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It's all in a day...

It's been a tasty day here.  Unfortunately, my 8 year old had a rough night of tummy trouble after having some dairy products at school yesterday and so was home taking it easy.  I needed to keep things fresh, mild and mostly raw for him since his stomach was tender.  Easy to do.  Nourishing and light for the rest of us.  Hope you enjoy the 2 smoothies, soup, spring rolls and sorbet that I made today. I made this smoothie for my 8 year old and his tender tummy: Creamy Banana Coconut Smoothie (serves 1) 1 banana ½ cup coconut milk ½ cup almond milk 1 Tbsp chia seeds 1 Tbsp lucuma powder, optional Blend everything in the Vitamix until smooth.  Serve. ************************************************** This one was for me and my 5 year old: Creamy Chocolate Cherry Goji Berry Smoothie Creamy Chocolate Cherry Goji Berry Smoothie (serves 2) 3 bananas 1 cup almond milk 1 Tbsp cocoa powder 2 Tbsp chia seeds 1 tsp vanilla powder 1 cup frozen cherries ½ soaked goji berries 3 cups raw baby spinach Blend everything in the Vitamix until smooth.  Serve. ************************************************** Lunch was a mild miso soup:Miso Happy Kale Soup Miso Happy Kale Soup (Serves 4) ~ 15 minutes ~ With miso in your fridge you can have a richly flavorful, light soup in minutes.  White miso is very mild and my kids love it.  Millet miso is a bit heartier.  Choose a miso paste that you love and you can’t go wrong… 1 onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 carrot, thinly sliced 1 cup torn kale 4 cups water 3 Tbsp miso paste Put all ingredients except the miso into a small pot and get things simmering.  Let the pot go for 10 minutes then shut off the heat and stir in the miso paste.  Make sure you stir until the paste works into the soup so no one gets a clump of salty miso.  Serve with a salad of mixed greens, thinly sliced cucumber and a splash of rice vinegar.  ************************************************** Dinner took a little time to prep tonight, but it worked out because my guys were needing a bit of cuddle time.  While the tofu marinated I had quality time with my family.  Doesn't get better than that.  One note about the tofu is that it is a bit salty because of the Braggs in the marinade, but it works with the sweet raw veggies and bite of chili and garlicky goodness in the dipping sauce.  My 8 year old chose not to use the dipping sauce because of the chilis.  I added a slice of avocado to his spring roll to cut the saltiness and give his recovering system some healthy fat. Spring Rolls with Curried Tofu (Serves 4 as a main dish with salad) ~ ready in about 1 hour and 30 minutes, including time to marinate tofu ~ Spring Rolls with Curried TofuThis is a light and tasty meal for a warm evening.  If you don’t have time to make your own curried tofu you can purchase a flavored baked tofu instead.  Using purchased tofu will save you more than an hour in the kitchen, so if you’re short on time, it’s a decent option.  Alternatively, prep the tofu a day or more in advance.  Doing this will allow you to pull out the cold tofu, put the veg into the wraps and be good to go in a matter of minutes. Curried Tofu: 1 block extra firm tofu, sliced into 3 slabs and then each slab into 3 pieces 3 cloves garlic, minced 5 Tbsp Braggs 1 Tbsp sesame oil 2 Tbsp curry powder Wraps: lettuces or greens of your choice thai basil cucumber carrot avocado (optional) rice paper wrappers Dipping Sauce: 2 garlic cloves, finely minced 1 thai chili 1/2 lime, squeezed 1 medool date, pitted 1 teaspoon rice vinegar 1/4 cup braggs or tamari 1/4 cup water Let’s start by prepping the marinade for the tofu since the tofu needs to sit a while to absorb some gorgeous flavors.  In a large ziplock bag, combine 3 cloves of minced garlic, the Braggs, sesame oil and curry powder.  I use Spice Island hot curry powder which contains chilies… so our curried tofu sucks in a big kick of spicy flavor.  Use your favorite and adjust the spice level to suit your taste.   Give the bag a little squish to combine the ingredients then place your tofu slices into the bag, seal it and set it in the fridge for about an hour or up to a day.  The longer the tofu sits, the more marinade it will absorb. While the tofu is marinating, prep the dipping sauce.  The longer this mixture sits, the better the flavor becomes, so it’s a natural next step.  I like to pound the garlic, chili and date in my mortar and pestle to get a paste.  You can mince these ingredients super fine and then work them into a paste on your cutting board using the back of a large spoon if you don’t have a mortar and pestle.  Combine all of the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl and let them marry while we wait for the tofu. When the tofu is done marinating take it out of the fridge.  Pull out your skillet and give it a spray or swirl of cooking oil, get that hot and place the tofu slices right on in.  This should take no more than 3 minutes per side to get a nice golden color on the tofu.  The curry powder helps things a lot as well because of the beautiful golden turmeric.  Flip the slices and let the other side crisp up.  Now remove the slices to clean paper towel so we can drain off any excess oil and let the slices cool at the same time. Once the tofu has cooled we can assemble to wraps.  This step is really quick if you have your ingredients ready.  I often let my kids assemble theirs because it’s easy and fun and kids are more likely to eat something that they’ve made themselves! I set out a 9x13 glass baking pan with about ½ inch of warm water in it.  Next to this I lay out a clean linen dish towel that I’ve wet and wrung out so it’s just damp.  Slide one rice paper wrapper into the warm water and let it soak for about 5 seconds before removing it carefully and laying it on the damp towel.  Layer some lettuce, cucumber slices and shredded carrot, then top with a slice of cooled curried tofu and a sprig of thai basil.  Bring the bottom edge up over the filling, fold in the sides like you would a burrito, then roll her up!  Move on to the next one and continue until you are out of tofu or until you’ve made as many spring rolls as you’d like.  The curried tofu makes an excellent sandwich filling and is also great diced up and tossed on salad greens.  So, if you are making only one or two spring rolls tonight, don’t worry about the leftover tofu!   Heck, invite me over and let’s have lunch! Serve with the bowl of dipping sauce, some fresh veg, and a light salad for a complete meal.  Serve them on their own for a light lunch or snack. ************************************************** Our cool and refreshing dessert. Creamy Pineapple Sorbet Creamy Pineapple Sorbet (Serves 4) 2 ripe bananas 4 cups frozen pineapple (1 lb bag from your freezer section) ¼ cup coconut milk shaved coconut for garnish, optional fresh raspberries, optional Put everything in the Vitamix, other high powered blender or your food processor and blend until smooth.  The advantage of using the vitamix is that you can use the tamper to push the fruit into the blades for a super quick blend.  I’m done with this guy in 30 seconds using the Vitamix.  If you’re using another appliance, you may need to stop and stir to get chunks of the fruit to blend.  If the mix gets too soft after blending just pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm it up before serving. Top with shaved coconut and raspberries and serve!

