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8 Easy Ways to Remove Processed Food

12 Aug

Fresh Green Beans and be prepped for dinner...

Over the last 3 years, I have replaced most processed and prepared foods from my family’s diet.  It wasn’t and isn’t always convenient but it definitely has changed our health for the better!  We used to eat all the wrong stuff!  Everything I bought was ready made out of a box, can, or freezer.  If you’ve ever read the labels on a box of Hamburger Helper, it doesn’t even sound edible or tasty!   I have four very active and hungry children! It is a challenge to feed everyone and do it on a budget while at the same time keeping the meals healthy!  There are a lot of chemicals, additives, and preservatives in processed foods.  There are lots of things that we shouldn’t be putting into our bodies let alone feed to our children!  I started to recreate our favorite processed foods in my kitchen with the most basic ingredients.  Even though we are on a tight, shoestring food budget, I manage to buy certain organic ingredients that will maximize the nutritious benefits for my family!  Anyone can learn how to eat the healthiest meals and improve your family’s health!

Here are a few of the things that you can start doing right away!

1.  Rule of thumb – if you can’t pronounce words, recognize the ingredients as a food, and don’t have any of the things listed on the label in your cabinet, don’t buy it!  Read the ingredients of your favorite, go-to processed meals.  The labels are like commercials on the box, they will tell you things or put pictures on the box that really have nothing to do with the product inside the package.  For example:  a picture of a cow in green grass on a farm when in reality, the product came from a cow on a factory farm, laying in mud, sick, and pumped full of antibiotics!

2. Look out for the worst offenders in processed food ingredients:  MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartame, high sodium content, non-organic corn or soy, partially hydrogenated oils, hydrolyzed soy/corn/wheat protein, and high fructose corn syrup.  If the product is supposed to be meat, from an animal, it shouldn’t have soy fillers in it!  95% of the non-organic soybeans in the US are genetically engineered to withstand very large amounts of pesticides and herbicides, not exactly a health food!  And soy is in everything!  I should know, since I am allergic to soybeans!

3.  Stay away from flavor packets!  These are always very high in sodium and contain lots of unnecessary chemicals.  It is better to use an organic and/or homemade beef, chicken, or vegetable stock to add flavor to brown rice and meats.  Fresh herbs like basil, oregano, parsley, and cilantro will take your meals to the next level of flavor and are so much healthier too!  My pantry is always stocked with fresh garlic and basil, these two together make tomato sauce taste wonderful!

4.  Fats.  Healthy fats are a necessary part of a balanced diet.  Not all fats are created equal and some do so much more harm to you than others!  Omega 3 fats are great and those are: coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, organic butter, and pastured egg yolk.  There is a whole host of nuts that are high in Omega 3 fats as well.  Healthy Omega 6 fats are from grass-fed beef and free-range poultry.  Fresh, wild caught seafood contain healthy fat and Krill oil is a great supplement to take!  Get rid of the soybean, corn, canola, margarine, and shortening because these oils are not heart healthy and overly processed!  Be aware that a lot of restaurants use these unhealthy oils and it’s best to avoid fried food and fast food for this reason.

Organic Fruit Salad

5. Choose fresh vegetables and fresh fruit as side dishes.  You don’t need the boxed rice and canned corn. Balance your dinner plate with a healthy protein and lots of colorful raw, steamed, broiled, grilled, baked, and sautéed vegetables!  My kids are in love with sautéed broccoli!  I drop it into boiling water for 6 minutes and then I sauté it with olive oil, fresh garlic, sea salt, and black pepper until fork tender.  They actually fought over the broccoli a few nights ago and there were no leftovers!  To add variety to our meals I’ll serve fresh strawberries or apples with dinner instead of pasta or rice.  Strawberries go great with roasted chicken!

6.  A word about salt.  Table salt has added iodine in it because people weren’t getting enough of this nutrient through everyday eating, right.  So how about we get iodine by eating things from the sea. Table salt will increase your blood pressure and has more sodium per serving than sea salt.  Why not just use sea salt with naturally occurring iodine and less sodium per serving!  We made the switch to sea salt and now table salt tastes way too salty to me and I am more sensitive to salty foods so I avoid them as much as possible.

