Healthy Lunch Idea #12: Shrimp Mango Spring Rolls

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A fresh recipe is very enjoyable on a hot summer day in the South. A recipe that fit within the lines of easy and healthy are Vietnamese spring rolls that are traditionally wrapped with Thai basil and vermicelli noodles. I took out the vermicelli noodles and just added more vegetable because the vegetables fill me up anyways. I made spring rolls with shrimp and a vegetarian version using sliced fried eggs for my grandparents. Both with great flavor and a lot of protein.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 spring roll wrappers
  • 1 c shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 c thinly sliced cucumbers
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced mangoes
  • 12 shrimp, cut each in half from head to tail ( 2 per roll)
  • 1 avocado(thinly sliced)
  1. soak spring roll wrapper in water for about 3 seconds
  2. layer all ingredients on the wrapper with lettuce first and shrimp on top
  3. Folding a spring roll is like folding a burrito. Fold both sides in and roll until the end of the roll sticks to the rest of the wrapper.

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp water (add more if a lighter consistency is desired)
  • splash of lemon juice

combine all ingredients

Because the spring rolls are low in fat and carbs, you can surely eat more than 1. Go for 3 if you are really wanting those vegetables!

-Jamie

Macaron Recipe and Tips

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These colorful desserts are so stubborn and are known to be one of the most challenging foods to make. I have been a part of the frustrated group of people who have failed several times, but now on my 6th try, I have finally mastered the art of macaron-making and will provide insight on my previous mistakes and the tips you need to succeed.

For the macarons, I used this recipe from allrecipes.com :http://allrecipes.com/recipe/223234/macaron-french-macaroon/

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Macaron baking tips:

  1. COOL TEMPERATURE: the temperature in your home is very important. It must be cool, a minimum of 78 degrees or else the shells will not form while the macarons are sitting.
  2. USE METAL BOWLS: do not use plastic bowls because plastic bowls trap moisture and oil and we do not want added moisture to the batter
  3. BAKING SHEET OVER PARCHMENT PAPER: This one is based on opinion, but I find that the baking sheet results in less browning on the bottom and the bottom of the macaron cooks evenly
  4. CREAM OF TARTAR: I believe that the use of cream of tartar when beating egg whites is important. When I didn’t use cream of tartar, my macaron shells would never form feet. I use about 1/8 tsp.
  5. BEATING THE TRAYS: Once you pipe the macaron shells, drop the trays straight down on the counter 3 times to get rid of air bubbles
  6. SITTING TIME: Some recipes don’t call for the macaron sitting time, but I say it is so necessary. Feet, which is unique to a macaron, is the little ruffled skirt on the bottom of a macaron shell. Let the macarons sit out for 1 hour before baking so the the shells harden, but the gooey insides cook and bubble out to form the feet.
  7. GEL FOOD COLORING: Use gel food coloring instead of liquid food coloring so you don’t add extra moisture into the batter.

Take these tips into account the next time you make macarons, and you wont be spending $2 per macaron anymore!

-Jamie

Healthy Lunch Idea #11: Taiwanese Style Vegetarian Egg Sandwich

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Recently, I have been eating a lot less meat, and although I savor turkey and beef and other flavorful meats in my sandwich, it is simple to create a vegetarian sandwich while still getting a ton of flavor and saltiness in each bite. This healthy Taiwanese style sandwich uses avocado as a replacement for cheese or mayo and the egg as a protein. I also used a cranberry, nut bread to create a contrast between the sweet and salty.

On a side note: Taiwan is one of the best places to eat cheap, delicious food. I have not gone back in 6 years but luckily, this Summer I will visit Taiwan, and I know I will put on at least 5 pounds. Sandwiches like this one can be found everywhere in Taiwan and are popular in gas stations such as 7/11. A gas station in Taiwan differs from a gas station in the US in that it’s more like a food stop and there are fresh foods made daily.

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices bread ( I used a fancier bread: cranberry, nut)
  • 12 cucumber slices
  • 1/4 mashed avocado (I seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper, and lemon juice)
  • 1 fried egg
  1. Assemble the sandwich and enjoy!

Cashew Basil Pesto and How I used it

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IMG_2970Cashews are my favorite nut because they taste the best for its price; like macadamias are delicious, but a lot pricier than cashews. A typical pesto is made with pine nuts, but cashews are a great replacement and it’s more likely that you have cashews on hand than pine nuts. Make this cashew pesto and save quite a few grams of fat as well as money because pine nuts are extremely high in fat and price.

Ingredients:

  • 50 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 c. roasted cashews
  • 1/3 c. parmesan cheese
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/3 c/ olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Throw the basil, cashews, cheese, and garlic into a food processor and chop until mixture is mostly green and coarsely chopped
  2. pour olive oil down the chute slowly and lemon juice
  3. put salt and pepper little by little, tasting gradually because a little salt goes a long way.

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With the fresh pesto, I made a pesto cream sauce to pair with cheese tortellini. I used frozen cheese tortellini and combined the pesto with heavy cream, flour, and butter as a bechamel/alfredo sauce. If you don’t have heavy cream, use milk and the bechamel sauce should taste just as great.

Healthy Lunch Idea #10: Basil Spaghetti

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IMG_2528Planting your own herbs is extremely worth it because the most work you do is plant them, then let nature do the rest of the work. Because I live in the South, the weather is optimal as it rains often and there is plenty of sun. As basil is my favorite herb, I scattered plenty of seeds in my backyard and within a week or two, I was harvesting basil leaves and utilizing them in anyway possible. Today’s recipe is a simple spaghetti recipe with basil and parmesan cheese. Few ingredients, but plenty of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/3 c. tomato sauce
  • plenty of chopped basil, about 3 tbsp.
  • shaved pieces of parmesan cheese
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. garnish the top with parmesan shaves, using a fruit peeler to shave thick strips of parmesan cheese.

