Summer Rolls

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It’s been so hot here lately that most days when I get home from work I just want to lay around under a ceiling fan with a glass of ice water. Cue these rolls; summery, cool, light, and only require heat for cooking a chicken breast and some grains (if you make veggie rolls, then you wouldn’t have to turn on your stove at all!) I am a huge believer in the idea that healthy eating has to be a practical, sustainable lifestyle. Therefore, make the rolls however you want! Get creative with the veggies, meat, and grains – this is a great way to use whatever you have laying around the fridge or pantry.  (Also, this isn’t so much a recipe as it is a starting point for healthy creativity; no specific measurements or ingredients here!) Have fun with it! I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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Summer Rolls

  • Rice paper sheets (I found some at our local Asian market; they’re super cheap!)
  • Shredded/julienned fresh vegetables (I used carrots, cucumber, and avocado)
  • Greens (I used green leaf lettuce; you could use cabbage, kale, or spinach)
  • Cooked grain (I used barley; you could try brown rice, farro, or quinoa)
  • Meat (I used chicken breast; you could use sliced pork chop or steak or ground beef)
  • Fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, and basil are all good options!)
  • Seasoning: hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauce, chili-garlic sauce…
  1. Marinate meat in a 1-1-1 blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili-garlic sauce for about thirty minutes.
  2. Wash and chop/shred all of your veggies and lay them out where they’ll be easily accessible.
  3. Saute meat until cooked through and set aside.
  4. Now you’re ready to assemble! Fill a large bowl or baking pan with warm water; this will be where you’ll soften the rice paper sheets.
  5. Dip a rice paper sheet into the warm water for 3-5 seconds until it is pliable but still firm (it will continue to soften as it sits).
  6. Lay the rice paper sheet on a cutting board and stack your roll fillings on one side (see photos)
  7. Using your fingers to hold the filling in place, pick up one end of the paper and tuck around filling. Fold in adjacent edges and continue rolling (see photos)
  8. Eat your rolls right away or wrap in plastic wrap and keep refrigerated. These make a great lunch to take to work!

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Sauce

What’s a summer roll without a dipping sauce? I made a blend of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili-garlic sauce, and sliced green onions – it was delicious! Try this blend or maybe some sweet and sour sauce or hot mustard.

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Granola Bars

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I’ve been on the medicine wards for the last three weeks doing my “Acting Internship,” which is basically a month where I pretend to be an intern (first year resident) on a medicine team in the hospital. I’ve really been enjoying it but our schedule is often hectic and I may not have time to sit down and eat lunch (or if I do, it’s not til late in the afternoon). I often turn to granola/energy/protein bars stashed in my white coat pocket to quiet my grumbling stomach. Since we’ve been trying to eat better, I thought I would try making my own instead of relying on the high-sugar high-price store bought variety. Turns out, granola bars are super easy and quick to make and very customizable to whatever you like/what you have in the pantry! I’ve made two batches already and have plans for many more!

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Granola Bars

  • Dry stuff:
    • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
    • 1 cup puffed grain (rice, millet, kamut)
    • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts and/or seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, almonds, walnuts)
    • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
    • 1/2 cup dried fruit (cranberries, dates, raisins, blueberries, etc)
    • 1/4 cup other add-ins (flax meal, wheat germ, bran, chia seeds, etc)
  • Sticky stuff
    • 1/3 cup honey/brown rice syrup/maple syrup
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil (can also use butter)
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Foil and grease an 8×8 baking pan. Set aside.
  2. Toss together oats, grains, nuts, and coconut flakes and spread them out on a large dry baking sheet
  3. Toast them in the oven til fragrant and golden brown, stirring occasionally
  4. Meanwhile, heat sticky stuff in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbly. Allow to cook approximately five minutes.
  5. Remove oat and grain mixture from oven and toss with dried fruit and add-ins in a large bowl.
  6. Pour sticky stuff over dry stuff and mix well (and quickly!)
  7. Empty bowl into prepared pan and press mixture down firmly with something flat (I used a loaf pan)
  8. Allow to cool at room temperature. Remove foil from pan and cut granola block into 12 bars.
  9. Wrap bars individually in parchment paper or plastic (we used zipper sandwich bags) to keep fresh.

Thai Fried Quinoa

One easy swap we made in our diet was replacing white rice with ancient grains. There is such a variety out there of all different textures, shapes, and flavors that are all packed with protein and fiber, which not only keeps you full longer, but lowers the glycemic index of the carbohydrates so that your blood sugar doesn’t bounce around. We’ve found that it’s easiest and cheapest to stock up on these grains from online wholesalers (we like Vitacost.)  We order a box once or twice a month and get free shipping!

This recipe is a take on Thai fried rice that’s packed with fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, and ancient grains. We used quinoa, but any other grain would work as well. Just keep in mind that some of the larger grains may take 45 minutes or more to cook. Not only is this recipe delicious and colorful, it also comes together in about 15 minutes! Not bad for a busy week night!

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Aren’t those colors just gorgeous?

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Thai Fried Quinoa

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled edamame
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or canned pineapple
  • 1 small bag fresh or frozen sugar snap peas
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 Tbs pineapple juice
  • 2 Tbs fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs chili-garlic sauce
  • Coconut oil, for sautéing
  • Salt, to taste
  • Garnishes: cilantro, basil, lime wedges, Sriracha
  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions (usually boiled in 2 cups of water for 12-15 minutes) and set aside
  2. Mix together pineapple juice, fish sauce, hoisin, soy sauce, and chili-garlic sauce; set aside
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add edamame, carrots, and sugar snap peas. Cook for about five minutes, or until tender but still brightly colored
  4. Add pineapple and coconut flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes
  5. Add cooked quinoa and sauce. Stir to combine and heat through.
  6. Garnish with herbs and lime wedges and serve!

This recipe makes 2-4 servings, depending on how hungry you are. ;) Divided four ways, each serving provides about 9 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein as well as being a great source of iron, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.

The Healthy Hungry Med Student

My husband and I have, for the last two months, been on what we affectionately call our “health kick.” We started on a whim on a Tuesday night after my husband bemoaned the fact that the waistband of his shorts seemed a bit snug. I did some internet research on integrative medicine and clean eating (something I’d always been interested in but had never made the decision to pursue) and we decided to give it a shot for a week or two to see what would happen. We cut white flour, white sugar, white potatoes, white rice, and other calorie-dense but nutrient-poor foods from our diet. We doubled or tripled the amount of vegetables we ate everyday and cut down on meat. We started taking a multivitamin. We started drinking more water. We got more creative with our meals and excited about new ways to add nutrient-rich foods to our diet. We found ways to incorporate exercise in our daily routines. What started as a fun project for a week or two has become a new normal for us. We’re having a blast and don’t plan on going back to our old ways. (And in case you were wondering, we have lost weight too!)

My husband and I have been having so much fun cooking lately we decided to start blogging again to share with y’all what has worked for us. My second and third years of medical school were tough but crucial in helping us grow together as a couple and helping me figure out what I want to do with my life in the future. I’m a fourth year medical student now (!) and have decided to become a primary care physician in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.  I’m passionate about people, food, and health and can’t wait to empower my patients and their families to be the healthiest they can be!

Sourdough Bread and Sweet, Sweet, Summertime

DSC_3433I have a confession to make. I’ve never really liked summer all that much. Growing up in the Deep South, any joy I felt from being out of school was quickly overshadowed by oppressive heat, suffocating humidity, ferocious mosquitoes, and encroaching boredom.

DSC_3434 This summer has been different, though. It’s as if my Dear Father knew just how sincerely I desired respite and recuperation in anticipation of my second year of medical school. In addition to long, lazy days spent with my Mister, the weather even acquiesced to my most impossible hope – bearability. Maybe that’s not actually a word, but I like it.

DSC_3438 My Mister and I have read new books together, watched movies (complete with popcorn!), gone to the local Farmers Market (nothing like home-grown peaches, local honey, and fresh roasted coffee!), brewed countless pots of French press coffee and tea, stayed up late having boisterous conversations with new and dear friends, and cooked and baked and baked some more.

DSC_3436 We even got a pet – well, we call it our pet. It’s sourdough starter from my grandmother. She gave it to us on our way home from our honeymoon. It’s become a part of our family and we take great pride in feeding it and baking loaves of delicious, fragrant bread. We even named him Fitzgerald (we call him Fitz.)

DSC_3435 School starts again for me in just a few short days and I’ve been stocking our freezer and pantry like I’m preparing for a hurricane to make landfall. This year won’t be an easy one, for sure, but with my sweet Mister (and some fresh baked bread from Fitz,) it’ll be a good one.

Sourdough Bread

If you can get a jar of starter from a friend, by all means do, but if that’s not an option for you, you can make your own.

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup starter
  • 6 cups bread flour (you can use all-purpose if you’re out of bread flour)

Mix all ingredients and knead until dough is smooth and elastic. It will be a little sticky – that’s ok. Grease a large bowl with oil. Put dough in and turn over so oil is on top. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let set for 12 hours. Do not refrigerate dough. After dough has set, punch it down and knead a little. Divide into three parts and knead each part 8-10 times on a floured surface. Shape into loaves and place in greased pans. Grease the top of each loaf, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 12 hours. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Brush loaves with butter.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread: Make bread following directions above, but substitute two cups of bread flour with two cups of whole-wheat flour.

Brown Butter Peach Cobbler and a Brand New Chapter

DSC_3420There comes a time in every girl’s life where she has to just stop, catch her breath, take a retrospective glance into her recent past and stand in awe at the abundant blessings that have flowed so freely in the midst of trials. During this last semester of medical school, I came close to throwing in the towel many times. Handling the never-ending onslaught of lectures, labs, and tests, intermixed with some interpersonal issues on the home front, maintaining a healthy romance and friendship with a long-distance fiancé, planning a wedding, and preparing to move into a new home very nearly got the best of me.

DSC_3421Through it all, though, I was never left alone. My church here in town, new friends, and my wonderful Mister cared for me so excellently that I was, and am, rendered speechless.

DSC_3426Now, as of this post, I am a new Mrs. and so overwhelmingly content and elated with how God has orchestrated my life thus far. I would never want to go through last semester again, but at the same time, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

6465_10151552780699667_1122900346_nLast night, my Mister and I had some friends from church over for dessert and coffee. Our first guests in our home as a married couple!

DSC_3427Sitting on our couch, sipping a steaming mug of rich French press coffee, surrounded by the joyful laughter of good friends, and leaning on the arm of my dearest friend, I just had to stop, catch my breath, and stand in awe of the abundant blessings that have flowed so freely from my Dear Father.

DSC_3428I am whole.

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Brown Butter Peach Cobbler

(inspiration from here)

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
  • 4 large peaches
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut butter into two 1/4 cup pieces. Brown 1/4 cup of the butter by cooking it over medium heat, scraping the bottom evenly, until the particles turn brown and it smells nutty. Pour into a clean mixing bowl and let cool.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender or your hands, cut in the remaining butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Combine the brown butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Set the dough in the refrigerator while you prepare the peaches.

For the filling:

Peel and slice peaches. Toss with brown sugar and place in a buttered 9-inch pie tin (or cast-iron skillet, as I did).

Bake the peaches for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Drop the topping dough over the peach slices (it will spread). Sprinkle sliced almonds over the dough, if desired, and bake the cobbler 45-55 minutes, until the top is browned and the filling bubbling.

Let cool and serve with ice cream!

Blueberry Muffins and the Brainstem

….aaaaaaand we’re back! My apologies for the abhorrent lapse in posting the last, er, three months. I can offer you only one excuse: medschool. But let’s let bygones be bygones, shall we?

DSC_2990-2I made these delicious blueberry muffins to bring to my regular Saturday morning ladies’ Bible study and to have a late night study snack, only I didn’t end up studying late at night because I was kind of brain-dead, which is ironic, because we’re studying the brain. I digress.

DSC_2986-2 Seriously. You should make these. They’re my favorite.

DSC_2967-2 Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Oh, did I fail to mention that I GOT ENGAGED since my last blog post? ‘Cause I totally did. Best and easiest decision I ever made.

DSC_2962-2 Measure out your dry ingredients and stir them all together in a large mixing bowl.

DSC_2963-2Whisk together oil, an egg, and milk. You could also stir in some sour cream at this step! (I used sour cream in this batch, but I don’t normally. It really just depends on my mood.)

DSC_2964-2 Squeeze in the juice of one small lemon. This will give the muffins more of a buttermilk flavor and also make your baking powder super happy. If you’re like me and spend a lot of time daydreaming on Pinterest, save your lemon seeds and grow a lemon tree! I’m currently trying this. I’ll let you know if it works.

DSC_2965-2 Stir all of your wet ingredients into your dry ones til just combined and then fold in fresh blueberries GENTLY. Otherwise you’ll end up with purple muffins. Unless, of course, you want purple muffins, in which case, smash away.

DSC_2968-2 If you have super cute paper baking pans from your future mother-in-law, by all means, use those, but if not, feel free to use regular muffin pans. Fill the cups up almost to the top!

DSC_2972-2 Once you’ve filled your pans, sprinkle the tops with cinnamon-brown sugar, also known as lazy-streusal. OK, maybe that’s a term I just made up.

DSC_2974-2 Bake them for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean and/or you can’t stand the delicious aroma rising out of your oven any longer and absolutely must break a muffin open and devour it.

DSC_2979-2These are so super good, especially with a mug of hot tea or coffee. My wonderful Mister loves these muffins and has requested that we make them every time he visits. So do yourself a favor and make some for breakfast or a snack or a gift or just because! “Because” is always a great reason to bake.

Best Blueberry Muffins 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • (optional) 1/4 cup sour cream
  • juice of one small lemon
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • brown sugar and cinnamon, for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir til just combined. Don’t over-mix or your muffins will be tough! Gently fold in blueberries. Divide batter among eight muffin cups and sprinkle with cinnamon-brown sugar mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.