Cheeseburger Rolls

I love spring rolls…probably too much. I also love a good pub treat that you can serve at a game night table. I’m loving this idea of putting anything you want into spring roll form. I mean who hasn’t indulged in the occasional pizza roll? I was introduced to sausage rolls and thought….couldn’t we put a burger in here? So, I figured I would give it a go. I put in some of the things I like cheese burger wise and ran with it. The result is delicious and great for game night, whichever kind you indulge in. In my case it’s board and card games. Keep these in mind for International Tabletop Day if like myself you don’t have a local event to go to. Celebrate with friends and tasty treats!

  • 6 phyllo dough sheets
  • 1 tsp butter, melted
  • 1 egg white
  • 8 ounces extra lean ground beef
  • 1 pkg lipton onion soup mix, dry
  • 1 mini dill pickle, minced
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 30g shredded light cheese (I went with mozzarellissima light because it melts wonderfully)
  1. Preheat 350F
  2. Mix the ground beef and soup mix together. Brown in a pan.
  3. Add mustard, ketchup, and pickle to the beef and stir.
  4. Layer three phyllo sheets, brushing with butter between the layers. Brush egg white on the top layer. Cut the sheet into columns. I get six.
  5. Place a tablespoon of the beef mixture at the bottom of each column. Top with a bit of cheese, make sure you have enough for 12 rolls. Lift the bottom of the column wrapping filling, fold in the sides, and roll up.Click here if you need some visual guidance. It’s not my site but the method is the same.
  6. Brush on top with egg white. Place on a lined or greased sheet.
  7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have made all twelve and bake for 20-25 minutes. they should look nice a golden brown.

Makes 12 omnom worthy rolls. Each roll is 87.5 calories, 4 grams fat, 6.9g carbs, .3 grams fibre, 5.7 grams protein, .1g sugars, 1.7 g saturated fat. 3 SP each or 2 PP for you weight watcher folks.

Hungry Hobbit Holiday Recovery

So, occasionally I get asked about any cookbooks or tasty new foods I’ve come across to help folks jump start their new you resolutions. This year I decided to put a couple up here. Of course, hungry hobbit itself is full of healthy recipes but, if you want something in your pantry for snacking or on your shelf for looking at, these are some good suggestions.


Jive - Spicy Chili Prana organic has released a snack food this year that surprised me. Organic, dry roasted coconut chips. I am a big fan of potato chips, I just can’t leave them alone if they are in the house. I’m always told that veggies are a good substitute. Sometimes, but not always, to be fair. These give me that satisfying crunchy snack that veggies sometimes lack. There is just something about pouring a little bowl of chips that can help brighten a day or better yet a nice portable “naughty” snack to reward yourself after a good workout. I tried all the flavours (very cutely named after dance styles…perhaps motivation to move a bit more?). The Charleston is a BBQ flavour (kind of that smokey one you get on Lays chips), Classic is just as it sounds, a regular chip, Jive is a neat chili flavoured kick and Hula is sea salt and cracked pepper. My favourite was the Jive followed by the Classic. Classic was more fun to use as a garnish on say my carrot ginger soup or my thai dishes, otherwise a bit dry for purely snacking. Any of these flavours would also be a fun addition when making a custom trail mix blend for hiking. If you are looking for this delicious and nutritious snack check out your grocery healthy living aisle or health food stores. They are available across Canada! Or check out for more information.

tofukitSadly, this next one is not in Canada, so I haven’t tried it personally yet, but I am super intrigued. Morinaga Nutritional Foods has created a make your own tofu kit. You can make traditional silken tofu in just four easy steps! For you US readers who love to have the purest ingredients this is definitely worth looking into. From the looks of it, that kit would be nice for making your own cheese too. Very interesting indeed. For more information check out Or watch the video


FinalAyurvedicCover_0.jpgThe Essential Ayurvedic Cookbook

Looking to start off the year with a healthier way of eating inspired by a tradition that is 5000 years old? Lois Leonhardi (a certified ayurveda wellness practicioner, educator and author) has written a book that might be just what you are looking for. Not just for vegetarians or Yogis this book is very approachable for everyone. It is filled with options for busy, non-vegetarians, vegetarians, gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free people. The tips found in this book make it super easy to be whipping up healthy satisfying meals to help you balance your dosha (mind/body type, don’t worry you don’t need to know that yet) in no time! No previous experience required. I really love how this holistic approach to food has been adapted in this book for our modern society. Want a recipe to try? Like everyone else out there I’ve been playing around with quinoa. Here is an easy one that works for every dosha.

