Category Archives: Healthy cooking

Basic recipe Healthy cooking Japanese food Recipes Vegan/Vegetarian


Okayu with an umeboshi on top

Recently, with the cold season in full swing and my baby being weaned, I find myself making a lot of okayu, which is the Japanese version of rice porridge or congee. Okayu is often given to the ill as it is easier to eat and digest than white rice. In fact, when I was in the hospital after giving birth in Japan, I was given okayu instead of white rice for the first few meals. Then, in a weaning class several months later, I was taught how to prepare okayu as it is the recommended first food for babies in Japan. (In case you’re wondering, this is what okayu as baby food looks like; the different colors come from the different foods that can be added into the okayu as the baby grows, like broccoli, white fish, kabocha, egg yolk, tofu, etc.) Some people also like to use okayu as a way to lose weight by simply replacing white rice with the lower-calorie okayu.

Here, I will describe the basic recipe for okayu.

Japanese rice
Optional toppings (e.g., umeboshi (pickled plum), spring onions, etc.)

There are several types of okayu, which differ according to the amount of rice and water used and the final ratio of gruel to liquid in the okayu. Here is a quick list:

  • zengayu
    1 rice : 5 water (this gives gruel without any extra liquid)
  • shichibugayu
    1 rice : 7 water (this gives okayu with a 7 gruel : 3 liquid ratio)
  • gobugayu
    1 rice : 10 water (this gives okayu with a 1 gruel : 1 liquid ratio)
  • sanbugayu
    1 rice : 20 water (this gives okayu with a 3 gruel : 7 liquid ratio)
Cooking okayu
Cooking okayu

– wash rice until the water runs clear.
– add the appropriate amount of water and heat on high while stirring occasionally to avoid clumping of the rice.
– once the water is boiling, allow to simmer covered on low heat for 30 mins.
– add salt as needed
– serve hot with or without any toppings

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Baking Breads Breakfast Healthy cooking Recipes

Oatmeal and bran muffins

Looking for a delicious way to increase your fiber and fruit intake? Tired of overpriced bran and fruit bars? Need a little excitement in your life?

These muffins are really easy to make, and the recipe is adaptable for whatever fruits, nuts or other fillings you have on hand or want to add. For the muffins in these photos, I added frozen blueberries, almond slivers, chocolate chips, and a prune center for each muffin.

Here is the basic recipe:

1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup oats
1/2 cup bran
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional: nuts, fresh or dried fruits, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, etc.

-Combine milk, bran and oats in a small bowl. Allow to soak for 15 minutes.
-In a separate bowl, beat the egg, sugar and oil together.
-Add the egg, sugar and oil mixture into the oatmeal mixture.
-In another bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
-Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture.
-Mix the optional fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, etc., into the batter.

-Spoon batter into the muffin cups until about 3/4 full.
-Bake at 190 degree Celsius for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.

If you find the batter a little dry, try stirring in a little milk at the end before spooning the batter into the cups. Be careful when adding fresh fruits as the batter may become too moist; in this case, try adding less milk.

Wasn’t that easy?

Healthy cooking Restaurants Vegan/Vegetarian

Hibiscus Cafe – salads, soups, crepes, and more!

One of our long standing Kensington Market staples, this little café offers an eclectic mix of vegan soups, salads, and crepes, gluten free baked goods, and dairy free ice cream and smoothies. Far from a wacky alternative health food store, it’s actually a cozy eatery churning out delicious light meals that just happen to be healthful. We’ve watched this place get more and more popular over the years, and although we’ve long lost our claim to the coveted window table, we keep going back just for the food .

My favourite is the mixed salad, which comes in a large bowl with generous scoops of their popular quinoa, lentil, green bean, tofu, carrot, sweet potato (and many other) salads – everything but lettuce! The large salads are also topped with a crispy sweet raw cracker (I wish they sold these in boxes!).

