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 Super Easy Ways to Stay Healthy this Memorial Day

Memorial Day, Happy Memorial Day, Animated Graphics, Animated Gif, Animated Gifs, Keefers photo: Memorial Day, Happy Memorial Day, Animated Graphics, Animated Gif, Animated Gifs, Keefers 673990b9.gifIt’s the unofficial start to summer which means cookouts, beach trips, and a food-filled weekend!

It can be easy to get caught up in the fun and slip off the health wagon once the summer parties begin. From high-calorie eats at barbecues to boozy afternoons at outdoor beer gardens, you can quickly fall off track with your health goals.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are many simple ways to substitute typical summer party fare for healthier alternatives that will keep your celebrating while in shape, all season long.

Here are five tips to stay healthy this Memorial Day weekend and onward:

1. Skip the ketchup. It may seem like sacrilege to forgo the ketchup on a hot dog or burger during a barbecue, but think about how much of it you’re eating throughout the day. Ketchup, as yummy as it is, usually has high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. No need to load up on all of that added sugar each time you reach for that bottle. Mustard is a great alternative, in moderation. It’s much lower in fat, calories, and sugar, but can be high in salt. If you’re not a mustard fan, get your ketchup fix with thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes. They’re naturally sweet, and are nutritional powerhouses with fiber, vitamins A, C, K, B6, and lycopene which protects your skin from the sun and supports strong bones. Better choice, no?

courtesy MyRecipes.com

2. Greek yogurt is all-purpose. Greek yogurt is a familiar breakfast staple, Throw in some granola and chopped fruit, and you’re good to go. But did you know that you can also use greek yogurt for savory dishes? If it’s your turn to bring the potato salad, swap the mayo for the low-fat and protein-packed yogurt instead. I’ve tried this before, and I can guarantee that your salad will still be delicious and creamy without weighing you down. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:

Potato Salad
courtesy Shape magazine

3. Treat yourself with dessert. And by dessert, I mean fruit. LOTS of it. One of the best things about summer cookouts is that its perfect timing for some of the best fruit in season. Berries, peaches, plums, mangoes, pineapples, watermelon; there are many different varieties available that are both healthy and delicious. A slice of cake may seem tempting, but wouldn’t you rather snack on this instead?

Courtesy TheBetterMom.com

4. Hydrate the smart way. Let’s be honest here. Most barbecues have some kind of alcohol, whether it’s beer or fruity cocktails. It’s a holiday and you want to kick back and have some fun. I get it.  I’m not going to rain on your parade, BUT if you’re looking to go the healthy route this year, be mindful to keep your alcoholic drinks to a minimum, one for women and two for men. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re spending the day outdoors and playing games. How about you throw in some of the dessert in your water, like these fruit-infused waters?

courtesy TheYummyLife.com

5. Don’t just sit there. After a long and terrible winter, don’t you think it’s time to get up and move around a bit? Go for a swim or hang up a net and play a friendly game of volleyball with your friends. Do all of the things you told yourself you were going to do once the snow melted. Get those potato sacks out of storage. The weather is finally right, so put on that sunscreen and have some fun!

courtesy of Univision

 What are your plans this holiday weekend?

How do you stay healthy during cookouts and summer parties?

Please feel free to share your comments or questions below or on FB and Twitter.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY EVERYONE!

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Sweet or savory? Sweet or savory?

Possibly one of the most difficult questions I face each weekend. I can never make up my mind when I’m faced with the choice between eating something sweet or savory for brunch. Luckily I have friends who struggle with the same question and we usually go halfsies to make sure we get a bit of everything.

I decided to make this last recipe of my blogiversary summer series center on my favorite meal: brunch.

And what better way to enjoy brunch than to use peaches, the epitome of summertime and sunshine. 🙂

I tend to fall on the savory side of the line, but french toast is one of those dishes that make me sway to the other side much more often than pancakes, granola, or oatmeal. I love the chewy texture of the bread combined with the heat of cinnamon, tartness of the fruit toppings and sweet syrupy touch on top.