RedQuinoawEndive&CranberriesAyurvedic_0.jpgRed Quinoa with Endive and Cranberries

Quinoa is a little drying and is great for kapha and pitta. Vata can enjoy this recipe with the modification noted. Makes 2 servings


In place of the red quinoa, you could use half red and half white, but I recommend that you do not use white quinoa alone, as it will be very bland.

Choose dried cranberries sweetened with fruit juice.

The white balsamic vinegar adds sweetness (and sourness). If you substitute another vinegar, you may want to add 1 tsp (5 mL) of a sweetener, such as raw liquid honey or coconut sugar, to the dressing.

Gluten-Free,  Soy-Free,  Vegan

  • 212 cups cooked red quinoa, cooled 625 mL
  • 12 cup coarsely chopped Belgian endive 125 mL
  • 13 cup slivered almonds, toasted 75 mL
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced green onions (sliced 30 mL
    on the diagonal)
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries, coarsely chopped 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp green pumpkin seeds (pepitas) 30 mL
    or unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 12 tsp Himalayan salt 2 mL
  • 14 tsp crushed black pepper 1 mL
  • 2 tbsp sunflower, avocado or extra 30 mL
    virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or freshly 30 mL
    squeezed lime juice
  1. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, gently combine quinoa, endive, almonds, green onions, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, salt and pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, balsamic vinegar and cider vinegar.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Courtesy of The Essential Ayurvedic Cookbook by Lois Leonhardi © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

FinalSpiralizerCover.jpg 150 Best Spiralizer Recipes

Do your resolutions include eating more veggies? Some of you might remember my chicken matzo soup with carrot noodles, well this book takes that idea even further! I showed this book to a friend of mine who isn’t great about getting her veggies in. She knows who she is. This book inspired her so much she got her own copy and spiralizer. It definitely has changed some of my approaches to veggies in dishes. I have a carrot pasta dish from here that I am now super fond of and have for a filling dinner on days when I need to eat a lighter calorie dinner. If you are looking for gorgeous pictures of vegetable based foods that can inspire even the most devout of meatatarians you should check out this book. How about a recipe to get you started? It’s my favourite thing to do.


Chicken and Tangy Peanut Sauce over Squash and Carrot Noodles

A very colorful combination of vegetables delivers an inviting foundation for the chicken and tangy peanut sauce.

  • 1 tsp minced gingerroot 5 mL
  • 1 tsp minced garlic 5 mL
  • 1⁄2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1⁄3 to water 75 to
  • 1⁄2 cup
  • 3 zucchini, ends cut flat 3
  • 3 yellow summer squash, ends cut flat 3
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and ends cut flat 2
  • Ice cold water
  • 4 cups diced cooked chicken 1
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

1. In a medium bowl, combine ginger, garlic, sugar, peanut butter,

vinegar, soy sauce and oil until well blended. Gradually stir in water to

reach desired consistency. (The squash strands will add liquid, so you may

want to make the dressing slightly thicker

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, using a

spiralizer, cut zucchini, squash and carrots into thin strands, keeping the

carrots separate. Add carrots to the boiling water and boil for 3 to

5 minutes or until cooked to desired tenderness. Using a slotted spoon,

immediately transfer carrots to a bowl of ice cold water. Blanch zucchini and

squash in the same way, but boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the cooled

vegetables thoroughly and pat dry if necessary.

3. Transfer blanched vegetables to a serving bowl. Top with chicken and

drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle cilantro and sesame seeds on top.

Tips: The peanut sauce also makes a terrific dip for fresh peas in the pod,

or a flavorful spread for sandwiches.

If desired, you can toast the sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium-

high heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until fragrant.


Courtesy of 150 Best Spiralizer Recipes by Marilyn Haugen & Jennifer Williams © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.


The Age Gracefully Cookbook

I love cookbooks that address the idea of FoodTrients or foods that help you with medical conditions. Don’t let the title deter you, this book is great for adults of any age who are actively interested in the health benefits of the food they eat. Grace O has authored an elegant book filled with recipes to rejuvenate and heal, it certainly doesn’t hurt that they are delicious too. This new year you may have resolved to pursue a healthier, joyful and sustainable lifestyle, if so this book could help you on your way. All of these recipes are based on scientific research and many different cultures ancient knowledge of herbs and natural ingredients. A wonderful combination in my opinion. This particular book also provides easy to use guides detailing how the ingredients help increase health and longevity. From this book you gain not only great recipes but also information about the ingredients that allow you to branch out and apply them to your own favourite recipes. The book focuses on five categories deemed essential to healthy living:

  • Antioxident
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Immunity Boosters
  • Mind and Beauty
  • Disease-Preventing

Every single recipe in this book is accompanied by a beautiful illustration to inspire you. I love flipping through this book for clean eating ideas. My favourite parts though are the FoodTrient recipe benefit index and guide to FoodTrients at the back of the book. A wonderful tool to have on hand if you are looking for help with a particular health issue. I’m so happy to add this to my collection of “food pharmacy” cookbooks.


