Kabocha Quinoa Kimbap

 

As I’ve posted before, kimbap is a surefire staple of Korean convenience food. And in Korea, convenience food often seems to be a foremost fare. It’s the “bali bali” lifestyle here—not as in the relaxed, easygoings of Indonesia’s most chilled-out hood—as in, “hurry! hurry!”

Here, restaurants are up and running in two days. Here, you run in the hallways, whether you’re a student or seon-saeng-nim (teacha!), because walking is wasting time. Everywhere has high-speed internet. Buses might as well have full-body, roller-coaster-style seatbelts and overhead bars to counteract their breakneck pace (this about sums it up). Co-pee and kimbap comes ready-made at GS25, 24/7. Everything should have been done by yesterday, but that probably wouldn’t be fast enough anyways.

Anyways. For me here, there’s yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and unnecessarily (or maybe just really necessary) long pee breaks. And trying to engrain in my students’ brains that it’s okay(!!) to take a little time to relax and unwind. I’ve got my own version of kimbap too—it’s loaded with good stuff to keep your belly happy for a long time, but thankfully its prep is just as palli palli as you might need.

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So what exactly qualifies as kimbap? That one’s pretty easy. In Korean, “kim” is the seaweed paper used to wrap things up, while “bap” simply means rice. Hence, “kimbap.” As for the filler, Kabocha squash is common to Korea and always well-stocked at the grocery store, making it a no-brainer for my beta-carotene-packed rolls. And you already know how I feel about the best little protein powerhouse pseudograin quinoa. Combine that with some tahini for extra stomach staying power and you have a magical trifecta, a fare for fuel at all hours, and rightfully so—kimbap here serves as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an easy snack.

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While I’ve yet to see this variety served up at a little local “orange shop” (our foreigner name for standard Korean kimbap shops), I sure hope it pops up soon!
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Kabocha Quinoa Kimbap (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, nut-free)

Makes 2-3 rolls

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Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

1/2 kabocha squash

swiss chard leaves (or any sturdy green), washed and patted dry

tahini

coconut aminos, soy sauce, or tamari for dipping, if desired

Directions:

Deseed your kabocha squash and cut it into chunks (if you can get them into strips all the more power to you, mine turned out more like cubes with my dull knives here) and roast in the oven with coconut oil, salt, and pepper, checking halfway through to flip. While the squash is roasting, cook the quinoa on your stovetop. Allow the quinoa to cool, but not too much—I find these stick together better with the heat from the grains, it almost seems to steam the roll shut.

To make the roll, layer in this order: greens, quinoa, squash, drizzle of tahini. Roll your veggies up, using water to seal the roll. Slice thinly and enjoy immediately, or do it Korean-style: wrap tightly in aluminum foil, grab a pair of chopsticks, and take it for the road!

 

잘먹겠습니다!

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Mother’s Day Maca-Ginger Millet Granola

I wanted to do something special for my mom this year for Mother’s Day. Usually I don’t have a problem finding gifts for my mom—we share, or rather, I’ve adopted a lot of the same interests as she has. I actually googled “Mother’s Day presents,” and pulled up an English article essentially stating that the average amount spent on Mother’s Day was howevermuch, and that as long as you spent thatmuch, you’d have at least a not-terrible Mother’s Day present. I say, bah humbug.

My mom doesn’t care about that stuff (I’m sure yours doesn’t either). The gifts she’s treasured over time have been the ones I’ve made—the decorative plate hung in our kitchen, the crayon-drawn cards. While I won’t be inscribing my message with wax and paper today, I did make something with my hands. A letter of gratitude in the form of food. A thank you, mom, for always supporting me, even if that means taking off to live in a country that’s under “nuclear threat” every other day (sorry mom). For always encouraging me to go for my dreams, even if they may not be yours, or yours for me. And of course, for inspiring me, for being the perfect example of shining health, in body and in spirit—lord knows I wouldn’t be writing this blog without you. Happy Mother’s Day, mom—this one’s made with a very healthy dose of love!

