I felt like having Subway the other morning, so I ended up randomly whipping up my own homemade sub. I used lettuce, ham, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomato, egg, and a special wasabi soy sauce dressing. Did you know that that’s actually available at Subways here in Japan?! It sounds a bit extreme, but it’s actually delicious and adds a nice kick to your sub.
Wasabi Soy Dressing
So simple! Actually, I feel like it would make a great salad dressing as well.
I’ve been on a bit of a breakfast sandwich kick lately, so I actually ended up making another one this morning. I’ll admit that I got a bit carried away when I was slicing the bread. That’s a thick sandwich! XD
On the theme of wasabi, here is another one of my recent earring creations. A tube of wasabi and salmon sashimi. Cute right? 😀
Hi everyone! It has been quite a while. The last time I posted, I was still living back in my apartment, but since then, I have actually moved to Tokyo! I have been here for 9 and a half months now, working as a high school English teacher on the JET Programme (Japan Exchange Teaching Programme).
It was an incredibly long and challenging process settling into my new life here, and at times I was not even sure if I made the right decision coming here. But now that I have it all figured out, I am positive that my time in Tokyo will be one of the greatest experiences of my life.
It has been very hot in Tokyo lately, at an average of 32 degrees celsius! So, for lunch the perfect option was cold ramen noodles. You can buy a ready-made package in the grocery store, so all you have to do is boil the noodles, cool them with ice, prepare your toppings, and add the sauces that come with it. Very refreshing on such a sweltering day!
As with all of us, I can’t say the the whole COVID-19 ordeal hasn’t had a large impact on my life, but during times like these, I’ve learned that it is crucial to keep a positive mindset and seek out things that make you happy and active.
Even when we were recommended to keep out of crowded areas, it was still fine to go to wide open natural spaces, and despite being one of the most urban metropolitans in the world, Tokyo fortunately has a lot of beautiful nature. Last weekend, I headed to the Meiji Jingu Shrine, near Harajuku Station. It was the first time I had been surrounded by trees in a very long time, and it was incredibly refreshing. It’s amazing what a little nature can do for the soul!
People all over the world have been picking up new hobbies — baking, reading, blogging…I even have one friend who started writing a movie script just for the fun of it.
A friend and I both enjoy making things, so we recently started experimenting with different crafts. First, we started experimenting with making clay figurines, then we moved on to making resting earrings, and recently, we have settled on making earrings using shrink plastic sheets, with a varnish and resin finish.
Each set of earrings a long creative process, from beginning to start, but coming up with quirky little designs and seeing them come to fruition has been such an enjoyable experience. Get out into nature, find a new hobby…it’s a beautiful world!
Hello friends! I stepped away from my blog for a bit while I traveled and pursued some exciting projects, but now that things are settling down, I’m hoping to get back to regular posts this summer. I have loads of fun photos from my travels and cooking experiments that I’m excited to share!
To start things off today, when I was in Japan a little while ago, I visited this fantastic vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurant called Kizuki Kitchen. I know Japan has a common reputation of being a difficult place to eat veggie, but it’s not true! There are so many fun options, and over the recent years, trendy vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafes are popping up all over the place!
The ideas are often really creative, too, with a special Japanese twist. These are some deep fried tofu steaks that came with a whole bunch of delicious sides.
There were various salads, brown rice, and mushroom miso soup. We tried a number of other set menus, including the lentil curry, which was nicely spiced. The only adjustment that I wanted to make was that there wasn’t quite enough heat for my taste. I asked the restaurant staff, and they were incredibly helpful, searching all over until they found a little shaker of red chili for me.
One thing that made the cozy little restaurant even more fun was that they would prepare all the food right there in front of you, so you could see your dishes as they were being put together. It’s sort of like dinner and a cooking show at the same time.
The third meal that we ordered was a hotpot set. In it, were daikon raddish, an egg, carrot, konyaku, shiitake mushroom, and a deep fried tofu pouch — all well seasoned and bursting with umami flavour. By the time we finished, the tiny little restaurant was packed, and there was a line out the door. If you ever pay this place a visit, make sure you get there early! This was one of the first health-angled restaurants that I ever visited in Japan, so it was a very neat experience to see what they do with all these different and unique ingredients.
If only medicine could come from purely natural ingredients and taste like rich, creamy hummus…Oh wait, it can!
We are all familiar with turmeric as one of the most standard spices in Indian cuisine, but did you know that it has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to promote a whole range of health benefits? It stimulates digestion, boosts the immune system, detoxifies the liver, and may even be effective at fending off cancer and depression. When paired with black pepper to help the body absorb curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric), it is also has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
Plus, it’s just delicious.
Knowing all this, I’m always looking for different ways to incorporate turmeric into my diet, and here’s a great one! Chickpeas are already quite the superfood, with their high levels of iron, protein and fibre, but combined with turmeric, this hummus is incredibly good for you.