For the Love of Food and Yoga.jpg For the Love of Food and Yoga

A few of you know that not only do I love food but I am also a certified yoga and pilates instructor. This book was too close to my heart to resist and I am so happy I picked it up. This a tome filled with a hundred delicious recipes, motivational pictures and time-tested yoga teachings. The recipes are vegetarian, vegan, or raw focused, as an omnivore that suits me just fine, the healthiest eating for me includes a variety of dishes and not eating meat everyday. I love that the book is organized like a menu all the way from “Beginnings” through “Surrenderings” and ending with “Fountains of Youth”. I have not encountered a book like this before and I find it wonderful, inspiring, and even a bit cute…they have a sense of humour when it comes to naming some of their recipes. Liz Price-Kellogg and Kristen Taylor have really put together a lovely lifestyle cookbook here. A great book that you use not only as a cookbook but to actually sit down and enjoy as a light motivational read. An uplifting addition to the library of any yoga lover that also happens to love food…like me. I thought this recipe looked extra delicious and needed to be shared.

Asparagus Ashram

An Ashram is a spiritual monestary or place which often offers cultural teachings of yoga, spitirual practices, or religion. These teachings help help us to continue to develop our awareness and guide us on our paths to our best selves.

Our Asparagus Ashram sandwich is a veggie-packed but still decadent grilled cheese sandwich. Create and savour. Serves 4

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T shallot, minced
  • 20 thin asparagus spears, large stems removed
  • Himalayan salt coarsely ground, to taste
  • Pepper coarsely ground, to taste
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 2 T fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 T flat leaf parsely, chopped
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated smoked gouda cheese
  • 8 oz. thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 8 slices good bread
  • 4 T grainy french mustard
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute garlic, shallots, and asparagus with salt and pepper to taste with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until asparagus is tender or for about 10 minutes.
  2. Turn off heat and add lemon juice, basil, parsley, and cayenne. Combine. Use a spatula to remove asparagus mixture from skillet and set aside in a bowl.
  3. Mix cheddar and Gouda cheeses together in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Place cheddar and Gouda mixture, equally, on 4 slices of bread. Add equal amounts of asparagus mixture onto each piece of bread with grated cheese. Top with mozzarella equally on each sandwich half. Spread 1 tablespoon of mustard on the inside of each top bread slice. Place one slice of bread on top of each sandwich half.
  5. In the same skillet used to cook asparagus. heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add sandwiches to skillet and brush top bread slices with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  6. place lid over skillet and cook sandwiches for 5 minutes on each side or until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted.
  7. Cut sandwiches in half, if desired, and serve immediately.

Courtesy of For the Love of Food and Yoga by Liz Price-Kellogg & Kristen Taylor © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

So, there you have it, a few things I have found to inspire you in your push for your “new you” this year. I hope a few of the books or foods I have talked about help you on your way to a great 2016. You can do it and still eat tasty food too. Now, I need to go…I’m totally hungry after all that food talk. Enjoy!

I Want Candy!

Warning, it is indeed candy season. That seasonal urge to make candy for myself and for gifts is upon me once more and happily there is a new book out there to give me some new ideas.  Sally’s Candy Addiction by Sally McKenney is full of recipes, advice for making it easy or when you mess it up, and best yet so very many sweet tooth craving inducing pictures. I love how down to earth this author is. It feels like you are reading candy making notes from a friend. She shares her triumphs, her mistakes and best of all how she tried to salvage those mistakes. Very useful for when you also make those mistakes.

Each chapter presents first a basic look at say a chocolate, fudge, or taffy then shows progressively newer takes on that classic. The last recipe of the chapter is her wow factor recipe. It took me a long time to choose just one recipe to share with you but this one blew me away not just with how tasty and pretty it is (great for gifts!) but because of how easy it is. Who doesn’t love making something that looks so difficult for people to ooh and aah over but was actually as easy as heating, stirring, and pouring? I know I do. Kind of like that lady from that old rice crispy treat commercial. Don’t forget to puff flour in your face and look exhausted when you present these beauties. I’ll let Sally take it from here.

