There’s just something so remarkably fresh about them that makes me happy. At one of my old jobs, I had to make spring rolls on a relatively regular basis. During that time, I could crank out hundreds of those little guys. I would be tired, with a sore back and cross-eyed when I was done. But that didn’t deter me from eating the scraps or messed-up rolls. Ah, the memories!
Here’s the deal with spring rolls, they are so delicious, but can be so annoying to make. Please, please don’t get mad if your first 2 or 10 look horrible. I promise you that they will still taste good. Just keep trying and soon you’ll be a professional “spring roller.”
Veggies abound in spring rolls and that makes them a fantastic, nutritious choice. They are the perfect vehicle for so many kinds of veggies too. You don’t have to stop at carrots and lettuce (like my version below), you can add peppers and jicama for example. Really, just be creative and have fun with them. But don’t forget the basil, mint and cilantro, they are the key to flavor and offer their own nutritive bonus too.
These are bean thread noodles.
Simple to make, just pull out of bag and plop in some water.
Watch them grow and feel them soften. Takes about 15 minutes and they’re done.
Get all of your ingredients together before rolling. Trust me on this one.
Look how yummy that is, even before you roll it!
Roll ’em up! And don’t worry what they look like, ok?
Refreshing and satisfying, these spring rolls are a perfect for an appetizer or light lunch.
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons water
1/3 package bean thread noodles, prepared according to package directions
5 small lettuce leaves (Bibb or baby green or red leaf lettuce)
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup mint leaves
1/3 cup basil leaves
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
5 each spring roll skins/wrappers
Combine the lime juice, honey, soy sauce, crushed red pepper and water in a small saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Toss 1-2 teaspoons of the dipping sauce with the prepared bean thread noodles.
Prepare a large bowl of warm water for softening the spring roll skins and lay out all of the filling ingredients; the lettuce, carrots, peanuts, mint, basil and cilantro.
Remove 1 spring roll skin from the package and gently submerge in the bowl of warm water. Gently swish until spring roll skin becomes loose and flexible. Carefully remove it from the water and place on a clean kitchen countertop. Place one lettuce leaf on the bottom and then top with some noodles, carrots, peanuts and herbs. Take one edge and fold over to meet the other edge, then pull back on the fillings (like you’re making a burrito) until tight. Then fold in the sides and continue rolling the spring roll until sealed. (If you break the skin, just get another one and try again! If you can’t roll it, don’t worry about it. Just place everything in the middle and fold it up. I promise it will taste the same!)
Slice rolls in half, if desired and serve with dipping sauce.
Why? Because they are awesome for you nutritionally (high in fiber, plenty of amazing vitamins and minerals, vegetarian protein, etc) and they taste great so many different ways.
Think I’m just pulling a crazy dietitian stunt on you?
No way! I love tasty food just as much, if not more, than you do. I would never recommend a food that I didn’t deem “tasty.” Now way!
But why chickpeas Sara?
Chickpeas are the underdog in the bean world seeming to only really be appreciated for their necessity in making hummus. Boo to that I say! Chickpeas belong front and center and here’s just the dish that does that.
Meet my Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing!
This salad is booming with flavor and it’s not only craveable, it’s addicting. Nothing beats lots of fresh parsley and lemon and when you add in creamy tahini, you’ve got a dressing that really shines.
So here you go my friends, my Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing!
A refreshing, yet hearty salad made with chickpeas, bell peppers, parsley all tossed in a tangy lemon-tahini dressing.
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 red or orange bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1cup)
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup parsley, chopped
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
In the bottom of a mixing bowl whisk together the garlic, tahini, lemon juice and honey. Add the olive oil and continue whisking until combined, then add the water. Toss in the chickpeas, bell pepper, red onion and parsley and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
It’s a fun word. Say it. Seriously, say it out loud. Super fun, right?
Fun and popular, cacao sure is sitting pretty these days. It’s trendy and it’s hip…even though it’s really nothing new.
Nope, cacao has been around for awhile. Never heard of it? Sure you have, it’s also known as cocoa, the more modern-ish term we typically use here in America. Cacao (and cocoa) refers to the dried beans from the cocoa tree. Generally, cacao is synonymous with the unroasted or raw version of the cocao bean, with cocoa being the roasted and sometimes more processed cacao bean. Cacao can be turned into everything from “nibs”( essentially broken pieces of cacao beans) to powder.
