Mu Shu Shrimp with Homemade Plum Sauce

Mu shu is one of my favorite Chinese restaurant dishes, so I was thrilled when I discovered how easy it is to make at home. Having crepes and cooked shrimp on-hand make it truly fast food.

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded carrot
½ cup chopped green onions
6 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
1 recipe Spicy-Sweet Shrimp
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon Sriracha
4 tablespoons Easy Homemade Plum Sauce (or jarred hoisin sauce)
8 small whole wheat tortillas (or 8 Whole Wheat Crepes)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add broccoli and a pinch of salt and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until slightly charred. Pour 1/4 cup water into pan and cover. Cook for another 3 minutes, until broccoli is tender. Uncover and let any remaining liquid burn off. Add garlic and toss well to coat broccoli. Cook for 30-60 seconds, until garlic is fragrant. Scoop broccoli into a large bowl.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add carrot and onions and stir-fry 2 minutes. Stir in cabbage and cook 3-5 minutes, until wilted and slightly charred. Toss shrimp and broccoli with cabbage mixture. Microwave crepes for 20 seconds on a plate covered with a clean dish towel.

While cabbage is cooking, whisk together soy sauce, 1 tablespoon water, cornstarch and Sriracha in a small bowl. Stir soy sauce mixture into cabbage mixture with a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Serve with plum sauce and tortillas or crepes.

Serves 4

Easy Homemade Plum Sauce

I’d never thought of making plum sauce with dried plums (duh). Turns out it’s that rich plum puree that gives this iconic Chinese sauce its signature taste. This one has a bit of zing from the orange juice and shallot, and is less cloyingly sweet than the store-bought versions.

1 teaspoon finely minced shallot
1 scant cup dried plums (pitted)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
sea salt

Pulse the shallot, plums and water to a paste in a food processor. Add vinegar, brown sugar, orange juice and salt and continue to pulse until a smooth paste.

Makes 1-1/2 cups

Spice-Rubbed Roast Fish with Lemon & Fennel

The subtle spice rub and fragrant fennel make this easy roast fish dish something special. Use any type of medium- to firm-flesh fish, such as sustainably caught cod, haddock or Pacific halibut. What’s sustainable and available varies, depending where you live. That’s why we’re fans of the SeafoodWatch Regional Guides.


Finding the “Yes” in Saying No

I’ve talked to a lot of people lately who are giving up certain foods for a period of time, either for Lent or for a cleanse. Most often, the discussion is accompanied by grimaces over giving up sugar or wistful sighs at mention of meat.

But giving something up in a deliberate act doesn’t have to be about deprivation. In fact, I would argue that honing in on something that has taken a little tighter grip than we’d intended and purposefully letting it go for a spell is a powerful mindful eating practice that will open us up to something new and positive.


I’ve found that when I’m feeling anxious about a certain area it helps to take a bold action in exactly the opposite direction. If I’m stressed out about not being able to get everything done, taking a leisurely half-hour lunch in the garden reinvigorates me and leaves me much more productive than if I’d worked nonstop. If I’m freaking out about not having enough money to cover expenses, giving boldly takes my fear away and puts my needs into perspective.

That same type of “positive shock” is activated when you deliberately give up a certain type of food or habit. If you choose to set aside meat for a few weeks you can either whine about it … or you can see it as an opportunity to explore the world of vegetables, whole grains, seafood and soy in ways you’re not able to when you have the crutch of “chicken tonight, ground beef tomorrow” (and to feel great about how you’ve shrunk your carbon footprint!). If you choose to pass on desserts with highly processed flour and sugar, do it mindfully and notice how awesome your body feels in return.

Giving things up doesn’t have to be accompanied by disappointed groans. When we say “no” to one thing, we’re opening ourselves up to a “yes” in another area. When you find that yes and focus on it consistently, you’ll be amazed at just how full you feel.

Garlicky Sauteed Spinach

This sauteed spinach recipe wins over even those who normally snub the vegetable. Pre-washed greens makes this dish come together in a flash. You can use this technique with any tender greens, such as beet greens or chard.


White Bean and Chard Soup with Sausage

Perked up with chard and Italian sausage, this white bean soup recipe straddles the line between fresh and green and rich and hearty. So much so, in fact, that it would be perfectly appropriate in any season.



Pork and Fennel Ragu

This quick ragu exemplifies my “double up-halvsies” trick. It’s got loads of onion and fennel, just a bit of pork for flavor, and half the pasta you’re used to. Yet it’s so hearty you’ll never miss the extra meat and pasta.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups onion, finely chopped
2 cups fennel bulbs, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, slightly crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces lean ground pork
¼ cup dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
(1) 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
8 ounces rigatoni, preferably whole grain

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat a large non nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in olive oil and add onion, fennel and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes, until onion is translucent.

Add fennel seeds, oregano, pepper flakes, a pinch of salt and pepper, and pork to pan with onions and fennel. Stir to combine and brown pork for 3-4 minutes, chopping it up with the edge of a stiff spatula. Pour in wine and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan while wine evaporates.

Add tomato and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes (or more if you have time), stirring occasionally. While sauce is simmering, boil pasta, drain and return to pot. Scrape sauce into pot with pasta and toss to coat well.

Serves 4

Plum Inspiration from Olympian Natalie Coughlin

The more I get to know Natalie Coughlin, the more I detect a kindred spirit (although she can swim a lot better than I can). As an Olympic medalist, Natalie is training almost constantly, yet she draws strength and balance from a nourishing lifestyle that includes fresh, seasonal foods (including veggies from her own garden) and smart snacks. Read on for a behind-the-scenes talk with this celebrity swimmer.

