Back to Basics

Hooray! The kids are going to back to school – it’s time to get back in the swing, back in the routine, back in the groove of things. And, oh yeah, one more thing to add to your “to do” list – pack a lunch for the kids every morning. This year, make it a priority to pack a delicious and nutritious lunch each day … ditch the Doritos, dump the Ding-Dongs and lose the Lunchables. Packing something wholesome can be just as easy as grabbling those empty calorie packs of cardboard snacks and sugar-laden treats.

Turkey Pinwheels


1 large whole-wheat wrap (11 to 12 inches), or 2 smaller wraps (8 inches), or a 12-by 9-inch rectangular lavosh
1 tablespoon mayonnaise or hummus
1 lightly packed handful rinsed baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
2 medium carrots, ends cut off, peeled and coarsely shredded
2 slices Swiss cheese
2 thin slices roasted turkey breast


If necessary, warm the wrap in a 350°F oven for 2 minutes to soften before filling. Lay the wrap on a work surface and spread the mayonnaise/hummus all over. Sprinkle the spinach leaves, cranberries, and carrots evenly on top. Arrange the Swiss cheese and turkey in even layers over the vegetable layer. Fold in the side edges and then roll up snugly from the bottom. Cut crosswise into 4 even pieces and wrap tightly in plastic


Edmame Salad


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bag (1 pound) shelled edamame (soybeans), thawed
1 bag (1 pound) frozen corn, thawed, or 3 cups fresh-cut corn kernels (from about 4 ears)
2 large ripe plum tomatoes, diced
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh chives or basil


Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the edamame and corn and cook, turning often, until heated through, about 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato, salt and pepper. Let cool and then chill if packing in a lunch box. When ready to serve, stir in the chives or basil

All-Out Granola


3/4 cups pecans
1/2 cup natural almonds
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sesame seeds (optional)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup, cane syrup or honey, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup dried blueberries or raisins


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large shallow baking sheet with foil. Spread the pecans and almonds on the sheet and roast for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Transfer the nuts to a board, let cool and chop the nuts. Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Pour the oats and sesame seeds, if using, in a mound on the same baking sheet. Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave; stir in the maple syrup and salt and drizzle on top of the oats. Stir well with a rubber spatula and then spread out the oats in an even layer. Bake the oats for 30 minutes, stirring once with the spatula halfway through, until the oats are lightly colored. Let cool; the mixture will crisp as it cools. Add the dates, blueberries, and reserved nuts and toss

Check out other great recipes with this super book

Let’s try and reduce, reuse and recycle … reduce the amount of plastic bags, foil and plastic wrap, reuse containers and recycle juice box containers

Cranberry Crab Rangoon


Grapeseed or canola oil for cooking
2 red onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons minced lemongrass, white part only
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups dried cranberries
½ cup sugar
2 cups rice vinegar
3 pounds picked, fresh crab meat
3/4 pound cream cheese, softened
½ cup chopped chives, 2 tablespoons reserved for garnish
1 package thin square wonton skins, defrosted (at least 60-count)
2 eggs mixed with 1/4 cup water


In a sauté pan coated lightly with oil over high heat, sauté onions and lemongrass until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and check for flavor. Add cranberries and sugar and deglaze with rice vinegar. Reduce by 75 percent or until liquid is absorbed. Check again for seasoning. (When cool, you can transfer to a container and store in fridge for up to two weeks.) In a large bowl, mix crab, cream cheese, cooled cranberry mixture and chives. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and check for flavor. Lay out 4 to 6 skins, lightly brush the edges with egg wash and place a small mound of the mix in the middle. Top with second skin and press firmly to seal. This is very important so the rangoons do not burst and leak. Repeat until filling is gone. Preheat a large sauté pan coated with 1/4-inch of oil over medium-high heat. Add as many rangoons as pan can hold in one layer. Shallow fry until golden brown, flip and fry other side until golden brown. Transfer rangoons to plate lined with paper towels. Arrange on platter and garnish with dollops of cranberry-mixture and reserved chives.

Ginger Shrimp, Sugar Snap Peas and Corn Stir-Fry

Makes: 4 Servings


1 pound shrimp, raw, peeled, deveined
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed
1 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from about 2 ears)
½ cup red pepper, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 teaspoons black or tan sesame seeds (optional)


Mix shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 ½ teaspoons ginger, half of garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and crushed red pepper in medium bowl. Let stand 30 minutes. Heat wok or large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add shrimp mixture; sauté until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil to wok, and then add snap peas, corn, red bell pepper, green onions, 1 ½ teaspoon ginger and remaining garlic. Stir-fry until vegetables are crisp, yet tender, about 3 minutes. Return shrimp and any accumulated juices from bowl to wok; stir-fry 1 minute longer. Season with sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with jasmine rice.

Beef with Spinach, Black Pepper and Garlic

Makes: 4 Servings


10 medium garlic cloves
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 pound beef tenderloin (or chicken or pork), sliced
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
10 oz. fresh spinach, cleaned

Accompaniment Ideas…
Steamed jasmine rice
Stir-fried noodles


Grind the garlic and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle until mixture forms a rough paste. Over medium-high heat, heat the oil in a wok or sauté pan and add the garlic mixture. Sauté 30 seconds. Add the meat and toss until browned. Add the soy, sugar and fish sauce and toss 30 seconds. Add the spinach and toss until wilted. Serve at once with rice or noodles.

