Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls – My Un-Diet from Pleasantly Plump to Zip

Healthy Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls from @whiteonrice on

Update: here’s our latest tutorial on how to make and roll spring rolls .

I know I’m not the only one who has gone through this, so I thought I’d finally say it publicly after 3 years of blogging.

Food blogging made me chunky-er, pleasantly plump or what ever you want to call it. My jeans didn’t zip anymore.

I’m not comfortable with the term “fat”. That F-word is so harsh and ugly. As true, blunt and effective it might be to get the point across that I need to get my ass on the tread mill, I don’t like “fat”.

I love chunky and pleasantly plump because it’s delicious sounding. These are yummy words to say how much I appreciate my foods and eating, but are fun and kind enough to tell me to get my ass in the gym. Nicely. Or in an exercise class. Politely. To get my ass off the blogging chair and start moving again. The daily reminder was that my jeans didn’t zip anymore.

Healthy Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls from @whiteonrice on

My love of blogging  has pretty much changed my life, my obsession with food and everything related. But if I wanted to continue doing this and still stay healthy,  I knew I had to make a lifestyle change again.

Pre-blogging years left me at a comfortable 135 pounds and in a size 7 size jeans. I was exercising 3-4 times a week and loved every hour I had to myself to sweat, listen to loud music and enjoy being healthy. Those were the days that I could eat anything I wanted and still zip my Levis jeans without having a heart attack trying to suck in my gut.

But then we started this blog, then we found social media and I spent my free “exercise” hours cooking, recipe testing, photographing food, eating then writing. All this required only a few steps going from the kitchen to my computer and my calorie intake always exceeded my calorie burning outtake.

Easily, I gained over 25 careless pounds because I was eating heavy foods, in larger portions and had absolutely no exercise.

Healthy Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls from @whiteonrice on

When I presented at various photography workshops and speaking events around the country, I started seeing images of myself on various blogs. The person I saw on these blogs wasn’t me. Well, at least I didn’t recognize myself at 25 pounds heavier.

After not even recognizing myself anymore, the serious reality check splashed in my face like ice water. I immediately moved my bootie away from the computer and to the gym again. And the hiking trails. And out the door for the evening neighborhood strolls.

The return to exercise, sweat and feeling good about myself started to revive again.

Healthy Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls Recipe from @whiteonrice on

In my kitchen I started to eat more of what I already love to eat that was healthier. I didn’t want to give up my eating because no matter what, I still love food. I’m a cooker, taster and lover of food and to give up anything that makes me happy to chew on would turn me into a complete meanie-weanie.

To keep my mental spirits happy and my body in check, I started to eat more fresh spring rolls. Fresh vegetables, light proteins and fresh herbs rolled in a rice paper is like a salad in a roll. It kept my meals interesting, versatile and most importantly, spring rolls kept my mental state happy.

I am, after all, Vietnamese and spring rolls are a comfort food that always satisfies. This garlic chicken spring roll is one of the many that I munched on for lunch and dinner.

After a few weeks dedicated to the gym, weekly meals of spring rolls and taking care of my body again,  I started to shed some pounds.

The best news of all this is that my jeans are finally start to zip all the way up again. Yes!!

a healthier me,


More Spring Roll & Vietnamese Recipes:

Fried Egg Banh Mi called ” The Bang Me”
BLT Springrolls, I broke the rules. Sorry, Mom.
Caramel Braised Pork Belly Banh Mi, Nail Shop Eats #4
Vietnamese Chicken Salad, Nail Shop Eats Competition #3

Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls Recipe

Yield: Serves 3-4

Total Time: 40 min

Fresh basil, fresh mint or any herb will be a wonderful addition. For the crunch factor, you can add raw carrots, celery, bell peppers or cucumbers. In this recipe, I added pickled Vietnamese carrots and daikon that I always have on hand. Here's a link on How to Roll fresh Spring Rolls.


