Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

6 Apr

Viet spring rolls 5This recipe was featured in the Huffington Post

Spring is upon us, and I cannot think of a better way to embrace it than with these Vietnamese spring rolls!  They’re not only super tasty, but also healthy and packed with layers of flavoursome, crunch. They’re also a refreshing change from the usual fried spring rolls. They’re great as a cool summertime appetizer, or even as a main dish, especially when dipped in this homemade zesty peanut sauce.

Viet spring rolls 3Spring rolls are so versatile because you can put whatever you want in them. And they’re a great way to use up use up veggies in your fridge. Instead of prawns, try chicken or tofu. And for an extra punch of colour try thinly sliced roasted beets, or braised purple cabbage. Switch up the greens by adding different types of lettuce or even cilantro.

Viet spring rolls2

Viet spring rolls 4

Viet spring rolls 6_________________________________________________________________________________

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Source: Carolyn Berry

*Makes 8 rolls

Ingredients

For the rolls:

  • 8 (8-1/2-inch) round rice paper wrappers
  • 4 oz brown rice vermicelli noodles
  • 8 large cooked shrimp – peeled, deveined and cut in half OR 24 small cooked shrimp
  • 1 avocado, sliced lengthwise
  • 16 fresh basil leaves(2 for each roll)
  • 16 fresh mint leaves (2 for each roll)
  • 1 small bunch spinach
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced very thin and seeds removed. Length should be ~5 inches long (I used approx 1/3 of the cucumber)
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced very thin
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced very thin
  • 1 carrot, sliced very thin (~5 inches long)

For the peanut sauce:

  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp thai chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp warm water

Directions

For the rolls

  1. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Arrange all prepared salad roll ingredients on a large plate or tray.
  3.  Fill a medium frying pan or wide, shallow dish large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with hot tap water. Completely submerge 1 wrapper at a time until it is soft and pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on a large cutting board.
  4. Click here for a step-by-step tutorial with pictures. On the bottom center of the rice paper place 2 shrimp halves beside each other, cut side up,  leaving about 1 inch of space on each side. Layer a few sticks of carrots, red and yellow peppers, and cucumber on top of the shrimp. Then add 1/4 cup of the rice noodles over the vegetables, followed by a few bean sprouts, 2 of the mint leaves, 2 of the basil leaves, and 2 large spinach leaves. Add in 1 slice of avocado wherever it fits.
  5. Fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding the whole thing firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. Then, pressing firmly down to hold the folds in place, roll the entire wrapper horizontally up from the bottom to the top.
  6. If not serving immediately, keep the rolls tightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Serve with the peanut sauce for dipping.

For the peanut sauce:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  Add more warm water if needed to achieve your desired consistency.

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Beet Pesto Pasta

23 Mar

beet pesto pasta 2

This recipe was featured in the Huffington Post

This may be the first time I’ve used the word “stunning” or “striking” to describe a pasta dish, but ohh wow, look at that colour!!

This dish gets me really excited! Many pasta sauces are high in salt (tomato-based sauces) or high in fat (creamy based sauces), but not this one, thanks to the beets.

beet pesto pastaBeet’s high natural sugar content satisfyingly sweetens soups, salads, and even desserts! You can also eat them raw (juiced or grated into salads), baked, steamed, pickled (and check out this delicious beetroot hummus). But what’s sweeter is the incredible nutrition they boast. Beets are packed with fibre, vitamins, minerals and unique plant derived antioxidants. They also have special anti-inflammatory properties that can help fight heart disease and certain cancers.  Beets also act as detoxifiers on the liver  Can’t beet that!

beet pesto pasta 3

Did you know that beets were originally grown only for their leaves? Their edible leaves can be prepared just like Swiss chard or spinach. Like the root, they’re also rich in nutrients.

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Beet Pesto Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb red beets (4-5 medium), trimmed and scrubbed
  • 1 bulb garlic, slice the top off to expose all of the cloves
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup roasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (I used flaxseed oil)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 lb (450 g) whole wheat spaghetti (or any other pasta)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle beets and garlic clove with oil. Individually wrap tightly in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Remove from oven, remove foil and let cool. Peel skin off beets with fingers (or a peeler) and coarsely chop. Remove the roasted garlic from the clove.
  2. In a food processor combine roasted beets, garlic, oil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Pulse until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and return to pot.
  4. Toss pasta with the beet mixture. Garnish with pine nuts, parmesan cheese and fresh dill.