Savory buckwheat crepes come with a variety of fillings. The spinach, mushroom, and mozzarella crepe has a tangy pesto that gives an extra zing.

Soups are thick and heavily herbed – perfect to round out a meal, but not enough to stand out on its own.

The sweets are outstanding, and demonstrate creative experimentation and well thought out flavour combinations (a shout-out to our friend Grace!). The cookies made of rice flour are light and crispy – more wafer than doughy (try the green tea cookie). The non-dairy cream is creamy, and packed with flavour (recommend the black sesame or ginger). And the soy smoothies are lightly sweet and frothy (try strawberry).

Word on the street is that Hibiscus also makes their own soy milk and tofu.

One warning – this place is tiny. If you don’t want to wait for a table while literally hovering over other diners, get there earlier than 1pm. Patience is also required, as service is friendly but can be slow. And the ambiance encourages lingering over a cup of fair trade soy latte.

$15-30 for a meal for two.
238 Augusta Ave.

Healthy cooking Middle Eastern Recipes Vegan/Vegetarian


manakish with za’atar spice mix
Manakish with za’atar spice mix

Za’atar is a middle eastern mixture of spices including thyme, oregano, majoram, savory, sesame seeds, and salt. It can be used in a variety of middle eastern dishes, including manakish bread, and za’atar chicken.

Here is a simple recipe for the za’atar spice mix.

2/3 cup oregano
1/3 cup marjoram
1 cup thyme
1/3 cup savory
1/2 cup sumac
2 cups sesame seeds
About 4-8 teaspoon salt

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Healthy cooking Recipes Soups and Stews Vegan/Vegetarian

Creamed broccoli soup

This foolproof recipe is not only vegan and healthy, it is surprisingly delicious and full of flavor despite its simplicity. The flavor of the soup comes mainly from the onion, parsley, and pepper, while the creaminess comes from the potatoes. This soup can be enjoyed hot or chilled.

• Broccoli- one large bunch
• Onion- one large
• Potato- one large or two small
• Dried parsley- about 2-3 tbsp
• Salt and pepper to taste

– chop vegetables into small chunks
– lightly fry onions in a heated pot.
– mix in broccoli, potatoes and parsley
– add water, enough to just cover the vegetables
– bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15-25 minutes
– blend with a hand-blender until smooth
– salt and pepper to taste
– enjoy!

Fusion Healthy cooking Japanese food Recipes Tools and kitchenware

Tajine nabe

Tajine pot

Tajine nabe seems to be very popular in Japan now, with frequent appearances on TV and in special displays in stores. There are constantly new recipes popping up here and there, iand t is hard to miss the craze.

You would be led to think that Tajine pots were invented in Japan with the way they are promoted here with large signs saying “Made in Japan”, and pictures of Japanese ingredients floating around them. In fact, Tajine pots originated in Morocan cuisine, and are used to simmer dishes and stews of meat, beans, and vegetables.

The Japanese version of the tajine is used mainly for steaming foods. It is heralded as a new healthy way of cooking in which foods are steamed in very little water, and so they retain more of their vitamins and nutrients. And of course, oil is not needed. The food is often cooked with only a little salt or soy sauce for flavour, and when eaten, can be topped off or dipped in a sauce, such as ponzu, soy sauce or sesame sauce.

Cooking Tajine nabe is an easy process. Simply arrange the desired vegetables and meats on the base, add salt or sauces if desired, add a little bit of water, close lid, and heat on the stove until steam comes out of the pot, and ingredients are cooked to desired consistency.

Mushroom, carrot, fried tofu (atsuage), and slices of bacon (before/after cooking)

Cabbage layered with bacon, and carrots with meat balls (before/after cooking)

Some popular ingredient include:
Cabbage with bacon slices slitted between leaves
Eggplant slices layered with minced meat
Lotus root (renkon) slices layered with a minced meat mixture
Mushrooms, leek, bean sprouts, garlic, and slices of pork

Slices of eggplant layered with garlic miso