7.  It’s always better to eat naturally occurring foods than highly processed foods.  For example:  Butter and margarine.  Years ago studies came out the saturated fat was bad, anyone remember that?  So, companies came up with a way to make a butter-like substance out of vegetable oil.  With vegetable right in the name, it’s got to be healthy right?  Well, not exactly.  You see, butter is churned from the milk of a cow.  If that cow is grazing in grass and happily lounging on a farm that butter will be so much better for you than digesting a factory processed, trans fat and hydrogenated “vegetable” oil.  I think factories and I think pollution, smog, and chemical by-products.  Definitely eat butter in moderation though.  Moderation is key with fats and salt!


8.  Last but not least is sugar.  Sugar actually comes from a plant called sugar cane.  There are other sources of sugar that are in processed food though.  Genetically engineered sugar beets and high fructose corn syrup are the two most common ingredients found in processed food.  Our bodies process cane sugar, or sucrose differently than fructose.  A word of caution – high fructose corn syrup is made from genetically engineered corn, which is not naturally occurring in nature but created in a lab to withstand mass quantities of herbicide/pesticides.  The BT corn variety releases the pesticide when the insects bite it…and that is was makes high fructose corn syrup.  So again, naturally occurring vs highly processed is the choice to make.  I gave up conventional sodas 3 years ago.  When I do get a hankering for the sweet fizzy stuff, I grab a cane sugar soda instead.  Most of the time, I drink water.

So to sum up:  Buy Organic and Support your local farmers!  Go to some farmers markets in your area and try some fresh fruit and veggies!   Take a cooking class to learn some tips and techniques and start preparing homemade meals for your family!


Dr. Joseph Mercola


Lemon and Raspberry

3 Jun

Large and Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies

These cookies happened totally by accident, a happy, happy accident!  I was on Martha Stewart’s website looking at cookies recipes and I came across this Old Fashioned Lemon Cookie Recipe.  I’ve been toying with the idea of offering a lemon option at the farmers market because several customers had asked about it.  I happened to have a lemon sitting on the counter and I already had the other ingredients, so I decided to give these lemon cookies a try.  I compared Martha’s recipe to my own sugar cookie recipe and it was pretty much the same, so I just added the lemon to my own recipe. I added a lot more lemon to my recipe!

Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies

So, I followed Martha’s instructions and didn’t chill the dough but getting them onto the cookie sheet was a bit challenging.  I sprinkled them with a fair trade cane sugar before baking  for added tastiness.  I wanted to be able to offer samples of these cookies at the market so I made some little and I made some bigger.  The bigger ones, really came out huge!

Large Lemon Cream and Raspberry cookie

After the cookies came out of the oven, they looked really good and they were a bit crunchy.  I really liked them.  My 4 year old liked them too!  Some of the little ones didn’t come out looking very smooth, but the second and third batch came out smooth, like the picture above.  Eva, my daughter, and I had to eat the uneven ones, of course!  She kept sneaking  back into the kitchen and eating cookies!

I still had some lemon juice left over and I was contemplating glazing the cookies or making some kind of icing for the tops.  I couldn’t decide what to do and I was concerned about how the icing would do once I put the cookies in the bags for the market.

2012-12-01 10.33.11

This is how I package the cookies for the market ^.

So, I thought, what if I make cookie sandwiches and put a lemon cream inside the cookies!  I made the lemon cream and i started to pipe the icing onto the cookies.  I had just purchased 2 jars of organic jam, raspberry and blackberry.  Unfortunately, the blackberry jam had huge seeds in it and I couldn’t use it in these. 😦  The good news is raspberry goes really well with lemon and so I put the two flavors together and success!!!  I am in love with these cookies!  The litmus test would be how do they do at the market.  I sold the mini ones in single bags for $.50 each and the big ones, as one customer fondly referred to them as whoopie pies, sold for $2 each.  The next day the cookies were much softer even after they were in the fridge all night.

Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies


They sold out!!   Everyone was delighted and I was very pleasantly surprised!  These may just make the regular rotation!  I love creating new products. Baking brings me joy!

These cookies can be ordered by the dozen and they can be made gluten-free with almond flour by request!  If you live in Northeast Florida you may order a batch today via email or Facebook!

Thanks everyone!!

Thumbprints – a very popular treat

13 May

Strawberry and Raspberry Thumbprints

This delightful treat is one of the most popular things that we sell at the farmers market.  The recipe isn’t complicated or even that special, it’s the technique and time that it takes to make these joyful tasty bite-sized yummies that makes these so great!

