I love taking spring rolls to potlucks or serving them at gallery receptions. They are as healthy as the ingredients you roll up inside the rice paper wrappers. They require no cooking (unless you opt for vegetarian rolls with steamed spinach — or my favorite — shredded chicken breast marinated in a soy-sesame-ginger dressing.) Anyway, I for this batch, used pre-cooked crab so they were super easy to make.
They’re also unusual at potlucks, so likely to be a big hit. And if there are any leftovers, they’re great for lunch the next day if you wrap them tightly so they don’t dry out.
Get all of your ingredients ready before you start rolling these. Once you get the hang of rolling them tightly, assembly goes quickly. There are different ways to roll spring rolls: two open ends, one open end (as in the photo at top) and closed ends (as in a burrito.) See the notes at the bottom of this post for some links that show how to roll spring rolls.
HEALTHY SPRING ROLLS
- Rice Paper Wrappers
- Cucumber, peeled and cut into long pieces (I cut the cuke in half crosswise, then seed it, then slice about 1/8 inch thick slices
- Cooked Crab, Shrimp or Chicken Breast (for chicken breast instructions, see below this recipe)
- Leaf Lettuce, washed and spun dry in salad spinner
- Fresh Cilantro
- Fresh Basil
- Green Onions (I use just the green part in the rolls, reserving the white ends for my dipping sauce)
- Thin Rice Noodles, cooked according to directions, then marinated for about 10 minutes in a soy-mirin dressing, and drained til dry. Cut the noodles into small pieces
- Prepare all of your spring roll fillings ahead of time and set on kitchen counter on plates
- Fill a large flat container with warm water. This is used to soften your rice paper wrappers, so the container needs to be large enough to accomodate the size wrappers you have. I used 12 inch diameter wrappers, and a 12″ stainless frying pan for my water
- Dip each wrapper in the warm water for just a couple of seconds, hold over the water to drain excess water off of the wrapper, then lay it on the counter. (I do two wrappers at a time)
- Assemble the fillings in the middle of the top half of the wrapper. I put down the meat and cilantro first because whatever is on the bottom of your pile of filling is what will show on the outside of the wrapper and I think that makes it look pretty.
- Put down one piece of crab or a couple of shrimp, a green onion, a couple sprigs of cilantro, some basil leaves, a slice of cucumber, a dab of rice noodles then a large lettuce leaf, torn in smaller pieces.
- Fold the bottom half of the wrapper up over the top half, then work from one side and tuck/roll tightly until you have a nice tight roll. The lettuce and green onion can stick out of the top of the roll.
- Repeat until you have rolled all your wrappers.
- If you have trouble with the wrappers not rolling you may not be waiting long enough for the wrapper to soften before trying to roll it.
- If you have trouble with the wrappers tearing when you roll them, you may be putting too much water, or waiting too long and they get too soft, thus tearing. Experiment until it comes easily, because if you do this process enough it’s something you can do in your sleep.
- Cover the spring rolls with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out. Serve soon after you make them.
- Make the dipping sauce. enjoy!
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 T coarsely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
- 1 T sugar (or to taste – some like it sweeter)
- 1/2 tsp. sesame oil (optional)
Combine all ingredients and let sit for a few minutes. Serve in small bowls or tiny plates.
NOTES AND LINKS
- This is the best photo tutorial I’ve found for rolling burrito-style, closed-end spring rolls
- Lovely collection of spring roll recipe ideas … you really can put just about any filling in a spring roll. I’m intrigued by the bacon and grilled asparagus spring rolls. That’s next on my list!
- Diane Cu’s entertaining post on how her food blogging made her gain weight and spring rolls helped her slim down
- Diane’s recipe for pork and shrimp spring rolls with photos showing how to roll her two-open-end rolls
Well, it has been a little over a year since Tim and I embarked on our Nutritarian food adventure, and I thought it would be a good thing to write an update on how it’s going. So … ummm. Well. It’s going okay. Not perfectly. But we’re doing pretty well with it. The reason we started eating this way (the Dr. Joel Fuhrman way) is because of my health. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to do something about the rheumatoid arthritis I’ve had since I was in my early twenties. Something more than I had already been doing all of my adult life. Yeah, I had managed it, but it would flare up with a monster-roar every once in a while and really kick my butt!