Creamy Cranberry Pistachio Fudge


Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 6 hours, 15 minutes or overnight

Makes: 64 x 1-in (2.5cm) squares

I recently became obsessed with a pistachio white chocolate cranberry cookie I posted on my blog. If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m obsessed with a lot of things. But my love for those cookies is borderline crazy. I took the same exact flavors and made fudge with them this past holiday season. My husband’s coworkers went nuts for it. The base of this creamy fudge recipe is my Shortcut Chocolate Fudge (page 148), only this time, I use white chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chocolate.


  • 14oz (396g) can full-fat sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 cups (546g) white chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (120g) dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup (92g) shelled salted pistachios

Special Equipment

  • 8-in (20cm) square baking pan
  1. Line an 8-in (20cm) square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving enough overhang on the sides to easily remove the fudge once it has set. Set aside.
  2. Combine condensed milk and white chocolate chips in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon as the chips melt. Once the mixture is smooth and the chips have melted, remove pan from the heat. The mixture will be extremely thick at this point. Stir in the vanilla extract, salt, cranberries, and pistachios until combined. Pour the thick mixture into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.
  3. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 4 hours, or until set. Alternatively, you can let the covered fudge sit at room temperature overnight to set. Once set, remove the fudge from the pan by lifting out the aluminum foil. Invert the fudge onto a cutting board, peel away foil, and turn the fudge back over. Using a large sharp knife, slice the fudge into 1-in (2.5cm) squares. (If the fudge has been in the refrigerator for longer than 4 hours, it might be quite stiff; if so, allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before cutting.)

Be Prepared

Fudge is a perfect recipe to make ahead of time for gift-giving and holidays. Unless otherwise noted, these are the instructions for storing:

  • Layer cooled fudge pieces between sheets of parchment or wax paper and store in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week or in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
  •  To freeze the fudge, individually wrap pieces of fudge or double wrap the entire batch of fudge in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Sally Says: I use both a pinch of salt and salted pistachios in this fudge. White chocolate chips are quite sweet, so these additions of salt balance the flavor wonderfully.

© 2015 text and photos by Sally McKenney

See how pretty and wonderfully easy this treat can be? Those colours are great for fall or winter holidays. Want something even more fall related what about making some of her Pumpkin Spice Toffee? Or Chai Tea Truffles? Or some all year fun like Lemon Cream Pie Truffles or Birthday Cake Fudge? I know. See? It was so hard to choose! I’m going to be busy making candy. Remember, you can still have candy while trying to eat healthy, just everything in moderation. Oh yay, I actually get to say this. *cough* Hold on, got to get ready for it.

Enjoy responsibly.


Roasted Pattypan Squash with Lemon Dressing

Whenever I wander the farmer’s market in my little corner of the shire I see that almost every stall has a pile of these interesting little squash they call pattypan squash. I had never had one before but I do love squash. So, I picked some up and decided to go on a grand tasting adventure. It was a success.  I found that these little squash are a lot like zucchini and roasted with a drizzle of dressing they are divine! I suggest getting some next time you see them at your local farmers market. I love tasting produce I can’t get in a grocery store. Here is what I did:


  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbl capers (I use organic if I can find them, better flavour)
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 4 cups pattypan squash cut horizontally in halves
  • 1 tsp virgin coconut oil, melted
  • dash of salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 475F, if your oven has a roasting setting use that.
  2. Toss the squash in the coconut oil. Arrange on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper cut side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast at 475 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. While squash is roasting combine the lemon zest, juice, capers, olive oil and garlic in a ramekin. While mixing mash the capers down just a bit to have them contribute more flavour.
  5. Drizzle the dressing over the hot squash and serve immediately.

A great side dish with chicken or pork. Serves 4. Per serving, 72 calories, 5.6 grams fat, 5.5 grams carbs, 1.6 grams fibre, 1.6 grams protein. So tasty and so healthy.  you might want to have a double portion! Why not? I often do. Now that I have discovered the wonders of the pattypan squash I may just have to give growing them a try next year.

Simply Vietnamese Cooking and the Big Cool Noodle Bowl


No woman is an island. So, occasionally I look to mix things up around here by trying out some recipes in a cookbook for inspiration. I looked around and found this book ‘Simply Vietnamese Cooking’ by Nancie McDermott, you Good Eats fans may remember her as the Cake Historian. A person who knows cake that well should be trusted. I’m pretty sure that’s a law. This particular book also grabbed my attention because I love Vietnamese food but lack a restaurant in this corner of the shire. I find Vietnamese food to be so different than say Thai or Chinese, so sadly those places just can’t fill that void. I need those bright, vibrant and refreshing flavours that come from their use of fresh and fragrant herbs. Oh, and we must not forget the oodles and oodles of noodle dishes!

