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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Revisiting Rome: Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce

eggplant parm 6
Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce- Meatless Monday

It was our third day in Rome and we were exhausted. And hungry.

St. Peter's Basilica
The start of a very long walking day.

My mom is a notoriously picky eater. As the group leader, I was unofficially tasked with not only guiding us through the city, but finding affordable, non-touristy places to eat that would make my picky mom and equally picky sister, happy.

We got lucky this day.

Waiting for lunch in front of the Pantheon. Doesn’t she look happy?

My family begged me to take a lunch break at one of the cafes in front of the Pantheon. I looked at it skeptically.

“This is a tourist trap!” I declared.

Never underestimate the power of hunger and the promise of beautiful scenery to go with your meal.

My mom ordered eggplant parmesan. It was the only thing she ate with gusto the entire trip.

Although my family and I enjoy exploring restaurants, we prefer home-cooked meals. We rented an apartment in Rome and cooked most of our meals during the week with groceries we’d purchased from a local market.

I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world, but it made me happy to see my mom enjoy this meal with the Pantheon in the background. You really can’t beat that.

Five years later, I wanted to recreate that meal for Mother’s Day albeit without the ancient architecture circling us. I also decided to give it a healthy makeover.

When I surprised my mom with her lunch yesterday, she beamed and gave me a hug and a kiss.

Mission accomplished. 🙂

INGREDIENTS

Serving 4

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced across
  • 2-3 cups of panko (whole wheat if available)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsps grated parmigiano reggiano, separated
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 28oz cans no salt-added crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tbsps tomato paste
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried italian oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Handful of fresh basil

Optional side salad

  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved

Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce- Meatless Monday

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Prep 2 shallow bowls, one with beaten egg whites (you can add a little bit of water to thin this out) and the other with panko and 1 tbsp of grated parmigiano. Spray a large baking sheet with olive oil. Dip each slice of eggplant in egg white mixture, then panko, making sure to coat all sides with crumbs. Place on sheet evenly and then spray oil across the top. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, flipping over halfway through.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce- Meatless Monday

2. While the eggplant is baking, prepare the tomato sauce. Heat 1 tbsp of EVOO in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Cook garlic for 45 seconds-1 minute (please don’t burn the garlic! you just want to infuse the oil). Add the tomatoes, paste and seasonings, except for fresh basil. Lower heat to a simmer and cover with lid. Cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove lid and stir in half a handful of chopped fresh basil. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly, Cook for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce- Meatless Monday Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce- Meatless Monday

3. Increase oven temp to 425ºF. In a glass baking dish, spoon tomato sauce across the bottom. Place the baked eggplant slices in a layer. Top with sliced mozzarella cheese and sprinkle 1 tbsp parmiggiano. Spoon more tomato sauce across the top. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce- Meatless Monday

4. Serve 3 slices of eggplant with a side salad of spinach and tomatoes. Sprinkle a little bit of EVOO  and chopped fresh basil over the top. Prego! Homemade healthy goodness.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce- Meatless Monday

This would go perfectly with a side of whole wheat spaghetti if you’re looking for something heartier.

What I love about making a big batch of tomato sauce (and wasn’t that recipe so easy?!), is that I can save the rest for another day. Why buy a jar of sauce when you can make your own without all of the added sugar and preservatives?

Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce- Meatless Monday

We sat at our old kitchen table. There were no fancy table linens or 1,000 year old temples or old Italian men playing accordions nearby. It was just us, eating together at home. And I’ll never forget it.

How did you celebrate Mother’s Day?

What’s your favorite meatless Italian dish?

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

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Top 3 Healthy Cinco de Mayo Dishes to Spice Up Your Meatless Monday Fiesta

Like St. Patricks Day, Cinco de Mayo is one of those holidays that we take seriously. As in, we find the yummiest food (and not a few drinks) to celebrate another country’s culture for the day without really having any idea what the holiday is about.

Salud! courtesy PartyCity.com
Salud!
courtesy PartyCity.com

These fiestas aren’t always so healthy though. Between the cheesy dips and the chips and the fried taquitos, you’ll find yourself overloading on empty calories and saturated fats. No bueno.

Look at all that cheese! Photo courtesy galleryhip.com
Look at all that cheese!
Photo courtesy galleryhip.com

It’s great that Cinco de Mayo fell on a Monday this year because this gives us an opportunity to change up that fiesta menu to incorporate some of the incredible flavors of true Mexican cuisine without throwing in all of those fatty cheeses and sauces we love north of the border.

Bright, colorful, and delicious. Traditional Mexican cuisine is much lighter and far more nutritious than what’s been adapted as part of fast food culture here in the US. There are many ways to incorporate healthy dishes into your fiesta menu that’s true to the roots of Mexican food culture.

photo courtesy hetmanphotography.com
photo courtesy hetmanphotography.com

Mexican restaurants all over New York were crammed with patrons looking to indulge in a bit of tacos and margaritas action this weekend. But there’s no need to join the crowd when you can have your own healthy fiesta at home!

Here are my top 3 Mexican-inspired recipes that will keep you meatless this Monday without any chance of getting Montezuma’s revenge.

You know what I’m talking about.

¡Buen Provecho! Note: Sombrero optional.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Greek Yogurt-Avocado Dressing

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Greek Yogurt Avocado Dressing

I LOOOOOOOVE quinoa; not just for it’s texture and flavor but also because a small amount with go a long way. You can make a large batch and throw in whatever you like, such as this southwestern style dish with black beans, peppers, and jicama.

Sweet Potato Hash with Homemade Guacamole and Egg Over Easy

Breakfat of Paleo Champions

Looking to jump start your day? I made this dish after a grueling workout and it remains my go-to whenever I’m starving, want something packed with flavor, and filling. Plus, is there anything better than guacamole? I think not.

Smoky Chipotle Black Bean & Roasted Sweet Potato Tacos

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos

Ah, the humble taco. I shared this recipe a few weeks ago and it remains one of my top Meatless Monday dishes to date. Pairing sweet potato with black beans is a standard for me (see above recipe) and this spicy version with crunchy cabbage and lemony cilantro is sure to keep you happy and full. Two of my favorite things.

 

What are your favorite Mexican dishes?

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

 

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