So, although he doesn’t have health issues and can eat just about anything, Tim agreed to help me change my diet by changing his too. Otherwise it would have been just too hard to eat differently than he does. We were very strict with the Eat to Live food program for the first 3 months or so, then we switched to the Eat for Health version, which allows some leeway and is, for me, more of a long-term sustainable way of eating. Tim still eats foods that are definitely not on the list of Nutritarian foods, and I have allowed myself to make some different choices some of the time. I believe that is the only way we can eat this way for the long run.
At first, I noticed a huge improvement in the level of joint pain and other health issues seemed improved. Not totally, but enough that I convinced myself last year to stick to the Nutritarian food program as long as I could. I now can feel it in my body when I have a couple of days of eating too many grains, especially refined grains. Or too much sweet stuff. I worried that if I had something like a homemade cookie, or a piece of fruit pie, that would throw me totally off of the diet and I’d backslide down into the pit. But that hasn’t happened. I think being really strict the first few months was what made it possible to “cheat” once in a while without going overboard. I know what it’s like to feel better now. And I know it’s directly connected to the food I eat.
One thing I took away from Dr. Furhman’s books was this: if not being able to have a cup of coffee everyday (or a glass of wine, or whatever) might be the thing that prevents you from making this a lifelong dietary change, then have your cup of coffee. It won’t kill you. So, I give myself, with grace and softness (not with guilt) to have pasta once a week. Or a piece of sourdough toast every now and then… or a danged homemade chocolate chip cookie! (Tim can eat all the cookies he wants and it doesn’t seem to affect him. Envy …)
Early on in this adventure, I made a Nutritarian grocery list using Evernote (with the checklist feature) which syncs to all of my devices. So I always have the list on my cell phone when I am shopping. It really helps to just look at the list, check off the things we need, and stick to it — at least 95% of the time.
What’s in our cupboards also helps — we don’t keep stuff around that we’re not supposed to eat. We save that for eating out, or in Tim’s case, for stopping at the Dive Bakery on his way to work in the morning.
We could do better. Always. Sometimes I just crave red meat. Rare bison steak. Or elk steak. Sometimes we have that. But way less often than before I started this program of better health.
At the top of this post is my grocery list, and it’s for you to download if you’d like. If you click on the grocery list, it will open in a new window as a pdf file and you can save that to your computer. This won’t work as an Evernote checklist, but if you print it out, it might help you know what to buy on your grocery trips. You could also make your own list in Evernote, or in some other list-making app on your own phone.
Let me know how you’re doing in the comments. Let’s do this together! Good luck.
Old World Butternut Squash Soup is a delightful medley of orange veggies and sweet/savory flavors. Super healthy for you. Make this soup vegetarian — or not. Either way it’s delicious on a blustery winter day with some hot-out-of-the-oven whole grain bread or a scone and a leafy green salad.
A perfect winter meal:
Old World Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 fat carrots, diced
- 6 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 1 T olive oil
- 4 Italian sausages
- 2 to 3 boxes organic chicken or vegetable broth (I use the 32 oz. boxes)
- 1 rutabaga, diced small
- 2 cups cabbage, shredded
- 2# butternut squash peeled & cubed
- 1 or 2 large tart apples, cut into chunks (leave the peel on)
- Salt, pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1T Herbs de Provence
- 1 t. thyme leaves
- 1 t. rosemary leaves
- Cut/Chop/Dice all the veggies so everything is ready to cook
- Remove sausage meat from casings and cook in a frying pan until done, crumbling it as it cooks. Set aside
- In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onion, celery and garlic
- Add the cooked sausage, broth, carrots, rutabaga, cabbage, squash, apple and herbs
- Add a little salt to taste and adjust the amount of broth to your liking
- Simmer for two hours or so, until everything is very tender or cook in slow cooker for 4 hours.