  • 2 pounds of boneless chicken
  • 4 Tablespoons of grape seed or vegetable oil
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce or fish sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)
  • fresh basil, mint or other herbs
  • fresh lettuce, chopped or torn in small pieces
  • carrots, celery, cucumbers, daikon radish or bell peppers
  • rice paper

For Garlic Soy dip:

  • 4 tablespoons light soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil


  1. For the Chicken: In a large bowl, combine chicken, vegetable oil, sesame oil, garlic and soy sauce. Cover well and allow to marinade for about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat frying pan and cook chicken. Slice in chicken in thin slices, about 1/4 inches for rolling.
  3. Gather vegetables, rice paper, board surface to roll on and bowl of hot water.
  4. For the Dip: combine all ingredients well.

For Rolls:

  1. In large bowl, fill it with water and make it warm by adding hot water. Gently dip each rice paper wrapper in warm water for a few seconds till damp. Don’t over soak the rice paper. Place rice paper on plate, or working surface. As rice paper begins to absorb the water and become more soft and pliable (10-30 seconds, depending on wrappers and water temp.), begin to add the fillings.
  2. On the 1/3 section of the rice paper wrapper closest to you, start layering your fillings of lettuce, herbs, chicken and vegetables.
  3. Start rolling the wrapper over the fillings away from you, tucking and rolling the wrapper with your fingers, making sure all the fillings remain right and round within the rice paper wrapper.
  4. Serve immediately with soy dip, or cover with plastic wrap to eat a few hours later.
Recipe Source:

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Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Emma (This Kind Choice)

    I love how honest you are without being harsh on yourself! I find it helpful to remember that most people don’t feel their best when eating heaps of sweet stuff, so if you feel you could do with less of that, sharing recipes for lighter, more vege-based stuff might actually work really well for your readers too. Hope it’s working out well now :)

  2. Stakra

    I was curious if you could marinate the chicken overnight? Thanks!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Stakra- I don’t know about marinating the chicken thighs overnight for this recipe. I used to marinate chicken overnight and the chicken would become pasty the next day.

  3. suzi

    hi! can you tell me how to make the pickled carrots? is it just vinegar added to them…or more? thx!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      They are quick to make. Here’s our recipe for them: Pickled Carrots & Daikon

  4. Carol

    HOw do you make pickled carrot and daikon radishes?? Sounds delish on ANY salad!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Here’s our recipe for them. They are quick and easy to make, and you are correct, they go great on just about any salad or sandwich.

  5. Cheesy

    This sounds so lovely! How many servings does this make or do you have the nutritional info?? Thank you!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      We don’t know the nutritional info, just that we feel great after eating them. For 2 pounds of chicken, it should serve 4-6, about 2 rolls per person (depending on rice paper size and how much chicken you put in each roll).

  6. sandra

    Love your site, making the spring rolls tonight :)

  7. Aggie

    I know this is an older post but I just love it. It’s so true!!!
    And you make spring rolls look very easy to make, I seriously could eat them every day. Love all the fresh veggies!!

    See you soon :)

  8. Liz

    Good for you!!!! I’ve never gained weight over the holidays…until this one! Ugh. Thanks for sharing something delicious to eat while cutting out the cookies :)

  9. Emily @LivingLongfellow

    Spring rolls are amazing good for the body and also taste amazing. They look delicious.

  10. molly

    zip or no? these sounds fantastic! bookmarking…

    (and congratulations. losing weight while blogging is no small feat. this is a tale of tremendous dedication and discipline, barely told. thanks for sharing the most delicious bits!)

  11. Cathy/ShowFoodChef

    Just trying to catch up on my fav blogs – I was out/gone almost all summer. This post is like you are living in my head! Even the numbers! I was 135 before blogging, too and in 2 years I looked up (which might be the most exercise I did for that whole time) and I had put on 15 pounds of some really fun recipes. You are, as always and in all things, inspiring! Thx for the light way (weigh) of encouraging me also. love to you both 😀

  12. Krista {Budget Gourmet Mom}

    I am on the same page – 100%! Being around all the time has its benefits and its downfalls. Those spring rolls look absolutely delicious, full of flavor, and completely satisfying. As always, the pictures make me want to eat my screen!