Buttery Thumbprint Dough

I start out with a basic cookie dough, whose name I will not say…gotta keep trade secrets, secret, you know!  The dough gets refrigerated and when it’s ready, I start making little balls of yummy, buttery goodness…

Buttery Thumbprint dough

These get rolled in cane sugar to be prepped for the thumb indents and shaping to come…

Thumbprint cookie dough

This step takes the longest…shaping each ball into to the thumbprint shape.  Of course, I am a perfectionist when it comes to baking goods, so I have to make each one the same size and same shape.  This process takes about 2 hours…once the dough comes out of the fridge until the finished dough goes into the oven.  I put the jam in before I bake them and then they are baked to perfection!  I’ve made these with apricot, orange marmalade, raspberry, and strawberry jams.  Raspberry is the favorite!  I sell out of those every time at the market and it never seems like I make enough!  I’m probably going to have to start doubling the recipe and just make raspberry.  I would like to try blueberry jam though…I love blueberry!  Sometimes, what I love doesn’t translate into sales though…I will try it out and see how it goes!

2012-12-15 10.34.08

Here are the finished, packaged cookies…this picture was taken at Christmas, hence the snowman plate.

The best thing happened this weekend at the market.  A customer bought a bag of the raspberry thumbprints and she started walking away from the table.  She casually opened the bag, took out a cookie, and popped it into her mouth.  She exclaimed, from several yards away, “These are the best cookies ever!!”  I turned around to see where that exclamation came from and she waved to me.  I laughed and turned to the next customer walking by and said, “After that endorsement you almost  have to buy something now!”  That person, immediately came to the table to check out what I was selling!

I love my job, well it’s not really a job when it’s your own company and you get to do what you love!

Simple Split Pea Soup

26 Nov


This soup is great for a cold winter afternoon! This recipe is quick and easy. It’s serves one or two and goes great with crusty bread or a grilled cheese sandwich. (use organic ingredients)


1\2 cup dry split peas, I used ones that didn’t need to soak

1 carrot, washed, peeled, and diced 1 celery stalk, washed and diced

1/2 small onion, diced

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 – 2 cups of water

1/2 cup leftover baked ham, diced Black pepper, to taste

Directions: Place everything in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Simmer for 30-60 minutes, mash the peas a bit at the end to make the soup thicker. Serve with 1/2 of a grilled cheese or cold cheese sandwich or crusty french bread and butter. The recipe is easily doubled for larger quantities. If you omit the ham you will need to add sea salt. Enjoy!

Crispy Salmon Cakes

21 Sep

I have been experimenting with salmon lately.  Salmon is very good for you but I have refused to eat for years.  I just had the thought in my head that salmon did not taste good and I only tasted it once or twice in the last 15 years.  For someone like me, that is always experimenting with food and constantly trying new recipes, this is actually very strange.  I had totally written off salmon as an option.  I also am a proponent for healthy, natural, organic foods and yet, salmon was off limits to my repertoire of healthy foods.  So I recently decided to give salmon a go.  My husband likes salmon and my daughter, who tried it for the first time because my mom brought some over, likes salmon too.

Crispy salmon cakes with sauteed kale and mushrooms served with mashed sweet potatoes

This is my second attempt at making salmon and I will blog about the first attempt with another blog post at a later date.  The moral of all this would be; don’t write off a food just because you tried it once or twice a long time ago.  Especially if that particular food is a super food.

Wild Sockeye Salmon

I recently started using Pinterest which is dangerous, time consuming, and absolutely wonderful!  I’ve found loads of new recipes to try and exciting ideas for baking!  I’m in love and this recipe for crab cakes came by way of Pinterest.   I made a few changes to it:


2 strips of pastured bacon, cooked in the oven at 400 degrees until crispy(about 15 minutes), bacon fat reserved and bacon set aside to cool and then crumble.

1/4 cup chopped organic onion

1 medium organic egg

1/2 cup soy-free mayonaise (because I’m allergic to soy) if you use soy, Always use organic soy products!

2 tsp organic Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp organic cane sugar, Fair trade whenever possible

1/2 lemon, zested

2 1/2 wild sockeye salmon pieces (15 ounces), baked at 400 degrees with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper, 10-15 minutes, cooled, skin removed, and flaked. Avoid farmed salmon like the plague!

Wild Salmon, individually wrapped

1 medium organic white potato, baked, cooled, peeled, and fluffed with a fork

1/4 cup soy-free bread crumbs (Whole Foods 365 brand)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Black Pepper

Olive oil or expeller pressed canola oil and reserved bacon fat for cooking


I baked the salmon, potato, and bacon at the same time earlier in the day to  give them a chance to cool.  I put the salmon in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat in a small saute pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Cool the onions for a bit.

