Fresh Spring Rolls

Prepare to fall in love with fresh spring rolls. Spring rolls are easy to make, but there is a certain amount of prep work involved – you’ll need time. Don’t worry, it won’t change your feelings for them. A variation of traditional Thai salad rolls, this recipe utilizes ingredients in my pantry and garden. You can vary the ingredients and amounts according to taste.

fresh spring rolls fresh spring rolls

Fresh Spring Rolls

1/2 cucumber julienned
1/2 cake tofu (baked and sliced into strips)
1 cup spinach leaves
10 or more basil leaves
2-3 cups cooked rice sticks (Bihon)
1/2 sliced avocado
chopped sautéed garlic (optional)
10 rice paper rounds (Banh Trang 22cm)
hot water

Place hot water in a bowl large enough to accommodate the rice paper. Quickly dip the rice paper, for about 10 seconds, and place it on a large cutting board. It should be throughly wet but stiff. Don’t worry it will soften as you proceed.

Take about 1/8 of cup noodles (or more to taste), a few pieces of cucumber, 1 slice of tofu, a few spinach leaves, 1 or 2 basil leaves, a sliver of avocado, and a sprinkling of garlic, if using. Place ingredients on the rice paper. Roll.

Here is a helpful video showing you how to roll the fresh spring rolls.

The spring rolls can be eaten with any type of sauce from Thai peanut sauce to plain soy sauce. It’s especially delicious with coconut aminos.

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My First Dietary Cleanse


I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when my friend and health coach Julie Viellieu suggested that I take a four day cleanse.  A bout of inactivity due to a new job, not only slowed me down but changed how I was eating on a daily basis; I cooked and exercised less and it didn’t feel good.

A cleanse is like a dietary do-over.  It gives your digestive system an opportunity to heal. There are many cleanses out there claiming to do everything from promote weight loss to balancing chakras. I don’t know what a chakra is but I did like the idea of detoxifying my gut and maybe losing a couple of pounds along the way. Julie assured me that weight loss was not the main by product of  this cleanse. She was right, it was so much more.

After four day of cleanse, I benefited in the following ways:

  • I didn’t crave sugar
  • I didn’t feel hungry between meals
  • I slept better
  • I was hydrated
  • I lost a couple of pounds (again not the goal, but still nice)

I’m not going to recreate the cleanse here but you can visit Julie’s video blog for a peek into Day 1 instructions. I reconnected with how my body relates to food and that information is invaluable in moving forward with my health goals.  Short of obvious unhealthy habits like eating cake everyday, I believe most of us are unaware of the affect our food choices have on our bodies. A cleanse is an excellent way to begin new healthy habits.

I’ll leave you with Julie Viellieu’s yummy recipe for kitchari.

1 cup uncooked split yellow mung beans
1/2 cup white basmati rice uncooked
1 Tbsp fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt
8 cups of water
Fresh Cilantro

Wash the split yellow mung beans and rice together until water runs clear. Heat a large pot on medium heat and add all spices (except bay leaves) and dry roast for a few minutes. Add mung beans and rice and stir again. Add water and bay leaves and fresh ginger root, bring to boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn heat to low, cover and cook until beans become soft (approx. 30 minutes). Add salt to taste.



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How to Roast a Chicken

Side-ChickenWEB ChickenLegWEB

Some believe roasted chicken comes with a handle. It does not.


Most people buy pre-roasted chicken because it’s convenient. There’s nothing wrong with convenience, but it just doesn’t taste very good. So, for the love, ditch the chicken with a handle and roast it at home!  It tastes better, contains less salt, and contributes to your overall popularity because all the cool kids are doing it.

The chicken recipe below existed as a newspaper clipping from 15 or so years ago. I don’t know where it came from anymore, but it works every time.

Note: Follow the recipe exactly. I’m talking to you ninja recipe warriors who are eager to wield formidable recipe enhancing skills. Don’t do it. Not this time. In particular, size is important. The chicken must weigh between 3-4 lbs. I went ninja once using a large chicken because I was serving more than four people. It doesn’t work. If you need more meat, make two chickens.

roasted chicken

Orange Roasted Chicken

3 to 4 pound whole chicken
1 – 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Pat it dry inside and out with paper towels.
  3. Rub salt over the entire chicken and in the cavity.
  4. Use your fingers to loosen the skin over the breast and legs. Set the chicken aside.
  5. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.
  6. Using your fingers, spread the orange juice mixture underneath the skin of the chicken, over the breast and legs. Reserve about 1 tablespoon of the mixture to spread on the outside of the chicken.
  7. Place the chicken on a roasting rack in a large pan.
  8. Roast the chicken in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  9. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and roast for another 15 minutes.
  10. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and continue to roast for 45 minutes.
  11. The chicken is finished when the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180 degrees.
  12. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Serves 4

Consume everything. Use leftover meat for chicken sandwiches and make soup from the bones.