Healthy Lunch Idea #9: Bomb Bagel Sandwich

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IMG_2780This ultimate bagel sandwich is bursting with flavor and color as an array of vegetables are piled on top of each other. I added a few Zapp’s Voodoo chips (which are my favorite chips) for added flavor, but of course take away the chips and the sandwich itself is just as satisfying.

Ingredients:

  • any bagel, I used everything bagel, full of nutritious poppy, sesame, fennel seeds, and much more
  • 5 slices of lean turkey deli meat
  • 1/2 medium avocado, sliced into strips
  • 1/2 small tomato, sliced
  • 8 thin slices of cucumber
  • 3 lettuce leaves, I used iceberg
  • shmear of mayonnaise
  1. Essentially layer all ingredients on top, but I start with mayonnaise on both sides of the bagel so it can hold on to the ingredients better.
  2. lay the cucumbers around the rim of the bagel
  3. then layer other ingredients in any order.
  4. Enjoy with a fruit smoothie on the side!!

 

Healthy Salmon Spring Roll

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img_2343.jpgI recently tried a fusion spring roll called Chicken Mango roll at a Vietnamese restaurant which had rice vermicelli, panko-crusted chicken, carrots, and lettuce served with a creamy mango sauce. The dish was $10, which is a bit pricey for a spring roll, but it was absolutely delicious and the sauce just really made the entire dish! I believe that the sauce is a combination of mango, mayonnaise, butter and mustard.. something like that, but I searched online for “Spring roll mango dipping sauce” and nothing alike the restaurant’s comes up. Personally, I think that a spring roll isn’t a spring roll without the sauce, so I decided to make my own spring roll at home… and disclaimer: Not Authentic at all, but 100% DELICIOUS. I began to make the spring roll, realizing that I lacked so many of the ingredients that I needed, but I made use of what I had and the outcome is absolutely the bomb!!!

Ingredients:

  • 4 rice papers
  • 1/3 c. roughly chopped salmon (I used store bought brown sugar salmon from Costco)
  • 1/2 sprig spring onion
  • 1 c. roughly chopped iceberg lettuce
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 c. mayo
  • 1 tbsp. barbecue sauce
  • 1 tbsp. asian hot mustard sauce
  1. soak the rice papers in water for about 4 seconds
  2. place some lettuce on the bottom, then add spring onion, avocado, and salmon
  3. Roll the paper by folding the right and left in, and roll it up like a burrito.
  4. Combine mayo, barbecue sauce, and mustard sauce

I came up with this sauce which pairs so well with the spring roll because the smokiness of the barbecue sauce and salmon pairs really well together. Ingredients that I wished i had were rice vermicelli noodles and carrots, but skipping out on the rice vermicelli makes the dish a lighter fare.

Healthy Lunch Idea #7: Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

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img_2045.jpgNutritional experts say to avoid the word “creamy” because of the high fat content that most creamy foods contain. However, today’s Creamy Mashed Potato is an all natural creamy consistency from cauliflower itself, and this mashed potato substitution is the greatest food swap ever!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 tsp salt (add more if necessary)
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic (if you would like the garlic flavor)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • splash of vegetable or beef broth
  1. Cut the cauliflower into florets and boil in hot water for about 7 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the remaining heat steam the cauliflower,
  2. Drain cauliflower and let it set for 5 minutes before putting it in the food processor.
  3. Process all ingredients until a mashed potato consistency.

Do you ever want to eat mashed potatoes again?

Healthy Lunch Idea #4: Quick 5 Ingredient Carrot Soup

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photo 2 (1)5 Ingredients for a soup? That’s quite impressive, along with the fact that you probably already have these ingredients at home and it’s healthy and it’s gluten free and… well there are too many benefits to this soup that naming them all would surely be time consuming. This was my first attempt making carrot soup, which I felt obligated to make because of the highly anticipated fall season!

Coconut Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. roughly diced carrots
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 onion(chopped)
  • 2 c. low sodium chicken broth
  1. In a soup pot, heat 1 tbsp. oil of any choice (I used olive oil) and sautee the carrots for 5 min. Then add the chopped onions and sautee for an additional 5 min.
  2. Add the coconut milk and chicken broth. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the curry powder and let it simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Turn off the stove and let it sit for 20 minutes. (This step is optional. It’ll soften the carrots and onions further and cool the soup a bit before the blending process)
  5. Blend the soup in a blender, top with croutons, and Enjoy!

There is no way anyone can mess this recipe up. I guarantee you! I wholeheartedly believe anyone can make this recipe and enjoy it at home.

Healthy Lunch Idea #2 : Vegetarian Creamy Pesto Chickpea Salad

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The word “creamy” may sound shocking to those health conscious people, but don’t worry! Today’s lunch consists of a vegetarian creamy pesto chickpea salad made with greek yogurt. No cream. You get all the flavors and textures of mayo but you cut about 9 grams of fat per serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. greek yogurt
  • 1/4 c. pesto (I used store bought pesto from Costco)
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 c. chopped kale (optional)
  • 1 avocado diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine the pesto and greek yogurt.
  2. Add chickpeas, kale, and diced avocado and gently stir until well-combined
  3. taste and add salt/pepper to taste

This recipe is a delicious and protein-packed lunch. I added kale and avocado just to add more nutrition in. It is a very flexible salad so go ahead and add tomatoes or onions, etc, if you like. Cooking has no limitations!