Vietnamese-Style Pho

I’m embarrassed to say, I neglected this blog for way too long- but I’m back!  I’ve made it a goal to blog either about plants or recipes at least twice a month, so….stay tuned…

It’s January in New England, and as always, the weather is super confused. One day we’re running around in the woods, and then today it’s 30 degrees. Brr!firsst

When it gets cold like this, I always turn to super warm, nourishing comfort food recipes, especially soups.  I always loved eating Pho at Vietnamese restaurants, but sometimes find them too carb-y for regular consumption.  Plus I like to make things at home instead of going out all the time. So I played around with some similar flavors, and came up with this recipe that includes mushrooms, cilantro, lemongrass, and all the flavors I really love in traditional Pho.  I tweaked it a little to make it appropriate for a client of mine who needs to follow a strict autoimmune diet, and it was a hit for her too.  1

I like this recipe, because like most of my recipes, it is simple enough to do on a busy weeknight.  I love cooking, but we’re all trying to balance work-life-rest time, and sometimes you just need something quick!  I made this soup with sliced pork belly that had been made ahead of time, but you can adjust it to add in any protein that you like- leftover roast chicken is a one I use often! If you’re into cooking pork belly here’s the technique I like:

Season liberally with salt and pepper

Bake fat side UP in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, turn heat down to 300, and cook for one hour.  Let it rest for 10 minutes, then slice thin. If you have the time, it’s incredible!



Vietnamese Style Pho Soup, Serves 3-4


2 Tablespoons ghee

2 handfuls of spinach

4 carrots, shredded

4 oz. dried wakame, chopped in 2-inch pieces

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1 Tablespoon dried lemongrass

2 quarts bone broth

1 bunch of cilantro, for topping

2 Tablespoons coconut aminos

2 limes, juiced

1 lb cooked meat of choice


In a large pot, head 1 quart of water to boiling.  Cook spinach for 10 minutes, and drain.  Set aside spinach.  Add ghee to the pot on medium head, and saute the carrots, ginger, lemongrass, mushrooms, and wakame.  Once carrots begin to soften, add the spinach, bone broth, coconut aminos, juice from two limes.  Add meat last, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if desired.  Add cilantro for a fresh, bright flavor. Ladle into bowls, and give it a minute to cool- I burnt my tongue on this the last time I made it- oops!


The Perfect Soft Boiled Egg


Ahhh, soft boiled eggs.  If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I love to eat eggs!  They’re pretty much nature’s perfect food, and most importantly, so delicious!!  One of my favorite ways to eat eggs is soft boiled.  After a few people asked me how to prepare them, I thought it would be a great blog post to have handy 🙂


One thing I love about soft boiled eggs, is how easy they are to make.  How many of us end up rushing out of the house in the mornings without breakfast because we hit the snooze, or because we forgot about finishing up that project, or the dog took too long to do his business, and all those other things.  And those of you with kids?  I don’t know how you do it!


The simplicity of this breakfast is one of it’s best attributes.  (Oh yeah, and the fact that it’s incredibly yummy!)

All you need is a pot of water, eggs, and some leftover veggies and you have a delicious, nourishing breakfast.  Typically, I put the pot of water on the stove when I wake up.  Then I hop into the shower/get ready and when I’m done the water is boiling.  Gently lower the eggs into the water and let them cook for 6 minutes.  I usually warm leftover veggies in the toaster oven while the eggs are cooking.  When your timer goes off, you’re ready for breakfast!  Only 6 minutes later!

Well, I could probably go on and on about eggs, because I love them so much, but instead of that, how about I just post the recipe? 🙂

Soft Boiled Eggs

You need:

1 small pot, filled with water


Place the small pot of water on the stove on high heat.  Once the water is boiling, use a spoon or ladle to gently lower the eggs into the boiling water.  Set your timer for 6 minutes.  (Usually at this point I’ll toss some leftover veggies into the toaster oven to warm.  But if you just want the eggs, then ignore that sentence, haha.) After the timer goes off, remove the pot from the stove and pour the hot water into the sink.  Run some cold water over the eggs right away!  This stops them from overcooking.  When they are cool enough to touch, peel the eggs and enjoy!


Sage Garlic Meatballs

It’s almost 90 degrees outside with MAJOR humidity, and for some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to turn the oven on for dinner tonight. What can I say? After a busy day, I LOVE a dinner that you can just throw in the oven. It cooks by itself, freeing me up to hang out with the pup and watch Gilmore Girls. Yep, that happened…

Anyway, this is my go-to meatball recipe and I love it because it’s easy and I’ve made it with ground pork, beef, and turkey, and enjoyed all of the different versions.  If I were a true Bostonian, I would probably eat these guys in a sub, but I’m a California transplant, so I ate mine with a kale and avocado salad. #typical 🙂  I did make my sauce from scratch and had it in the freezer for a day like today, but I’ll save that process for another post. You can use your own sauce, or any jarred one that you like. There are some pretty tasty and healthy ones out there!

