Tag Archives: vegan

Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls

Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls
Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls

There is nothing I like better than making and eating fresh spring rolls.  They are tasty, they are healthy, they have delightful textures AND they are portable.  But what I really, really, absolutely LOVE (as in a twirl my dress and spin around kind of giddiness-love) is the peanut dipping sauce.  I could eat it by the bucketful.  To tell you the truth, the spring rolls for me are sort of a Peanut Sauce delivery system. I have been known to eat the peanut sauce on ice cream (try it, you will love it, I promise), with apples and pears, even bananas.  Sometimes, if I think nobody is watching, I will lick my plate of any residual peanut sauce (don’t judge me).  It is my “green eggs and ham”

Let’s start with the recipe for the sauce:

peanut sauce

Mix in ingredients into the oil and garlic/ginger saute.



Peanut Dipping Sauce

1 tbsp canola oil

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

½ inch piece of ginger grated

OR just one tablespoon of ginger garlic paste you’ve blended together

5 tbsp water or chicken broth—may add more as needed

5 tbsp hoisin sauce

½ cup peanut butter

1 tbsp Sirarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek

1 tbsp Palm sugar or brown sugar (Palm sugar adds a wonderful depth of flavor that is not to be missed)

Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in the hoisin sauce and water or broth and stir for a minute or two. Next add the peanut butter, Sriarcha or Sambal Oelek and Palm sugar and stir until well blended and sugar dissolves. Add additional water if needed. Sauce should be smooth but thick. Take off heat and top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai chili if desired or more Sambal Oelek.

To make this sauce Vegan or soy free:

1 Tbsp canola oil

2 cloves garlic

¼ inch piece of ginger grated

5 tbsp vegetable broth or stock

½ tsp salt

½ cup peanut butter

2 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tbsp Sriarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek

1 Tbsp Palm Sugar

3– 4 tbsp of water

Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in all the remaining ingredients except for the water. Stir until well blended and heated through. Add the water (more or less depending on consistency). Sauce should be slightly thick and smooth. Top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai Chillis if desired.

rice paper

Choose the size of rice paper you like (bigger is easier to work with)


Rice paper

Dip the rice paper into warm tap water and turn to get it wet

Glass noodles

soak the rice stick noodles in water to soften (10 minutes)


Get all veggies ready to begin rolling




Slice shrimp into halves (they nestle nicely in the roll)




spring rolls

Place veggies 1/3 of the way into paper and tuck in



Vietnamese Spring roll

Tuck in the edges before the next revolution


Spring roll

Place shrimp cut side up and tucked along the edges


vietnamese spring rolls

The shrimp shows through the paper

spring rolls and sauce

Enjoy with the peanut sauce


spring rolls and sauce

Peanut sauce delivery system


Vietnamese spring roll

Spring Rolls

Rice spring roll paper (12 sheets)

Warm tap water (several cups in a bowl to soften rice paper)

Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced

Cabbage, shredded

1/3 package of thin rice vermicelli noodles, cooked

cucumbers, thinly sliced horizontally

1 Shredded carrot

1 cup bean sprouts

twelve pieces of long chives

handful of Cilantro

handful of fresh mint (peppermint variety – found in Asian markets)

Cooked shrimp, deveined and sliced in half

Or you can use Chinese style BBQ pork (Char Shu)

Or chicken

Or use only vegetables without any proteins


Thoroughly wash all the vegetables and prepare them as listed above. Soak the rice vermicelli noodles for 6 to 10 minutes in hot water then rinse them under cool tap water. I buy the pre cooked shrimp that’s already deveined and cleaned and then slice them in half (usually at Costco). I also buy all my produce at the Asian Market because they are a LOT cheaper.

There are a million brands of rice paper. Choose the cheapest one. They are pretty much the same.

Dip the paper in warm water, turning it in a circle as you dip and gently press in the middle to get the whole paper wet. Avoid sticking the whole paper in a bowl and letting it float around. It just needs to get wet – not soaking wet. Gently shake off excess water and place the sheet on a cutting board or plate in front of you. On the top third of the paper closest to you, place a small bundle of romaine lettuce and cabbage, next put the vermicelli noodles on top followed by the carrots, sprouts, cucumber, a few leaves of mint, one frond of chives and two small leaves of cilantro. Fold the paper closest to you over the vegetables and tuck tightly under. Once you’ve rolled one revolution, tuck the left and right side into the roll. There should be some paper still left in the front, place the shrimp cut side facing up (like inverted “u”) next to the roll and finish rolling up the spring roll. You should be able to see the Shrimp from the outside . Serve with peanut dipping sauce. Serve at room temperature. Avoid making ahead and refrigerating since the rice paper dries out or gets too soggy. If you must take it somewhere to eat/serve it, wrap each roll in plastic wrap so they do not stick to each other and serve within 2-3 hours.