Coconut Custard

Makes: 6 Servings


¼ cup water
1 cup sugar

2 cups half and half
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
2-inch piece of vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
Pinch of finely ground sea salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Caramel: Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to cook until the syrup caramelizes to a deep amber color. Carefully pour into individual ramekins or a 1 ½-2 quart baking dish. Allow to cool while you prepare the custard. Place the half and half, coconut and vanilla bean scrapings into a saucepan and heat gently until steaming slightly. Set aside to steep for 10-15 minutes. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar and salt. Gradually add the cream, whisking constantly. Pour the custard into the caramel prepared dishes which have been set in a deep baking pan. Add hot water to the baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake, in 350 degree oven, until just set, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and chill (2 hours). Unmold by running a table knife around the edges of the custard and inverting onto a plate.


According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2011 is the Year of the Golden Rabbit, which begins on February 3, 2011 and ends on January 22, 2012.  The Rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animals signs.  The Rabbit is a lucky sign.  Rabbits are private individuals and a bit introverted.  People born in the Year of the Rabbit are reasonably friendly individuals who enjoy the company of a group of good friends.  They are good teachers, counselors and communicators, but also need their own space.

According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves.  It is a time for negotiation.  Don’t try to force issues, because if you do you will ultimately fail.  To gain the greatest benefits from this time, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children.   Make it a goal to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle, so you will be able to calmly deal with any problem that may arise.

Not many people know that the Rabbit is the symbol of the Moon, while the Peacock is the symbol of the Sun, and that together, these two animal signs signify the start of day and night, represent the Yin and Yang of life.  It is said that anyone making supplications for wishes to be fulfilled are certain to get what they want… and in the Year of the Rabbit, the wish-granting aspect of the Sun and the Moon combined is multiplied.  The Moon is YIN and this is the Yin of Heaven, signifying magic.  Thus on each of the Full Moon nights of this year, go out into your garden to gaze into the Full Moon and visualize plenty of Moon dust and Moon glow flowing into you, filling your whole body with bright white light and granting you fearlessness, love and courage.  This will not only strengthen your inner “Chi” energy, it will also bring wisdom into your life.

 The Sign of the Rabbit

People born in the Year of the Rabbit share certain characteristics:  Keen, wise, fragile, tranquil, serene, considerate, fashionable, and kind.  Generally, they are quite calm, do not exhibit aggressive behavior, and will avoid confrontation at all costs.  When angry about something, they will approach it calmly and considerately, hardly ever raising their voice.  And they are quite keen and pay close attention to the situations developing around them.  They are intelligent and quick, and can talk themselves in or out of most situations with no problem.

The Rabbit is a symbol for mercy, elegance, and worship of beauty.  People born in the Year of the Rabbit are kind, loving persons, and dislike any hostile act.  They give others an impression of being frail-looking because of their gentle appearance.  But, in fact they are strong-minded and have strong wills.  They pursue their ideals all their lives in a precise and orderly way.  They do things slowly and deliberately because of their cautious characters.

There is no need to worry about their lives.  They are nimble, clever and good at avoiding harm to themselves. They are talented and like artistic ventures, such as painting and music and are generally quite present in these worlds.  They are also very hospitable, good hosts and warm-hearted companions.  They never embrace others in public places.  They know the art of saving face and giving consideration to the interests of both sides.

People born in the Year of the Rabbit are apt to be sensitive to ailments and to have bad allergies.  Stress or conflict will detriment their health.  Exercise could take off unnecessary stress and strengthen their physical condition.  They have to learn to incorporate more action into their everyday routines.  

They will become depressed and withdrawn if their homes do not consist of beautiful possessions that make them comfortable.  Their homes and offices usually are clutter-free.  They have really good communication skills and are best utilized in positions of management.  They make great teachers and counselors because they are so diplomatic and well-organized.  They can also make great painters or musicians due to their sense of beauty and their love of creativity.

Rabbit people are usually relatively careful when it comes to their finances.  They use much of their money for possessions such as their homes, cars or furniture.  They love hunting for antiques, arts and crafts and will tend to make sound investments in these types of things.

Rabbit Years:  01/29/1903 to 02/15/1904 (Water), 02/14/1915 to 02/02/1916 (Wood), 02/02/1927 to 01/22/1928 (Fire),  02/19/1939 to 02/07/1940 (Earth),  02/06/1951 to 01/26/1952 (Metal),  01/25/1963 to 02/12/1964 (Water),  02/11/1975 to 01/30/1976 (Wood),  01/29/1987 to 02/16/1988 (Fire),  02/16/1999 to 02/04/2000 (Earth),  02/03/2011 to 01/22/2012 (Metal).

Famous Rabbit People:  Angelina Jolie, Anjelica Huston, Drew Barrymore, Edith Piaf, Fanny Brice, Helen Hunt, Jane Seymour, Joan Crawford, Kate Winslet, Natasha Richardson, and Tina Turner

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