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Heirloom Tomatoes: Monstrous Beauty


This summer, I planted heirloom tomatoes in place of grape tomatoes, exchanging dainty clusters of flawless red for heavy, rebellious orbs that pull at the plant as if in protest of the support it provides. As they matured, they developed thick lacerations and unsightly gouges which would have made me think they were dying if it weren’t for the similarly gnarled tomatoes I purchased from the farmer’s market last year.

I expected ugly. Happily, my homegrown heirloom tomatoes are hideous and edible.  When sliced, they release a luscious perfume of bright sunshine and moist soil.


Make the following tomato salad with the freshest, ugliest tomatoes you can find.

Tomato Salad

4 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoon white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything into a large bowl and stir. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour and serve.



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Salted Chocolate Cherry Cookies


Cookie dough is truly a blank canvas.  I paired chocolate and cherries with crispy toasted coconut and made my very own masterpieces! (yep, I said that)

Salted Chocolate Cherry Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups toasted shredded coconut*
3/4 cup dried cherries, chopped roughly
1 cup chocolate chips
Kosher salt

Beat the butter and shortening with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugars, beating well. Add eggs and extracts and beat well.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat well.

Stir in shredded coconut, cherries, and chocolate chips and mix. Cover and chill in the refrigerator (optional).

Drop heaping teaspoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle a few granules of Kosher salt on each bit of cookie dough (be light handed).

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes until the cookies are golden. After removing the cookies from the oven, let them rest for 1 minute before transferring them to a cooling rack.

*Place sweetened shredded coconut on a rimmed metal baking pan and toast in the oven at 350 degrees. Be sure to mix the coconut every few minutes to prevent burning. Let cool before adding to cookie dough.

Makes about 4 dozen

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The Only Avocado Toast Recipe You Need


Everyday for the past three weeks or so I’ve been eating avocado toast for breakfast and sometimes for lunch too. Like listening to a favorite song repeatedly, my food cravings tend to stick with me. This one has already lasted longer than the Great Falafel Infatuation of ’91. I want you to love avocado toast as much as I do, so don’t substitute any ingredients until you try it first as described below. You’re welcome.

How to Make Avocado Toast

  1. Pick a ripe avocado: It should be ripe but firm.
  2. Toast one Thomas’ English Muffin.
  3. Peel the avocado and smash it with a fork until it’s chunky.
  4. Spread the avocado on each half of the muffin.
  5. Sprinkle with a generous amount of red pepper flakes.
  6. Add pieces of thinly sliced cucumber on top.
  7. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  8. Bask in the joy of something so delicious you’ll eat it everyday for a week.
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Polar Vortex Special: Lentil Soup with Artichoke Hearts

lentil soup

I hate being cold, so this season’s subzero temperatures changed the way I experience winter; I hate it even more. Life in the polar vortex looks like this: Layered clothing is my new go-to outfit; I occasionally think about what it would be like to freeze to death; I know where all the blankets are; I make soup.

Lentil Soup with Artichoke Heart is super easy and adaptable to whatever ingredients you happen to have available. This version was made with boxed chicken broth, mature carrots, limp celery and an unfortunate onion.  I’ll risk frostbite for milk, eggs, or cake (okay, only cake) but rarely for soup veggies. To me, the only must-have ingredient here is the marinated artichoke heart. It gives the soup a subtle lemony flavor that I can’t do without. However, if you must, a teaspoon of lemon juice can be substituted for the artichoke. No lemon? It’s cold out there. Make something else.

Lentil Soup with Artichoke Hearts

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks of celery, sliced thin
3 carrots peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 cups of unsalted chicken stock (box or homemade)
1 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 cup of dry lentils
1/2 cup jarred marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Heat olive oil on medium heat. Add celery, carrots and onion and saute until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and saute for another minute.

Add chicken stock, diced tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add lentils, artichokes hearts and bring to a second boil. Turn heat to low. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add chopped parsley a few minutes before serving. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 6

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