Mix the bacon, onion, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl. Add the salmon and potato, mixing gently after each addition. Separate into 12 parts, onto a plate.  The mixture is wet, which is good but hard to work with.  Place the plate with the salmon, into the freezer for about 15 – 20 minutes.  It will be much easier to work with semi frozen/very cold.

In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and pepper, to taste. Very carefully, press the salmon into patties and cover with the the bread crumbs.  It is easier to do 4 at a time and keep the uncoated salmon in the fridge or freezer.  Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and/or bacon fat in a large saute pan over medium heat, and cook the salmon cakes in batches until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add more oil, as necessary. Remove the cooked patties to a plate and continue with the next batch.

I served these patties with an amazing Kale and Mushroom dish which is a Rachel Ray recipe.

Picture of Smothered Mushrooms and Kale Recipe

I followed this recipe almost exactly. I used white organic mushrooms because that is what I had. I also used Sherry Cooking Wine instead of Marsala wine. My husband and my oldest daughter loved the kale! It was really good and I would definitely make it again!
I also paired this dish with mashed sweet potatoes. I was hoping to have leftover potatoes to make sweet potato cakes with, but we ate them all!

For the potatoes:
I baked 2 large sweet potatoes at 400 degrees until they were soft, about 40 minutes. Keep an eye on them because they tend to drip and one potato was done before the other. I let them cool off a bit and then peeled them and mashed them up with a little organic heavy cream, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, and organic brown sugar to taste. So easy, yet so tasty!

Loaded Potato Wedges

16 Sep

Loaded Potato Wedges

Football season is here and I wanted to experiment with a favorite type of food most likely served at sports bars around the country: Loaded Potato Skins. I’m actually not a big fan of potato skins, but I am a fan of potato wedges and cheese fries. I thought…hmmm…what if I made loaded potato wedges that combines two favorite potato styles that I love!

I found this great recipe for garlic potato wedges here at The Purple Foodie blog.   I used this recipe for a basis of this great dish!  These potato wedges are delightful by themselves too!  I changed the recipe a little, I ususally change recipes to suit my own tastes, to use organic ingredients, and to make dishes soy-free.  I have food allergies and have to make mostly everything from scratch.   I always look for organic and non-gmo versions of ingredients in all of my recipes.

Non-gmo cornstarch

8 smashed garlic cloves

6 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil

5 organic potatoes, washed and cut into wedges

2 tablespoons of non-gmo cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1/2 tablespoon Simply Organic Ranch Dressing Mix

2 oz monteray jack cheese

2 oz colby jack cheese

4 slices of pork bacon, farm fresh pastured piggies with no antibiotics or hormones

Homemade Ranch for dipping or Organic sour cream and chives

Green Onions for garnish if desired (I didn’t have any on hand today, but I’m sure it would have tasted great!)

1.  Smash garlic cloves, remove skins.  Put the olive oil in a small saucepan with the garlic and heat to a slow simmer.  Turn off the heat and let it marinate.

2. Place the bacon on a baking sheet and put into a cold oven.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Flip the bacon after 10 minutes and cook 10 more minutes.  Depending on the thickness of the bacon, it may not need this long in the oven.  Please keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn or get too crispy.  Let the bacon cool and then crumble into bits.

3. While the bacon cooks, fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Gently place the potatoes in the water and boil for 5 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and dry them on paper or cloth towels.

4.  Mix the cornstarch, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and ranch mix.

5.  Take 5 tablespoons of garlic oil and place on a baking sheet, you can use the same sheet you cooked the bacon on and you can use the oil from the bacon plus the garlic oil.  Don’t use more than 5 tablespoons oil total!  Place the potatoes on the baking sheet and toss in the oil.

6. Sprinkle the dry season mix over the potatoes and mix well but be gentle not to break the potatoes.  You will probably need to use your hands!  Don’t be afraid to get a little messy while cooking.

7.  Bake for 30 minutes on 440 degrees.  Turn the potatoes halfway through baking to get crispy all over.  Remove potatoes and place in a glass dish, cover with the shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.  Broil for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

8.  Serve the potatoes with sour cream and chives or ranch dressing.  Sprinkle with chopped green onions on top, if desired.

I use the Simply Organic ranch mix with the grassfed buttermilk and a soy-free mayo.

Organic ranch dressing mix and grassfed buttermilk

I have made ranch with my own seasonings before too, but the organic mix is just as good and so easy!  Enjoy and try not to eat all of it by yourself!  These are very addicting and I found it hard to stop!  The cayenne pepper gives a nice kick but if you are serving this to kids or someone that doesn’t like spicy, omit the cayenne pepper.