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The staple of Mother’s Days in my household has always been brunch, be it in bed or on a patio (you never know with Albertan weather), and I’m pretty sure my mom’s favorite food is granola, so this oughta do the trick:

Maca-Ginger Millet Granola (gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, nut-free)

Ingredients:

Dry:

2 cups millet

1/2 cup each: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, unsulfured shredded coconut

1/4 cup each: ground flax seed, hemp seeds, chia seeds

1/2 tsp ginger powder

3 capsules maca (1 tsp of maca powder should do)

2 tbsp sweet potato starch

1 tsp cinnamon

 

Wet:

1/4 cup tahini

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla

10 drops stevia (alternatively, you could use brown rice syrup, agave, or honey)

 

Directions:

Combines the wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until combined. Spread on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, close together so the granola forms clusters. I cooked my granola in the toaster oven (oh Korea!), but for most granola recipes, 30 minutes or so at 350F should do the trick—but keep an eye on it just in case!

 

Big Friendly Green Giant Juice

 

 

 

Seems we skipped a beat with spring here in Daegu—with temperatures already in the mid-to-high twenties, it’s practically summer and I’m not complaining. The closet’s been spring-cleaned, the body’s getting all it’s winter waste out, and I’m getting in all the greens I can. And with a little encouragement, I’m kicking coffee and sugar for the near future. Out with the gunk, in with the greens. I like it.

Usually I add half an apple or some orange segments to my juice so I’m not choking down full-frontal army-assault-green swill first thing in the morning, but I’m not having fruit for a little while. Problem solving mode: Engage. Carrots and beets are some sweeter vegetables, both ideal for juicing, but unfortunately the latter is a bit tough to track down in Korea—so no Beety Bliss juice for me here. A carrot, on the other hand, does the job quite nicely! Enough natural sugar to make the juice palatable without making it feel like you’re drinking Kool-Aid for breakfast.

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I love parsley in my green juices for its cleansing, purifying effect. It’s more than just a garnish, it’s actually an antioxidant and great source of vitamins—plus it kinda just smells like spring. Lemon is another excellent cleanser and detoxifier, helping to stimulate the digestive system and kick the bowels into gear. I’ve added ginger here for helping with digestion and its anti-inflammatory effects, but if you’re down with some garlic in your juices, go for it! It’s anti-fungal and great for your immune system. For more of my juicing tips, including thoughts on organics vs. conventional produce, when to juice, what order to put your veggies through the chute, and how to get your mix right, check out my post here.

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If you’re wanting to avoid sugars, this juice is blood-balancing, detoxifying, and sure to keep sugar cravings calm. It’s not bitter, not overly sweet, but pleasant, fresh, clean. If you really need something a little more saccharin, you can always add one or two drops of stevia, but be careful! Add them one at a time—even a few can make your juice taste artificial.

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Big Friendly Green Giant Juice (sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

Try to buy everything organic, especially for juices: A glass of pesticides isn’t too appealing, is it?

1 or 2 sprigs of parsley

handful dark leafy greens (spinach, a stalk of kale, or swiss chard are great—I think I used bok choy here?)

1/2 lemon, peeled

thumbnail-sized knob of ginger

1 cucumber

3-4 stalks of celery

1 medium-sized carrot (I used 1/2 a large)

Directions:

Juice all ingredients in the order listed. If you have a centrifugal juicer, drink within fifteen minutes so that your greens don’t oxidize and lose nutrient value. If you have a masticating juicer, you’re okay for a day or two. Drink your juice slowly, and try to “chew” if you can—it may sound and even look funny, but it helps get your digestive juices going, signalling your body that it’s got some incredibly nutrients coming its way and it might as well prepare itself for full absorption!

You can use your leftover juice pulp to make an omelette, separate out the carrot pulp to make raw cupcakes (!), or make veggie pulp crackers. Feel like a superhero, and enjoy the rest of you day. ❤