turn (almost) any food into an appetizer

Appetizers are a huge part of any social gathering, and being able to turn just about anything into an appetizer without too much trouble means endless possibilities! Presentation and ease of consumption are always two huge motivators when it comes to someone choosing to eat the food you put out. 

fruit-toothpicks-appetizerUse toothpicks.

If a toothpick will stick into the food, use it. This not only helps everyone avoid germs and the sticky fingers of children on their food, it also gives the dish an edge over others because of the ease of serving oneself.

Toothpicks also make it easy to have a dip of sorts available for the appetizer without worrying about anyone double dipping (if that’s a concern for you or others at the gathering). And of course, there’s the obvious benefit of having toothpicks around at a meal… cleaning one’s teeth.

carrots-appetizerPut things on cupcake wrappers.

Awesome. Not only is this something someone can pick up without touching, it is also something they can eat without having a plate on hand. You know how dinner parties or barbecues are, people get their plates, eat, then an hour or two later, they head back to the table to grab a little something else. By that time, plates may be gone or put away, and all that’s left are things you can eat without plates.

Cupcake wrappers also allow for incredible food presentation. You can lay out a bit of food with sauce drizzled over it, presenting it well and making it look even more appetizing to anyone enjoying your food. I personally like to put some veggies with a little dip in cupcake wrappers for people to take. Each person gets their own dollop of dip and nobody needs to use a spoon, spill anything, or double dip.

appetizer-in-lettuceLettuce leaves.

Wow, I cannot express how awesome lettuce and spinach leaves can make an appetizer! I love wrapping things in lettuce leaves. Not only does it separate one piece of food from another, it also gives those eating the food the option of adding the additional greens to their food. More veggies and greens is always great!

Lettuce and spinach leaves also make great separators for foods, which only adds to the fantastic presentation. It often amazes me just how much of the lettuce or spinach people end up just eating when I use it as a wrapper or separator for an appetizer.

fruit summer rolls

fruit-summer-rolls-finished1A super fun way to eat fruit, these fruit summer rolls are not only cool looking, they’re also delicious and healthy!

Getting the kids to eat more fruits and veggies can be difficult, but when you hand them a cool looking snack like these fruit summer rolls, it becomes much less of a hassle. I just love that these are fairly simple to make and totally packed to the max with fruit!

These fruit summer rolls go really well with our honey lime sauce. The honey lime sauce is fantastic with any fresh fruits!

Making fruit summer rolls is easy!

fruit-summer-rolls-filling-preppedFirst, cut your apples and peaches into matchstick sized pieces. They do not have to be perfect, they just need to all be similar in size. Wash your spinach and remove the stems, as they can break through the thin rice paper. Slice your strawberries into thin slices.

Second, wet your rice paper. To do this, I dip it quickly in a bowl of water, making sure to wet both sides, but not soak it. Allowing rice paper to sit in water will make it impossible to work with. Once it’s dipped in water, shake it off, make sure no excess water is left on the paper, and lay it on a flat work space.

fruit-summer-rolls-filling-on-paperThird, lay the spinach pieces (about 1 leaf, again minus the stems, per roll) on the rice paper, about 1 inch from one end of the paper. Place the peach and apple slices on the spinach.

fruit-summer-rolls-one-full-rollFourth, make one complete roll of the rice paper and place the strawberry slices, 3 to 4 slices per roll) on the rice paper.

fruit-summer-rolls-precutFifth, fold each side of the rice paper over, like a burrito. Finish rolling the rice paper. Repeat this process until you’ve used up all your fruit slices and lettuce!

That’s it! You’re done! These really are easy to make. The rice paper does take some getting used to, as it can be difficult to work with. But with time and practice, the process becomes a quick one! My silver lining when I was first learning to work with rice paper was that I got to eat any rolls that didn’t roll properly… yum!

fruit-summer-rolls-finished2If serving lots of people, cutting the rolls in half allows you to make fewer rolls while still being able to offer one to each of your guests. Half rolls are also perfect for younger children. If having this as a dessert, making some pudding to go with them is a great way to add some extra sweetness to them! These can either be dipped in the pudding, or (if cut in half) a spoonful of pudding can be drizzled down the open top. Pudding can also be added during the initial rollup process, but that could end up messier than one would like.

