Cozy Kabocha Cake

There’s definitely some things I miss about home.

Steamy, luxurious baths not shared with dozens of other naked bodies. Warm, or just not ice-cold water in bathroom taps. Having an oven.

But one nice thing about living abroad is that you can really join with a community wherever you are—and here in Korea, we’re lucky to share our experience with plenty of other foreign teachers, including a considerable clan of friendly Canucks. And some are even kind enough to let you come over and play with their oven.

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Earlier this week, I posted a photo on Facebook of a “mystery” Korean ingredient I’d been playing around with in the kitchen (and have continued to do so all week!). The best guess was butternut squash… and it was quite close!

This stuff, my friends, is actually pure Kabocha flour—dried, ground kabocha squash, full of beautiful beta-carotenes and vibrant colour. Kabocha squash tastes kinda like a sweet potato-butternut squash-pumpkin smash-up. The sweet and starchy squash is quite popular over here—it’s a common topping for pizza, often found in tempura, or served as a mashed veggie side. In the fall the grocery stores sell them in bulk, and in restaurants they’re usually served with skins intact, something I found quite strange at first until I realized the skin is edible, too. Hello, bonus nutrients!

The flour, which I picked up in the baking section of HomePlus was the special, nay, magical, ingredient in this sunshine-shaded cake.

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And oh, the joys, oh, the solace, of an incredible—albeit out-of-season—baked treat, a taste of comfort served alongside a steaming cup of coffee. I think if I close my eyes and click my heels a few times I really might be home…

IMG_4372Chocolate-Chunk Kabocha Cake (vegan)

Adapted from Alien’s Day Out (also available to order in muffin form from her amazing vegan bakeshop!)

Makes one standard loaf or two small-sized loaves

Dry ingredients:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup kabocha flour (or pumpkin powder)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Wet ingredients:

7/8 cup water

2/3 cup sugar (I used cane sugar)

1/4 cup grape seed oil

1 tbsp brown rice vinegar

Add-Ins

dark chocolate bar chopped coarsely

1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F or 175C and grease your bread pan with coconut oil.

Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold until combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks and walnuts (or whatever other add-ins you prefer).

Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth out with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick or fork comes out clean. Remove from oven and let the bread sit in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool on a cooling rack.

Proceed to gobble the entire loaf (among friends…) in two days and don’t feel sorry.

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Cool Eats, Cool Treats, Treat your Body Right! (With a Secret Ingredient)

He Toronto, remember yesterday, when we broke yet another heat record, hitting above 36 degrees with a humidex of UNREAL?

Call me crazy, ’cause I love it. Or maybe I just eat a high-raw diet that is very cooling and keeps my internal temperatures on the low. (Last week, I ate a full fried Chinese meal for lunch and I swear I might have died.)

It’s a great excuse to eat delicious creamy ice pops.

Oops. Ate that one before I could grab a photo. Guess I’ll have to have another…

That’s more like it.

Avocados unfortunately are not much of a farmer’s market fruit in Canada, but they’re a pretty essential and awesome addition to a mostly vegan diet. Great healthy fats, helping to nourish your skin and keep your hair healthy. Who needs moisturiser anyway? Plus it’s anti-inflammatory, making for excellent post-workout recovery fuel. Or for life-recovery too. Good fats are happy brain food, peoples!

Avocados are on the Clean 15 so I rarely worry about buying them organic, budget considered. So when NoFrills puts them on sale for five gloriously ripe ovals of splendidness for just $2.98, I usually buy a bag. Or two.

Avocados are my favourite food group. When you buy them in packs of five, that’s considered a group. Right? Right.

Get your fix here, combined with some ancient antioxidant goodness.

** revision 12:30 pm E.T.

oh lordy me, I forgots to add my *secret* ingredient!! Spirulina, a dark green algae, is a source of complete protein as well as a whack of other vitamins. It kinda smells like wet dog, but get over it, cause not only is it green (and adds a great depth of colour to the popsicles) but it will make your body into a mean fighting machine. 🙂 Add as much of it as you can handle!

This is my submission to Grillin’ and Chillin’.

Superpowered Green Tea Creamsicles (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)

Adapted from Munchin with Munckin

Ingredients:

3 ripe avocados, pitted

1 can coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp matcha green tea powder

1 tbsp spirulina (or more, if you can handle it!)

1/3 cup agave syrup (or to taste, I like this recipe on the sweeter side)

Directions:

In a food processor and process avocados and coconut milk until smooth. Process the remaining ingredients till the colour and texture are uniform. Pour into popsicle moulds (I got mine at Loblaws for $2) and freeze overnight. Should make about 10 popsicles. (I had leftovers after filling the above mould. You can guess what I did with that.) And if you wanted to add blueberries that would probably taste really awesome too. Happy lickin’!

UnClassic Chocolate Chip Cookies: Two Ways

From when I was a little kid until when I was coming home from university, my mom had just one baking rule:

(for the record, that’s homemade almond milk)

No making cookies when children are present.

She’s not a greedy mum who wanted to eat all the cookies before we got home.

It’s not that she didn’t want us distracting her so that she’d forget the cookies in the oven.

It”s ’cause she knew if we were around, there wouldn’t be any cookies come out of the oven. D-oh.

We ate ’em all before they even went in.

Thankfully I never got samonella poisoning from the hundreds of raw eggs I must have consumed, and even MORE thankfully… there’s a kinda healthy, egg-free way to make some classic cookies.

And the best part?

The dough’s good to go.

(Not to mention packed with fibre and protein from the secret ingredient—good ol’ garbanzo beans, a.k.a. chickpeas.) But most importantly, you can eat it without risking dying. Even though I am, on certain occasion, willing to take that risk.

Chocolate Chip-pea Cookies (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)

(inspired by Oh She Glows, adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie)

Ingredients:

1.5 cups chickpeas

1/4 cup nut butter (I used almond butter)

1/4 cup oats

1/3 cup agave or maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chocolate chips or carob chips

Directions:

Blend all ingredients except chocolate chips at high speed in a food processor until very smooth (trust me, you don’t want any giveaway chunks in this recipe), then stir in the chocolate chips. Eat as is, scooped over ice cream, or served with graham crackers, OR…

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use an ice cream scoop to shape dough into small balls and place on parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Yum!