“Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love.”
– Giada De Laurentiis
One of my 11th grade students, Kai, asked if they could store their tea set in my classroom, so I made a spot for the tea pot and assortment of cups, honey, and boxes of tea. I eavesdropped as they explained to a few friends that the tea pot was their pride and joy. It was purchased from a thrift store and they loved to brew a pot of tea and savor in the moment. In my head I marveled over this student’s revelation and the fact that they wanted to keep something so special in my classroom.
This fall I started a Multicultural Lunch & Food Writing Club with a group of my students. Because of our rural location in the UP, unless families travel to other areas, many young people do not have access to meals from different cultures. Therefore, I wanted to expose them to different flavors and encourage them to learn how to cook and write about their experiences. I had a library of cookbooks, a mini-fridge, microwave, crockpot, spices, an Aerogarden to grow fresh herbs and greens, and plethora of other supplies donated to our club by the generosity of family, friends, and even strangers via DonorsChoose. So far we have delighted in many delicious dishes including: both Chicken and Vegetable Indian Curry, Spanish Paella, and Finnish Pannu Kakku. We also have “Fancy Ramen Fridays” where we turn simple packets of ramen into a gourmet bowl by adding nori, kimchi, pickled ginger, rice vinegar, and a variety of other additions.
Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about Kai’s wisdom about the ritual of brewing and savoring a cup of tea. Throughout the years, I have written many posts on my blog about creating healthy habits and routines for ourselves. Whether it is drinking water, wearing an activity monitor to keep track of exercise, or filling our menu with an abundance of vegetables. Yet, I think this coming year, I am going to focus on creating “rituals” for myself. The wordsmith in me appreciates the word ritual. It sounds more sacred than a habit or routine. So as we enter a new year, I am going to work on rituals that will bring inner peace and balance to my life.
As you know from my monthly column, one of the rituals that I enjoy participating in is eating dinner around the table with my family. Even on those nights when dinner may look like a frozen pizza or a humble grilled cheese, we make it a feast by sitting around the table. I will not pretend that the conversation is always lively and positive. However, it is precious time together. Even if it involves a lecture about the importance of turning in homework, how we all need to soften our sharp words, or even just silence and the sound of chewing.
One of the benefits of starting a lunch club is having students in my classroom each day at lunch. In our contract our lunch is “duty free”, meaning I do not have to teach or be in our building during this time period. In the past, I used to close my door and use this time to eat and often work (answer and send emails, grade etc.). However, now that I have students in my classroom I still use this time to do all of the things that I did before, but now I also step back from working a bit and laugh. I laugh because of their conversations and youthful exuberance. It reminds me of how lucky I am to have a career that I love and the opportunities it gives me to both teach and learn lessons daily.
This year I have been mindful of packing a healthy lunch to bring to school on days when our lunch club does not have an organized meal. Often my students ask what I am eating and I share food ideas with them. I am keeping track of the recipes we create and we will be compiling “cookbooks” for each student.
I am always searching for new, healthy meal ideas. I kept seeing “Egg Roll in a Bowl” recipes popping up on Pinterest. I decided to give it a try, since one of my rituals for 2022 is to reduce my starchy carbohydrate footprint. This recipe earned five stars from both my stepson and husband. We may have even fought over the leftovers. Incidentally, I did make a side of jasmine rice for John and Lukas since they are not trying to reduce their starchy carbs.
EGG ROLL IN A BOWL
*1 pound of ground pork (ground beef, turkey etc. would work)
*1 bag of chopped cabbage/coleslaw mix (You could substitute 4 cups of finely shredded cabbage and 1 cup of shredded carrots)
*1 bag of chopped broccoli slaw (You could substitute 4 cups of finely chopped broccoli and red cabbage)
*¾ cup of chopped mushrooms
*¼ cup of chopped yellow bell pepper
*3 Tablespoons of soy sauce (more to taste for serving)
*3 Tablespoons of Hoisin sauce (found in the Asian section of the supermarket)
*3 Tablespoons of sesame oil (I think this is essential to giving it flavor)
*3 Tablespoons of rice vinegar
*¼ cup of finely chopped onions (you can use green onions)
*1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
*1 Tablespoon chopped ginger
*Pepper to taste
*Optional – if you want to add some heat you can add a couple Tablespoons of garlic chili sauce or red pepper flakes
RASPBERRY SAUCE (to drizzle over the bowl)
*4 Tablespoons of rice vinegar
*3 Tablespoons of honey
*2 Tablespoons of raspberry jam or preserves
Cook the ground pork with the garlic, onion, and 1 Tablespoon of sesame oil until the pork is done through and browned. Remove and set aside.
Saute the cabbage, broccoli slaw, bell pepper, and mushrooms with 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil (I like to use a large cast iron pan). Add the ginger and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the ground pork along with the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and rice vinegar. Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes.
Whisk together the rice vinegar, honey, and raspberry jam/preserves.
Serve and drizzle with the raspberry and soy sauce on the side.
I hope you enjoy this healthed up version of an egg roll. It is a great way to sneak some vegetables into your family’s meals and it’s low carb. Since we raise pigs we have access to ground pork but it could also be made with any ground meat: beef, venison, chicken, or turkey.
As we head into a new year, I hope that you 2022 is healthy, productive, and full of mindfulness. What rituals might you be embracing into your lifestyle?
Make sure you check out my recipe tabs at the top of my page or use the search bar if you want to incorporate more healthy recipes into your meal plan. Make sure you comment and let me know what ones you try. Cheers and Happy New Year! ❤