Cinco De Mayo Birthday Dinner

8 May

Mom's birthday dinner

Everyone has been posting blogs about Cinco De Mayo and I accidentally made a Mexican-style birthday dinner for my mom. So, I thought, why not post it as a blog! It just so happens that I love Mexican food and I experiment with all types of Spanish foods from all over the world. One of my favorites are Argentinian Empanadas, so, so good!

Chicken Empanada before baking Uncooked chicken empanada

Anyway, I went all out preparing this meal with the help of my sister and her husband. I decided to take on homemade corn tortillas, which I haven’t made before. I’ve done the flour tortillas a lot but wheat flour and corn flour are two very different things.

Fresh dough for flour tortillas

To make things complicated, I couldn’t use the Masa flour at the grocery store because it is made with gmo-corn, which is no good. So I had to improvise. Bob’s Red Mill makes an organic Masa Harina flour, which is traditionally used for corn tortillas. Here is a recipe for corn tortillas using Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina. Corn meal is used for corn bread and apparently there is a big difference. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any organic masa at my local grocery store and since my sister eats only gluten-free I had to use gluten-free all-purpose flour and corn meal to make the tortillas.

Gluten-free all-purpose flourgluten free fine corn meal

Making these were very time consuming because the dough was very delicate and sticky. Gluten-free flour is not as easy as wheat flour to work with.

Homemade gf corn tortilla dough

With my sister’s help, we managed to get most of the tortillas made, with an added twist of frying them in coconut oil. I usually cook my flour tortillas on my George Foreman Grill, but these did not cook well on that so we had to improvise. The coconut oil gave these tortillas such a unique and delicious flavor, it worked really well with the rest of the ingredients. These didn’t exactly come out like tortillas that you can fold, they were more like flat corn cakes.

Homemade corn tortillas

I made cilantro-lime grilled chicken breast with organic chicken, fresh cilantro, fresh garlic, olive oil, and fresh lime. I ususally make guacamole from scratch, but the store didn’t have any avocados that were ripe so we used the Wholly Guacamole brand guacamole. I really prefer this brand because of the simple ingredients and the fact that they use real avocado. Have you ever noticed that some brands don’t even use avocado in their guacamole? It just goes to show that reading labels are so important!

I grilled the chicken and then some peppers and onions and we served it with sour cream, cheddar cheese, guacamole, fresh tomatoes, raw peppers and onions, and homemade black beans and rice. I had spent most of the morning cooking the black beans and brown rice. There were a lot of beans and rice leftover so I used the extra chicken, peppers, and onions for lunch the next day.

Leftover cilantro-line chicken, grilled peppers and onions, homemade black beans and rice

Needless to say, dinner was delicious, and even the kids loved the chicken! It was a bit stressful taking on 2 new recipes and then serving it for my mom’s birthday dinner, but thankfully everything worked out! Next time I decide to make corn torillas, I will by some non-gmo masa harina first!

Got Allergies?

5 May

Chocolate Cake, no gmos, no gluten, no soy

My sister and her husband visited a few days ago and I attempted my first cake with gluten free all-purpose flour. I’ve made flourless cakes before, but I hadn’t had much success with gluten free flours yet. When Vicki and I get together, it is not easy to eat at restaurants because we are allergic to soybeans and she can’t eat any gluten. It is also a challenge when we go to someone else’s house to eat because most prepackaged foods contain soy in some form or another. Vicki said my house was a safe zone because virtually everything I buy is soy-free! Our mother’s birthday was on May 3rd, so I needed to make a soy-free, gluten-free cake.

Unfrosted Gluten free cake

I found this recipe for a gluten-free cake. Of course, in my normal way of trying new recipes, I changed most of the ingredients. I always try to use organic ingredients when I can get them because my sister and I don’t eat GMO’s. I made some other changes as well, and the next time I make this recipe I intend on changing it further. I used different flours, different chocolate, and a different fat. I also doubled the recipe and baked it in a glass pan.

Gluten free birthday cake

This cake came out really moist and dense. I was surprised at how good it tasted! The frosting was delicious! I used a fair trade cocoa powder and butter from grass-fed cows to enhance the frosting, so it was ethical and healthier! I didn’t even measure the cocoa, I just dumped a lot into the bowl and it tasted more like a dark chocolate frosting. My husband and kids have become accustomed to the organic, homemade foods and we are definitely not the average American household.

I love experimenting with food, especially when it comes out great!