  13. Marla

    Ahhhh, it is a very fine balance to keep the body well tuned, slim, healthy and fit. I am in a good place with that now – but it took years of mind & body training to get there. I love food, but can no longer exercise in the VERY intense ways I used to. Nor would I want to. Eating right the battle is 90% won. Light exercise daily helps too :) Lovely recipe.

  14. Brooke @ Foodwoolf

    All your hard work is paying off. Because Girrrrrrrl, You’re lookin’ good. Thanks for the recipe. This looks like a perfect roll to keep me in line!

  15. kellypea

    I need to make these NOW! I think my muffin top has a muffin top at this point, but I’m working on it. Eating very fresh (like these beautiful spring rolls!), more lean protein, soy smoothies, and I have a new Wii which is completely entertaining! Good luck to you :)

  16. April-Living the Sweet Life

    Hello Friend, I feel you on the zipper thing. Happened to me too. Love the recipe. It was great to meet you and take your class at EVO.

  17. Fran

    Good for you! I too fell into this horrible cycle of thinking about food all day, planning food all day, working in a food-centric environment and plopping down behind the computer when I wasn’t working.

    One day, when out with a friend shopping I couldn’t bend over to buckle a pair of shoes he handed me to try on. Thankful that he turned his back on me as I tried to bend over, I realized I could not bear the embarrassment if he was watching and the huffing and puffing of that simple task of putting a pair of shoes on was the tipping point — the “event” that led me to head to my local Weight Watchers the following week was actually a blessing.

    It’s been almost 7 months and although the weight loss is slow, I feel so much better and am happy with my progress. I know I’m healthier and happier and not just in my skin, but in my mind. My self confidence has returned and I even went on a date for the first time in … well, that number I’m not yet comfortable sharing with the world. LOL

    I’m glad you found a way to get out and move and am happy to “see” your smile! :)

  18. Bright Smile

    This looks amazing! Now, where do you get pickled carrot and diakon? That’s something I’d love to have at home and not just in my bahn mi!

  19. Meagan

    Yeahhhhh Diane! Although I am not a food blogger but a design and decor blogger (or at least I think I am?!?) I totally can relate! I spend more time at my computer being anti-social in real life to be social in my virtual blogging life. It has been a crazy turn of events and I like you am not taking any more of it! I am getting back into the gym, walking like a madwomen with the dog and getting out again – and it feels great! Keep up the great work and do what feels right!

  20. Winnie

    This is such a great post Diane. While my blog’s recipes are healthy and I haven’t really put on weight, I had pretty much stopped exercising in favor or being in front of the computer much too much. So I got my booty in gear and started exercising again about 5 weeks ago. I am feeling so much better and I am glad you are, too…it’s so important to take care of ourselves because no one else is going to do it for us 😉

  21. Bethany

    I think this post is hitting home to many of us food bloggers. I’ve only been baking & blogging for a few months and am definitely feeling the effects of it. Especially since summer hit and we can’t cover up in bulky sweaters! I ironically, for the first time ever, purchased rice paper this last week. My rolls didn’t turn out anywhere as neat as yours, but were delicious. This recipe is very timely!

  22. Sheelbeel

    Thank you for sharing your personal journey. You have a very inspirational story. And I can’t wait to try this dish!

  23. Heidi

    Thanks for posting this! The recipe looks fabulous and I too am transforming into someone who loves food and was afraid to diet because I was afraid I wouldn’t get to eat things that tasted good anymore. Luckily I found your blog and have been steadily grooming my love of Vietnamese food! Can’t wait to try this spring roll.

  24. Elizabeth

    Did I write this post? Because I could have. I hear ya! After two years of food blogging, plus writing two food apps I am….can I use the ‘f’ word? I wish I could give you some advice beyond looking buying some new jeans that stretch. But you’re on the right track. Getting out of the chair helps a lot. I’ve sworn that I will go back to Yoga twice a week. And I will get up early for a power walk on weekends.
    Good luck! And, does it go without saying? I love your blog, so please don’t stop doing that!