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Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

16 Mar

irish soda 1In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make a loaf of rustic Irish soda bread. This traditional Irish loaf is moist, extremely dense, and unmistakably satisfying. It’s also incredibly easy to make! With no yeast or rising time required, and minimal kneading time, it only took me 10 minutes to throw everything together and into the oven it went.

irish soda 2The currants give a subtle sweetness and the wheat flour, wheat bran and flaxseeds add heartiness (and fibre too, of course). Add grated cheese and chives for a different flavour combination, or swap the currants for raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots. Serve alongside a bowl of steaming stew, with a smear of butter or jam, or……….with a mug of green beer =)  Cheers!

irish soda 3

 

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Irish Soda Bread

Source: Carolyn Berry

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran or oat bran
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cold butter
  • 3/4 cup dried currants
  • 1-1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Stir together the flours, wheat bran, flaxseed, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter. When the butter pieces are about the size of green peas, add the currants and stir. Add the buttermilk and stir only until all the ingredients are combined (do not overmix).
  3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly until it is smooth. Form into a flattened ball, about 2 inches high. Place the dough on a greased baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the milk over the top and sides of the dough. With a sharp knife, cut an “X” on the top (not all the way to the edges), about 1/4 inch deep.
  4. Place in the oven and bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, approximately 30-35 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, cool slightly on a rack. Serve warm.

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Wheat Berry, Kale & Cranberry Salad

2 Mar

kale & wheat berry salad 1This recipe was featured in the Huffington Post

Ever wondered where flour comes from? The answer is in this salad…..wheat berries! They’re what whole wheat flour starts out as before it gets ground into a powder. Wheat berries are whole, unprocessed wheat kernels that contain all three parts of the grain (germ, bran and endosperm).  Only the inedible outer layer of the grain, the hull, has been removed. As a result, wheat berries retain all of the grain’s vitamins, minerals, and fibre. They’re also a good source of protein, at 7 grams per 1/4 cup uncooked.  And like any other whole grains, they help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, as well as help with weight control.

Add wheat berries to your favourite soups, salads and side dishes. They’re even great for breakfast and dessert! Cooked wheat berries can be stored in the freezer, so you can cook large batches at a time for convenience. Use them instead of rice or other grains to increase the variety of foods you eat. They’re great when tossed with roasted vegetables, salt and pepper and a basic vinaigrette. This is a great way to use up any vegetables you may not know what to do with.

kale & wheat berry salad 4Wheat berries are chewy and have a nutty flavour. So combined with the the crunchy toasted walnuts, smooth feta cheese, chewy dried cranberries,  and crisp celery and yellow pepper, the combination of textures in this salad is like no other.

kale & wheat berry salad 3One of my favourite things about this salad is that it’ll last in the fridge for 2-3 days because the kale leaf is fairly thick, so it won’t wilt. So make up a big batch and pack for lunches for the week.

Not all grocery stores sell wheat berries. You can find them at many larger stores that sell bulk foods and well as some specialty stores such as Whole Foods. They’re also much cheaper than some other grains out there like quinoa.

kale & wheat berry salad 2

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Wheat Berry, Kale & Cranberry Salad

Source: Carolyn Berry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup wheat berries, dry
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped (I used purple kale, but you can choose any type)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp liquid honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Rinse wheat berries. Combine with 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Drain, rinse with cool water and set aside.
  2. Whisk together all dressing ingredients. Pour over all salad ingredient, combine and serve.

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Peanut Butter & Honey Oat Balls

23 Feb

honey oat enegy bites 2I was trying to come up with the perfect high-energy snack for my 28 km run this weekend. So I decided to combine many of my favourite snack food ingredients. In fact, the peanut butter and honey combo is a throwback to my elementary school days when my mom would pack me a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch. They also remind me of raw cookie dough (minus the salmonella) and who doesn’t like raw cookie dough, right?!