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Baked Egg Rolls

Egg rolls are one of those things that are missed by the gluten free.  I haven’t tried making my own gluten free pasta type wrapper, but that may be coming in the near future!  Tonight I went back to my old friends, the rice paper wrappers.  We’ve had good times and bad, me and the rice paper wrapper.   Not sure if you were with me earlier in the week for my crash and burn experiment with steaming rice wrapped bundles, but it wasn’t pretty.  There was an incident with frying rice paper wrapped spring rolls last year and that was exceptionally ugly.  Many, many hours of soaking and scraping were required to reclaim my favorite sauté pan! Needless to say, tonight we fared much better because I have photos and am ready to share the recipe with you.  Know that anything I share here is something I think worth sharing.  I wouldn’t write it out if I didn’t think you should try it.  I’m not that kind of cruel!  Now, I’ll say that these guys, like most gluten free versions of things, aren’t exactly like the originals.  But at this point in my life, I don’t consider different a bad thing.   If things work out for you like they did for me, you will have gluten free rice paper wrapped egg rolls that stay crispy for about 30 minutes before going a bit limp.  Make everything else you need to make before you start these guys.  Have the table set.  Have the salad on the table and the drinks poured.  Then and only then start these guys. I am all about setting you up for success!
Because the other members of my family don’t have gluten issues I still use some mainstream products.  Here I figured I’d share my hybrid meal strategy for egg rolls which is a bit complicated because I did a gluten free vegan version, a regular vegan version and a regular non vegan version.  Take that!  (And know that if you have an amazing hybrid family of eaters as I do that you can do it with minimal extra effort as long as you feed your sense of humor every day!)

Baked Egg rolls – 2 ways
1 medium onion, diced – about 1 cup
3 baby bok choy, cleaned and sliced – about 4 cups
5 or 6  leaves of kale, cleaned and sliced, thick stems removed – about 2 cups
A splash of Braggs liquid amino acids (substitute for soy sauce)
A splash of rice vinegar
A twist of pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger (from a piece of ginger about 1 inch long)
2 large carrots, grated – about 1 cup
¼ cup cilantro leaves, minced
¾ block of tofu, sliced into strips and diced (optional)

12 or 24 egg roll wrappers (not gluten free)
12 or 24 rice paper wrappers (gluten free)

In a large saucepan, saute all filling ingredients except for the carrots and cilantro for 10 minutes until wilted, but still a bit firm.  Remove from heat and mix in the carrots and cilantro.  If you are adding in the tofu, go ahead and do it now or hold it aside and add it to the rolls as you make them.  Let cool.

