Tag Archives: healthy

Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls

Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls
Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls

There is nothing I like better than making and eating fresh spring rolls.  They are tasty, they are healthy, they have delightful textures AND they are portable.  But what I really, really, absolutely LOVE (as in a twirl my dress and spin around kind of giddiness-love) is the peanut dipping sauce.  I could eat it by the bucketful.  To tell you the truth, the spring rolls for me are sort of a Peanut Sauce delivery system. I have been known to eat the peanut sauce on ice cream (try it, you will love it, I promise), with apples and pears, even bananas.  Sometimes, if I think nobody is watching, I will lick my plate of any residual peanut sauce (don’t judge me).  It is my “green eggs and ham”

Let’s start with the recipe for the sauce:

peanut sauce

Mix in ingredients into the oil and garlic/ginger saute.



Peanut Dipping Sauce

1 tbsp canola oil

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

½ inch piece of ginger grated

OR just one tablespoon of ginger garlic paste you’ve blended together

5 tbsp water or chicken broth—may add more as needed

5 tbsp hoisin sauce

½ cup peanut butter

1 tbsp Sirarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek

1 tbsp Palm sugar or brown sugar (Palm sugar adds a wonderful depth of flavor that is not to be missed)

Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in the hoisin sauce and water or broth and stir for a minute or two. Next add the peanut butter, Sriarcha or Sambal Oelek and Palm sugar and stir until well blended and sugar dissolves. Add additional water if needed. Sauce should be smooth but thick. Take off heat and top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai chili if desired or more Sambal Oelek.

To make this sauce Vegan or soy free:

1 Tbsp canola oil

2 cloves garlic

¼ inch piece of ginger grated

5 tbsp vegetable broth or stock

½ tsp salt

½ cup peanut butter

2 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tbsp Sriarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek

1 Tbsp Palm Sugar

3– 4 tbsp of water

Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in all the remaining ingredients except for the water. Stir until well blended and heated through. Add the water (more or less depending on consistency). Sauce should be slightly thick and smooth. Top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai Chillis if desired.

rice paper

Choose the size of rice paper you like (bigger is easier to work with)


Rice paper

Dip the rice paper into warm tap water and turn to get it wet

Glass noodles

soak the rice stick noodles in water to soften (10 minutes)


Get all veggies ready to begin rolling




Slice shrimp into halves (they nestle nicely in the roll)




spring rolls

Place veggies 1/3 of the way into paper and tuck in



Vietnamese Spring roll

Tuck in the edges before the next revolution


Spring roll

Place shrimp cut side up and tucked along the edges


vietnamese spring rolls

The shrimp shows through the paper

spring rolls and sauce

Enjoy with the peanut sauce


spring rolls and sauce

Peanut sauce delivery system


Vietnamese spring roll

Spring Rolls

Rice spring roll paper (12 sheets)

Warm tap water (several cups in a bowl to soften rice paper)

Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced

Cabbage, shredded

1/3 package of thin rice vermicelli noodles, cooked

cucumbers, thinly sliced horizontally

1 Shredded carrot

1 cup bean sprouts

twelve pieces of long chives

handful of Cilantro

handful of fresh mint (peppermint variety – found in Asian markets)

Cooked shrimp, deveined and sliced in half

Or you can use Chinese style BBQ pork (Char Shu)

Or chicken

Or use only vegetables without any proteins


Thoroughly wash all the vegetables and prepare them as listed above. Soak the rice vermicelli noodles for 6 to 10 minutes in hot water then rinse them under cool tap water. I buy the pre cooked shrimp that’s already deveined and cleaned and then slice them in half (usually at Costco). I also buy all my produce at the Asian Market because they are a LOT cheaper.

There are a million brands of rice paper. Choose the cheapest one. They are pretty much the same.