Fruit Summer Rolls
A refreshing fruit summer roll, great for any occasion!
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 peach
  2. 1 apple
  3. 4 strawberries
  4. 4 spinach leaves (or romain lettuce leaves)
  5. 1 mango (optional, but makes it sweeter)
  6. 1 kiwi (optional)
  7. rice paper (8 to 10 sheets)
Instructions
  1. Slice peach and apple into matchstick sized pieces.
  2. Slice strawberries (and kiwi if you're using it) into thin slices.
  3. Slice mango into thin strips (if you opt to add the mango)
  4. Remove stems from spinach leaves (the hard stems may break through the rice paper).
  5. Wet the rice paper and lay on flat work surface.
  6. Lay the spinach or lettuce pieces on the rice paper, centered and about 1 inch from one edge of the rice paper. Use about 1 spinach leaf per roll.
  7. Lay the mango slices across the spinach or lettuce (if you're adding mango)
  8. Lay the apple and peach slices on top of the spinach.
  9. Roll up the filling, one full roll.
  10. Place about 3 strawberry slices (and kiwi, if you opted to use it) on the rice paper, directly next to the current edge of the roll.
  11. Fold both sides over and finish rolling.
  12. Cut or don't, depending on your need.
  13. ENJOY!
Notes
  1. To keep the apple from browning, soak the slices in 1 cup water mixed with the juice of 1/2 a lime.
  2. These are best when put together within a few hours of serving, though the fruit can be prepped the night before.
  3. If serving in a dish, use lettuce or spinach leaves to keep the rolls separated so they don't stick together. Some people will also wrap the extra lettuce or spinach around the rolls when eating.
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/

nicely spicy salsa

spicy-salsaA very nicely spicy salsa that adds a fantastic kick to any Taco Tuesday!

We don’t always do Taco Tuesdays at our house, but when we do, we have nicely spicy salsa!

This salsa is the perfect blend of spicy hot and awesome flavor.The flavors truly do mix well, and the kick they provide is like fireworks for you taste buds! When making this salsa for our youngest child, I generally leave out the chipotle chili and cut the jalapeño in half. This is simply because our youngest son isn’t a fan of spicy, though I’m hoping he will be one day!

This recipe takes minimal prep time, as everything is put into a food processor, meaning fine chopping or dicing is completely eliminated from the process. I’ve said it before and I will say it again… minimizing prep time is a huge bonus! It allows us all to spend more time doing what we love and less time chopping things!

This recipe is absolutely Whole30 and Paleo compliant. We use all fresh ingredients and we love eating as healthy as possible!

Nicely Spicy Salsa
A fantastically spicy blend of flavors to give a kick to your cuisine!
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  2. 1/4 medium red onion
  3. 1 jalepeno
  4. 1/2 bell pepper
  5. 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro
  6. 2 cloves garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  7. 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (use 1/4 teaspoon or do not add to make less spicy)
Instructions
  1. Drain diced tomatoes.
  2. Add all ingredients to food processor and process. NOTE: ingredients do not need to be diced or chopped up small because they are all going into the food processor!
  3. Pour into a bowl and ENJOY!
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/

follow us on facebook!

find us on facebookYeah! You can follow us on Facebook now… we have finally joined! Things have been so crazy around here the last few months, we just didn’t have time to set it all up. But we’ve made the time and are now up and running! We will be posting our newest recipes (and some older favorites), along with some of our Cooking Resources and other fun tips and tricks to stay healthy!

We hope you’ll join us on Facebook and get involved in the discussions! We love to hear from our readers and think it’s fantastic when people let us know what they think or tell us their tips and tricks or even new recipes!

Joining Facebook is just another way for us to reach our awesome readers! You can also sign up for our sweet newsletter to receive new recipes, cooking resources and more via email! And don’t worry, we send newsletters about once every week or two, so we won’t overload you! We also 100% believe in privacy, so we do not sell (and never will) your information to anyone, nor do we share it for any reason.

We love our readers and hope you’ll follow us on Facebook!

eating healthy on vacation

vacationVacation… a lovely getaway without the stresses and hassles of home… except when it comes to eating healthy food. Eating healthy on vacation can be difficult, but don’t worry! We have some great ideas to help you and your family eat (mostly) healthy while having fun!

Prep vacation foods ahead of time!