  25. Chez Us

    Hi. My name is Denise and I am a food-blogger and have gained 25 pounds as well. (head hanging low). Like Diane, I am grabbing the bull by the horns and fighting this!

  26. tom(watkins products associate)

    press on sister!

  27. Britt

    I just wrote a post about this very thing–so glad to find yours and further realize I’m not alone. It’s amazing how fast the weight creeps on…. Every time I’d pass another multiple of ten on the scale, I’d say to myself, “Well okay…just as long as I don’t pass the next one….” I too am now getting back out there, moving, and doing more. Feels good.

    Also, I know of your blog from friends on Twitter, but haven’t been a regular reader. Bookmarking now. Thanks for sharing so openly and best to you going forward!

  28. TheKitchenWitch

    I have been going to the Boulder Farmer’s market and eating those dang Three Sister’s Pantry dumplings every Wednesday and Saturday. I am developing dumpling gut.

    I love your cure for the plumps. Vietnamese food is my favorite–my comfort food–and I love spring rolls. I’m making these this week, mark my words.

  29. Vicki Bensinger

    I think most of us that are food bloggers can relate to getting a thicker middle. Between sitting at the computer and cooking it’s hard not to gain a few pounds. I try to work out every morning but it’s tough, then if i wait for later in the day well that’s worse. Then it’s getting to the grocery store, cooking and cleaning up and if you want to blog about what you’ve just prepared then it’s 9:00pm or later and I’m ready for bed. It’s all about finding a good balance. Of course if we all take the time to prepare luscious spring or summer rolls like the ones you have posted our waistlines will get smaller.

  30. merry jennifer

    Congratulations on your jeans-zipping success! I’ve struggled with similar issues, and you’re right – food blogging is not helping the matter any. The spring rolls sound amazing. I’ve never made them. I have this inherent fear of making any Asian foods — for some reason, I’m certain I’d screw them up.

    I need to get over that fear, clearly.

  31. bunkycooks

    I just hit “Print” on this recipe! You are preaching to the choir on this topic. I think many of us are right with you on the weight gain and lack of exercise since starting a food blog. I am also working on trying to eat less, get moving more and back away from the computer. Good luck! I know you will get back to the weight you want to be and will be buying some smaller jeans! :)

  32. SusieBeeonMaui

    Add me to the list of “bloggainers”. 15 pounds. I still exercise but had some injuries that curtailed it for weeks/months at a time. I didn’t adjust my food intake. Plus some food intensive travel-research, you know?

    Ah well, I love blogging, injuries are healed so I’m optimistic I’ll work it off over the next few months!

  33. Robert

    Hm, I don’t know, I think you can get used to look at food and not get hungry but rather look for pairing or presentation ideas. At least I have learned to. And of course you’re very lucky and won’t likely get plump if your favorite dishes are appetizers and not grilled food or desserts 😉

    Very nice recipe, great vibrant colors and flavors! I like your idea of mixing together sushi and spring rolls.

  34. alleycat

    Can Flour tortillas be substituted for the Rice paper for the Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls Recipe..

  35. Simply Cooking 101

    So so true – just finished my first year of blogging and both hubby (aka taste tester) and I need some serious butt out of the chair time and this looks like a wonderful start to lighter eating!

  36. Kalyn

    BTW, the photos in this post are making me drool!

  37. Kalyn

    We are all lucky to be prosperous enough to have the problem of getting too plump, but I think every food blogger can relate to this. My problem is slightly different (if I just stick to the food on my blog I will be fine; it’s when I splurge on other things that I gain weight!) Last time I saw you I thought you looked great, so congratulations on getting moving and taking charge of your health.

  38. Cookin' Canuck

    Oh yes, you are singing my tune, Diane. Blogging about, thinking about, and dreaming about food at all hours is not conducive to a svelte figure. While portion control is still not my strong suit, I revel in the comfortable jelly-legs and feeling of release after running or hiking. Yep, getting my butt off the chair is a necessity!

  39. Bev Weidner

    I am so with you! I feel the pain.
    These look so wonderful that I might need to sit down. Or even take a nap.