Dip the paper in warm water, turning it in a circle as you dip and gently press in the middle to get the whole paper wet. Avoid sticking the whole paper in a bowl and letting it float around. It just needs to get wet – not soaking wet. Gently shake off excess water and place the sheet on a cutting board or plate in front of you. On the top third of the paper closest to you, place a small bundle of romaine lettuce and cabbage, next put the vermicelli noodles on top followed by the carrots, sprouts, cucumber, a few leaves of mint, one frond of chives and two small leaves of cilantro. Fold the paper closest to you over the vegetables and tuck tightly under. Once you’ve rolled one revolution, tuck the left and right side into the roll. There should be some paper still left in the front, place the shrimp cut side facing up (like inverted “u”) next to the roll and finish rolling up the spring roll. You should be able to see the Shrimp from the outside . Serve with peanut dipping sauce. Serve at room temperature. Avoid making ahead and refrigerating since the rice paper dries out or gets too soggy. If you must take it somewhere to eat/serve it, wrap each roll in plastic wrap so they do not stick to each other and serve within 2-3 hours.


Hummus – quick and tasty

Hummus – quick and tasty
Hummus – quick and tasty

Hummus has been around for a long, long time. It was the ultimate “fast” food that was easy to carry. When Bedouin tribes traveled with their herds from place to place, carrying dried grains that were ground up was a lightweight and economical option. It also was a great source of protein. I am so glad that it has become one of the “in” foods. High in protein, good quality monounsaturated fats and delightful flavor…what’s not to like? Here’s a fast, easy and very budget friendly version.
What makes it especially economical is the use of whole sesame seeds instead of Tahini in a jar. Tahini is a paste made of sesame seeds that adds tremendous flavor to this dish and It’s rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron, not to mention essential amino acid Methionine, which aids in liver detoxification. It is also high in Vitamin E and a host of B vitamins and calcium. It’s the ultimate brain food.

Ingredients:  good quality olive oil, garbanzo beans, fresh garlic cloves and lemon

Ingredients: good quality olive oil, garbanzo beans, fresh garlic cloves and lemon

Use sesame seeds instead of tahini paste

Use sesame seeds instead of tahini paste

Drizzle a little olive oil before serving

Drizzle a little olive oil before serving

So let’s get to the recipe.

2 cans (15 oz) of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
juice of half a large lemon
2 cloves of fresh garlic, roughly chopped
kosher salt to taste
1/2 cup good quality olive oil

In a food processor, dump in the garbanzo beans and pulse a few times. Add the sesame seeds (you pulse the garbanzo beans first so the sesame seeds don’t fall to the bottom of the processor) and garlic and pulse 3 or 4 times. Add in lemon juice and turn on the food processor. As the processor is doing its work, begin to drizzle in the olive oil through the lid opening until the mixture begins to get nice and smooth. Add salt to taste and pulse a few times. Pour into a bowl and drizzle a bit more good quality olive oil. Serve with Pita bread, vegetable strips or Pita chips and enjoy. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Serving size 1/2 cup. Cost per serving 48 cents.

Romancing the Granola

Romancing the Granola

I kind of have a soft spot for Granola.  You see, I had just stuffed my mouth full of some yogurt and granola in the university dining room.  I had misjudged how much my mouth could handle and the extreme chewiness of the granola so I was trying desperately to gnaw my way through like a chipmunk….when I saw HIM.  He had hazel eyes and long eye lashes and was wearing a dark green sweater.   It’s funny the memories that come up with certain smells, sounds or foods.  As I was getting all the ingredients together for this granola for Onjoli and I to have with our yogurt or just as a cereal, I was grinning to myself and thinking about that first “meeting”.  The best part of that encounter was what happened a few minutes later.  I finally gulped down the granola and decided that I should make myself memorable.  Earlier that week I had learned the English word “saunter” (I was trying to improve my English by learning and using new words everyday).  I understood “saunter” to be sort of like a supermodel walk down the catwalk.  Not accurate, but hey, I was 17 years old.  In my head I planned to “saunter” past this hunk of manhood in my female glory so he’d be amazed and wonder “who was that gorgeous woman?”  I was so busy “sauntering” that I ran into one of the closed doors of the cafeteria.  I mean a serious face plant on the door.