These little granola bar like bites are perfect for breakfast on the run, and pre- and post-workout snacks. Kids also love them, so pack them for school lunches or snacks instead of processed snacks from the store. The combination of carbohydrate and protein will give you a boost of energy to carry you through a workout or to the next meal. And the peanut butter, hemp hearts and flaxseeds offer a good dose of healthy fats. What’s not to love?

Make these treats your own by substituting or adding in your favourite ingredients like almond butter or cashew butter, instead of peanut butter. The addition of dried fruit, such as cranberries, cherries, dates, apricots, etc and chopped nuts is also excellent.

honey oat enegy bites 3__________________________________________________________________________________________

Peanut Butter & Honey Oat Balls

Source: Carolyn Berry

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey

Directions:

  1. Stir all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl until well combined. Add peanut butter and honey and mix until all ingredients are combined. Cover and let chill in the fridge for 1/2 to 1 hour.
  2. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (Mine were just over 1 inch in diameter.) Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

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Coconut Date Granola

9 Feb

granola 1Don’t be fooled: granola sounds healthy, but it’s often high in sugar, unhealthy fats and oils, and is packed full of fillers and unnecessary ingredients. Homemade granola is a cut above anything you can buy in the store. And you can so easily customize it by adding your favourite ingredients. Not to mention, your house will smell amazing – like you’ve been slaving in the kitchen all day!

granola 2For the perfect breakfast, construct a delicious parfait by layering your granola with protein-packed plain greek yogurt, fresh fruit and cinnamon. You can also eat it as a snack, use as a topping for a baked apple, bake into muffins or bread, sprinkle on oatmeal for some crunch, add to smoothies, and put in pancake batter. Granola also makes a great gift!

Granola will keep in an airtight container for a few weeks (although I can’t say it ever lasts that long without being eaten in my house…)

granola 3

granola 4

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Coconut Date Granola

Source: Carolyn Berry

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups large flake oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds & pecans)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp canola oil or light-tasting oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Put all dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mix together.
  3. Add the remainder of the ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together until well combined.
  4. Spread granola evenly between 2 cookie sheets. Bake for ~20-25 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking.
  5. Add chopped dates to granola once cooled. Store in an airtight container.

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Parmesan Mashed Cauliflower

1 Feb

cauliflower mash 3

This recipe was featured in the Huffington Post

“Cauliflower is the perfect opportunity for culinary experimentation” says Vancouver chef and restauranteur, Vikram Vij. I couldn’t agree more! Cauliflower didn’t used to be one of my favourite vegetables. It would sit in my fridge until it was nearly past the point of no return and then I would resort to chopping it up and eating it raw with dip. Then I tried to mimic one of my favourite restaurant dishes, roasted caulifower, and I was sold on the versatility of this seemingly boring vegetable.

cauliflower mash 4Cauliflower mash (aka “faux potatoes”) is delightfully light, smooth and creamy. It’s one of the most versatile side dishes you can create. I love it with braised short ribs or tucked under my favourite chicken stroganoff. You can also try different add-ins to change up the flavour such as sundried tomatoes, chives, parsley, horseradish, olive oil or feta cheese.

This cauliflower mash is a great substitution for mashed potatoes, for those individuals who are trying to reduce their starch portions for health reasons such as high blood sugars, or just personal choice.

cauliflower mash

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Mashed Cauliflower

Source: Carolyn Berry

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • Vegetable or chicken broth, low-sodium (enough to cover cauliflower by 1 inch)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring broth, cauliflower and garlic cloves to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover, allowing to cook for 15-20 minutes, until cauliflower is tender and easily mashed with a fork.
  2. Once cauliflower is tender and cooked through, pour off any excess stock that remains.
  3. Pour drained cauliflower and garlic into a food processor and add all other ingredients. Blend until smooth. Serve with your favourite dish.

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Yam & Leek Frittata

18 Jan

fritatta 1

This recipe is featured in the Huffington Post

I’m a big fan of eggs, pretty much in any form. They’re the perfect source of natural protein (6 g per egg), are low in calories (70 calories) and have iron, vitamins A, D, E, B12, folate, selenium, choline, and lutein and zeaxanthin for maintaining good vision. Not only that, you can even get a dose of omega-3 fats by buying eggs from chicken that have been fed flaxseed.

frittata 2I find that cooking eggs can be a bit tricky. I usually end up puncturing the yolk of a fried egg, or completely massacring an omelette before it reaches my plate. But you don’t need to worry about these things with frittatas – luckily they don’t require a gentle hand. Just mix all the prepared ingredients in a  bowl and pour into your baking pan…too easy right!?