I already had a batch of my homemade hummus in the fridge, so all I did was mix some turmeric power and a bit of black pepper into it.
But, just in case you want to make everything from scratch, here’s the whole recipe below.
500 grams of dry chickpeas (soaked overnight, then left to simmer until soft)
3 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 large cloves of garlic
1.5 tsp salt
crushed chili peppers
turmeric (I just kept adding it in and mixing until everything was a rich yellow colour)
Everything just goes straight into the blender, and that’s all there is to it! For a bit of added flavour, some paprika or cumin also gives it an extra kick.
Don’t you just love it when a new recipe idea pops into your head, and you realize that you already have every ingredient you need?
Last night, the plan was pizza. Fully loaded falafel pizza. You see, I found myself at a Greek restaurant a little while back with some friends, and after searching the entire menu the only thing I could find that could be veganized was their pizza. (Well, either that or a salad.) So, I asked for a cheeseless pizza, and what I got was an impossibly dry crust scattered with a few slices of tomato and bell pepper. It was not at all the restaurant’s fault, though. I should have gotten creative and asked them to replace the cheese with hummus or baba ganoush. Every experience is a new learning curve!
Needless to say, I’ve been in serious need of some pizza redemption.
All I did for this pizza was take a large whole wheat pita and spread on some basil tomato sauce. Then, I stacked it with layer upon layer of my favorite veggies, topped with some homemade falafels and a drizzle of garlic hummus that I made the other day. Adding hummus to a cheeseless pizza is a fantastic way of giving it that rich, creamy texture.
Bell peppers (I sauteed mine in water and soy sauce)
Crushed chili peppers, black pepper, and Cajun spice sprinkled over top
Then, I just put this in a pan with the lid on and let it simmer at low heat on the stove for about 15 minutes. No oven required. When I was ready to eat, I raised the temperature to get the crust all crispy, and that’s all there was to it. Extremely satisfying, oil-free, vegan pizza in no time at all!
Super creamy vegan cheesecake made from chickpeas…no added fats, no dairy, no baking time. It’s actually pretty unbelievable.
In my last post on oil-free falafels, I showed you how I separated the chickpea pulp from the chickpea “milk” before adding in the spices and cooking them up. As I was waiting for the falafels to grill, I actually went to work right away experimenting with a dessert using the chickpea milk. I am so stoked about how it turned out!
I used milled golden roasted flaxseeds mixed with maple sugar, but crumbled up cookies or granola also worked beautifully. (Or, for something a little more decadent, try blending up some dates with almonds and using that as the base!)
I started by heating the chickpea milk on the stove at medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula to keep it from burning. After about 10 to 15 minutes the chickpea milk will start to get quite thick, like custard. The thicker you can get it, the better.
Once it’s nice and thick, mix in all the ingredients (vanilla, some lemon juice, sugar, and a bit of salt if you like). Then, just lay down your cookie crumbs or roasted flaxseeds at the bottom of some little ramekins, and pour the batter over top. Place the dishes in the fridge to set.
One super important tip — you have to resist the urge to dig in right away! At the very least, let it sit for 24 hours. If you can manage 48 hours, that’s even better. The longer it sits, the creamier and firmer the cake gets. That way, the lemon juice also has the chance to get infused into the batter. It’s absolutely worth the wait!
For the topping, I just made my own cherry sauce by heating together some frozen cherries, sugar and starch. I also tried another batch with blueberry compote, which was also delicious. I found that it was best to put the topping on right away, before letting the cheesecake sit in the fridge for 24-48 hours. This gives the flavors a chance to permeate into the rest of the cake. Enjoy!
I’ve been craving falafels lately (I mean, who doesn’t from time to time?!), so I decided to have a go at making them at home. The ready-made ones in the supermarkets are quite pricey plus they are deep fried in oil, so I figured it was pretty much a win-win if I could successfully make some oil-free versions at home. Healthier, cheaper…and surprisingly delicious if I do say so myself!
This is different from the standard falafel recipe, as you may notice. I mixed in some Indian spices, plus I used a cheesecloth to separate the chickpea “milk” from the chickpea pulp. I then used the milk afterwards for an exciting vegan cheesecake recipe which I’ll be posting about shortly!
Here are the ingredients I used for the falafels:
one cup dry chickpeas
sweet Mayan onion
fenugreek leaves (a handful of parsely would be more conventional, but I love the taste of fenugreek)
madras curry powder
crushed chili pepper
starch (if needed to help hold the mixture together)
I started by soaking the chickpeas overnight. A traditional falafel recipe would then blend the water and the chickpeas together with all of the ingredients, but instead, the next morning I blended the chickpeas and the water until smooth, and then used a fine cheesecloth to drain out all the chickpea milk and set that aside for my dessert recipe!
Into the chickpea pulp, I mixed the rest of the ingredients listed above. Then, I just rolled the mixture into little balls and then grilled them up until they had a nice crispyness on the outside. That’s really all there is to it!
