Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chipotle Lime Fresh Rolls

What do Type 1 Diabetes, Smores, and Vashon Island all have in common? Camp Sealth! This last week I was out on Vashon Island at Camp Sealth working as a Dietetic Intern for the American Diabetes Association. I was surrounded by many cute kids with Type 1 Diabetes that wanted to experience the “normal” camp life. They swam, they played, they made tie-dye t-shirts, and of course they ate camp food; smores, pasta, fish sticks, trail mix, and much more. They were just like any other kid, except they had to manage a chronic disease.

For those of you that do not know, Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks the cells of the pancreas, which produces and releases insulin. Insulin is a very important hormone that is required by our cells to absorb glucose, the main form of energy for our body. Glucose comes from the foods we eat and can be utilized immediately as energy, stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, or it can be stored as fat. Glucose is very important for optimal brain function, as the brain preferentially uses glucose as energy. Without adequate dietary glucose our bodies enter a starvation mode, utilizing ketones as a secondary form of energy to supply the brain.

In individuals with Type 1 diabetes, they are unable to utilize the dietary glucose because their pancreas does not produce insulin. Consequently, they need to administer insulin in order to utilize dietary glucose and avoid extreme levels in the blood. If the insulin is not administered correctly, or adequate carbohydrate food sources consumed do not match the insulin dose, individuals can quickly become hypo or hyperglycemic. Hypoglycemia is a state of very low blood glucose, whereas hyperglycemia is a state of very high blood glucose. Both states are very dangerous and life threatening.

My role, as the intern, was to carb count each and every snack and meal that the children would eat, allowing the medical staff to dose them with insulin accordingly. It was imperative that I calculated each food item as precisely as possible as the insulin dose was based upon the total carbohydrates the campers chose to eat at mealtime.  Since Camp Sealth has a mission to offer campers a true camp experience, the children were able to indulge in the traditional camp foods because of the close supervision of all the medical staff, including providers, nurses, medical assistants, dietitians, and interns. This way the kids could enjoy pasta for dinner and smores for dessert at a total carb count of 188g without immediately entering a hyperglycemic state.

This trip not only made me thankful that I have a healthy pancreas, but it also helped me understand and become aware of the time and effort required to manage this chronic disease. I now truly empathize with this community.

With that being said, although I loved my experience at Camp Sealth, and am thankful for everything that I learned, I am glad to be home to eat my own food. I remember the days as a child, when I was ecstatic when my parents brought home fish sticks as a treat. But today, I can live without them and the super creamy coleslaw too.....

So in remembrance of Camp Sealth and our “Fish Sticks and Coleslaw” dinner, I created Chipotle Lime Fresh Rolls. I guess the only similarity in these two meals is the word “slaw”, but I just craved this healthy, zesty take on the traditional American salad.  And then I added turmeric tofu and wrapped it all in a brown rice wrapper. Easy, peasy!

And just in case you are wondering one serving of 3 Chipotle Lime Fresh Rolls has 47g of carbs :)

Chipotle Lime Slaw
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
Makes 8 servings

2 limes, juice and zest (about ¼ cup juice)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons honey
½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoons chipotle chili powder
1 ½ tablespoons Vegenaise
Fresh ground pepper

1 medium head green cabbage
4 leaves lacinato kale, deveined
½ small red onion, finely diced
1 ripe mango, diced
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup raw macadamia nuts


Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Add fresh ground pepper to taste. Set aside.

Remove the two outer leaves of the cabbage and then cut the head of cabbage into quarters. With a large chef knife finely shred the cabbage into thin ribbons until you come towards the last inch before the end. Compost the thick end piece and toss the remaining cabbage into a large salad bowl.

Cut the lacinato leaves into thin ribbons and add to the cabbage. Then top with the onion, mango, and cilantro. Over medium low heat, toast the macadamia nuts, and then coarsely chop. Add to the salad ingredients. Mix everything thoroughly. Set aside.