We always hear how healthy Asian cooking can be for us, so why aren’t we doing it more? Well, likely because you think (much like myself) that getting those authentic flavours is a complicated process or perhaps you are a little tired of just doing Chinese food. I put a few of the recipes in this book to a stress test. I was determined to make them after a late night of work. You know what? I succeeded. I had a bowl of tasty authentic flavoured Vietnamese cuisine in front of me within 15 minutes. I even had time to read the cute little “Vietnamese Tales” educational story included with many of the recipes. Really, most of the time was spent cutting and assembling. Vietnamese food assemble!! The best part, I used produce from my own garden. So many of the recipes in here include things that grow so very well in my garden such as cucumbers, mint, basil, green onions, chili peppers…to name a few. A wonderful way to enjoy the last tastes of your summer garden or even next year’s flavours.

After a late day of work it had that refreshing taste that I love so much in Vietnamese cuisine.  A light tasting perfect pick me up dinner. It was so enticing I couldn’t wait to start slurping up those noodles and making unlady like noises of appreciation for the variety of flavours. If you are also a fan of Vietnamese food and want to accomplish authentic flavours easily I recommend this book. I know I will be visiting it frequently myself for another tasty noodle bowl or perhaps a Vietnamese iced coffee or a steamy bowl of Pho.  Want to try out one of these recipes? Please do! Here is the one I had last night:

Big Cool Noodle Bowl with Roast Chicken, Cucumbers and Mint

This recipe is a pattern for innumerable delicious variations on the meal-in-a-bowl known in Vietnam as bun. You can compose a go-to version using ready-to-savor ingredients, such as chunks of rotisserie chicken, slices of Char Shiu-Style Pork (page 88), roast duck from an Asian market or tender slices of grilled flank steak from yesterday’s grill-centered feast. Keep a couple of packages of dried rice noodles (or angel hair pasta) in your pantry, stay stocked up on fresh herbs and lettuces and mix up a jar of pickles (pages 128 to 131), and you’ll be set for pantry meals of irresistible deliciousness on a moment’s notice.

Serves 4

  • 1 lb thin dried rice noodles 500 g
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce or spring salad mix 500 mL
  • 3 cups shredded roast chicken 750 mL
  • 2 cups sliced peeled cucumber 500 mL
  • 1 cup small sprigs fresh mint and fresh cilantro combined optional 250 mL
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts, optional 500 mL
  • 1 cup shredded carrots 250 mL
  • 1⁄3 cup thinly sliced green onions 75 mL
  • 3⁄4 cup chopped dry-roasted salted peanuts 175 mL
  • Double recipe Everyday Dipping Sauce (see below recipe), about 1 cup (250 mL)

1. Bring a large saucepan, Dutch oven or pasta pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop in noodles, remove from heat and let stand, using tongs or a slotted spoon and a fork to separate the noodles and let them cook evenly, for 10 minutes. When noodles are tender, drain, rinse in cold water and drain again. You’ll have about 6 cups (1.5 L) of cooked noodles. Let stand while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

2. Set out 4 big Asian-style noodle or soup bowls. Divide ingredients evenly among the bowls: lettuce first, topped with 11⁄2 cups (375 mL) noodles in each bowl.

3. Place roast chicken on one side and cucumber, fresh herbs and any optional ingredients you’re using on the other.

4. Sprinkle green onions and peanuts over chicken, pour 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) of Everyday Dipping Sauce over each portion of the noodles and serve at once, inviting your guests to toss everything together as they begin to eat.


These delicious mix-and-match main course noodle salads make an ideal buffet where each guest can choose their favorite ingredients in quantities they like. Set out the ingredients in the order guests will add them, with noodles first, along with tongs or two forks for easy serving. Next come meat, cucumbers, mint and bean sprouts; followed by pickled carrots, green onions and peanuts. Have the sauce in a bowl with a ladle or big spoon or a small pretty glass pitcher if you have one, so they can add the seasoning at the end.

Everyday Dipping Sauce

  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic 15 mL
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar 30 mL
  • 1⁄2 tsp chile-garlic sauce, finely chopped 2 mL fresh hot red chiles or 1 tsp (5 mL) hot pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce 45 mL
  • 3 tbsp water 45 mL
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice 30 mL

1. In the bowl of a mortar, if using, combine garlic, sugar and chile-garlic sauce and mash with a pestle to a paste. (Or combine them on your cutting board and mash to a coarse paste with a fork and the back of a spoon.)