LH—We all know you as a superstar athlete, but when and how did you get interested in cooking?

NC–My interest in cooking really grew during college. I had a busy training schedule and had a year’s worth of dorm food to realize that it was time for me to start cooking! I need wholesome, nourishing foods to keep my energy up, and I wanted to eat food that tasted good, too!

LH—Do you ever cook for your fellow athletes when you’re on the road with the team?

NC–Not really.  Often times we stay in traditional hotels, without a kitchen.  Although I would always prefer to cook, there are many healthy options at restaurants on the road.  You just need to be smart about what you order.

LH—I hear you’re a gardener. How did you get into that and what are your favorite things to grow?

NC–I’ve always loved food, so having my own garden was a dream of mine. I find it really relaxing and plus, it’s a great way to get fresh produce and herbs. As far as my favorites go, I really love how easy it is to grow salad greens (and I probably use them the most), but I also enjoy growing kale, carrots and beets.  Their flavor is incomparable when they’re straight from the garden.

LH—We at NOURISH Evolution believe that food is more than just what we eat. How does food play into your training… both in terms of feeding your body, and feeding your spirit?

NC–Food plays a huge role in my training routine—I see it as fuel for my body and rely on wholesome foods to give me the energy I need to perform my best. With that said, I really pay attention to what I’m eating and try to incorporate as many simple and seasonal foods as possible, especially lots of fruits and vegetables. I also carry nutritious snacks with me to make sure that my energy doesn’t drop while I’m training. Dried plums are one of my go-to snacks since they’re convenient, taste great and most importantly, they are a nutrient powerhouse that helps promote good heart, bone and digestive health. They also support the immune system. In terms of feeding the spirit, when you eat healthy you feel better both physically and mentally.  It’s amazing when you pay attention to how you feel after a healthy meal and after a not so healthy meal.  Not only do you feel better after a healthy meal, but you feel better about yourself because you’re treating your body right.

LH—Are there any special “extras” you need nutritionally as an athlete? How do you make sure you’re getting what you need?

NC–Due to drug testing, I don’t take any supplements; I focus on meeting all of my nutritional needs through the foods that I eat. I always make sure that I’m eating different fruits and vegetables, lean proteins—and plenty of whole grains—to give me all my vitamins and minerals. One easy way I do this is to include lots of superfoods like dried plums in my diet.

LH—What gets you most excited about California Dried Plums?

NC–Working with the California Dried Plum Board has really been one of the most rewarding partnerships that I’ve had over the years. I’ve been able to develop my own signature recipes that use dried plums.  I’m always amazed at how they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. I have also learned a ton about their nutritional benefits! Snacking on dried plums is a good way to increase important vitamins and minerals, and also a tasty way to way to curb appetite.

LH—How did you get involved with the California Dried Plum Board?

NC–I have been snacking on dried plums since I was a kid, so it was a natural fit to become the spokesperson for the California Dried Plum Board in 2009.  Dried plums are a convenient, healthy superfruit snack, ideal for active people.  I’m always recommending them to my family, friends, teammates and coaches.

LH—That Lumpia with Dried Plum Purée on your website looks fantastic.  What’s another favorite recipe of yours?

NC–Moist and Fudgy Brownies with Dried Plums is my go-to recipe for a great dessert. I don’t typically have a huge sweet tooth, but I love this recipe and they’re always a big hit among my friends and family. Plus, the recipe uses dried plum purée as a way to add extra nutrition and moisture, so this is a “healthier version” of the brownie. Using the purée lets you use less fat and sugar.

LH—Can you tell us about the California Dried Plum Board’s “Super Snacking” Sweepstakes?

NC–As I said, snacking is a huge part of my daily routine and the California Dried Plum Board wanted to help others supplement their own healthy snacking habits though the sweepstakes. The “Super Snacking” sweepstakes will provide one lucky person with a $1,000 grocery gift card for a nearby grocery store. To enter, visit

LH—What’s YOUR favorite California dried plum snack?

NC–I love the Dried Plum Snack Bars – I even made them over the holidays for my family!

LH—How is your training going for London 2012?

NC–It’s going really well! I’m keeping busy with my workouts and training, but in reality, athletes are training all the time. We always need to make sure that we’re eating the right foods and staying in shape. Our routine just gets more intense when the Games are coming up!

LH—Any special dishes you’re looking forward to trying while in the UK?

NC–Although this is far from healthy, I’m looking forward to some traditional bangers and mash.  Everyone deserves to indulge every once and a while!

Thanks, Natalie!


Natalie Coughlin is a paid spokesperson for the California Dried Plum Board.


Look Who We’ve Teamed Up With!

We’ve teamed up with Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin and the California Dried Plum Board to bring their Super Snacking Sweepstakes here to NOURISH Evolution.

One of the things I love about this partnership is what a natural fit it is. To start with, dried plums are a good source of fiber, which boosts digestive health and keeps you satiated for a nice, long while. There’s also recent evidence that dried plums helps maintain bone density. And, quite frankly, they’re surprisingly delicious and versatile. So a Nourishing thumbs up on all accounts.

But there’s another thing too, and I’m aware this may sound nostalgic so bear with me … before Healdsburg was known as “wine country,” it was renowned for its dried plums. There’s heritage kismet here with NOURISH Evolution and California Dried Plums, I tell you.

Tune in over the next few weeks to get tips from Natalie on what fuels her body and feeds her spirit, and if you’ve got a great snack recipe for dried plums, by all means, enter the Super Snacking Sweepstakes here. You’ll be entered for a chance to win a $1,000 gift certificate for groceries near you … talk about a boost to your budget!

Good luck!