Have you ever had an Irish potato?

3 May

Irish Oatmeal Cream Pies
Irish Oatmeal Cream Pies

I love Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, and I always have.  I haven’t had one in almost 3 years because like everything else, they are loaded up with soy.  Since I am allergic to soy, I have had to give up a lot of my favorites and I have been wanting to recreate this treat for quite some time now.

My basic oatmeal raisin cookie
My basic oatmeal raisin cookie

I used my basic oatmeal cookie recipe, sans raisins for the cookie and I made them bigger than the average cookie size. I was going to use a basic buttercream frosting for the filling, but I had 2 boxes of organic cream cheese in the fridge that I hadn’t used. Inspiration struck, and I thought, “why not make a cream cheese frosting instead?” So I improvised, and ended up creating this frosting that tasted like an irish potato.

Irish Potatoes

I grew up in the Philadelphia area, more specifically, South Jersey.  Every year around St. Patty’s Day, I would make Irish Potatoes from scratch at school and at home.  It is a traditional candy and very, very tasty.  It is made with cream cheese, coconut, butter, and confectioners sugar.  The filling is rolled into a ball and then coated with cinnamon.  It is very sweet because the recipe calls for a lot of confectioners sugar that I find hard to eat as an adult.

I didn’t have any coconut, (which may take this icing up a notch), so I used cream cheese, butter, and confectioners sugar.  Since I love the cinnamon in my cookies, I decided to add cinnamon to the frosting and when I tasted it, it was just like the Irish potato only not as sweet! I don’t like ultra sweet icing so I added enough and then had to chill the cookies to harden the filling.  My husband and I were so excited about these cookies!  They didn’t last long and the children loved them too!

Lumpia anyone?

29 Nov

I have a confession to make:  I secretly wish I was part Filipino.

Fried lumpia

I grew up in Southern New Jersey, and in my old neighborhood my backyard connected to a Filipino family’s backyard.  I had the delight in partaking in traditional foods from the Phillipines as a very small child, until we moved when I was 13.  I have since lost touch with this dear family, but I’ve always felt a connection to those who shared that heritage.

A lot of my memories from childhood revolve around food, which won’t be a surprise to those that know me.  I love food!  I remember playing in my backyard and smelling the roasted meat smells from my neighbor’s wood fired grill.  She would prepare all sorts of goodies that I never had anywhere else and I never knew the names of any of them either.  The one that stood out to me was lumpia.  It was my favorite, and still is!  She would call me over, in her thick accent, and offer me one or two of these delightful meat-filled sticks.  I didn’t know how she made them but I was always so excited when she did!  I was always curious about how food was made, even when I was little and that curiosity has led me down the path I am on now.

Making lumpiaGround beef for lumpia

Ground beef, onions, garlic for lumpia

I can’t remember first name 😦 but her son Dennis was  dear friend of mine, he was still in diapers when we first started to play together.  When it is was time for his nap she would bundle him up in this cloth and rig it to the tree in their backyard and his mom would swing him in it until he fell asleep and he would nap, hanging from the tree.  It’s funny to think about now, but I didn’t think anything of it back then.

Making lumpia

I’ve only had lumpia a few times since becoming an adult. I remembering asking Dennis how to make them, though I never tried too. I came across a blog called Burnt Lumpia a while ago and I was inspired to finally give it a go! I’ve been experimenting with other cultures meat pies like, empanadas and pasties so I figured why not try lumpia next! I came across spring roll skins while at Whole Foods and bought them and I found out that they weren’t the ones I was supposed to use. I think they tasted really good though!

Soaking spring roll skin for lumpiaRolled lumpia, uncooked

Manipulating the skins took some practice, I snapped the first one trying to roll it because I didn’t realize that they needed to be wet before they could be rolled! Rolling them and getting them to stay was tricky but the rest was really easy.

Frying lumpia

I found a youtube video that shows you how to fry the lumpia and that really helped! The oil has to be hot and bubbly in order to cook them quickly. If the oil is not hot enough, then they get to saturated and oily.


I linked to the recipe above at the Burnt Lumpia blog. I only used onions and garlic when I made them. I don’t remember Dennis’ mom using carrots, potatoes, bean sprouts, and green beans. Other than that I stuck with the recipe. I used sustainable beef, no antibiotics and no gmos. I also used expeller pressed canola oil and all other ingredients were organic. Next time I will look for rice or wheat wrappers instead of rice skins…

Have you ever tried to make something that was out of your comfort zone? What do you remember from your childhood?