Brilliant. Prepping foods before leaving for vacation ensures that you have healthy meals to eat while you’re there. If you’re anything like me, there is no way that every meal on vacation is going to be healthy. For me, food is part of the vacation! But I can make sure my family and I all eat a healthy breakfast and at least one other healthy meal (lunch or dinner) while on vacation.

  • Make burgers, bacon or grilled chicken and freeze them to take with you.
  • Make a jar or two of healthy homemade mayonnaise to have with you.
  • Make a jar of healthy homemade ranch dressing.
  • Make a few healthy snack bags (fruits and veggies) to take with you for the ride to your vacation spot and the first day or two after you arrive. This will help keep the fast food on the road to a minimum and give you some healthy snacks to eat right away when you arrive at your destination!

Check out the local farmer’s market!

YES! This is a great vacation outing, allows you to get your hands on the freshest local produce, and it means you don’t have to bring fruit with you. Not having to pack fruit means more space in the car, win-win! This is also a great way to support local farmers and all their hard work.

  • Look up local farmer’s markets (and fish markets if you like fish) prior to leaving for your vacation. Make it a part of your game plan!
  • Prep your farmer’s market fresh produce as quickly as possible when you return to your vacation living quarters… otherwise, you may forget about it and not eat it.
  • Only buy what you need… taking any leftovers home may not be super easy and you don’t want to waste any of the food (or money you spent!).

Be smart at restaurants!

Eating out is just part of being on vacation for a lot of people, myself included. I just try to be smart when eating out so I can help myself eat healthier.

  • Only eat half of what you order. Most restaurants serve the equivalent of two (sometimes three!) actual healthy serving sizes on each plate. Save half, take it home, and have it the next night with a side salad you prepare… saves money and adds a healthy aspect the next evening!
  • Watch the drinks you order! Sodas have so much junk in them, keep the sodas to a minimum and instead of allowing the automatic refills that most waiters and waitresses provide, request a water for your second glass.
  • When ordering a salad, request the dressing on the side. This allows you to only dress the part of the salad you’re going to eat at the restaurant and take the rest home to enjoy with your own homemade, healthy dressings.

Don’t let dieting or trying to eat super healthy ruin your vacation!

Be smart about what you eat, plan and prep ahead, and just give some thought to what you’re putting in your body. Vacations are fun and some fried foods at a fair or on the boardwalk are part of that fun. I know I don’t feel guilty when I eat some junk on vacation… I just try to counter it with some healthy food as often as possible.

VACATIONS ARE AWESOME!!! ENJOY YOURS!!!

spicy deviled eggs

Deviled eggs are great… spicy deviled eggs are amazing!

Spicy Deviled Eggs
Yields 12
Deviled eggs with an extra kick! Delicious as a side at any barbecue!
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Total Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 hard-boiled eggs
  2. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  3. 2 Tablespoons mustard
  4. 1 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
  5. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  6. a little bit of red onion, minced (OPTIONAL, adds awesome flavor and a little crunch)
Instructions
  1. Peel hard-boiled eggs and cut in half length wise.
  2. Remove all yolks and place in a bowl.
  3. Once all yolks are removed, mash them with a fork until they start to become less chunky.
  4. Add mayonnaise, mustard, Tabasco sauce and smoked paprika (and red onion if you opted to add it).
  5. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.
  6. Spoon filling into each half of egg. This can also be done using an icing bag or a small plastic baggie with a small piece of the bottom corner cut off.
  7. ENJOY!
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/
When making deviled eggs, you need to start with hard-boiled eggs. Check out our recipe for making Perfect Hard-Boiled-Eggs to make sure the deviled eggs come out well!

The first several times I made deviled eggs, I used a spoon to put the filling into the eggs. What a mess that is! It never looked right, I always ended up getting filling all over the edges of the eggs, and it took more time than it should have. Now I use a small plastic baggie. I fill it up with the deviled egg filling, cut a small piece of one of the bottom corners off the bag, and use it like I would a bag of icing. This method of filling deviled eggs is much faster and cleaner than simply using a spoon!

perfect hard-boiled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are a fantastic and extremely versatile food, but it can be difficult to make perfect hard-boiled eggs. No worries though we’ll show you how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs in about 20 minutes!