At this point you can continue to make fresh rolls, or you can make a slaw. If you choose to make a slaw, add the dressing to the salad ingredients and mix well. Allow to marinate for about 5 minutes and serve immediately. You can also just toss the amount that you want for the meal and cover the remaining ingredients for another time.

Turmeric Tofu Sticks
Makes 1 serving

3 oz sprouted super firm tofu, cut into sticks
½ teaspoon coconut oil
Sprinkle of turmeric
Sea salt and pepper to taste


Heat a well seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot add the coconut oil and the tofu sticks. Sprinkle with turmeric. Sauté on each side until crisp. When done, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chipotle Lime and Turmeric Tofu Fresh Rolls
Makes 1 serving of 3 rolls

3 brown rice paper wraps (original white ones work fine too)
3 handfuls slaw
1 ½ tablespoons chipotle lime dressing
1 serving turmeric tofu
Optional: sliced avocado


Mix together the slaw and the 1 ½  tablespoons of dressing. Set aside

Fill a large skillet with water and heat over medium. Once warm turn off the heat. Carefully dip 1 rice paper into the warm water for about 5-10 seconds. Gently remove it from water and place onto a large plate.

Top the first rice paper with 1/3 of slaw mixture and 1/3 of the tofu sticks. Add additional avocado slices if desired. Fold the bottom edge of the wrap over the slaw. Fold in both sides and carefully, and tightly roll up the wrap. Set aside. Do the same with the remaining two.

Cut each roll in half diagonally and serve immediately. You can also serve the rolls with the creamy avocado dip or seasoned rice vinegar. Enjoy!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Roasted Spiced Maple Almonds

With the beautiful weather were having here in Seattle, comes hiking and outdoor adventures. Usually, instead of buying fancy trail mixes that cost anywhere from $6-$10 per pound, I make my own. With a stocked “nut & seed box” in my fridge, I always have something tasty to throw in the mix, whether its raw almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, or cashews. Then I add a handful of dried fruit, and sometimes some chocolate chips, and voila, you have your own fancy trail mix. However, plain nuts and seeds can also get a little dull and to make things more interesting, I decided to make roasted spiced maple almonds to add a little bit more “pow” into each bite. They turned out so good, I might just snack on these alone or sprinkle them onto salads, porridges, or anything really!  Besides tasting amazing, your kitchen will smell fantastic too.

With maple syrup as a sweetener, sesame seeds for extra texture and flavor, and different spices to add the “pow”  to my raw almonds, they turned out perfect. And of course, there is also a touch of sea salt that always takes everything to the next level. Roasted spiced maple almonds make it easy to choose the healthy snack option. Here is why:

Sesame Seeds: For many years sesame seeds have been used as a food to prevent aging, and supply hearty energy. Interestingly, the antioxidant y-tocopherol (a vitamin E compound), which has been touted with many of the health benefits of sesame seeds, is found to increase after roasting. In a recent study, researchers found that both γ-tocopherol and total phenolic compounds increased significantly with roasting temperature and time, up until 390 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes (1). Besides being rich in bioactives and vitamin E, the seeds themselves contain high levels of minerals including copper, calcium, iron, zinc, and selenium all of which play vital roles in the body. Copper for instance is known to aid those suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis, by helping to reduce pain and swelling, while zinc can help boost the immune system and aid in cellular regeneration (2).

Almonds: Also rich in vitamin E and minerals, almonds are more commonly found in the diets of Americans and have been studied often. In the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a 2013 study found that almonds eaten as snacks helped reduce post-meal blood sugar, reduce hunger and appetite, and reduce overall energy intake throughout the day. In addition, because almonds are so nutrient dense, all participants met their daily recommended dietary monounsaturated fat and vitamin E intakes. Overall the study found that eating 43g of almonds (a little more than ¼ cup) as a snack helps regulate body weight, while offering many health benefits (3).

