Friday, February 3, 2012

Friends of HKS: Guest Blogger Series

Lala is a yoga-stoned gypsy, writer, eternal food nerd, nature lover and Bikram yoga teacher
 living right here in the big busy city of Toronto.

 When Amelia asked if I could guest post on the sisters' blog, I thought, awesome!  I was excited, I figured it would be what I need to get back into writing about food, with all the glorious pictures and recipes after taking a break for so long.  And I get to virtually hang out in her blog-kitchen.

But then it hit me.  I had to write about food, with all the pictures and recipes.  My break was now over. 
Before I go on, I suppose I should share a little bit about me.  I love food.  Not in an obsessively unhealthy way, but a true, deep love that has been with me right from the start.  The history, the traditions, the purpose of dishes that we all grew up with, discovering new things, digging up old family recipes, travelling to far away lands and getting to know the culture through their food, creating something from scratch, the patience it takes to bake a pie, and even the tedious job of dicing onions and mincing garlic are all adventurous to me.

Aside from loving food, I also have other great loves.  Yoga coming a close second.  As images of stereotypical yogis flash before your eyes, I'm happy to admit that I am far from the traditional yogi (whatever that even means).  I eat meat, lots of it.  I wear leather.   And black.  I swear like a sailor.  I'm sarcastic.  And I will not ask my students to open their heart up to the sky in my classes.  I just can't do it.  
My yoga of choice is Bikram yoga.  In fact, I love it so much that I signed my life away to become a teacher, enduring weeks and weeks of sleep deprived days filled with tons of yoga (yay), lectures (sometimes yay), and sweaty laundry (not so yay).  

While away from home and no access to my humble kitchen, I had to figure out creative ways to continue my standard of eating.  As in, good, clean food that I enjoy and that my body also enjoys.  We didn't have much time to ourselves nor equipment for anything beyond a tuna sandwich.  So...I became a wee bit preoccupied - ok, obsessed, about cooking with next to nothing that I created a giant list of foods that one can make without a stove, an oven, or at times, fridge space.  

Yes, I told you I loved food.  I made a list.

I am Asian, and we almost always have a sauce to accompany most dishes, so of course, this spills over to any food I make.  One of my favourite yet simplest ways to add flavour into food was with fresh chutneys, preserves, and sauces.  Some call them pestos, pickles, etc.  Many of them can be made without needing to be cooked, so packed a few recipes up along with my yoga shorts. 
My two favourite sauces/pestos are made with cilantro and kale.  So much flavour and yet, they're so easy!  While in training, I would make a small batch in my tiny blender to last a couple of days and we would add them in soups, stews, sandwiches, you name it.  They're dairy-free, gluten free, raw, and vegan too if you're into that stuff.
The base (for me) for pestos/chutney always include acid, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Then you can add anything.  If I want a little bit more heartiness to them, I add some cashews into the mix or any nut that will bind the ingredients.  Pine nuts are the price of a diamond ring so I rarely use them.

Here are my two go-to recipes that I eat far too much of.  I don't use measurements, so don't be afraid to experiment.  These are guidelines only.

Cilantro Chutney

1 bunch of cilantro
2-3 shallots or half a small onion
4 cloves of garlic
juice of 1 lime
olive oil
ground black pepper
Thai chilies (optional)

Combine everything in a food processor until desired consistency, adding oil as needed.  

**Goes well with mayonnaise to add to sandwiches.  Mix with yogurt for a delicious dip.  Add to diced tomatoes for a fresh salsa.  Freeze into ice cube trays to add to soups, stews, and curries.  Fantastic with bread and awesome with grilled meats.  Flavourful marinade too.

**Mash with avocadoes with extra lime for a kick ass guacamole.  
Kale Pesto

1 cup kale (stems included)
3 garlic cloves
juice of 1/2 lemon
olive oil
ground black pepper

Combine everything in a food processor until desired consistency, adding oil as needed.

**Goes well with pasta, bread, and fresh salads.  Actually, it just goes well with everything!  I'm addicted to this stuff!!
Thanks to Amelia and Laura, for getting me out of my food-writing rut and hosting me on the 
Harvest Kitchen Sisters.  
Hope to see you in yoga one day!  

To read more from Lala, you can find her over on her blog.  


  1. These recipes look amazing!

    The cilantro chutney is something I would put on absolutely everything, definitely, without question.

    I also see you're still making those little corn patties, heaven.

    I still remember the day that you and I went to that a bikram yoga class, like three years ago, and I remember actually thinking I was going to die. It was so hot and so challenging that I couldn't imagine why people would ever do it! And then after I left, I had this glow and this energy that was the most remarkable feeling and I got it. I do the much easier ashtanga yoga now but still, I understand the addiction to it and the loyalty of those who practise it. It really is an amazing workout.

    Thanks again L for guest blogging. It was lovely from beginning to end.


  2. Great post, Lala. I'll be visiting this site often.

  3. hahaha! oh, i remember that day quite clearly. wasn't it at that creepy looking studio with the old man? LOL!

    yes, those little patties of heaven. sigh, i could eat those everyday if i could. remember the potato-avocado salad we took to a picnic? hahaha oh to be so young again.

    marzz, yes, do come and visit the sisters' blog. they have good recipes, including the first pie that i ever baked!

  4. You are a bad ass yoga teacher in love with good food! I love it!!
    Great Post/pictures...that sandwich looks like does the corn pattie thing...I heart cilantro/chilies in a big way so that chutney looks amazingly fresh and tasty. I have kale- I should also try that pesto. I am officially drooling... Thanks so much for posting with us.



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