Spring Roll Party!!!

Sometimes as a high school counselor, I feel like it is really easy to do more harm than good. This should be my motto for life really. Same with my health. Constant dieting and starting over has done more harm than good. I am constantly talking about physical health on my blog but today, we talk about mental health.

Motivating another human being is so difficult. I know it is possible, but sometimes it feels impossible in my career. I heard a statistic at a training a month back from a professional in motivation interviewing. She said that less than 1% of people change based on information and skills. Yikes… so basically what I do doesn’t work! I assume on a daily basis that high school students will change based on me telling them how important a high school diploma is and how to manage their time or advocate for themselves and ask for help. School counseling doesn’t look like mental health counseling, but I keep wondering, WHY NOT? I mean, I admit I am not properly trained to do proper mental health counseling, but it feels like these conversations I am having with students are going nowhere. If you were to ask me why I wanted to be a school counselor a few years ago, I would have answered, “Because I want to have a positive impact on students and their lives”. Now, that answer sounds ridiculously egotistical and self-involved. Who was that about? Me or the kids? My answer to that question today if I am being completely honest is, “Because I want someone to listen to kids”. Just listen. Not redirect. Not help graduate. Not debate with. Not print transcripts for.

The students that I have the best relationships with are the ones who tell me about their lives, and I just listen with an open heart. Not an open mind necessarily, because I am the first one to tell them when they are thinking like a little kid, but they like my honesty better than fake acceptance anyways.

Today I had a couple conversations where I thought to myself, “Wow, I suck at this” and “What in the world can I do to help this student?” And to be honest, I would do anything. IF they would let me. But here is what is missing in our relationship. No one is listening. Me or them. Our relationship is flawed from the start. Because the first thing I did was put them on the defense. “Why are you failing all your classes? Why haven’t you asked for help? Do you want to graduate on time? What needs to change in your life to make things better?” Either I get defensive answers or none at all. I already know where I screwed up and it is impossible to take back. I could make excuses about why I do this with some students: time, no connection, I have a responsibility to get through those items. If I was real with myself though, I would admit, it is just easier to tell kids what you need to tell them. That way I can tell myself later, “Oh well, you did the best you could to give them the information they need.” But deep down, I know that information has almost no impact.

The motivational interviewing training blew me away. Just one example she used changed my entire perspective. She asked all of us,

“Do you floss your teeth everyday?”

Only 1 person of 11 raised their hand. She asked us,

“If I showed you a powerpoint for 10 minutes covering the evidence-based health benefits of flossing, including its impact on cardiovascular health, longevity of life, and gum health, would you floss your teeth everyday from here on out?”

Most of us could not make that kind of promise. Then we talked about why not. My reasons were running out of floss, forgetting, getting tired and just going to bed instead.

Then she asked us,

“What if I brought in a dentist to train everyone here on proper techniques of flossing and tips for fitting it into your day?”

Still, of us full grown adults, most could not say that we would be committed flossers were that to happen. It just wasn’t going to happen. Even if we were to start flossing, it would most likely decline over time. (PS. This actually happened to me. I started flossing again that day, did it for 2 weeks, and took 2 weeks off recently) 

Her point was this. Even as mature, fully grown adults, providing us with information and skills didn’t make us MAKE the change. She applied the same principle to weight loss. Everyone knows how to lose weight. It’s not a mystery. But its hard to do even with proper motivators like health, cholesterol, diabetes, weight loss, and fitness goals like running a marathon. I know it took me years and multiple motivators to decide to get in shape (several times) so it makes me think that trying to have a significant impact on a student in one or two conversations is a small ripple in a big ass ocean.

But the only way to continue my journey as a school counselor and practicing a healthy lifestyle is to accept that eventually the little things add up. The cake you don’t eat, the conversation about graduation, the 30 minutes of exercise, the email you send a kid’s teacher, the carrot sticks instead of chips, the phone call home to parents…

So how does one recover from a day of bleh?