I served this with homemade hummus and a simple tahini sauce. For the tahini dressing, I just mixed together the following:
fresh garlic paste (garlic powder would also work well)
Just for fun, I also tried making these mini falafel donuts. Same recipe, same process…but cuter.
I seem to be on a bit of a legume kick lately! First, I made lentil curry, which was soon followed by hummus, vegan chickpea “tuna” salad, and then chana masala. Today, though, it’s all about soybeans.
In traditional Japanese cuisine, beans are used very differently from in the west. In Canada and America we probably find them most often in things like chili, burritos or canned baked beans. But in Japan, beans are commonly used in sweets or in savory side dishes meant to accompany a bowl of rice, while soybeans in particular are used for making tofu, miso paste and natto.
Beans are also much pricier in Japan and are thought of as something of a delicacy to be enjoyed in small quantities, in contrast to the cheap image of beans that we have in North America. But on the other hand, the quality of the beans produced domestically in Japan is incredible. Each bean is often large, perfectly plump and bursting with flavor. I understand why they don’t choose to cover up the taste with garlic, spices and other heavily flavored ingredients!
In Japan, it is also not at all uncommon to buy precooked pouches of beans instead of the typical canned beans that I’m used to back home. I was recently gifted two such packs of soybeans so I decided to try my hand at making a Japanese-style side salad.
For this dish, I mixed together the following ingredients and let sit for a little bit before enjoying over a bowl of fresh rice.
one pouch of cooked soybeans (50 grams)
thinly sliced carrot
finely diced sweet Mayan onion
thinly sliced homemade pickled napa cabbage (optional, but adds a great crunch)
shichimi togarashi (a lightly aromatic Japanese mixture of spices, seeds and orange peel)
Remind me again why I’ve been buying hummus all these years?
I used to make hummus at home all the time, but recently I somehow fell into the habit of buying ready-made commercial hummus. Sure, it’s convenient and if you buy it at Costco like I do, it’s really quite affordable as well. But, it’s actually fun to make at home and you can adjust the flavour to your liking. Plus, not to mention once you’re done making it, you get to wipe up the blender and the spatula with thick slices of pita bread…which is a fantastic excuse to eat tons and tons of fresh, warm hummus! It’s all in the details.
For this batch, I thoroughly rinsed about 500 grams of dried chickpeas, brought them to a slow boil, and then let them sit overnight (or, for about 6 hours). The next morning, I brought them to a slow boil again and let simmer until soft.
Next, I filled up my Vitamix blender about 2/3 of the way with the chickpeas, and then added in the following ingredients. (All measurements are very approximate, so be sure to adjust to your liking!)
3 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp lemon juice
1.5 tsp salt
1 large clove of garlic
crushed chili peppers
There were enough chickpeas that I made two batches like this, and still had enough left over to make some vegan chickpea “tuna” salad and a bit of chana masala curry. And, don’t forget that if you have some of the water left over after having cooked your chickpeas (otherwise known as aquafaba), you can use this as an effective egg white replacement in vegan baking!
I’ve got to say, I’m pretty impressed with the versatility of chickpeas. They’re healthy, cheap, delicious…and adorable. My new favorite legume.
I just spotted a jar of lentils in my cupboard the other day and realized that I haven’t made daal in ages. I remember early on in university I used to be all about lentils and brown rice. Especially back when I was new to vegan cooking, my mind immediately went to lentils as a cheap and delicious source of protein. There were lentil sloppy joes, lentil burgers, lentil meatloafs…but the healthiest, easiest, and by far my favorite to cook up in large batches was lentil curry.
I was long overdue for some daal so to get things started last night, I soaked about four cups of dry lentils and let them sit until this morning. After breakfast today, I drained out the water, added in some more fresh water and set the lentils on the stove at low heat until it came to a slow boil.
I drained out the water again to get out any remaining enzymes, and then poured in some more water before adding in the following ingredients:
half a Mayan sweet onion
three cloves of garlic
a knob of finely chopped up ginger
crushed chili peppers
two tablespoons of garam masala
two tablespoons of Madras curry powder
four tablespoons of massaman Thai curry paste (completely optional)
I then returned it to the stove to simmer for two hours, and then turned off the heat and let it sit for the rest of the afternoon.
Just before I was ready to serve the curry for dinner, I added in a little more water (this may or may not be necessary depending on how much you added earlier on) and let it simmer for about fifteen minutes. I also adjusted the amount of salt and chili to my liking.
And, that’s all there is to it! I served this with some naan bread, Mayan sweet onions, coriander, and an assortment of chutneys, including this lemon chutney that I threw together yesterday.
For this lemon chutney, all I did was chop up the rind of a Meyer lemon and put it in a jar together with salt, crushed chili peppers, diced up onion, and a bit of plum sauce because, well…I just so happened to have plum sauce lying around. An odd combination, perhaps, but it was a surprisingly refreshing addition to the lentil curry.