Crunchy Summer Rolls with Sweet and Savory Dipping Sauce

Crunchy Summer Rolls

I’ve had a terrible case of snack attacks this week.

Chips, fruits, bagels, yogurt, granola…uh, chocolate covered pretzels. Sure, that’s not all terrible but when you’re eating almost every hour on the hour, it’s time to admit to yourself that things have gotten out hand.

Not wanting to slide back into old, unhealthy habits, I knew I needed a veggie detox stat. It’s what I always do when I feel out of sorts. I had a plan but there was one more hurdle.

This week included a killer schedule that had me running all over the place. Getting to play around with new veggie recipes just wasn’t possible for me.

So, on the menu for this Meatless Monday was a super fast, super easy, super healthy mean-green dish that could get me back on track.

These crunchy summer rolls? Perfection.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

A bit of prep to chop, grate, and grill your fillings is worth the effort. Trust me.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

Forget the rice paper. Go for big, dark, leafy greens. Not only are they packed with healthy nutrients, they’re built to easily roll up whatever you want. How cool is that?

Crunchy Summer Rolls

Having attempted and failed to roll burritos and wraps in the past, I have to say this was simply done. There’s no way to screw this up.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

Sweet and savory with a dash of heat? Sign me up.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

And bonus points for being so pretty to look at.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 red beet root, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut in half if thick stalks
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced in thin sticks
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 6 large mustard green leaves, washed and dried
  • ½ Haas avocado, sliced
  • Olive oil spray
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Dipping sauce

  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 2 tbsps of warm water
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (or fish sauce)
  • 1 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • ¾ crushed red pepper (or sriracha sauce)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsps grated carrot

1. Heat a grill pan and spray with oil. Once hot, place half the asparagus bunch in pan. Spray oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over the top. Grill for 3-5 minutes on each side and set aside with the rest of the fillings.

2. In a small bowl, dissolve warm sugar in water. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Allow the sauce to chill in the fridge.

3. Working with one leaf at a time, trim the stems. Place a small amount of each of the fillings in the center. Fold the bottom up towards the center, then tuck in the sides and keep rolling until the fit is snug with the seam on the bottom. Repeat with the rest of the leaves.

4. Place rolls on a serving plate with the dipping sauce and slice in half. Done!

Wasn’t that easy? You can customize this with whatever ingredients you want. I’m not a fan of tofu, but that would go perfectly here, as well as mushrooms, micro greens, or even quinoa.

The next time I feel that snack attack coming on, I can roll up one of these veggie bad boys. Problem solved.

What’s your favorite healthy snack?

Do you have a Meatless Monday recipe to share?

As always, please feel free to share your comments below or on FB and Twitter.

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5 Ways to Stay Healthy At Work

I spend at least 50 hours of my week at work each week. About one-third of my life is spent sitting at a desk for at least ten hours a day. Add to that the time I spend writing, studying, and researching, and that percentage goes up to nearly 50%.

Half of my life is spent sitting.  It’s no wonder I look like this halfway through the work week:

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Hopefully no one will notice…

How many of you can say the same? 

The global shift in blue-collar or physically intensive work from developed nations such as the United States to underdeveloped nations has led to a significant change in the types of work Americans are performing each day. Technology and the internet have eased the way by redefining the way tasks are executed. Our movement becomes limited since everything is accessible at our fingertips; phones, computers, fax machines, copiers, printers.

How does this affect our health?

Researchers have taken note of this trend and are analyzing its role in the current obesity epidemic that continues to spike. In a 2011 study performed by Timothy S. Church and Corby K. Martin from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana State University , the last fifty years of labor force history has seen a decline in caloric expenditure compared to previous generations due to changes in occupation-related physical activity:

In the early 1960’s almost half the jobs in private industry in the U.S. required at least moderate intensity physical activity whereas now less than 20% demand this level of energy expenditure. Since 1960 the estimated mean daily energy expenditure due to work related physical activity has dropped by more than 100 calories in both women and men. ¹

Aside from moving less, we’re also eating more.

As we’ve become less active in the last fifty years, we’ve also started eating more foods, especially those that are highly processed and laden with fat, sugar, and salt. The accessibility of cheap snack foods and fast foods only exacerbates the slowdown of our metabolism brought on by prolonged sitting and immobility. ²

Pinning down one cause for the obesity epidemic is challenging and many agree that it’s a complex issue with various elements that need to be considered equally when debating the issue. Nevertheless, our sedentary lifestyle is becoming a major factor in our declining health and it will need to be addressed in any initiatives to help turn around the numbers.

All of that said, how can you turn this around if you’re like me and you spend countless hours sitting each day?

Luckily there are simple methods to keep both your mind and body active while also maintaining a balanced diet throughout the day.

Here are 5 easy ways to stay healthy at work:

1. Start your day off with a guided meditation or soft music on your phone or music player. Download a simple five-minute meditation, take a deep breath, and check out. I like to do this before I start checking emails or responding to messages. This helps clear my mind from any stress induced by my commute or pending deadlines and helps me start the work day with energy and positivity. There are many benefits to meditation, including reducing blood pressure which improves heart health.³ A guided meditation is great for novices but you can definitely do this sans music if you can focus without the audio.

2. Brown bag it! Bring your food to work. And I mean all of your food. Fruit, nuts, breakfast, lunch, heck even almond milk and spices if you need it. If your workspace has a communal kitchen with a refrigerator, make use of it. Buy some pretty labels to ensure your coworkers know its yours. The investment in time and money on this step should help keep you away from snack machines and allow you to stay energized throughout the day with healthy foods. I have my own “pantry” at work that I replenish every couple of weeks with the essentials.