Hummus – quick and tasty

Hummus – quick and tasty
Hummus – quick and tasty

Hummus has been around for a long, long time. It was the ultimate “fast” food that was easy to carry. When Bedouin tribes traveled with their herds from place to place, carrying dried grains that were ground up was a lightweight and economical option. It also was a great source of protein. I am so glad that it has become one of the “in” foods. High in protein, good quality monounsaturated fats and delightful flavor…what’s not to like? Here’s a fast, easy and very budget friendly version.
What makes it especially economical is the use of whole sesame seeds instead of Tahini in a jar. Tahini is a paste made of sesame seeds that adds tremendous flavor to this dish and It’s rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron, not to mention essential amino acid Methionine, which aids in liver detoxification. It is also high in Vitamin E and a host of B vitamins and calcium. It’s the ultimate brain food.

Ingredients:  good quality olive oil, garbanzo beans, fresh garlic cloves and lemon

Ingredients: good quality olive oil, garbanzo beans, fresh garlic cloves and lemon

Use sesame seeds instead of tahini paste

Use sesame seeds instead of tahini paste

Drizzle a little olive oil before serving

Drizzle a little olive oil before serving

So let’s get to the recipe.

2 cans (15 oz) of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
juice of half a large lemon
2 cloves of fresh garlic, roughly chopped
kosher salt to taste
1/2 cup good quality olive oil

In a food processor, dump in the garbanzo beans and pulse a few times. Add the sesame seeds (you pulse the garbanzo beans first so the sesame seeds don’t fall to the bottom of the processor) and garlic and pulse 3 or 4 times. Add in lemon juice and turn on the food processor. As the processor is doing its work, begin to drizzle in the olive oil through the lid opening until the mixture begins to get nice and smooth. Add salt to taste and pulse a few times. Pour into a bowl and drizzle a bit more good quality olive oil. Serve with Pita bread, vegetable strips or Pita chips and enjoy. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Serving size 1/2 cup. Cost per serving 48 cents.

Coconut Fried Rice – Delicious anytime!

Coconut Fried Rice – Delicious anytime!

This Coconut Rice is super tasty and originates from the Southern part of India.  Most places that grow coconut has some kind of a coconut rice recipe.  Jamaicans have a coconut rice recipe where the coconut milk is used directly with the rice and it’s a rich, sweet rice.  Marshall Islanders make shredded coconut and white rice balls that are very popular and eaten with savory foods even though the rice balls are quite sweet tasting.  The tastes, styles and flavors are as varied as the locales coconuts are grown in.  I really enjoy this South Indian version because it has a wonderful crunch not only from the nuts but from the lentils that are stir fried .  The toasted coconut adds depth, texture and tastes heavenly.  This rice is very versatile.  I’ve paired it with Indonesian style chicken or with Chicken satay or to make my “Caribbean style rice bowl” (recipe to follow soon).  Hope you like it!

Split Black lentils (Urad daal), yellow lentils (Bangla Chana daal)

Saute chilies, lentils, mustard and cumin seeds in hot oil for a few minutes

Add cashews and desiccated coconut and stir fry until coconut is toasted and light brown in color

Add rice toss and serve

Coconut Rice

4 cups cooked rice (I used Basmati rice, any long grain rice will work)

2 cups desiccated unsweetened coconut (finely shredded)

4 dried red chilis

1 tablespoon split Urad daal (black lentils)

1 tablespoon Bangla Chana daal (yellow lentils)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/3 cup raw peanuts or cashews

3 tbs oil

In a wok or large skillet heat the oil and add the lentils, mustard, cumin seeds, salt.  Stir fry for a few minutes until flavors are released.  Add the nuts and stir fry another minute or so then add coconut and cook about 2 minutes.  Coconut will start becoming toasted and start smelling wonderful. Add the  rice and stir fry gently to incorporate.  Serve warm.  Great as a leftover by itself or with other dishes.

Paneer Kofta Curry

Paneer Kofta Curry

I enjoy kofta curries because I think they are fun. I just made a chicken kofta curry not too long ago and last night decided to throw together a paneer version.  I’m leaving for an out-of-town speaking engagement so I wanted to use up whatever I thought would not last the next four days or so (which included some leftover paneer).  I found one sweet potato in the bottom drawer and some cilantro and chilies that needed to be used up ASAP.  I also didn’t take as many ingredient pictures because I was kind of cooking as I was going along.  I wasn’t sure how the sweet potato would taste in the dish but ended up liking the sweetness balanced with the other spices.  Let me know what you think!