What’s your favorite way to eat meatballs? I’m always looking for new tasty, healthy dishes, so feel free to share your ideas!!


Sage Garlic Meatballs

1 lb ground pork (or beef or turkey)

2 Tablespoons fresh sage, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 cups marinara sauce

Heat oven to 350.  Mix everything except for the sauce in a large bowl. Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out  approximately 10 balls ( or just free hand roll them yourself). Lightly oil the bottom of a 9″X9″ pan, or one of a similar size, and evenly space apart the balls in the pan. Bake in oven for 8 minutes, then pour sauce over the meatballs. Return to oven for another 5 minutes. Mine were done at this point but be sure to check your balls- all ovens cook a little differently! Pair with your favorite side dish, and enjoy your balls! 😁








Almond Butter Sauce


Ahhhh, almond butter.  So delicious, so easy to become obsessed with.  One of our favorite meals, especially in Summer is Vietnamese- Style Wraps topped with this Almond Butter Sauce.  Traditionally, these wraps are made with softened rice paper, but lately I’ve been making them with romaine lettuce as the wrapper.  Either way, they are delicious!  We tend to make these all summer long- there’s a wide range of veggies available that you can just eat raw, which makes this meal so easy to prep.   While your meat is cooking, just chop veggies and mix the sauce and then you’re ready to eat!  The sauce can be made ahead of time too, so if you set aside time in your week like I do to do meal prep, then this meal would be even quicker to prepare.  One thing I love most about this recipe is that it goes great with anything you pick up.  We sometimes do crunchy veggies, or sautee up some mushrooms to throw in.  They’re great as a vegetarian dish, as well as with chicken, fish- anything!  We did them the other night with steak, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, bok choy and mushrooms and kept saying “This dinner is soooo good!!”  And it was!

imageAbove:  a pretty shot of the wraps I made the other night.  Below:  a less than pretty picture of the almond butter sauce we use to top/dip the wraps.

imageThe sauce just didn’t photograph on my non-fancy camera very well, but trust me, it is DELICIOUS!  You can also make it with peanut butter if you so desire.  Happy wrap-making!

Almond Butter Sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup light olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 cup almond butter

1 clove garlic

1 inch peeled ginger

3 Tablespoons coconut aminos

pinch of salt and pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon mayonnaise

1 cup cilantro OR thai basil

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend on a low speed until smooth.

Creamy Avocado Vinaigrette

imageAhhh, summer!!! It may not OFFICIALLY be here, but it is definitely here anyway!  The last couple of days here in Boston have been incredibly sunny, beautiful, and…humid.  Oh man, the humidity!  I know it happens every year, but without fail, every year it’s a surprise.  It’s not something you can really get used to, but after the never ending winter we had, I am okay with it!! (For the most part).

Anyway, when it gets hot and sticky like this, I tend to eat a lot of fresh fruit and crisp salads.  Basically, whatever I can pick up at the farmer’s market and throw into a bowl without turning on the oven or stove!  I’ve also always been obsessed with avocados, so I was playing around with different things to do with them (like the Chocolate Avocado Smoothie), and came up with a little vinaigrette to toss all these salad veggies with.  I’ve really been loving it lately, because as delicious as avocados are on their own, there is something so wonderful about having that deliciousness in every single bite!  This dressing is creamy, tart, minty and goes with just about anything that you want to put it on- salads, wraps, burritos, eggs.  It has a wonderfully light taste that would make it a great dip for summer snacking and picnics too.

Creamy Avocado Dressing– makes multiple servings

1 Avocado

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

pinch of each: salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper

1/4 cup mint leaves (not packed)

Place everything into a blender of food processor and blend until smooth.  Happy summer eating!

Chocolate Avocado Smoothie


One thing I did miss during the Whole30 is smoothies! I think it’s important to note that I didn’t CRAVE them, but there were definitely times that I would have enjoyed a smoothie with a meal. I know smoothies aren’t strictly forbidden, but thet aren’t exactly encouraged either, and for good reason! I didn’t want to give my sugar dragon any extra reasons to torment me.  But now that I’m not officially doing a Whole30, I’ve started to incorporate them here and there, still using super healthy ingredients of course! This is a super simple little smoothie I blended up the other day and enjoyed with a couple of eggs and tomatoes for breakfast- it was very filling and satisfying. Enjoy!

Chocolate Avocado Smoothie (serves 1)

1 Tablespoon raw cacao powder

1 frozen banana

1 date

1 cup water (or milk of choice)

small handful of spinach

1/2 avocado

Blend everything together until smooth- and drink! 🙂

Whole 30 Wrap Up and Herbal Support

And just like that, my first whole 30 is officially over!  Before I started, I was really nervous about how it would go, and the how I would handle the “carb flu”, and all the cravings.  And now, here I am on the other side, totally sold on the whole 30 life and feeling really awesome.  Even though I can see myself eating “whole 30” style most of the time,  I am still  going to do the reintroduction process, because I approached the Whole 30 as an experiment.  And while I do feel great now, I think without the reintroduction process, I won’t have a complete set of data that I can compare and refer back to in the future.  Because let’s face it, even with as good as I feel right now, I know there are going to be times like parties, special nights out, THANKSGIVING!, birthdays, Tuesdays, etc. where I’m going to want to eat a piece of cake, or stinky French cheese, or fresh baked bread, or any of the other things. And I want to know what to expect, and how to judge what’s “worth it”, and how to get back on track with feeling great after an indulgence.