If cacao isn’t new, then why this surge in popularity? Well my guess it’s because people are looking for all kinds of ways to add a nutritious boost to their smoothie bowls, oatmeal, shakes and everything in between. Cacao is a good choice then as it’s got a pretty nice nutrition profile, containing several antioxidants and minerals like magnesium and iron. But like anything, enjoy in moderation.
Looking to try cacao beans? Then try my recipe below for Cacao Pretzel Snacks. They are super easy to make and provide a nice introduction to cacao.
And a big thank you to the Recipe Redux! This recipe was inspired by this month’s theme of building a recipe using an ingredient I’ve never used before.
This month’s theme was to find a cookbook and “Redux” the recipe on page 54 or page 154. “Alrighty then…let’s see how this goes”, I thought to myself as I eagerly reached for Jackie Newgent’s new cookbook, The All Natural Diabetes Cookbook (the night before my “Redux” was due)! “Please Jackie, please let page 54 hold a recipe that I have most of the ingredients for…and let it be a breakfast dish!” I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I turned to page 54, because there, on that beautiful page was not only a good recipe, but a GREAT recipe! Her Homemade Granola-Raspberry Parfaits! If she would’ve been here, I would’ve given her a huge hug. Success!
You’ll wonder why you’ve never made tomatillo salsa before…
I know, you’re doubting me when I say that, right? Why make it when you can buy a perfectly decent canned version? Hear me out! Besides being fun to play with (I mean, how awesome are those papery skins they come in?), tomatillos are a breeze to work with. And I have to say, fresh tomatillo salsa is darn good! I mean, really good. So good you’ll want to add it to everything you make. From scrambled eggs to chicken salad, it’ll be your new favorite condiment!
There was this time a few weeks ago when I really thought I had it together and then, poof, it all collapsed.
I felt great, I had this fantastic veggie burger recipe all queued up and then, life hit me. Not a literal punch in the face, more of like a “hey, stop biting off more than you can chew!” kind of way. Hence, the delayed post and hence why I have yet to update and face-lift my little blog here. But you’re here and I’m here now, so let’s celebrate that little victory, shall we?
Looking to use up that dried fruit or last teensy bit of nuts tucked away in your pantry? Well, then I have a recipe for you! Spare the lives of those tasty treats by using them in my Kitchen Sink Applesauce Bread.
It’s getting personal here. I love nuts. Yes, I do. So you can just imagine the absolute joy I experienced when I saw that the theme for this month’s Recipe Redux was nuts. “What!? Really?” I’m pretty sure I gasped that exact sentence when I read the good news. Then, just excitement…what was I going to make to celebrate my love for nuts? Immediately, I went to my new obsession (yes, I have a new one now, pumpkin has taken 2nd place), butternut squash. Just what could I do with that?
Oh yes, yes, I’ve got it, Butternut Squash with Brown Sugar Roasted Pecans!
Um, it’s pure heaven. Because who doesn’t love roasted, sweet butternut squash? And who doesn’t adore candied pecans or tangy feta cheese? Right? And so, how about I put all of those together? Um, ok, done! This one is really good people…it got two thumbs up around here in my house and I have to say that I’ve been going back to my fridge multiple time for big, heaping spoonfuls. Pair it with a roasted chicken or turkey or add it to a salad made with dark greens. And just a word of advice, you’ll want to make a double batch.
The Picture Montage Honoring The Fabulous Butternut Squash with Brown Sugar Roasted Pecans
A side dish that will make everyone happy. Roasted butternut squash is paired with lightly candied pecans then tossed with fresh thyme and feta cheese.
For the pecans
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea or Kosher salt
1/2 cup whole pecans
For the squash
1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Preheat the oven the 400’F and line one large sheet pan with foil or parchment paper and one small sheet pan with foil or parchment paper. Spray both with non-stick cooking spray.
For the pecans
To a medium pot, add the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the cinnamon and salt and then the pecans. Cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute or until mixture has thickened and pecans appear coated. Spread the the pecans out onto the small sheet pan and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
To cook the squash
Place the cubed squash in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread the squash out in an even layer onto the prepared, large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and lightly brown, about 30-35 minutes.
Transfer roasted squash back to the mixing bowl. Roughly chop the pecans and add to the squash along with the thyme and feta cheese. Toss to combine and serve.
This recipe makes about 2 cups squash. About a 1/2 cup serving each for four people.