cilantro

Thai Spring Rolls with Plum Sauce

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Every Wednesday evening I teach a hip prehab class at the gymnastics gym where I coach. Right after that class is over, I have to haul ass out to Lakewood to teach a yoga class. If I'm lucky, and if my students don't chit chat too much, I have about 15 spare minutes in between classes that I often use for eating dinner. Totally not ideal, I know, but teaching works up a serious appetite. Or maybe it's just that I always have an appetite...

Anyway there is a Vitamin Cottage right next door to the yoga studio, and most Wednesday evenings I end up stopping there on my way. They have these Thai spring rolls with plum sauce that I love, and so that has become my Wednesday night go-to.

As with every good food find, I can't help but wonder if I can make it myself. And can I make it better than the source I found it from? In this case, I firmly believe I blew Vitamin Cottage out of the water. Try for yourself...

Thai Spring Rolls with Plum Sauce

Makes: about 4 rolls

Time: about 30 minutes

You'll Need

For the wraps

  • Rice Paper (I bought mine at Sprouts, Asian section)
  • Protein (I used shrimp on mine. Chicken and tofu are also great options)
  • Sliced veggies (I used carrot, cabbage, and red bell pepper. Other Asian-y veggies include bean sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, and snap peas)
  • Avocado 
  • Cilantro

For the Sauce:

  • 5 Plums
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Sriracha Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Let's start with the sauce. Slice open the plums and remove the pits. Throw the plums with the other sauce ingredients into a blender or processor and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a saucepan and simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 

If you haven't already, prepare your meats and chop up your veggies. Once that's done, you're ready to assemble your wraps. So, about rice paper. I found that you need two sheets, otherwise they are too thin and fall apart. We don't want that. Two sheets at a time, soak them in warm water for about 5 seconds. They won't feel soft at first, but by the time to get your fillings in there, they will have soaked up more water and should be flexible enough to roll up.

Strategically place your fillings, making sure not to overfill. Fold the edges in and roll it up, just like you would a burrito. The rice paper should be pliable and sticky by now, and should hold together easily.

Dip, devour, and enjoy this fresh combination of spicy, sweet, and sour!

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Save Your Scraps: Homemade Veggie Broths

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CYMERA_20140330_210042 My favorite part about this recipe is not so much the broth itself, but that it gives me a really good use for all the veggie scraps that would otherwise get tossed. So for the last week and a half I've been saving and freezing all the parts of my vegetables that I don't eat. 

Let's see what we have here....

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Looks like there's some broccoli stems, kale and celery stems, the tops and insides of bell peppers, some chard that was about to go bad, beet green and leaves, onion skins, basil plant stems (leftover from Basil Vinaigrette recipe), jalapeno tops (from Salsa recipe), and some carrot shreds. 

There really is no right or wrong ratio of veggies to water, but for those of you who need some serious structure, here's what I did:

  • About 1 gallon ziploc bag of frozen veggies, packed in
  • 6-8 quarts water
  • Optional Extras: herbs and spices, salt, garlic (I used one clove garlic, about a tsp of sea salt, 2 bay leaves, and a sprinkle of crushed red peppers)CYMERA_20140330_210243

Make sure all your scraps have been WASHED at some point. It's easiest if you just wash all veggies before freezing. Bring everything to a boil in a big pot over the stove. Reduce heat to low and let simmer (covered) for about 2 hours. When broth is done, strain the liquid through a colander into another pot or glass bowl.

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At this point you can continue making some kind of soup with the broth, or store in the fridge for later use. Sipping on veggie broth by itself is a great way to give yourself a big nutritional boost, especially when feeling sick, stressed, or fatigued.  Add a spoonful or two of nutritional yeast in there, and your taste buds and body will celebrate even more!

 

Salsa: Pineapple Habanero and Easy Tomato

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CYMERA_20140313_135731 Tomorrow is my 26th birthday, and you know what I really want to make? Something rich and chocolaty, smothered in frosting. Topped with bacon. Buuuut...I already decided to make salsas for tomorrow night's party, so I'm stuck with jalapenos and cilantro instead. No chocolate. No bacon. Seriously though, these are actually both really delicious recipes that I'm looking forward to sharing. 

Side note, I got hit with some nasty cold/flu earlier this week. I was freaking out a bit because I didn't want to be sick over the weekend. So I've been slamming this "immune juice" multiple times a day and am feeling almost 100% better already. (This is in combination with a couple 11-hour sleep nights as well!)

  • 2 small oranges, or one big one
  • 1 Tb fresh ginger
  • handful of spinach 
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 large carrot
  • little bit of water to help with blendingCYMERA_20140313_143931

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Ok on to the salsas.

Pineapple Habanero Salsa

Roast time: 30 minutes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Makes about 5 cups salsa

You'll Need:

  • 4 cups chopped pineapple (about 1 medium sized pineapple) (I can imagine that mangos would be a great sub for this recipe....)
  • 1 cup packed cilantro
  • 2 habanero peppers (roasted) 
  • 1 yellow onion
  • sprinkle of cumin
  • dash of salt

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Dice the onion into small chunks, and place on a baking sheet with peppers. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until peppers begin to wrinkle, stirring onions once or twice along the way. Turn oven up to broil, and bake for 3-5 more minutes. You want your peppers to brown and even bubble slightly, but keep a close eye on them while on broil because they go from brown to black very quickly! 

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While peppers are baking, chop up pineapple into small pieces. A food processor does this nicely.CYMERA_20140313_135310

Once the peppers and onions are done roasting take just one cup of the diced pineapple, 1 cup of cilantro, cumin, salt, and the habaneros and blend them in a food processor or blender.

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Note on habaneros: Don't underestimate the heat on these little guys. I recommend removing the seeds. Remember, you  can always add them in later if you still want more kick. Stir this mixture in with the remaining pineapple chunks as well as onions. 

 

Easy Tomato Salsa

Roast Time: 30 minutes

Prep time: less than 5

Makes about 4 cups salsa

You'll Need:

  • 1 - 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 4 cups cilantro, packed
  • 1-2 roasted jalapenos (seeds included)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • dash of salt

Everything goes in blender. Done. 

This is a really easy go-to for salsa, and can be even easier if you buy the canned jalapenos rather than roasting your own. You can also add in onions, corn, or beans for extra flair.  

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Whew. I'm actually sweating a little bit just from taste-testing!