The plan did work, he did notice me, just not exactly in the way I was planning.  Something must have worked, because that was 28 years ago.  Next week we will celebrate 26 years of marriage!

I was inspired by the awesome Chef Connie and her recipe for granola (she has a great blog!).  The granola turned out fantastic and I know that each time I take a bite, I’ll smile just a bit.  Do you have food that brings back a flood of memories?  I’d love to hear it!

Mix the dry ingredients, spices and brown sugar together

Heat together the applesauce, maple syrup, honey and oil

Add the heated “sauce” to the dry mixture

Add the heated “sauce” to the dry mixture

Spread on a cookie sheet to bake making sure to stir every 10 minutes to keep it evenly browned

Chop up the dried fruits

Add dried fruit to cooked granola while it’s still warm and mix well

Delicious Granola

5 cups rolled oats

1 cup pecans, rough chopped

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup raw peanuts, rough chopped

1 cup sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted

1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of any type of dried fruit you like—I used dates, apricots and dried cherries

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp sea or kosher salt

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp oil

Mix all the nuts, oats and seeds together (reserve the dried fruit for later) in a large pan or big bowl.  Add the spices, brown sugar and salt.   In a saucepan mix the applesauce, honey, maple syrup and oil and heat all the way through.  Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.  Spread the mixture evenly on a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet in a pre-heated 350° oven.  Cook for 40-45 minutes but make sure and stir it every 10 minutes to brown it evenly.  Remove from oven and add in the dried fruits and mix well.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Quinoa Kitchuri

Quinoa Kitchuri

When I am tired and hungry, I am sorry to say I get a little cranky (my family would say a lot cranky).  We had a really long week and last night all I wanted to do was relax and hangout, maybe even go to bed early…..but I was hungry.  I was not going to eat cereal or a salad.  I wanted something warm and delicious and someone else to maybe cook it for me or bring it to me and maybe fan me whilst I ate.  Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. Since I didn’t feel like chopping a bunch of stuff and I had some Quinoa on hand, I decided to make a Kitchuri out of it.  Kitchuri is a pretty traditional Bengali dish and I blogged about it a few weeks ago.  I wanted to make an even easier version out of Quinoa.  Because Quinoa is technically a seed and not a grain, it contains a lot of protein and that meant I could be even lazier and not have to make something else to go with it to make it into a complete protein.  If you want to learn all about Quinoa, check out one of my favorite dietitian bloggers, Nadia and her latest post here.

The only chopping I had to do was 2 tablespoons of Cilantro.  I could handle that.  It was tasty, it was quick and it was delicious.  Wins my vote for the relief of crankiness!

Use about 1 cup of quinoa (it doubles roughly in size when cooked)

Dry roast the cashews and the sesame seeds

Add 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan and heat up the cumin seeds and black mustard

Stir fry the quinoa and all the ingredients together, adding the lemon juice, zest and cilantro at the very end.

It's delicious!


Here’s the recipe:

Quinoa Kitchuri

1 cup Quinoa (I used the brown and not the red)

2 cups water

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp black mustard seed

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 green chili, seeded and sliced length ways

1/3 cup raw cashews

2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds

1/2 cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons oil

1 lemon

2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

pinch of salt to taste

Wash and rinse the Quinoa.  Let it soak for about 10-15 minutes before boiling in 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt until all the water is absorbed.  Take off heat and fluff with a fork.  In a larger skillet dry roast the cashews and sesame seeds until nice and golden.  Should only take about a minute or two.  Take out of the pan and set aside.  Add oil to the pan and when it’s hot, add the cumin seeds and black mustard stir fry for a few seconds or until the seeds start jumping around.  Add the peas, green chili and the quinoa and stir fry for about a couple of minutes.  Add the cashews, sesame seeds and turmeric along with any additional salt if needed and stir fry until the turmeric is incorporated and the quinoa is a nice light golden-yellow color.   Zest the lemon over the quinoa and add about a tablespoon of lemon juice and the chopped cilantro.  Toss and serve.  It’s delicious!