Since this recipe is really easy to make I decided to make two batches, each with a different spice. In the first, I used cardamom and in the second, I used a madras curry blend from Feasting At Home. Cinnamon can also be used, however, I encourage you to try something different, you never know what you might uncover!

Roasted Spiced Maple Almonds
Makes about ½ cup

½ cup raw almonds
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
½ teaspoon ground cardamom or madras curry blend
2-3 pinches sea salt
1 tablespoon hulled sesame seeds


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together all the ingredients and evenly spread onto a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool. You should now be able to easily break apart the nuts without them feeling sticky. Store in an airtight container.


1. Jannat B, Mohammad R, Naficeh S, et al. Effect of Roasting Process on Total Phenolic Compounds and γ-tocopherol Contents of Iranian Sesame Seeds (Sesamum indicum). Iran J Pharm Res. 2013;12(4):751-758.
2. WHFoods. Sesame Seeds. Accessed August 1, 2014.
3. Tan SY, Mattes RD. Appetitive, dietary and health effects of almonds consumed with meals or as snacks: a randomized, controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013;67(11)1205-1214.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Gut Feeling + Happy Belly Porridge

Everyone has experienced some digestive distress at some point in their life, whether brief or chronic. I know, I have experienced both. Everyone vividly remembers that one time they ate something “off” and had to pay for it with hours of misery, vomiting and running to the toilet. For me, it happened to be an unwashed apple, for others I often hear sushi. However, some have become accustomed to daily gut distress, that over time they have come to consider it “normal” and cannot remember what it feels like otherwise. Do you think you have a healthy gut? Have you considered your daily symptoms as normal? And what does gut health mean to you? Well the scientific literature lacks a clear definition, as gut health incorporates many different aspects not yet quite fully understood. However, one might define gut health as a state of physical and mental well-being without the gastrointestinal complaints such as IBS, flatulence, bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, food intolerances, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, cramps, heartburn, or any other confirmed bowel diseases (1). That’s a lot, right?

Well, five major criteria have been defined by the scientific community to better understand what gut health truly means (1). If everything is working right, then one should expect the following:

Successful Digestion and Absorption of Food: This includes normal nutrition status, regular bowel movements, no abdominal pain, normal stool consistency, and rare symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or bloating.

The Absence of a GI Illness: Examples include, IBD, celiac disease, carbohydrate intolerances, acid reflux, inflammation, colorectal or GI cancer.

Normal and Healthy Intestinal Microbiota: No symptoms of bacterial overgrowth, antibiotic associated diarrhea, or GI infections.

A Balanced Immune System:  The absence of food intolerances or allergies, leaky gut, or high levels of inflammatory markers.

Feeling Happy: One’s quality of life is uninterrupted by GI distress and there is a balanced production of the feel good hormone serotonin in the GI tract to communicate with the enteric nervous system.

Luckily, diet and lifestyle can do a lot for your digestive health. And when your gut is happy and healthy, then in return you will have more energy, you will feel more satisfied, and you may even be able to prevent future disease. We live in a world that is constantly wrecking havoc on our gut, including chemicals, pollution, drugs, diet, etc, that it is time to make some simple steps towards rebuilding your delicate, yet amazingly resilient and wonderful GI TRACT.

My favorite way start to the day, is my Happy Belly Porridge, because it does just that, it keeps my gut healthy and me happy. It’s simple and it can be adjusted to be vegan. So here is what you will find within.

Soluble & Insoluble fiber: Chia seeds, flax seeds, and oats are great sources of fiber. Soluble fiber is very soothing to the GI tract easing constipation, and increasing transit time. Chia seeds, especially, contain a lot of soluble fiber, because they swell many times their size when added with water, to create a gel-like substance. Insoluble fiber on the other hand, acts as a broom, brushing off dead GI cells, almost like exfoliating your intestines. This helps eliminate cells that may become cancerous and it adds bulk to your stool, once again easing constipation. Just remember to increase your fluids as you increase your fiber to aid in bowel elimination (2).