2. Scrape paste into a small bowl and stir in fish sauce, water and lime juice. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Transfer to small serving bowls for dipping. Or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Courtesy of Simply Vietnamese Cooking by Nancie McDermott © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold. Photo credit: Colin Erricson

Victoria’s First Gluten Free Health and Wellness Festival (Coconut Macaroon recipe)


Any of you fellow local Hobbits looking for something to do this weekend? By local I mean somewhere within questing distance of Victoria, BC. Well, if you are you might want to check out this festival at it’s grass roots level. Saturday, February 22nd from 12pm-5pm at the Victoria Conference Center for the main event with various presenters and workshops. It’s not just food, there will be Chi Gong and Yoga to do too! Check out the website for more details or to purchase tickets online:

Want to know even more? Well, lucky me I was able to ask the founder of the event a few questions.

HH: Thank you Ari Hershberg for taking time out of your busy schedule preparing for the first ever gluten free health & wellness festival to answer a few questions.

AH: Thanks for interviewing me about the Gluten-Free Health & Wellness Festival.  You have a cool blog.

HH: First of all, what inspired you to put together a festival of this kind here in Victoria, BC?

AH: I have a speaker agent background.  I moved back to Victoria almost 2 years ago.  I love this city and wanted to bring in big name speakers that people are passionate about, who usually only go to the big cities.  I came up with the idea soon after a visit to the Pacific Rim College.  They are an Alternative Medicine school in Victoria. Their three major programs – acupuncture, phytotherapy (western herbs) and holistic nutrition bring much insight to what gluten does to the body. How to help heal the gut and what modalities will bring balance to the body.  It was suggested to me to take gluten out of my diet.  After a few months I was shocked that my sinuses cleared up and that was just the start.  My sinuses had always been congested and I thought that it was genetic.  I started reading “Wheat Belly”, the New York Times mega best seller book by Dr. Davis and realized that he would be a wonderful speaker to bring into Victoria.

HH: I see a fantastic array of topics have been arranged for this festival from gluten free awareness to digestion health to chi gong and yoga. What message are you hoping attendees of the festival will learn from their afternoon of wellness education?

AH: The goal of the event is to go beyond all of the sound bites out there on gluten-free and educate people on gluten-free as well as the many other aspects that can put people in their best health.  There are so many wonderful things you can do to improve your health.  I wanted to make the event into a festival of possibilities.  For example, Chi Gong is one of the most popular forms of exercise in the world and in North America the exercise is pretty obscure.  This is an opportunity for people to look at so many different forms of health and see what they think in an open, friendly environment.    

HH: How do you see gluten free health and wellness today as opposed to say 10 or 5 years ago?

AH: That is a great question and one I have thought about often.  Pardon my Malcolm Gladwell reference, but Gluten-Free hit a tipping point about a year ago and now is a term that everyone has heard about.  In Victoria it seems like every restaurant now caters to gluten-free.  Prior to this tipping point, a small group of people who knew the term gluten-free were celiacs or people who went to their naturopath or Chinese Medicine doctor and was told to try and take gluten out of their diet and see how their body performed.  There was very few people who knew about the term gluten-free.  I would give the majority of the credit to Dr. William Davis and his book Wheat Belly.  This book created discussion and is still creating discussion.  

HH: What do you hope to see in the future for this festival?

AH: My biggest hope and dream for the festival is that it becomes a trusted educational event, where people come who want to take a day and learn.  Through learning people who attend will feel comfortable, confident and even excited about their health and see how easy it is to make some minor adjustments in their health and the many health advantages they have from making these changes.  I also want to create community.  The opportunity to listen to phenomenal speakers in a live event creates discussion.  This past year I was honoured to be the Media Relations Coordinator for TEDxVictoria.  People love TED and TEDx talks and have favourite videos online that they have shared with friends.  Being at the live event was different, during the intermission people gathered in the foyer and talked about different talks that excited them with friends and people they just recently met during the event.  I would like to see the same at this festival.

HH: As a health focused “foodie”, I have to ask, what are some of your favourite healthy snacks and/or meals?

AH: It changes all of the time.  For years I would spend a year or more mainly cooking a specific cultures food (Italian, Chinese, Indian).  Lately I have been reading Sandor Katz, learning the Art of Fermentation and am all over Chinese soups again.  My favourite soup right now is Corrine Trang’s “Cure All” Soup.  It is a combination of fresh ginger, green onions, pork ribs, ground pork, daikon radish, fish sauce (I add fresh turmeric and kombucha squash) and fresh cilantro.  I am going to have to go get groceries after I write this and make it today…yum!  I like to cook from scratch and my meals change regularly.  Cooking is my opportunity in the day to listen to great music and make wonderful food. 

HH: Lastly, what is health and wellness to you?

AH: In a nutshell, enjoying life.  Doing work that I love, that gives back to the community, exercising with friends, cooking great food and sharing with friends, learning and trying new things and laughing, laughing a lot.