  40. Jeff

    We feel your pain. One suggestion is that if you grill the chicken, you can cut the oil quite a bit and make it even healthier by not frying/sauteeing it in oil. We grill LOTS of our meat for that reason (plus it makes it extra special tasty), and find that even the oil in marinade recipes can be reduced significantly.

  41. Snippets of Thyme

    I hear ya! I’ve tried to eat super lean during the week so I can get into the kitchen on the weekends and have at it with whatever I fancied. This works well for the most part but it’s so easy to slip down that slippery slope! The fall “out” of blogging makes it hard to fit “in” to our Levi’s (tee hee). {My kids say I’m not funny but I just don’t see it!!}

  42. Melody Shammam

    You just read my mind this morning! I have been testing dessert recipes for an upcoming Farmers Market Fall Festival in my area and I don’t like the idea of all of the tasting that I have to do. I love cooking healthy and light however we are food bloggers and we need to post a variety of recipes to attract all! I have been wanting to make veggie Spring rolls because I order them all the time!! I will definetly be making them soon!!

  43. megan carroll

    I am going through getting softer and older… thank you for your honesty, will be making your spring rolls knowing that if I can not get yoga as much as I want to I can eat a little bit healthier and still do something good for myself.

  44. Alisa Fleming

    Congrats on the healthier you Diane! I thought you looked adorable at the conference I saw you at though! (BlogHer SF) Not to mention, you and Todd are amazing presenters. I’m still not a world-class photographer, and honestly had no ambitions to be one, but your tips helped me to take pictures that enticed readers more to trial the recipes!

    I WILL be trying this recipe. Thank you!

  45. Donna A.

    I can relate to the part about “seeing images of myself” because just the other day we had someone for dinner who made a comment, half-jokingly (after viewing an older photo of me with my husband), “There’s Steve, but who is that other person?!” Yikes! wakeup call.

    Thanks for the recipe Diane. I hope we see some more low-calorie inspiration.

  46. Angie

    I’m going through the same thing Diane. And after baby, and some issues, I eventually stopped gaining weight a few weeks ago. Now I need, or would like to lose a good 25 lbs. Blogging so much, and compiled with other stuff has done it to me too. I will feel so much better when I’m back down to where I was about a year and a half ago. We should get a food blogger weight loss support group together, lol.

  47. Joan Nova

    Good for you! My problem is less the food I eat but the distraction of the internet — like now reading and commenting on blogs when I could have gone to an exercise class.

  48. Liz@HoosierHomemade

    These look amazing! And as always…the photography is gorgeous!!
    Received your tweet…I’m off to find your email. Thanks much!

  49. The yummyblogsisters

    so true, we both put on quite a bit of weight since we started food blogging and all the classes at our chef’s course don’t help of course. This is perfect food to munch on and will inspire us for the coming low fat weeks we are planning!

  50. Sally

    “Can’t zip my jeans.” I hate when that happens. It is indeed hard to write about food and um, lose weight, or even just to have a goal not to gain weight. Oops, too late for that. I was resigning myself this morning to start eating the same thing day in and day out at every meal until I can put my jeans on, and that could take a few months. But wait! You have just given new inspiration–these are on the menu. Off to get my rice wraps now. Thanks, Diane!

  51. alison @ Ingredients, Inc.

    These are fabulous. Just featured them on my facebook fan page

  52. chris @nestlefoodie

    Your post made me smile! I go through stages where I consider myself “fluffy” :) Being in this line of work takes a lot of discipline! Your recipe and photography look just beautiful!

  53. Michelle

    Amen! I started blogging a few years ago and slowly my activity levels have dropped and my calorie intake has increased. I love the world I have found but I do not like the amount I sit everyday. Life is a constant strive to achieve balance. I understand what you are going through and give you big props for taking control.

  54. chelle

    omg, i can so relate this. since i started baking massively, ive gain weight madly every yr and relatives will “kindly” point to the fact whenever we meet at gatherings. i keep procrastinating by trying to exercise regularly but i think my sweet tooth sort of overrides my exercise efforts. these rolls look really delish and i think i shld be motivated to work harder from nw to lose the excess weight ive gain these yrs. thanks for sharing this post!

