Shop of Horrors," and the mantra of the alien plant in its quest to grow bigger.

Hey!  Sincere thanks for coming back to read more.  So as promised, today I'm going to discuss 'how' I was able to gain 10 pounds of additional muscle mass in 7 weeks.  Breaking it down to its bare bones, the formula was quite simple.  Increase my workload in the gym with an emphasis on weight training and boost my calories to match and exceed my caloric expenditure.  But of course, when it came to the execution of that formula, particularly upping my food intake and creating time for the gym beyond the times I was there to teach, it was much easier said than done.  But when motivation combines with having the tools to carry out a vision, anything is possible.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Operation "Feed Me" : Gaining Muscle on a Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet - Part 1

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series on how a super-busy, skinny guy like me was able to gain weight and lean muscle mass on a gluten-free, vegan diet.  I'm sharing it in response to several requests.  The title is an homage to one of my favorite musicals, "Little Shop of Horrors," and the mantra of the alien plant in its quest to grow bigger.

At the beginning of each new year, there are almost always changes that we'd like to make.  Whether we name them "resolutions" or "goals," they share in common the desire to make a difference.  To see something differently, feel it differently, to begin a transformation or to maintain the effects of one - we often find renewed energy and motivation in the first months of the year to make it happen and hold ourselves accountable.  

And for me, my goal was to gain 10 pounds by the middle of March. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Baked Sweet Potato Fries & Curried Coconut Milk Dip

This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite childhood food memories.  I know I have a lot of them, but if you recall, I was definitely not thin in my younger years.  And a big reason for this was my love affair with food of the fast and junk varieties, particularly french fries.  You wanted me to do my homework or mow the lawn?  Promise me french fries and you wouldn't have to ask twice.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spirulina Pineapple Juice with Herbs: Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I've never been much of a drinker.  I will partake once in a blue moon for special occasions, like toasting to a couple at a wedding or ceremony.  But on the whole, if there's a non-alcoholic option, trust that I will take it.  So today, on a day where people are expected to start drinking as part of their morning meal, I decided to come up with a quick and easy drink you can chug with abandon with no regrets.  It provides a spring in your step as well as boost for your health with loads of vitamin C, anti-inflammatory enzymes, and antioxidants galore.  Other added bonuses?  It may decrease your chances of having to call a cab, laying blame on beer goggles, and/or retracing your steps the next morning to find your wallet, your keys, or your car.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Marinated Adzuki Bean & Radish Salad

I love beans.  In earlier, pre-gluten-free years, they were fine, but not something I ate on a regular basis.   They simply were not on my radar.  But today, they're a daily staple, and my pantry is well stocked with a wide variety of dried beans and pulses, ranging from chickpeas, lentils, black-eye peas, black beans, fava beans, mung beans, and today's star: adzuki beans.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tinola-Style Cabbage Stew

When it comes to comfort food, I always bring it back to the Filipino foods my grandmothers and parents used to make for us as a child.  Filipino cuisine is replete with soups and stews, so it's no wonder that most of my favorite foods fall into that category.  Ginataang kalabasa, lugaw, ginisang munggo, kare kare - my heart warms and my mouth waters just thinking of them.  Beyond how delicious they are, it's also that sense of family and communion that I feel goes hand in hand with Filipino cooking.  That sense of nourishing more than just the body, but the spirit as well.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Simple Coconut Chia Pudding

Today I am participating in 5-Ingredient Monday, a weekly blogging event devoted to simple gluten-free recipes with a minimum of ingredients.  Hosted by the lovely Iris Higgins, the mastermind behind The Daily Dietribe and co-author of The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide, she relates how the beginning of the week can be rough, and the last thing most of us want is to have to prepare an elaborate or time-consuming meal at the end of the day.  So why not come up with recipes that can be whipped up relatively quickly, that won't border on reading an encyclopedia when going through the ingredients, and that taste delicious?  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Gluten Free, Vegan Blueberry Pine Nut Oatmeal Cookies

Sometimes I get stuck in that "bigger, better, never-look-back" kind of rut in terms of recipe development.  You know what I mean?  An expectation that once I've figured out how to cook or bake something that I'd never go back to those recipes because it would be 'redundant' or a 'cop out.'  It's sort of like that 'Top Chef' mentality where you need to keep pulling rabbits out of a hat or doubloons from behind someone's ear.  And it can be a source of stress for me because I don't always have time to spend in the test kitchen, particularly in recent weeks, and it makes me feel like I'm not only coming up short in terms of the standards I set for myself, but I feel like I'm coming up short in the eyes of my readers.  [deep breath]  

However, that being said, today I present a recipe to you that is inspired by a recipe I came up with over a year ago.  Because at the end of the day, a good cookie is a good cookie.  And this, my friends, is a great cookie.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Plant-powered Love.

The title of this post is one of my favorite hashtags that I have come to use generously in recent months on Instagram.  Why just recently?  Well, it wasn't until the middle of October that I officially adopted a vegan diet.  [sound of front door shutting]  I realize that there are some who may have been under the impression that I've been vegan for much longer, given that the recipes I share here are predominantly vegan.  But it wasn't until the day I returned from the Philippines, October 17th, 2012, to be exact, that I made the decision to begin eating completely vegan.  

Allow me to briefly digress...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Indian Curried Lentil & Mung Bean Soup

It's been cold, windy, and/or raining for the better part of the last two weeks here in Austin.  It's that very brief time of year where we get to drag out our scarves, faux fur lined parkas and fingerless gloves, fantasize that a few days of constant drizzle will correct our multiple year-long drought, and slam on our anti-lock brakes one too many times.  

In other words, "Winter."  
[strong emphasis on the Michigan native finger quotes]

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sanity Challenge Update: The Journey Continues...

I know it was technically the "December Sanity Challenge," but when changes are worth making, I think they're worth making beyond one month.  The final stretch of the year can be grueling for all of us, what with Holiday parties, shopping malls more akin to crowded supermarket fish tanks than public spaces, snow and sleet on the rise and sunlight becoming less and less, and the ever-looming threat of sickness as stress and climate collaborate to overthrow our immune systems.  Yup, December.