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3. Work it out!  There are dozens of resources online sharing stretches or physical exercises you can do to help you move around and not look crazy in front of your coworkers or boss. My favorite list comes from Greatist which offers a range of workouts, some more obvious than others. I dare you to give some of these a try!

4. The Cubicle Wanderer. Set up a reminder on your phone or computer once every hour to get up out of your chair and walk around for a few minutes. I like to do this as an easy way to get the blood pumping and wake up my limbs and my brain. If you’re not adventurous enough to try Tip #3, than this is for you.

5. Laugh! Share a quick joke with a co-worker or pin a funny (not offensive or inappropriate, please) picture on your phone or wall to lighten your mood. I’m not trying to get anyone in trouble here, especially if your workplace is a serious place where your boss frowns on excessive fraternizing. But a laugh, quick or not, may help improve your blood pressure, stimulates the organs, and reduces pain. Think about the side stitches you get after a really good laugh. You’re getting a burst of aerobic exercise while momentarily clearing your respiratory system. Plus, laughing boosts your mood. Maybe save the big guffaws for your lunch break though.

Would you try any of these tips?

How do you stay healthy at work?

Please share your thoughts in the comments! 

Remember to keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

Cited Sources:

¹ Trends over 5 Decades in in U.S. Occupation-Related Physical Activity and their Associations with Obesity

² The Perils of Sitting Down | Standing Order

³ Meditation Health Benefits: What the Practice Does for your Body

Deskercise: 33 Ways to Exercise at Work

10 Reasons Why Laughing is Good for You

5 Quick, Easy, and Healthy Eating Recipes When you’re On the Go

But I don’t have time.

That’s my favorite excuse. Between work, gym, writing, researching, and spending time with my family, I often find myself pressed for time.

The reality is that often we don’t make the time to get food prep done in the beginning of the week to ensure that we’re brown bagging healthy meals. If you’re working on cleaning up your diet or concerned about how to keep yourself healthy when you’re on the go, this can make your food choices throughout the day challenging.

Don’t fret! I’ve invited Leon Harris from DietDirect.com to share some of the quickest and easiest recipes to keep you healthy and satisfied throughout the work. Enjoy!

Green-Salad (1)

These days it seems like we’re always on the go, whether we’re rushing to work, running errands, working through lunch, or chauffeuring the kids to their after-school activities. And although you know that you’ll get more satisfaction out of your food if you take the time to sit down and enjoy it, you simply might not have the extra space in your schedule to accommodate a relaxing meal. In fact, there may be several times during your average week or even a normal day that you simply can’t take time out to focus on food. In this case you may be forced to eat on-the-go, and if you’re trying to stay as healthy as possible, you’re no doubt on the prowl for quick and easy recipes that also deliver nutritional value. Here are just a few you might want to check out.

  1. Breakfast sandwich. These quick and easy breakfast options can not only get you out the door and on the road, but they can provide a healthy and filling food choice. Throw an English muffin or your favorite toast in the toaster and then cook up a 1-2 egg omelet, complete with your choice of additives (cheese, ham, veggies, etc.). Fold your omelet and pop in between your breads and you’re good to go with a breakfast that should keep you full longer than, say, sugary cereal.
  2. Grilled chicken salad. This one requires a little prep work for on-the-go usage, but you’ll find that it’s a great, healthy option. All you have to do is grill chicken breasts for the week all at once, perhaps with a sauce of your choice (garlic lemon, barbecue, balsamic reduction, etc.) and chop them up along with any fruits and veggies you like. Then, when you’re rushing around in the morning you can grab your Tupperware, toss in some lettuce, cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, and even apples, oranges, or berries. You can also add nuts, cheese, or whatever else takes your fancy. Then drizzle on your favorite dressing, pop on the lid, shake to mix, and you’ve got a healthy lunch on the go. Add a bread roll if you like and don’t forget your fork!
  3. Yogurt snacks. When it comes to yogurt, Greek is the way to go, mainly because it tends to have a lot more protein and a lot less sugar and carbs than your average yogurt. You’ll want to look for options that have live or active cultures listed since these can aid in the digestive process, but make sure to look for low- or non-fat products. From there you can add some honey, granola, and/or your favorite fruits for a tasty and filling snack or even a quick breakfast.
  4. Quesadilla. If you want something hot that pairs protein with slow-burning carbs, consider cooking up a quesadilla. You can add all kinds of ingredients like grilled chicken, leftover chili, sautéed spinach and onions, or even sliced apples to add some flavor, and you’ll have a hot, on-the-go meal that satisfies you and keeps you full for a while.
  5. Green monster smoothies. If your idea of quick recipes means throwing stuff in the blender, then green monsters are a truly health-conscious choice. Simply start with your favorite beverage base (water, milk, soy milk, coconut water, juice, etc.), add your favorite fruit, and throw in 1-2 cups of leafy greens (spinach, kale, or other). Blend thoroughly to chop up chunks. You could take good protein bars on the side, but if you want a self-contained snack, simply add some Greek yogurt or a little peanut butter to the equation, or sprinkle in your protein powder of choice.

Leon Harris is a contributing writer for Diet Direct. Harris lives in Southern California, and enjoys eating healthy and exercising with his two Golden Retrievers. 

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