Prebiotics & Probiotics: Insoluble fiber, found in the flaxseeds and oats, also acts as a prebiotic, or a food source for health promoting bacteria, allowing them to flourish in the colon. In combination with probiotics, such as fermented yogurt and kefir, which contain a wide variety of health promoting bacteria, the soluble and insoluble fibers transport them safely to the lower GI tract to colonize the colon (2).

Culinary Herbs: Many herbs and spices have powerful antibiotic properties, especially against harmful bacteria. With intestinal dysbiosis, or an imbalance of good versus bad gut bacteria, certain herbs have been found to be as potent or more potent than antibiotics, aiding in killing bad bacteria like E. coli and creating a optimal environment for the good ones to grow. Antibiotics on the other hand wipe out all the bad and good bacteria at once, which is not ideal. In a recent study published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal,  peppermint and coriander seed oil were found to be more potent in exhibiting antibacterial activity against E. coli, than rifaximin an antibiotic (3). Therefore, coriander and peppermint are great culinary herbs that can be incorporated into the diet to support a friendly balanced gut environment.

Now do you want to try this porridge for yourself? I usually keep a small mason jar of flax and chia seeds mixed together half and half in the refrigerator just for this recipe. Also, if you cannot tolerate milk, the dairy products are easily replaceable with vegan products. I do recommend full fat dairy versions because they make this breakfast super creamy and give you a good dose of dietary calcium and protein.  I do use a little plain hazelnut milk for added flavor but this is easily substituted with something else. One serving gives you a whopping 9g of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, 15g of protein, and a ton of essential minerals such as calcium (30%), magnesium (22%), selenium (14%), zinc (10%), and iron (10%). Also, with the flax and chia seeds you get a good dose of anti-inflammatory ALA omega-3 fatty acids!

Happy Belly Porridge
Makes 1 Serving

¼ cup dry rolled oats, gluten-free
1 ½ tablespoons of chia/flaxseed mixture (½ and ½)
½ teaspoon ground coriander or cardamom (see cooking tip)
1 cup water 
¼ cup hazelnut milk (or any other milk)
Pinch of sea salt
¼ cup plain full fat Greek yogurt
Drizzle organic pure maple syrup
¼ cup plain full fat kefir
½ cup blueberries


If you have a clean small coffee bean grinder, place the chia/flaxseed mixture inside, and quickly pulse 2-3 times to coarsely chop the seeds. This is optional, but it helps you absorb more of the fatty acids within the flaxseeds.

Place the oats, chia/flaxseed mixture, coriander, and sea salt into a small saucepan. Add water and cook over medium, stirring often. Allow the mixture to become gelatinous, as the chia seeds soak up the water. Add the hazelnut milk and cook to desired consistency. Make sure to stir, to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom. Remove from heat when done.

Place the Greek yogurt into the center of a medium bowl and carefully pour the porridge around the yogurt. Drizzle maple syrup over top. Then pour the kefir over top until it evenly covers the porridge.

Quickly heat the blueberries in a glass bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. You can also heat them in a small saucepan on the stove instead. To garnish the porridge as shown in the picture, carefully pour the blackberry liquid in a circular fashion and spoon the berries into the center. Viola! You are done. Of course you can also mix everything together if you don’t care for the presentation.

Cooking Tip #1: If you are not getting much flavor from your ground coriander try using a motor and pestle and grind up the whole seeds fresh, that way you get more of the essential oils, which carry the flavor and the medicinal powers. If you don't like coriander, I really love cardamom as a more common spice replacement.


1. Bischoff SC. ‘Gut Health’: a new objective in medicine? BMC Medicine. 2011;9:24.
2. Gropper SS, Smith JL. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, Sixth Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth; 2013.
3. Thompson A, Meah D, Ahmed N, et al. Comparison of the antibacterial activity of essential oils and extracts of medicinal and culinary herbs to investigate potential new treatments for irritable bowel syndrome. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;13:338.
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