Mango and avocado
Cooked shrimp, sliced lengthwise
Cabbage, mint, thai basil, cilantro, Persian cucumber
Daikon and carrot in rice vinegar, shrimp
Pork teriyaki (could use bulgogi or chicken)

This all started this past spring. My mom had a really rough day at work and in her personal life. To cheer her up, I thought I would make her favorite thing that she orders at Thai restaurants. I guess I was feeling inspired. Spring rolls ARE NOT CHEAP when you buy them at restaurants and they are always filled with fillers like rice noodles or dry chicken. Also, you never get enough to make a meal out of it. So I pinterested spring rolls for an hour and then went to our giant Korean market and picked up the following:

  • Thai basil
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Persian cucumber
  • Cabbage
  • Butter lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Mango
  • Carrots
  • Daikon
  • Rice vinegar
  • Shrimp
  • Rice/tapioca flour wrappers

(actual instructions to follow)

My sister picked up our favorite sauces (peanut sauce and nuoc cham, a delicious fish sauce) from the nearby Thai restaurant because we are lazy and we prepped like crazy. Having a mandoline really helps for the cucumber, carrots, and daikon on the julienne setting.

My mom ADORED the spring roll dinner and prepping, wrapping, and rolling became so fun, it became a “thing” at the Ha household.

Last night, my sisters, husband, cousin, mom, and a family friend Brittany got together for spring rolls and we made it easy and fun by each volunteering to bring a few ingredients. Economical and fun for a party. We are all eating really healthy lately and emailing each other about it so this was a cute way to bring it all together.

One thing that sets our spring rolls apart is that I make an easy pickled daikon and carrot side to go inside it. This is the stuff that gives banh mi sandwiches one of their unique flavors. The acidic/sweet taste gives the spring rolls the perfect bold taste.

Ha Household Party Spring Rolls

Ingredients (double for a group bigger than 4 if this is the main dish like we do it)

  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch thai basil
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 1/2 head of savoy cabbage
  • 2 small avocados or 1 large
  • 1 mango
  • 4 small persian cucumbers
  • 1 head butter or green lettuce
  • 30 small cooked shrimp (sliced lengthwise so you get 60 pieces)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 daikon (about 6-8 inches)
  • 1 bottle of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar (we skip this and use a little honey cactus powder)
  • ~30 rice or *tapioca flour wrappers or you can get extra lettuce instead and lettuce wrap your spring rolls.
  • OPTIONAL: marinated meat like bulgogi, seasoned diced or ground chicken or spicy pork. This just adds a little texture and flavor. My parents own a teriyaki restaurant so we use some pork teriyaki. You can try this:
  • Sauces: nuoc cham (google an easy recipe for this authentic fish sauce), sweet chili sauce, peanut sauce, hot banana sauce. 



  1. Julienne (hopefully using a mandoline) the cucumbers and set them on a large serving platter.
  2. Julienne the carrots and daikon together. Add one bottle of rice vinegar and 1/2 cup of water to a bowl or quart sized mason jar. Stir in sugar (or not) until dissolved. Add the carrots and daikon and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Wash and dry the herbs. Roughly chop the mint, basil, and cilantro without combining them and add them to the plate.
  4. Quarter the savoy cabbage and chop thin strips and add them to the plate.
  5. Half, slice, and scoop the avacados
  6. If you have access to a ripe mango, peel and cut the meat off the seed. Slice the large chunks into strips like the avocado. I used frozen chunks because it is winter and just chopped them up and let them thaw in the bowl.
  7. Prep the butter lettuce by washing well. If you are adding the lettuce to your spring rolls, slice it into strips like the cabbage. If you are lettuce wrapping your spring rolls, leave them in large leaves.
  8. Thaw or warm up the shrimp by sauteeing over low-medium heat on a skillet. I like my shrimp cold on my spring rolls so I place over a bowl of ice when done cooking.
  9. OPT. If you are adding some kind of seasoned Asian meat, this would be the time to prepare it… 
  10. Fill one or two large shallow bowls big enough for your spring roll wrappers with hot tap water.

This is the part where you put your crazy million fresh ingredients on the table along with the bowls of hot water and tell people to go nuts. You soften your rice wrapper in the hot water for about a minute and try to shake off excess water. People like their wrapper at different levels of softness so longer time in water, means softer and more delicate. You can also lettuce wrap the spring rolls. I did this to half of mine. Quite messy though so I popped them in my mouth before I could take a picture.

It is tempting to overfill your spring roll, but a little of everything is best so you can get adorable spring rolls like these!

I like to lay 3 shrimp down and then add the rest to the top for a pretty presentation 🙂

Please ignore the old school plates. My mom insists her Corningware cornflower blue plates don’t need to be replaced from 20 years ago… They are indestructible. I know. I have tried.

It is really fun to wrap your own and it makes it so people can use whatever they want. Brittany doesn’t like avocado, Jinju doesn’t eat meat, I don’t eat mangoes. Everyone gets what they want. Love that.


3 thoughts on “Spring Roll Party!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s