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs
Perfect hard-boiled eggs, great for eating plain or making deviled eggs!
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Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. Eggs
Instructions
  1. Place eggs in a pot, not stacked on top of one another, cover with water to about an inch over top of eggs.
  2. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Once boiling, cover, remove from heat.
  4. Let stand 10-15 minutes.
  5. Peel and eat!
Notes
  1. I peel my hard-boiled eggs under a very small stream of cold running water. This helps loosen the shell from the egg.
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/

eggs-in-potWhat all can hard-boiled eggs be used for?

The first, and most obvious answer is just plain eating them! A hard-boiled egg with a little salt or pepper, or maybe some tabasco sauce, is awesome!

Hard-boiled eggs are also used to make deviled eggs (or our Spicy Deviled Eggs), which are extremely delicious. Deviled eggs make a great snack or a side dish to barbecue. We love a good deviled egg, as do our kids.

Hard-boiled eggs also go really well in salads. We sometimes add egg to our chicken salads or just a plain salad to get a little extra protein in. They’re great in a tossed green salad with tomatoes, red onions, and shaved carrots!

ground turkey spring rolls – baked!

ground turkey spring rolls

YES! I figured out how to BAKE spring rolls, so no more frying them up, woohoo! These ground turkey spring rolls are super delicious!!

Ground Turkey Spring Rolls
A delicious blend of spices and meat rolled in rice paper and baked. No sugar or salt added!
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Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound ground turkey
  2. 1 tablespoon pickled ginger, minced
  3. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  5. 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  6. 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  7. 1/3 large cabbage, shredded
  8. 5 medium sized carrots, shredded
  9. rice paper
  10. extra light olive oil (just enough to brush the tops of the rolls)
Instructions
  1. Brown the meat in LARGE skillet, cabbage and carrots will be added later.
  2. While meat is being browned, shred the cabbage and carrots, set aside in a bowl. *don't forget to check the meat on the stove*
  3. Mince the ginger and mix it with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and white vinegar. Add spice mixture to meat.
  4. Once the meat has fully browned and the aroma of the spices is in the air, lower the heat to medium and add the cabbage and carrots. Cook about another 10 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Remove from heat and place in a bowl.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F (oven should reach temperature by the time all the rolls are made)
  7. Get out rice paper. Wet rice paper thoroughly and gently dry each side with a paper towel or clean cloth (simply lay the rice paper on the cloth and pat it, flip and do the same).
  8. Move rice paper to a smooth surface (cutting boards work great) and add about two heaping tablespoons full of turkey and veggie filling.
  9. Roll up the rice paper, tucking the edges, like making a small burrito.
  10. Place on a baking sheet.
  11. Repeat until all the filling is gone.
  12. Lightly brush each spring roll with extra light olive oil.
  13. Bake at 350F for about 20 to 25 minutes, watching carefully to ensure the rolls don't burn.
  14. ENJOY!
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/

Yes, ground turkey spring rolls with NO added sugar or salt!

Absolutely love it! I was so excited after tasting this delightful mixture of ingredients! Pickled ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and white pepper make an excellently flavorful dish!

turkey-spring-rolls-preppedBaked spring rolls? Awesome!

Right? So exciting! In general, I am not the biggest fan of having to fry things, as I prefer to use as little butter (ghee, clarified butter, etc.) as possible. Not to mention frying things can take quite a bit of time (no, I do not own a deep fryer, haha). Being able to just pop something in the oven and walk away for 20 minutes is much nicer than having to stand over a skillet for the same amount of time, or more, depending on how large the skillet is! I was also very happy that these ground turkey spring rolls were just as good as any fried spring rolls! Tasty and healthy!

Is rice paper always this difficult to work with?

No… and yes. Rice paper can be a bit of a pain sometimes. I’ve found it’s easiest when I wet it right before use… I set out a pie pan with about an inch of water in it for easy dipping, soak each piece right before use, set it on a paper towel and push on one side, flip and push on the other, then lay it on a cutting board, add ingredients, and roll it up. The rice paper I’ve been using seems to get a bit too sticky if I don’t dry it a little on a paper towel before attempting to roll anything up in it. Of course, if it’s not fully wet prior to rolling, it will crack. It’s a bit of a learning process, but I only messed up a few rolls my first time using rice paper, and now I’m able to make all my rolls pretty much the same thickness and length without much trouble. It just takes practice!

pork and cabbage spring rolls

pork and cabbage spring rolls

Better than takeout, these pork and cabbage spring rolls are incredible!