  55. Meister @ The Nervous Cook

    Loving food and managing your weight can be such a delicate balance to try to strike, but it sounds like you’ve found a reasonable way to indulge your passions and still manage to feel as beautiful, strong, and healthy as you are.

    Here’s to continued health and happiness!

  56. Susan in the Boonies

    My mouth started watering the second I clicked on your picture! I had just come here after seeing yet another non-heart-healthy meal over at the Pee-Dub’s blog. I love that woman with my whole heart and soul but her food is making HER jeans too tight, as she is the first to tell you.

    I printed out your recipe,and am thrilled to trying it. It looks fabulous and flavorful, and I know my daughter will love it, my son just might, and it will be good for my husband’s heart, and my weight.


  57. Sue/the view from great island

    What an inspirational post, we all need to ‘adjust’ every once in a while! I’m so happy you made spring rolls, my daughter and I were just saying last night that we’d love to make them, but weren’t sure how to go about it. I’m going to follow your recipe exactly, your results look perfect. I’m glad you included the dipping sauce!

  58. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Diane, you’ve written so beautifully what so many of us have experienced. There has to be a healthier way to be a blogger without giving up what we do, or turning all of our blogs into diet blogs. You are definitely pointing the way. You are the most beautiful person on the inside: generous of spirit, kind, compassionate, creative. This post is another gift you have shared with all of us.

  59. You are definitely not the only one – perhaps the 3rd just this month who has confessed to being both a food blogger and on a diet (thus my Food Blogger on a Diet site name) – I definitely love food but like you said, I wanted to recognize myself in the mirror and in videos more than create desserts for the blog. I’m focusing on healthy food for now though I still indulge. I can get spring roll wraps here in Italy so I will definitely be trying these as an alternative to my standby salads :)

  60. Tengo un horno y sé cómo usarlo

    So, I am not the only blogger with this problem. That’s a relief, I guess.
    I have been blogging for nearly a year and a half now, and so far I had been controlling my weight by disciplinated visits to the gym. However, I could hardly maintain my weight just with that.
    I have realized I should change my food habits, as you have done.
    The main conclusion, for me, is that health comes before beuty. I mean that not being a pro myself, and doing this just as a hobby, and therefore, eating with my family all the food I cook, it is becoming not very sensible to follow a careless approach to the nutritious value of the recipes. I am thinking during summer blog rest on how to approach this topic. In some way, I am starting to feel that it is also my responsibility to prepare delicious food and mouthwatering photos that you can include in your normal life.
    Thank you for this wonderful post, back to reality.
    Hugs from Spain

  61. Natashia@foodonpaper

    I completely understand this blogging weight gain! I’ve been blogging for over 6 months and I have two pairs of jeans that no longer zip up. When this happened I don’t know! How, I know that part. I’m going to take this post as inspiration that I too can get back into my jeans!

  62. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

    Diane, I saw you two weeks ago and you look awesome. Beautiful and svelte so no worries there. I guess the spring rolls are workin’ for ya :)

    And just your lifestyle…from Boulder for Food & Light to San Diego for Blog Her to who knows where else you went…I was “tracking” you for a week there and I was thinking..these people are never HOME. How do they do it?!? And yes, traveling and road food takes a TOLL on the body; sleep, exercise, eating patterns are all disrupted and then when you are home, you’re…food blogging or food photographing.

    Good for you for being disciplined and keeping your HEALTH as your priority. You fabulous thing, you!

  63. Kaela

    I hear you, there. Just reading food blogs had made me more plump! Congratulations on the zipping.

  64. Barefeet In The Kitchen

    I loved this whole post! I was just realizing this morning that in just a few months of blogging, I have seen some not-so-positive changes. I’m still going to the gym, but the food is just too tempting. I need to try your veggie rolls (they look amazing, btw) and then step away – far far away – from the sweets.

    Congrats and way to go for getting back into those jeans!

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