I also kept a journal for the week prior to the Whole 30, and all during, as data on how I was feeling physically and emotionally, as well as energy levels, mood changes, skin changes, and anything else I could think of.

In addition to the journal, I incorporated several herbs on a daily basis to support me during the entire process.  These are things that REALLY helped me this month.  I can’t express this enough!  I did have some difficult days (days 2 and 3), and a few cravings (mostly when I was tired or stressed), but I NEVER had the dreaded “carb flu”.  A few of my friends and classmates are also doing a Whole 30 right now, and are reporting some pretty awful symptoms, at least from their first week.  And this isn’t to say that the Whole 30 wasn’t a big change in diet for me, because it was.  My meals in general were usually pretty healthy, but I definitely indulged in that pizza if I didn’t feel like cooking after an extra long day of work, or dessert several times a week, and my meals, though ‘healthy’ weren’t always very satiating.  I had a snack (again ‘healthy’ like fruit or seaweed), most mornings and afternoons.  So this change was actually pretty significant, and I think it went much more smoothly than expected, mostly because of the medicinal herbs that I incorporated into my life.

I think this is a good time for a disclaimer to say that while I am studying herbalism, I am still just a student, and I’m not trying to say anyone should do exactly what I do just because I said so. Everybody and every body is different.  I think if you want to incorporate herbs into your Whole 30, or your life in general, that’s AWESOME, and you should do a little research before deciding what to incorporate. Taking your health into your own hands is extremely important. But I will also say, that these herbs are extremely safe, and easy to find (either through wildcrafting if you can confidently identify them, or through your local natural foods store), and there is a bunch of research out there to support this.


The first herbs I incorporated were nettle and tulsi.  Both plants are adaptogens, which means that they aid the body in it’s response to stress.  This can be stress from foods that are harmful, work stress, emotional stress- anything really.  I figured that a huge diet change would add a pretty significant amount of stress to my body, so I began drinking these teas a few days before I started my Whole 30.  I drank the tulsi a couple times a day (just packed a couple teabags when I packed my lunch).  And the nettles I drank throughout the day.  It is important to note that nettles are PACKED with minerals, and to get the full benefit that the plant has to offer, you need to make an overnight (or just several hours) infusion rather than just a tea.  I would put dried nettles in the bottom of a french press, pour boiling water over it, and let it infuse overnight.  In the morning I would press it out, and put the tea in a mason jar to take with me to work.  I drank it cold with a splash of almond milk.  But, if you prefer warm tea, you could also add warm water to it.


Hibiscus is beautiful red flower that can be eaten if you get it fresh, or made into tea when it is dried.  I wanted to break the habit of having a snack after getting home from work- I wasn’t hungry, it was JUST a habit- so I started making hibiscus tea.  Hibiscus is incredibly bold in both flavor and color, and it was just what I needed.  Something flavorful to sip on while I walked the dog, or did some studying, but nothing that I needed to eat.  Because again, I wasn’t hungry. It was just a habit that I’d built.  And I don’t have a problem with having tea as a habit in the afternoon.  I never added anything to the tea, so I wasn’t making it an unhealthy habit.  And the more tea, the merrier!

chamomile-06Every night I also incorporated chamomile into my routine.  When I was preparing the water for the overnight nettle steep, I used some of the water for chamomile tea.  Chamomile is a gentle sedative, and while it didn’t necessarily put me to sleep, it definitely helped me sleep more soundly.  It’s incredibly relaxing to the body, and helped me calm down enough to just lay in the bed and drift off, rather than playing on my phone while my dog and fiance snore until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.


Last but definitely not least, is marshmallow.  Several of the above herbs can be pretty drying, and I tend to run dry anyway, so I wanted to incorporate something to help keep me hydrated. Marshmallow, when prepared with cold water is a highly moistening herb.  Usually, you want to pour cold water over marshmallow and let it sit for several hours until the liquid gets thick and kinda slimy.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the way that tasted, or felt in my mouth so I just put a pinch in the bottom of a water bottle and kept adding more water to the same bottle as I drank it throughout the day.  It was just enough moisture to keep me from drying out.

So that’s my Whole 30 wrap up!  Overall, I would say that I would definitely do it again!  I’m looking forward to collecting data from my reintroduction process, and applying that information to future Whole 30s.  I’m also looking forward to developing this blog a little more, and start sharing some of the recipes and cooking tips that I’ve been accumulating.

I also want to know- how did you survive your Whole 30?  I love hearing healthy tips from other people, so, please share!!