Pork and Cabbage Spring Rolls
Absolutely delicious pork and cabbage spring roll the whole family will love!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound pulled pork, unflavored (make this ahead of time)
  2. 3 to 5 large cabbage leaves, shredded
  3. 5 to 6 medium carrots, grated
  4. 3 to 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  5. 2 to 4 tablespoons clarified butter (or regular butter, or olive oil, or ghee - your choice)
  6. 1 teaspoon pickled ginger, minced (more if you like the flavor!)
  7. Rice paper
Instructions
  1. If you haven't made the pork yet, you can either cube it and cook it, or make pulled pork in a crock pot. The times here are assuming the pulled pork is already made.
  2. Shred cabbage, grate carrots, mince ginger
  3. Put soy sauce in large skillet and heat over medium heat.
  4. Add cabbage, carrots and ginger, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring and mixing often.
  5. Add pulled pork and continue cooking for about another 5 minutes, stirring and tossing often. You want to mix all ingredients and infuse them with the flavor of the soy sauce.
  6. Set meat and veggies aside and get out your rice paper.
  7. Wet each piece of rice paper prior to laying on a flat surface (cutting boards work great). Wetting the paper ensures it won't break when you try to roll everything up.
  8. Lay out wet rice paper, Add meat and vegetable mixture. Roll it all up like a small burrito, tucking the edges in. Set aside.
  9. Repeat until all the meat and vegetable mix is gone.
  10. Now for the cooking of the spring rolls. I know a lot of restaurants deep fry their spring rolls, but we don't.
  11. Heat skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter (or other ingredient you chose).
  12. Add as many spring rolls as will fit, without them touching each other. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until crispy and slightly golden brown (you may still be able to see through the rice paper, but it should be crispy).
  13. Repeat this step, only adding more butter or oil as needed, until you've cooked all the spring rolls you made, the time may vary depending on how many you made.
  14. EAT AND ENJOY!
Notes
  1. The rice paper doesn't need to be soaked, just wet enough that it becomes pliable and not brittle.
  2. Other meats can be substituted, but this recipe is for amounts of pulled pork (unflavored).
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/

Pork and cabbage spring rolls are amazing!

First, I was just amazed that I was actually able to make these. I was a little nervous at first because I had never worked with rice paper before. But after the first one (nightmare) it was easy! My first attempt to roll up the rice paper with the pork and cabbage filling failed. The rice paper broke, it refused to roll, and it turned into a mess. So what did I do? I got the rice paper wet before attempting to put my filling in and roll it. Absolute perfection!

I didn’t wet the rice paper much, just enough to make it pliable, and stop it from cracking and breaking every time I tried to roll it up. Once wet, I was able to roll it just like I would a soft tortilla for burritos. Awesomeness!

Can other meats be used?

Absolutely! This recipe is for pork and cabbage spring rolls, but it can be modified to fit whatever meat you’d prefer to eat. Just keep in mind that the meat should not be in large chunks, as big cubes may puncture the thin rice paper, making it difficult to keep the roll held together in transport and cooking.

substituting ingredients

Substituting ingredients means you don’t have to have everything on hand all the time.

The whole substitution thing happens for me all the time! I keep my main pantry staples in stock, but sometimes a recipe calls for a little more of something than I have, or something I don’t have. Knowing that substituting ingredients is an option if I need it is wonderful! A great example is making desserts for our kids. I generally don’t keep the bars of unsweetened chocolate on hand. I do, however, always have unsweetened cocoa powder and clarified butter or oil. So boom! Substitution.

Substituting for Health

sub-apple-sauce-for-sugarKnowing what I can substitute for things in a pinch is great, but I also sometimes use substitutions simply to make things a little healthier. Applesauce for sugar in what I know is already going to be a really sweet cake is one example. Juices for wines is also something I like to substitute regularly. I just don’t keep cooking wines on hand, but I almost always have juice around (unless the kids drink it all before I can stock up again!).

Substituting to Save Time

For me, time is also another reason to use substitutions. Fresh herbs are wonderful, but when everyone’s already hungry and I’ve just started prepping dinner, time is off the essence. Knowing the amount of dried herbs that equal out to fresh herbs is important for saving time.

Want more information on substitutions?

Check out our cooking resource, Substitutions for Common Ingredients. We’ve got a nice list of what you can substitute for other things, and we have a PDF available!