- Adjust the salt to your liking and add lots of fresh ground black pepper
- Enjoy with a healthy green salad and maybe a scone or slice of whole grain bread
I was thinking about the specialness of today* and craving a hot drink after being outside in the cold. I wanted something creamy. With high protein. Something comforting. Here’s just the thing, inspired by the hot milk drinks I used to make for my boys when they had trouble falling asleep.
I am dedicating this Hot Honey Custard Soothie recipe to Michael Cloud, who came into my life exactly 32 years ago.
October 5th, 1981 is a day I will never forget. I labored for 36 hours (34 at home with a midwife, my mom and Mickey’s dad.) He was kinda stuck by my crooked tailbone and even after I got to the hospital (we had tried for a home birth) I had to breathe through the contractions while we waited for a doctor to come from Butte… a doctor who could turn my baby’s head around 180 degrees with forceps without hurting him. When his head came out, the doc told me to stop pushing for what seemed like forever — it was probably just a minute — while they suctioned the phlegm from his lungs. In those eternal seconds, I had the most amazing experience of mutual eye contact with my baby before he started breathing on his own. He was calm and quiet, eyes wide open, staring into my eyes. Still part of my body. Not yet on his own. Seconds later he wailed as his umbilical cord hit cold air and they put him on my breast. He was fine except for two bruises where the forceps had pressed into his head.
Now Mickey and his wife, Michelle, have two boys of their own and I know they have had experiences as profound and moving as I had with him on that day. I am so proud of the man he has become, of how loving he is toward Michelle and his children. Of how he uses his mind and his body and heart to make good things happen in the world.
Here’s to you, Mickey — I hope you pass along this warm drink to your kiddos when they inevitably have a hard time falling asleep. xoxo
Hot Honey Custard Soothie
- 1 cup milk (or rice milk, soy milk or coconut milk)
- 2 tsp honey (or to taste)
- 1 very small egg (if you are doubling the recipe, use a normal size egg for 2 cups milk)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- a few drops almond extract (optional but super yummy)
- works best if you have a blender or a hand-held blender. A whisk will do if you don’t have the blender
- Gently heat the milk, cinnamon stick, vanilla and almond extracts in a saucepan on the stove until it is very warm. Try not to boil it over like I always do. (ahem!)
- While the milk is heating, beat the egg with a whisk until creamy, or beat it in the bottom of the blender.
- Take the cinnamon stick out of the milk and suck on it while you finish the drink. [grin]
- When the milk is very hot, turn on the blender and gradually pour the milk into the beaten egg while blending. (If you pour it all in at once, the egg will cook in the hot milk and get chunky.)
- When the hot milk mixture is very foamy, pour it into a pre-warmed cup and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve immediately while it’s still hot. Yummo!
- You can substitute nut milks, rice or soy milk, or coconut milk for the cow-milk. Coconut and soy milks foam up pretty well in the blender. Rice milk and almond milk not so much, but the drink is still delicious even if it’s not foamy.
- If you are vegan, skip the egg. It won’t taste the same but again, still yummy.
- This really does taste like custard — the ingredients are the same and that nutmeg and honey give it dimension and depth. Heaven!
- Heating the milk to a very hot (but not boiling) temperature cooks the egg just enough to kill any bacteria. It’s safe for children, though I wouldn’t give this drink to babies.
- With the milk and eggs, this is a nutritious way to give your kids not only protein and calcium, but also the kind of comfort and soothing they just might need at bedtime. Make sure they brush their teeth after drinking the soothie.
- I used a teeny egg from our friend, Colleen. Her hens lay beautiful eggs with dark orange yolks, so in the photos my soothie looks yellow-er than yours might if you are using store-bought eggs.
Charlie likes soothies on cold days too: