Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls

Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls
(Courtesy: Yuhong Sun)

4 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for frying

3 eggs

Pinch salt

4 green onions, julienned into 1” lengths

1 carrot, julienned into 1” lengths

8 water chestnuts, thinly sliced

2” knob of ginger root, thinly sliced

4 mushrooms, thinly sliced and julienned

¾ cup bean sprouts

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

20 spring roll wrappers

 

Crack eggs in a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Beat well.

Heat 4 tbsp of vegetable oil in a heavy pan over medium high heat. Add eggs and cook until puffy. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add ginger to the pan and saute until fragrant. Add water chestnuts and carrots. Saute for 3 minutes.

Add mushroom, green onion and bean sprouts and a pinch of salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes until bean sprouts are translucent and golden. Add soy sauce and sesame oil. Remove from the pan.

Thinly slice egg into 1” lengths. Add to vegetables and mix thoroughly.

Lay spring roll wrapper on a flat surface. Place 2 tbsp filling on one corner, keeping away from edges. Roll the edge over the top of the filling and then flip the and right sides of the wrapper over the filling. Continue to roll, moistening the edge of the remaining corner to seal.

Heat 2” vegetable oil in a heavy pan cast iron skillet to 365℉. Turn heat to medium and lower spring roll, one at a time, into oil and fry until golden brown, turning once. Fry in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan.

Yield: 20 spring rolls, 95 calories per roll

Hack: Spring rolls can be cooked in an air fryer at 375℉ for 6 minutes.

Hack: Spring rolls can be frozen before cooking. Lay them in a single layer on a pan to freeze, then transfer them to a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Spring rolls can be fried in their frozen state.

 

 

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce

 

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce

2 cups tomato sauce

½ cup tomato paste

¼ cup maple syrup or honey

¼ cup molasses

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons paprika

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp cayenne pepper (use more or less to taste)

 

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.  Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Yield:  2 ½ cups barbecue sauce.

Serving size:  2 tbsp, 55 calories per serving

Hack:  Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

 

Homemade Fruit Nut Granola

Homemade Fruit Nut Granola

4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup pecan halves

½ cup sliced almonds

¾ tsp salt

¾ tsp cinnamon

½ cup olive oil

½ cup honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

⅓ cup dried cherries

⅓ cup chopped dates

Preheat the oven to 350℉.  Line a 15”x10” rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix oats, nuts and salt and cinnamon until well blended.

Add olive oil, honey and vanilla to oats.  Mix until well incorporated and all nuts and oats are coated.  Spread evenly on a lined baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and use a spatula to flip granola.  Press granola down with the back of the spatula to make it more cohesive.  Return to the oven and bake until golden brown (10-12 minutes).  Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem crunchy enough at this point.  It will continue to crisp up as it cools.

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle cherries and dates evenly over the top.  Use the back of the spatula to gently press fruit down.

Allow to rest undisturbed until completely cool then crumble or break into pieces.  

Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

Serving size: ½ cup, 235 calories per serving

Hack:  Granola is incredibly versatile.  Feel free to use whatever nuts or seeds you have on hand.  The same goes for the dried fruit.  Alternative sweeteners such as maple syrup or applesauce can also be used.  Go crazy!

Hack:  Serve this in a bowl with milk for a fast and easy meal anytime of day!  It can also be stirred into plain yogurt (sweetened with a touch of honey and vanilla) or in overnight oats.


Healthy Eating 101: How Food Affects Your Brain

Our brain is the team leader that keeps our entire body functioning. It facilitates every process that takes place, it coordinates every action that occurs. Now, I don’t know about you but I don’t want anything murking up the driver of my car and, as it turns out, what you eat does affect your driver. A lot.

Just as our cars need regular maintenance to continue to run smoothly, our brains require a steady diet of nutrient rich food to continue to function at an optimal level. That, of course, comes from eating high quality food.

Welcome to “Healthy Eating 101: How Food Affects Your Brain”. Please find a seat, class has begun!

How Sugar Affects Health

Wait… Is Sugar A Processed Food?

Both refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup are processed from their original form (sugarcane, beets or corn) to become the easy to use sweeteners that we’re so familiar with. The problem is not really the processing of these products but the sheer volume at which they are added to our foods.

What are the side effects of eating too much sugar?

High sugar diets lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, which increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that increased glucose levels lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease even without diabetes being present.

Studies also show the excess consumption of fructose specifically, such as is found in high-fructose corn syrup, leads to an increased risk of dementia.

How much sugar is too much?

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) for women and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men. Unfortunately, the average American consumes a whopping 108 grams (22 teaspoons) every day. That’s almost half a cup of sugar. Wondering how we’re managing to choke down that much sugar every single day? It’s really not that hard.

Traditional Coca-Cola, by their own admission, contains 65 grams of sugar in a 20 oz bottle. 13 teaspoons. With one bottle of Coke, you are well over your daily intake of sugar already and more than halfway to being an “Average American”.

I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that soda (pop, tonic or whatever your regional term for it is) has that much sugar. It’s no secret and many people have given it up completely for this very reason. But in this world of processed foods, you will find sugar in the most unlikely of places.

Pasta sauce, granola bars, instant oatmeal packets, salad dressings and breakfast cereal can all put a serious dent in your daily sugar allotment. Heck, there are some yogurts that can suck up your entire allowance!

Should I cut out sugar completely?

It’s not necessary to cut sugar out completely. Sugar and corn syrup aren’t evil villains who have it in for you. As a matter of fact, they’re here to help. Added sweeteners can enhance or mellow flavors by altering our perception of tastes but keep in mind that a little goes a long way. You can make a difference in your own diet by reading those nutrition labels so you can be aware of how much sugar you’re taking in. It might even cause you to start making your own spaghetti sauce.

The link Between Serotonin and Depression

Do Processed Foods Lead To Depression?

Processed foods don’t, in and of themselves, cause depression but when we eat them we are not eating the healthy food we need to keep our serotonin at the proper level.

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates a number of bodily functions, both physical and psychological. Low serotonin levels have been linked to poor memory, low mood, anxiety and aggression.

So How Does Serotonin Affect Depression?

While there is no direct link to low serotonin causing depression, there is a link to those who are already suffering from depression or have a family history of depression. While higher serotonin levels in this group of people doesn’t dissipate feelings of depression, it does provide a more positive emotional response to those feelings. In other words, they are less likely to take negative action, such as self-harm, in response to what they’re feeling.

What foods increase Serotonin?

Eating foods rich in tryptophan will help to increase serotonin levels but not all these foods will be able to cross the blood – brain barrier and actually help serotonin levels in the brain. Some foods that can pass the barrier are corn, milk and chickpeas which can be especially effective when paired with bright light and exercise.

What Other Foods Improve Brain Function?

The antioxidant beta-carotene that’s found in many orange and dark green produce can protect the brain against mental decline. An 18 year study showed that men who took beta-carotene supplements had sharper memory skills and less cognitive decline than their counterparts who were taking a placebo.

Consuming nuts, seeds, fish and certain oils provides omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. These lipids have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that promote healthier brain cells and can lessen the deterioration of the brain.

Curcumin, which is found in turmeric, improves the function of brain neurons, strengthening and protecting them while encouraging their growth. This promotes memory and the ability to cope with mental strain.

The Bottom Line Is This…

Yes, you can eat a little more of this and a little more of that but the bottom line is this: Eating a whole foods diet is simply good for your mind, body and soul. The evidence shows that sticking to high quality foods positively affects your brain function and emotional stability.

It’s time to take charge of your food, your health and your life. Your brain will thank you.

All my best,

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

Simple Thai Green Curry

Simple Thai Green Curry

2 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tbsp)

1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

3 green onions, chopped (about ½ cup)

1 ½ cups broccoli florets

1 ½ cups cauliflower florets

1 ½ cups sugar snap peas

3 cups coconut milk

3 tbsp green curry paste

12 medium cooked shrimp

Heat olive oil  over medium heat in a wok or saute pan.  Add garlic, ginger and green onion.  Saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes

Add broccoli, cauliflower and green onions and continue to saute for 5 minutes.

Add curry paste and saute for 2 minutes.

Add coconut milk and bring to simmer.  Turn heat to medium low and simmer until vegetables are cooked to desired tenderness.  Add shrimp and heat just until warm through.

Serve immediately with hot rice or noodles.

3 servings, 350 calories per serving, excluding rice or noodles

Hack:  Do you know that you can freeze fresh ginger root?  Grating it in it’s frozen state is easier than grating it fresh and, if you choose organic ginger, you don’t have to peel it!  Simply place in a sealed freezer bag or container and pop it in the freezer.

Hack:  Shop the salad bar if you just need a small amount of an item that you don’t think you’ll use again before it “goes over”.

Hack:  Shrimp can be purchased individually from the seafood counter at most grocery stores.  Alternately, they can be purchased frozen in larger portions if you wish to keep some on hand.  Thaw needed amounts before cooking.  

Hack:  Seafood can be thawed overnight in refrigerator.  It can be thawed more quickly by placing it in a sealable bag and submerging in a bath of cold water for about an hour.

Hack: Check the  produce department of your local grocery store for pre-cut broccoli and cauliflower florets to avoid having to buy an entire head.  Frozen vegetables would also work in this recipe.


Fresh Orange Quick Bread

Fresh Orange Quick Bread

1 orange

2 eggs, room temperature

1 stick butter, room temperature (½ cup)

1½ cups sugar

½ cup orange juice + ¼ cup

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375℉. Line one 9” x 5” loaf pan with parchment paper.

Zest orange. Place on a flat surface and, using a knife with a flat blade, minced finely. Set aside. Pulse remaining orange in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

Cream eggs, butter and sugar together with a mixer until pale. Add orange zest, orange puree, ½ cup orange juice and vanilla. Mix until smooth.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to sugar mixture and blend until smooth

Place batter into loaf pan and bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes.

Immediately after taking the bread out of the oven, drizzle the top with ¼ orange juice, going slowly enough to allow the juice to soak into the top of the bread.

10 servings, 350 calories per serving

Hack: For smaller loaves (for freezing or giving away!), divide batter between two 6’ x 4” loaf pans lined with parchment paper and bake for 40-45 minutes. Alternately, line 24 muffin cups with muffin papers. Divide batter between cups and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Hack: To easily zest a whole orange, use a vegetable peeler. Lay unused zest in a single layer and freeze. Store, tightly wrapped, in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Hack: Puree any leftover oranges in the blender or food processor for use in recipes such as cakes, cookies or breads. 1 orange yields about ⅓ cup, which can be sealed in a bag and stored in the freezer.

Homemade Crispy Hash Browns

Homemade Crispy Hash Browns

1 large potato, 12 oz

½ cup fresh onion, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp paprika

¼ cayenne pepper (optional or to taste)

Scrub potato and, if desired, peel. Using a box grater or grater attachment on a food processor, shred potato using the largest holes. Grate potato on the long side to get longer shreds.

Submerge potatoes in a bowl of water and swirl around with your hand. Use a fine mesh colander to strain out water. Repeat this process 1-2 more times until water remains clear.*

After potatoes are strained the last time, place them on a linen hand towel or cheesecloth. Squeeze as much water out as possible.

Heat oil in a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and onions. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper over the mixture and stir to combine.

Allow potatoes to cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes or until the bottom is brown. Turn in 2 or 3 sections and allow to cook undisturbed 2-3 minutes until the bottom is browned. Turn again in 2 or 3 sections. Continue the process until desired crispiness is achieved, about 10 minutes. Add more olive as necessary for potatoes to continue to sizzle. A non-stick pan will require less oil than a cast iron skillet.

Serve immediately.

* At this point, potatoes can be left in water and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

2 servings, 265 calories per serving

Hack: Leftover hash browns can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat, place in a skillet over medium heat just until warm.



Chinese Pork Fried Rice

Chinese Pork Fried Rice

 

5 tbsp vegetable oil, divided

¼ lb pork, cut into small cubes

2 cloves garlic, sliced (2 tsp)

½ cup frozen corn

½ cup frozen peas and carrots

3 eggs, beaten

3 cups cooked rice, cold*

Salt to taste

3 tbsp Soy sauce

2 green onions, sliced

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok or saute pan over high heat.  Add pork and garlic.  Saute, stirring constantly, until pork is no longer pink.  Add corn and peas/carrots and saute for 3 minutes.  Remove the contents from the pan and set aside.

Add 3 tbsp vegetable oil to the pan.  When it’s heated, add eggs and stir until cooked.

Push the eggs to one side and add rice.  Stir to combine and add pork mixture.  Add salt.

Make a well in the middle of the pan and add soy sauce.  Add green onions and heat through.

Serve hot.

*Leftover, day-old rice works best for this recipe, as it’s less sticky.

6 servings, 310 calories per serving

Hack:  Freeze serving sized portions of leftovers in freezer safe bags or containers for future use.

 

 

Fig Stuffed Chicken Breast

Fig Stuffed Chicken Breast

(Courtesy: Penny Jacques)

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (6 oz)

1 tbsp fig raisin chutney, plus more for serving

2 tbsp goat cheese (1 ounce)

3 tbsp flour

Salt and pepper

⅓ cup bread crumbs

1 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp butter, melted

1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350℉. Butterfly chicken breast and lay on a flat surface.

Place generous tbsp of chutney on bottom half of chicken breast and top with goat cheese

Fold the top half of chicken breast over chutney and goat cheese. Coat with flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mix bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese.

Dip chicken breast in egg and coat with bread crumb mixture.

Place in a greased baking pan. Mix butter and oil. Drizzle over chicken breast.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken has an internal temperature of 160℉.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

2 servings, 350 calories per serving

Hack: Place chicken breast in freezer for 30 minutes prior to butterflying for more stability when cutting. Allow to thaw completely before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.



Crock Pot Designs: The Fun Starts Here

Slow cookers, or crock-pots as they are commonly known, were originally patented in 1940 as a “bean simmer pot” and the first “Simmer Crock” hit the market in 1950 with limited success. In the 1970’s, Crock-Pot became an unlikely symbol of the women’s liberation movement as more women took control of their own destiny by working outside the home. It was a way for women to earn a living and still take care of their families. It was proof that the Modern Day Woman could, indeed, do it all.

Crock-pots haven’t changed much since their inception and why should they? They are the epitome of simplicity. Just throw something in there, turn it on and leave it to its own devices. Now, there have been a few minor improvements, such as larger sizes and timers but in general, they are the same as the originals shown above. Some things never change:

  • Manuel high, low and warm setting
  • Removable Stoneware insert for easy serving and cleaning
  • Aluminum housing
  • Non-skid rubber feet for stability
  • Cool touch handles
  • Glass lid
  • ETL Certified and UL listed.

But guess what has changed?!?! Crock-pot Designs. There’s now a crock-pot design to match your favorite cartoon character, nerdist tendencies and inner superhero.

So buckle up and let’s go on a ride. The fun starts here!

In A Galaxy Far, Far Away

This film franchise has ended but rest assured that Stars Wars will live on in our hearts and our minds…and on Disney+. After being rejected by two major studios, Star Wars: A New Hope was finally granted the go ahead by 29th Century Fox. What was to be a low budget, standalone film morphed into a saga that has continued for over 40 years.

Oddly enough, that means that the Star Wars franchise has been around since the 70s…just like Crock-Pot. Coincidence? I think not.

Star Wars
2 quart size for appetizers, dips, sauces

Baby Star Wars
7 quart

 

 

Baby Star Wars
2 quart size for appetizers, dips, sauces

 

Just For Fun

M-I-CCCCCCC-K-E-YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY M-O-U-S-E!

Who doesn’t love Mickey? He turned 90 years old just a couple of years ago so I think it’s safe to assume that we all grew up with him in our lives!

Mickey made his 1928 debut in the short film Steamboat Willie, one of Disney’s first sound cartoons. The new Disney mascot was created in secret to replace Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, the Disney mascot that was co-owned by Disney and Universal Studios.

Mickey Mouse Duo
5 quart cooker with 10 oz dipper pot
Black Mickey head lid handle

 

Disney Mickey Mouse 90th Anniversary Slow Cooker
6 quart
Decorative removable stoneware
Mickey glove trivet
Red Mickey head lid handle

Disney Mickey Mouse 90th Anniversary Slow Cooker
2 quart for appetizers, dips, sauces
Black Mickey head lid handle

Mickey Mouse Food Head
7 quart
Black Mickey head lid handle

 

 

New Age Cartoons

Pixar was the brainchild of Disney executive John Lasseter. He pitched the idea of using computer animation for producing movies but Disney’s reaction was not what he expected: They fired him.

He teamed up with George Lucas, and later Steve Jobs, to create Polar Studios. Despite an Academy Award nomination and some success in advertising, the company struggled. It wasn’t until their 1988 Academy win for “Tin Toy” that things started to look up. Turns out Disney wanted in after all. And the rest, as they say, is history.

What’s that? Who’s Jack-Jack? Just ask a Millennial. Or a Post-Millennial. I’m sure they’ll think it’s charming that you don’t know.

Pixar Trio
20 ounce
Featuring Jack-Jack, Remy and three-eyed alien from Toy Story
Warmer only, does not cook food
Luxo Ball lid handle

 

Disney Pixar Characters

7 quart cooker complete with rocket ship cooking control and Luxo Ball lid handle

Lightning McQueen
4 quart

 

Honorable Mention

These character powerhouses were dreamed up by Illumination Entertainment and Nickelodeon, respectively. Although they don’t have the big name connections of some of the others, they deserve respect in their own right.

The Minions is the highest grossing non-Disney film of all time and SpongeBob SquarePants has a television history spanning over 12 years (so far). They have certainly earned a spot in the Crock-Pot Hall of Fame!

Minions
2 quart for appetizers, dips, sauces

 

SpongeBob SquarePants
7 quart

 

Super Heroes

Comic book super heroes have been around since the 1930s. The first was Mandrake the Magician in 1934 but it didn’t take long for him to be overshadowed by The Phantom (1936), Superman (1938) and Batman (1939). Frankly, I’m not surprised. Mandrake’s super power was his ability to “make people believe anything, simply by gesturing hypnotically”. Since he was, apparently, unable to make anyone believe he was the top super hero, he definitely deserved to go.

Like Crock-Pot, superheroes haven’t changed much since they showed up on the scene some 80-plus years ago. Why mess with a good thing?

Let’s get cooking with the Earth’s mightiest super heroes!

Spiderman
7 quart

Superman
2 quart size for appetizers, dips, sauces

 

Captain America
2 quart size for appetizers, dips, sauces

 

Batman
2 quart size for appetizers, dips, sauces

 

Marvel Kawaii
7 quart cooker

 

Wonder Woman
7 quart

 

Well, That Was Fun!

Well, there you have it, all the fun I could muster up all in one place. Which one are you going to get?

And, in case you’re wondering, I owned the Flame Red and Avocado Green Crock-Pots, circa 1971. Because I really am that old.

All my best,

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com