There’s this amazing brunch spot in Philadelphia I try to visit each time I’m in town and I feel pretty comfortable saying they make the best french toast in America. In the world. In the universe. Because I’m convinced there are people on other planets equally tortured with the decision between sweet and savory on a Saturday morning while pondering brunch. It’s a universal issue.

In homage to Green Eggs Cafe in Philadelphia, home of the berry stuffed french toast and so many great memories with loved ones, I decided to make a healthier version featuring homemade gluten-free bread and peaches. Cardamom has such a unique flavor that I thought would be a great counter to the sweetness of the peaches.

Nervous about making your own bread? No worries, this is actually more of a quick bread that’s super easy. Still not convinced? You can sub in a whole wheat baguette that’s a couple of days old and still get the same amazingly yummy results!

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NUTRITION FACTOIDS

peaches

  • Antioxidants and Vitamin C. If you haven’t already noticed, brightly colored fruit available during summer are a strong source of this particular vitamin, as witnessed with the various produce I’ve featured this week. The powerful antioxidant effect available in peaches helps protect the body from illnesses and promotes quick healing. At about 19% of your DV in one serving, peaches are a great way to gain these antioxidant benefits.
  • Cardiovascular Health. Peaches are a low calorie food with phenolic compounds that researches suggest may help lower cholesterol and other symptoms leading to diabetes and high blood pressure. Additionally, peaches are a good source of niacin (aka vitamin B3), vitamin E, and potassium which can also improve cholesterol levels, lowering unhealthy LDL levels and the risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Organic and local is always better. Peaches peak in July and August and are best purchased from local farmers. Once they’re soft, they’re very perishable and difficult to ship. Leave unripe peaches on your counter until soft and then eat immediately. Avoid bruised fruit.

INGREDIENTS

Coconut Flax Bread 

  • ½ cup coconut flour, sifted
  • ½ cup ground flax seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 5 eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/8 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

Peach Sauce

  • 3 peaches, cored and sliced
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon juice

French Toast

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Optional: Maple syrup and greek yogurt for topping

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Special Tools

  • 8″x 4″x 2½” loaf pan
  • 2 frying pans, 1 small and 1 medium

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Prepare ingredients and grease loaf pan for bread. This step can be done 1 or 2 days before. Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and all the wet ingredients in another bowl. Add the wet to the dry and mix well. The batter will be thick by the time you’re done. Add batter to greased loaf pan and place in heated oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let the bread cool completely before removing it from the pan. *Note: Since this is gluten-free bread, the loaf will not rise like regular wheat-based breads. Doesn’t make it any less tasty, but you should have a heads up!

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2. Heat a small saucepan or frying pan over low to medium heat. Add sliced peaches, spices, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir until the peaches start to disintegrate and the juices are bubbling. Remove from heat.

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3. Cut thick slices of cooled coconut flax bread. Mix french toast ingredients in a shallow bowl. Add bread slices and cover with mixture on all sides. Allow it to soak while heating a medium frying pan with coconut oil over medium heat. One hot, add up to 3 slices to the pan with tongs. Cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes or until slightly browned.

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4. Arrange toast slices on a plate, top with peaches, syrup and yogurt. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top. Serve!

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Not to toot my own horn here, but this was pretty damn good. Definitely worth another round next weekend…and maybe the one after that. 🙂

Did you know?

Peach pit fibers were used in World War I as a component of gas masks worn by soldiers to protect them from chlorine gas attacks. Don’t eat the pit though! The pits have traces of cyanide according to scientists.

It’s been a blast coming back to the kitchen and sharing some of my cooking experiments with all of you. I started this blog with the idea that I could prove how easy it can be to prepare some truly delicious food that’s healthy and fun to make. I hope that I’ve inspired some of you to find that out on your own. At the very least, I hope I’ve managed to keep you entertained.

A million thank you’s for helping me celebrate my blogiversary. Until next time, remember to keep paying it forward and stay healthy! 🙂

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