HH: Once again, thank you for taking the time to answer these question and congratulations on making the first gluten free health & wellness festival in Victoria, BC a reality.

Now, I can’t finish this up without having some kind of recipe so the kind folks at Origin Bakery have given me a recipe to share.

ImageCoconut Macaroons


  •  3 cups organic unsweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 1 cup organic coconut cream
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 large free-range egg whites
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence, or ½ vanilla bean



  1.  Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk egg whites with honey and vanilla, just til combined.
  3. Whisk in coconut cream, then add coconut and salt and stir til combined.
  4. Scoop by tablespoonfuls onto greased or parchment-lined tray.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes or til golden on top.


Yields about 25 cookies, depending on size. Each cookies contains: 75 calories, 6.6 grams fat, 4.2 grams carbs, 1.3 grams fibre, and 1.2 grams protein. A tasty indulgence, my husband LOVES coconut macaroons. It’s one of my favourite things to send him in a care package when he is away.


Mac and Cheese now with covert veggies

Yes, I messed with that classic, the precious macaroni and cheese. Yes, I added vegetables. Hear me out though! Years ago kraft came out with a healthier mac that included cauliflower in its sauce. I tried it, it was ok…except that cauliflower upsets my tummy. Notice you don’t see me using it much? Well, I finally got to thinking there must be a better way. After a bit of playing around I have found it. I was torn for awhile between pumpkin and carrot,  but in the end carrot won. Mostly because I used up all my pumpkin making all my other delectable treats.


  • 227 grams high fibre dry macaroni
  • 370 grams carrots, cut into chunks (I just washed them and left peels on)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 cup light shredded cheese (I blended some cheddar and mozzarella but have fun trying out new things, I would include a sharp cheese in the blend though)
  • 1/4 cup light shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbl light cheddar cheese spread
  • 3 tbl shredded romano or parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven 375F and spray a 9×9 baking dish.
  2. Cook the pasta as directed to al dente, drain and reserve 1 cup of liquid.
  3. Place carrots in a microwave safe container. Add 1/2 cup water. Microwave for 4 minutes or until soft. Add reserved water from the pasta and puree until smooth.
  4. Add the carrot puree to the pasta and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the “sauce” thickens.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the mustard powder, 1 cup of shredded cheese blend, cheese spread and romano/parmesan cheese. Stir until creamy and season to taste.
  6. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the 1/4 cup light cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling.

Serves 4. Each serving contains 338 calories, 8.2 grams fat, 53.3 grams carbs, 2.6 grams fibre, 17 grams protein. A great comfort food, I forgot about the carrots in it after the first bite and just carried on loving a creamy noodle dish of num. A little side salad and you have accomplished so many of your daily veggies or better yet cut this into smaller pieces and have it as a side dish. A 6 serving side dish is 225 calories, 5.4 grams fat, 35.6 grams carbs, 1.7 grams fibre, 11.3 grams protein.

Book Review: Dining Out at Home Cookbook 2

Ever wanted to imitate those dishes you enjoyed while eating out for much cheaper at home? I do. I do this all the time, I taste something, then I go home, imitate it and try to make it healthier. This book comes from a fellow blogger, Stephanie Manley of, who has had so much success in food imitation she has filled a second book of recipes. I’m a sucker for a great icon guide, this one indicates recipes for cocktail parties, vegetarian, make ahead (always great for dinner parties or freezer cooking), impress the guest (really who wouldn’t want to?), dinner for one (which happens around here a bit), and dinner for two (which happens a lot around here happily) just to name a few. There are so many tantalizing tidbits in there. The thing I love about this book for people like myself who are trying to eat healthier is, now that you have the recipe, it is so much easier to make substitutions. Want that cheesy goodness that comes from Logan’s Roadhouse loaded potato skins? Flip to page 32, substitute light sour cream, light cheddar and monterey jack cheese, and light butter. You are in tasty heaven and for less fat and calories than eating out in the first place. I love to do take out from home. It is always, cheaper, healthier, and often faster (consider driving time, ordering, etc). What about the Melting Pot’s Wisconsin Trio Fondue? Yeah, it’s in there…you know what to do. I do not have access to a lot of these restaurants, being Canadian, so a book like this adds extra excitement. Many a time my husband and I have been watching tv and seen commercials for places like Sonic, Panda Express, Red Lobster (we don’t have one on the island), and Cheesecake Factory (that is actually due to all our Big Bang Theory watching), they look so good but are nowhere near here. Happily they all have recipes in this book, I can’t wait to make some of those red lobster biscuits, healthy version of course. So many great restaurant recipes are represented in this book including my own addiction, a version of starbucks pumpkin spice latte which I get to share with you right now! Perfect timing too right?’s Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Syrup