Frittatas make an easy meal for any time of the day, especially a quick weeknight dinner. This frittata is a very nutritionally balanced with protein, vegetables, carbohydrate and dairy. Frittatas are one of these great dishes where you can add pretty much any meat or vegetables. I love using thinly sliced tomato, broccoli, potato, asparagus and chorizo sausage, etc.

frittata 3

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Yam & Leek Frittata

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 2 large leeks, chopped (use light green/white parts on bottom half)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large bunch or 1 pkg (170 g) spinach
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 medium yam (~2 cups), cut into 1 inch chunks and roasted
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Roast cubed yam for ~ 2o minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan and saute leek for 5 minutes. Add the garlic after 4 minutes of sauteing the leeks. Add spinach in batches and continue to stir with large spoon until it wilts. Place mixture into a colander and press down with the back of a spoon to remove some moisture.
  3. Combine milk, salt, pepper, eggs, egg whites and stir well with a whisk. Add yams and leek mixture. Pour into a 10-inch round ceramic or glass baking dish or pie plate that is lightly coat with butter or cooking spray. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and then the three cheeses. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until center is set.
  4. Preheat broiler. Broil frittata for 4 minutes or until golden brown.

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Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

4 Jan

Mac & cheese 2

This recipe is featured in the Huffington Post

Macaroni and cheese is my favourite comfort food! Traditionally, mac & cheese is really rich and heavy on the butter, cream and lots of cheese, so I wanted to try a lightened up version without compromising taste and texture, of course.

Mac & cheese 4Mac & cheese is an easy dish to get creative with different add-on’s: peas, kale, bacon, crab, cauliflower, and even a cashew cream sauce. I decided to turn to an unlikely ingredient for a boost – butternut squash. Combined with the 1% milk and the variety of cheeses, the squash adds a rich, nutty flavor, sneaks in a few servings of vegetable, and wonderfully mimics the color and creaminess of a rich cheesy sauce. A trio of bold cheeses packs more flavor than a one-cheese approach. Is your month watering yet…?

macaroni & cheese 4

Mac & cheese 3

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Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 500 g whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 4-5 cups butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp (or less) cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Roast the cubed butternut squash for 20-25 minutes, or until soft when pierced with a fork. When roasted and cooled, transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Add the macaroni to a large pot of boiling water and cook until tender but firm. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add the milk and pureed squash to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until almost simmering, stirring often.
  4. Remove pan from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese, ricotta cheese, onions, salt, dry mustard and cayenne pepper.
  5. Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, uncovered, then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.

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Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Kettle Corn

22 Dec

kettle corn 1

This article is featured in the Huffington Post

I’ve always loved kettle corn – popcorn with the perfect combination of salty and sweet!

Popcorn, after all, is a whole grain, and though it gets gets a bad rap at the movie theaters, homemade popcorn can be a light, healthy and delicious snack that satisfies those munchies.

kettle corn 3I decided to add a holiday twist to this batch of kettle corn by sprinkling it with a combination of spices that gives a nice warm gingerbread taste. You can also add other ingredients like a drizzle of chocolate, dried fruit and shredded coconut.

This kettle corn is a great snack to offer when having company over and is even a fabulous gift to package in a nice gift box or tin.

kettle corn 2

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Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Kettle Corn

Source: Wealth of Health

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • *optional add-ons: dried cranberries, melted white chocolate, melted caramel chips, marshmallows, unsweetened shaved coconut

Directions:

  1. Mix together the cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.
  2. Preheat the coconut oil in a medium-large saucepan with a top over medium heat. Once the oil melts add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Pour in popcorn kernels and cover, leaving lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Cook until the popping has nearly completed, shaking pot frequently to prevent kernels from burning.
  4. Spread the popcorn out on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle 1-2 tsp of the spice mixture over the popcorn.
  5. Melt chocolate in double boiler or heatproof bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring often until smooth.
  6. Drizzle over the popcorn on the cookie sheet and sprinkle with cranberries. Place in a large bowl and serve.

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