Turn on the oven to 450 while the filling is cooling.  We want the oven good and hot!
Once the filling is cool you can begin stuffing the egg rolls.  If you are serving people who are not gluten restricted go ahead and work with the regular egg roll wrappers.  You can find these in the refrigerated section of the market, usually in the produce department (though I don’t know why!)  Alternatively, I think you can purchase egg roll skins frozen.  I haven’t used this type of frozen product, but my guess is that it is similar to the refrigerated product.
If you are working gluten free go for the rice paper wrappers.  Whichever wrapper you choose, the method for filling and baking is the same.
Using rice paper wrappers for the first time?  They can be a little daunting, but let me share what I’ve learned over the last few years.  First, set out a lasagna pan with about ½ inch of warm water.  Take a clean kitchen towel and get it wet in running water then wring it out.  Lay the wet cloth onto your work surface.  Take out a wrapper and dip it into the warm water bath.  We need only bathe the thin beauty for about 5-10 seconds before taking it out and laying it on the wet cloth.  When I started using rice wrappers a few years ago I was soaking the wrappers for almost 30 seconds and using very limp wrappers. (No lewd comments!)  Now I dip them and remove them at a point when the press imprints are still visible on the paper.  Using the wet cloth as the work surface base and keeping the wrapper a bit more firm seems to make rolling easier.  Less tears and tighter rolls make for a better product.


If you are using the egg roll wrappers you need no prep and should work on a dry surface.  You will need a little bowl of water so you can dip your fingers and moisten the edges of the pasta so it sticks to itself as you roll.
Now we’re ready!  We are working with one wrapper at a time.  Start by laying out the wrapper that you just dunked on a clean work surface.  Spoon about 2 Tbsp of filling onto the bottom 1/3 of the wrapper and begin rolling the bottom up over the filling.  Once your wrapper is covering the filling fold in the left side toward the center and  then fold in the right side toward the center.  You are sealing the edges with this step and it is the same move that you make when creating a burrito.  Sides folded in, now all you need to do is roll the roll up so the filling is well encased.  Done one?  Good, set it aside and continue until your filling is used up!
Step 1: place filling near bottom of moist wrapper


Step 2: pull bottom of wrapper up over filling and roll slightly


Step 3: fold left and right edges in to center

Step 4: roll from bottom to top


rice wrapped rolls before baking


Prep 2 sheet pans by lining each with a sheet of parchment paper.  Set the rolls on the sheet pans and brush them lightly with oil (I use olive oil).  Put the pans into the hot oven on a low rack and let them bake for 20 minutes.  We’re going to use tongs and flip the rolls so they brown evenly on both sides.  Put the pans back in the oven and bake again.  If you used egg roll wrappers you should be finished with another 10 minutes of baking.  If you used rice paper wrappers you’ve got another 20-30 minutes.  Trust me on this one, you don’t want to pull out the rice wrapped spring rolls until they are really crispy or they will get limp and soft before you can serve them.
rice wrapped crispy rolls
Crispy rolls are done… plate them and serve them hot.  Egg roll wrapped rolls will keep if you have leftovers.  Rice paper wrapped egg rolls with get soft after about 30 minutes, so don’t think you’re making a big batch and saving these guys or you’ll be disappointed.  If you want leftovers keep your rice wrapped rolls raw with raw ingredients inside.  Raw spring rolls can keep in the fridge for a few days.  I will share my favorite raw spring roll recipe with you sometime too.  I love them!

traditional egg roll wrappers




Non-veg option:  not everyone in my family is vegetarian.  They are close, but not quite.  So, I prep a poultry filling for spring rolls/egg rolls as well.  I set aside half of the vegetable mixture and add in ½  pound ground turkey or ground chicken that I’ve browned and drained.  My hybrid batch is 12 veg and 12 non veg rolls.  I used to make these with a full pound of ground meat and less veg, but I’ve worked the veg up and meat down and no one is complaining… lol!  Baby steps! 

New or unusual items:
Bragg’s Amino Acids – made from non-GMO soybeans, this liquid is a non-fermented, gluten free substitute for soy sauce.  Bragg’s claims many health benefits, but I’ll leave you to read those for yourself.  Check out the link for more info if you’d like it!

pen gives you an idea of how small these are

Baby Bok Choy – cute, tiny bok choy cabbage.  Very tender and very versatile.  Can be used in place of bok choy in recipes.  Can be steamed, roasted, sautéed whole --- can be sliced too.  Mild flavor. 




Egg Roll Wrappers – a square or round, fresh or frozen pasta sheet that is used to make egg rolls.  Not gluten free.  Requires refrigeration.

Rice Paper Wrappers – thin round or square, dry sheets of rice starch that need to be rehydrated briefly in a water bath before using.  Fabulous for making fresh, raw spring rolls.  Can also be baked and allegedly fried!  Gluten free, shelf stable, require no refrigeration until used.


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