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tblsp grated nutmeg
  • 3 cinnamon sticks or 1 1/2 tblsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tblsp canned pumpkin

Pumpkin Spice Latte Serving

  • 1/2 cup espresso or strong coffee
  • 2-3 tblsp pumpkin syrup
  • 1/2 cup milk, warmed and frothed
  • whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Make pumpkin syrup:

  1. Bring water, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Strain through a coffee filter. You want the seasoned water to be free of the spices.
  4. Pour the strained water back into the pan and add the sugar and pumpkin. Mix well.
  5. Simmer another 10 minutes. Makes approximately 1 pint of pumpkin spice syrup. Store in and airtight container in the fridge. Will stay fresh for up to a week.

Make the Latte:

  1. Brew a 4 ounce serving of espresso or strong coffee.
  2. Place 2-3 tblsp of pumpkin syrup in a coffee cup and add coffee.
  3. Gently pour the frothed milk over the coffee and gently stir.
  4. Top with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg if desired.

Serves 1

Want to make it a skinny pumpkin latte like I do? Substitute the sugar with stevia or splenda, choose skim milk or unsweetened almond milk, and skip the whipped cream. A skinny pumpkin spice latte serving (with unsweetened almond milk) comes in at 28 calories, 2 grams fat, 5.4 grams carbs, 1.2 grams fibre, and .9 gram protein. Nummy! I make this with organic canned pumpkin and stevia. Watch for sales throughout the year and enjoy!

Double Dark Brownies

When life gets crazy, make brownies. Life around here has definitely been crazy, you might have noticed the absence of posts. Well, to comfort myself I made a fudgy style of brownie and felt I should definitely share. Accept my chocolatey, tasty, less than guilty apology? Wait till you see the secret ingredient…don’t let it turn you off. My husband, the surly dwarf, didn’t even notice. Definitely try it.


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup splenda, truvia or other sugar substitute
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup nutri flour (or unbleached flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 7 egg whites or 1 cup egg substitute
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened light coconut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Spray 13″x9″ pan, preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine sugar, cocoa, flour, and baking powder.
  3. Add egg whites, pumpkin, coconut milk, and vanilla. Stir until moistened.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into 24 squares.

Makes 24 brownies. Each brownie contains 58 calories, .9 gram fat, 14.5 grams carbs, .7 gram fibre, 1.8 grams protein. Yeah, I know. I had to double check, I was so surprised. Definitely a go to brownie for those chocolate comfort cravings.



Cheeseburger Bubble Pizza

A friend of mine approached me to try to make a healthier version of this tasty dish. Most of all she wanted to avoid the use of pre-made dough which is full of preservatives. I had to admit, I had no idea what bubble pizza was. Apparently it’s when you take dough in a can and mix it with pizza ingredients to make a delicious kind of deep dish meets casserole experience. After playing around with it a bit I found a combination that not only worked but we have now added to our own list of favourite not so naughty dishes. The best part? Leftovers can be frozen and reheated. They taste just as good as the original baking. For you freezer cooks this is definitely one I would add to your menu. Alright, enough talking about the holy grail of pizza lets get down to the details!


  • 1 tbl honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tbl water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (I actually used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 tbl light butter
  • 10 oz extra lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jar tomato sauce of your choice or homemade (16 oz)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 cup light mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup light cheddar
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Pizza toppings of choice (optional, not included in nutritional info)
  1. Grease a 9×13 baking dish, preheat oven to 350F
  2. Combine the first ingredients in either a breadmaker according to your directions or knead together on a floured surface to create a dough. Proof twice.
  3. In a deep skillet brown the ground beef, break up any big bunches.
  4. Add garlic and onions. Continue to cook until onions are soft.
  5. Stir in tomato sauce and basil.
  6. Grab small (thumbsized) balls of the dough and add them to the sauce mixture. 100_2984
  7. Stir the mixture very gently until all the dough balls are coated with sauce.100_2986
  8. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the cheeses and another other pizza toppings you want to include. Bake for another 10 minutes (longer if you really load it up).
  10. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting into 6 really large portions.100_2997

Makes 6 servings. Each serving contains 339 calories, 13.8 grams fat, 34.6 grams carbs, 4.2 grams fibre, 19.9 protein. So filling and so easy to make into a feast by adding a side salad. My surly dwarf was impressed with how full it made him feel after a long day of work. This might actually find a special place in our freezer to take care of those, aarrgh, let’s just have pizza kind of days. 2-3 minutes in the microwave is faster than delivery and so much cheaper.