Drink Up! Spiced Mango Lassi

Drink Up! Spiced Mango Lassi

HMMMMM.  Mango Lassi, so tasty and so good for you (gluten-free, low fat and everything!).  Growing up when the summers were super hot and the Mangoes were ripe, it was a perfect combination for enjoying this refreshing drink.  The local yogurt was tart and the Mangoes sweet and my mom would add some spices to make the mixture just right.  We never got a big glass to drink.  It was always too small and we drank it slowly to make it last, tilting the glass all the way up and getting a Mango Lassi Moustache in the process.  I still love how it makes me feel just to take a long sip. And I still try to make my glass of Mango Lassi last, kind of like the last day of summer!

The cast of characters: Yogurt (I like Greek), Mangoes, Cardamom, Cloves and Cinnamon sticks, sugar

Make a spiced simple syrup by boiling water, sugar and the spices

Strain the spices and pour syrup into a little mason jar - this stuff is so wonderful, great for ice teas, regular teas....

To cut up the Mangoes: flip the skin down to pop the mango cubes "up"

Cut the cubes from the skin

Blend Ice, Mangoes, Yogurt and spicy simple syrup together

Serve immediately

Sip slowly and make it last

Here’s the recipe:

Spiced Mango Lassi

2 ripe Mangoes, cubed

1 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I like Greek yogurt, but it will make it more tart)

5-6 ice cubes

2-3 tablespoons of the Simple Syrup with spices (you can add more or less, it’s up to you)

Simple Syrup with spices

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 sticks of Cinnamon

5 whole cloves

5-6 Green Cardamom pods, crushed (use skins and seeds for the syrup)

To make the syrup:

Place water, sugar and spices in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Boil a minute or so until all the sugar is dissolved and the spices release their aromas.  Strain the syrup and pour into a glass mason jar to store.  This syrup is fantastic.  I not only use it for this recipe but for making Peach ice tea, Ginger Peach Ice tea,  or just adding a little to my regular hot tea.  It’s a wonderful addition to keep in the fridge.  If you’d prefer not to use any processed sugar, you can make simple syrup with honey, just add a little lemon juice to the mixture to keep it from crystallizing.

To make the Lassi:

In a blender put the ice in first, then add yogurt, Mangoes and the simple syrup.  Blend for a few minutes until smooth and serve immediately!

Dinner part two – Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna in Sweet Soy Garlic Ginger Sauce

Dinner part two – Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna in Sweet Soy Garlic Ginger Sauce

I made the Mango and roasted corn salad last night which was so fresh and wonderful tasting and made some Yellow Fin Tuna to go with it.  The Tuna turned out pretty great but my husband, Grantley, was not a fan.  He does not like anything that has a pink middle.  It has to be cooked to the death.  I refuse to cook Sushi-Grade fish all the way through because then you might as well eat it out of a can.  So we compromised and I made him another protein to eat with his salad.  But I thoroughly enjoyed my fish.  I thought you might like it too.

Whisk up the dressing and marinate the fish

Grill on a medium high grill to get a nice sear

Serve over a refreshing salad

Dinner was delicious!

Here’s the recipe:

Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna in Sweet Soy Garlic Ginger Sauce

2 pieces of sushi-grade Yellow Fin Tuna (about 3 ounces each)

1 tablespoon Sweet Soy Sauce (Kecap Manis, see Nasi Goreng recipe for pictures and explanation)

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

1/2 inch of fresh ginger grated

1/2 tsp Shiracha Chili sauce

Whisk all the sauce ingredients together and marinate the fish for about 30 minutes to 1 hour in the fridge.  Heat a grill to medium high heat and cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until nicely seared.  Serve with Mango and roasted corn salad