Monday, November 14, 2011


I love recipes that remind me of my childhood. I was blessed to grow up in a wonderful family with a mother who loves to cook and a father who seeks activity and adventure. We had a modest garden and compost pile in the backyard, lived on a small lake, indulged in some intense neighborhood pick-up soccer games, stayed up way too late telling stories around the campfire, cooked burgers picnic-style in our wood-burning fireplace, and at one time had a 17-foot tall Christmas tree. These are just a few memories in the mosaic of stories I have collected over the years.

One of the greatest things that stands out in my mind, however, is that even though both my father and mother worked full-time and raised two kids, we always had a fresh, home cooked meal on the table. We were required to be at family dinner, something that wasn't much of a hardship. Our family always opened with a prayer of blessing and closed with a fun biblical story usually picked in true democratic style. Through dinner my parents nourished both our bodies and our souls. We laughed, we cried, we got into and out of trouble, we joked, we admitted, we loved - life happened, all around our dining room table

Family dinner times have taken quite a hit in these modern, fast-paced times. Or maybe these times simply feel faster because family dinners are quickly become a thing of the past. A lot of families are so busy, one person here and another there, that quick and convenient seem like blessings. Food is fuel but not nourishment. Moms are caretakers but not mothers. Fathers are breadwinners but not life givers. Families are becoming more like roommates sharing common utilities and living separate lives.

I encourage you to look at your families. Do you truly know one another? Is your life filled with "hi's and goodbye's" but void of actual conversation? Do your kids and your spouse know you love them? How are you showing this? Are you giving your childhood a chest full of beautiful memories? What will they carry away from their childhood and into their own families? 

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, now is perfect time to reflect. Use the month of November to intentionally name the blessings in your life and make changes where changes need to be made. 

So, to my parents, thank you for the gift of life in every possible sense of the word.

May your children and the children of others thank you some day.

This recipe is one I adapted from my mother's recipe [and probably her mother's, and her mother's prior to that]. The traditional recipe calls for rice and beef or venison. I traditionally eat in a more vegetarian fashion, as does my daughter [still working on the hubby], and have adapted it so it works for us. A couple of rolls easily make a meal for me but they can also be a delicious side [think Thanksgiving!].

This is a great meal [or side] for vegetarians / vegans in particular. If you have chosen a vegetarian lifestyle it is vitally important that you pay attention to the type and quantity of your protein intake as well as vitamins like B12 and minerals. Proper food combining is essential. These cabbage rolls combine walnuts with quinoa giving you a complete protein. Vegetarians should try have a complete protein with at least two meals a day to ensure that their bodies are receiving what they need to sustain good health. This can be done by combine a nut or legume with a grain or seed food like rice, quinoa, and millet. Adding herbs like garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom aid in the digestion and assimilation of the foods and their nutrients. I highly recommend making these and other appropriate herbs a part of your daily diet. 

Many vegetarians think they are eating healthfully but ignore what and how they eat and assemble their foods. This leads to deficiencies and diseases that, in some cases, are much more difficult to resolve than issues found with a standard American diet. If you eat vegetarian [and especially vegan] and / or follow a raw foods diet, I urge you to do your homework and look closely at your meals and snacks. I believe there is a time and season for everything and no one diet should be a long-term solution. Our bodies change, the seasons change, and life changes. Our diets need to do the same in order to adequately maintain health and balance.


1 medium head of savoy cabbage [savoy cabbage is milder in flavor and more tender making it easier to roll]
2 c. cooked quinoa
1 1/2 c. walnuts, ground
1 - 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 small turnip, finely chopped
2 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt [with a little extra for sprinkling]
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. arrowroot starch [or tapioca flour, potato starch, or cornstarch]
1 pint [2 cups] of tomato or pasta sauce

Cut [or core] the end of the cabbage, keeping the leaves together. Steam in a large pot until just soft and pliable [7 - 10 minutes, you can bring to boil steam a few minutes and then turn the heat off. Let it sit in the pot, covered until soft. This can save you a bit of energy / gas].

While the cabbage is steaming, saute the onion, carrot, and turnip in olive oil until just soft. Add salt, pepper, arrowroot starch and herbs / seasoning. Saute 30 seconds and remove from heat. Mince the garlic and set aside. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast on low [or broil] until just browned [3 - 5 minutes]. In a mixing bowl combine cooked quinoa, sauted vegetables, minced garlic, toasted walnuts and 1/2 - 3/4 cup of tomato or pasta sauce. Mix well.

Carefully remove the cabbage from the pot and cool to touch. Very gently pull each leaf away from the head. Place a spoonful of filling on the leaf, fold the sided over the filling and roll. You should end up with an egg-roll looking pocket. Place each roll into a large glass baking dish.

Once the dish is full, slowly pour the remaining tomato or pasta sauce over the rolls. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes.

[You will probably have leftover cabbage. I am working on a recipe for that! In the meantime, cut up and add to a soup or broth.]

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes. Serve immediately.

This is a great meal to double or triple. You can cook, cool completely, and then freeze in containers or ziploc bags.

Serving size is appx. 15 rolls and $0.75 per roll.


Purabi Naha said...

Family dinners are of course, very very important. I appreciate your way of thinking. What a yummy preparation! Loved this recipe and the way you write. I am fond of food and I think there is a lot to learn from you! Do you have a facebook page? Please feel free to follow my blog as well as my FB page (Cosmopolitan Currymania)and I'll follow your wonderful blog as well!!

TINA VANDERKLOK, MS, Holistic Nutrition, LEED-AP said...

Purabi - Right now I don't have a Facebook page. Maybe in the near future! Glad you liked the recipe - it's one of my favorites.

Junia said...

these look DIVINE! i love how i can eat everything on here. :) bookmarking this recipe!

Anonymous said...

Certainly a different take on what I am used to. Could be worth a try though.  

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