The potato to paneer ratio should be about 1:1, I kind of liked the sweet potato and regular potato mixture, give it a sweet and spicy kick

Add in all the other ingredient

Make into little balls slightly bigger than a quarter (yields about 19-20)

Coat the koftas in a flour batter

Fry until golden brown and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil

Saute the onions and tomatoes along with bay leaves, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks together until fragrant

Add in all the other spices

Add tomato paste and then some water

Add in yogurt or coconut milk (whichever you prefer along with additional water) and let sauce simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Add in koftas, cook an additional 2-3 minutes before sprinkling with fresh cilantro

Great served with rice or naan

Paneer Kofta Curry

Kofta balls:

1 sweet potato

1 regular potato

1 cup of paneer

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/4 inch of ginger, grated

1/2 cumin powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 green chili, chopped

3 green onions (white and green parts together), chopped

Paneer Kofta coating

1/4 cup flour

6 tbsp water

Oil for frying


3 tbsp oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

2 bay leaf

4-5 whole cloves

4-5 cardamom pods

2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 tsp red chili powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated

3 tbsp tomato paste

2 cups water (approximately)

1/2 cup yogurt OR lite coconut milk (whichever you have on hand)

Salt to taste

some fresh chopped cilantro for the end

Pierce the skin of the potatoes with a fork and microwave for about 5 minutes until they are tender.  Take off the skin and mash together.  I avoid boiling the potatoes since I want a dry mixture and don’t want to introduce any more moisture.  The yielded potatoes should be about 1 cup.  Mix potatoes, paneer and all the other ingredients for the koftas together and form into small balls a little bigger than the size of a quarter.  They will expand a little in the sauce so you don’t want them too big and mushy.  Make a thin batter out of flour and water (about the consistency of crepe batter).  Coat each kofta in the batter and fry them quickly in some oil.  I used a small pan and a higher heat.  I was trying to give the koftas a coating to keep them from falling apart since they don’t have the resiliency of meatballs.  Set the koftas on a paper towel lined pan to absorb excess oil.

In a medium sauce pan heat oil and begin sauteing onion and tomatoes together.  Add in bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and crushed cardamom pods.  Stir fry until fragrant.  Add in turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili and stir fry for a few minutes before adding the garlic and ginger. Add in 1/2 cup of water and the tomato paste stir until everything is incorporated.  Stir in yogurt  and another cup of water or if you’re using coconut milk instead, add that in.  Let the sauce cook for 3-4 minutes until all the flavors are well incorporated, check for salt and adjust accordingly.  Drop in the kofta balls and gently stir.  Cover and let it cook about 2 minutes. Koftas will grow in size as they soak in some of the sauce.  Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve with rice or naan.

Sobudhana Kitchuri – You did what with Tapioca?

Sobudhana Kitchuri – You did what with Tapioca?

As a dietitian, I get asked about food related things all the time.  Usually at parties or social situations.  “Do you have a special diet to reduce gas?”  “What should I cook for my kids who are allergic to peanuts, dairy, gluten and corn?” My personal favorite, “I don’t like to exercise but do you have a diet for me to lose about 20 pounds?”  Contrary to popular belief, dietitians don’t go around making up “diets” or prescribing magic food pills.  It’s still a good idea to eat things in moderation and to exercise regularly but I guess that advice is just not sexy enough. (I feel a rant coming on….)

In the last several years people have been diagnosed with a lot more food allergies or intolerances.  Gluten (the protein found in wheat, rhy, spelt and bulgar and wheat by-products) allergies are becoming very common as well as various nut allergies and a hyper sensitivity to high fructose corn syrup.  A typical western diet is very high in gluten and processed sugars. There are two simple solutions to these dietary dilemmas:  Learn to eat and actually try a variety of foods and cook something! Whenever we buy pre-packaged foods, we deliver control of our life to someone else and it costs more, not only the food but long-term health related costs. I know sometimes it can’t be avoided but I’m not willing to trade convenience for the sake good taste or health!…..official END of rant here.

Most people who live in the U.S. have never thought of cooking tapioca (which is actually a starch from the Cassava plant) in savory dishes.  It is reserved mostly for puddings or the ubiquitous “frog eye salad” (not really a salad but a Jello concoction).  Tapioca can be eaten in a variety of savory dishes.  Here’s a Sobudhana kitchuri ( Sobudhana means Tapioca and Kitchuri basically means a “hodge podge” or “mixture”) made out of tapioca.  I made a kitchuri out of Quinoa not too long ago and this is very similar. It’s a tasty alternative to rice or pasta and it’s totally gluten free and vegan.  Besides the soaking of the tapioca (just do it overnight) everything comes together in 8 minutes.  I timed it!

Dry tapioca

Gently wash in cold water and then soak in 1/2 cup of cold water for 6-8 hours

After 8 hours of soaking the tapioca should be double in size and dry and fluffy.

Most of the ingredients (minus the peas and the lemon--oops)

Toast the cashews in a hot dry skillet

Add oil to pan and stir fry cumin seeds, black mustard and dried red chilies

Add carrots and peas

Add garlic and apricots to the mixture and stir fry

Add tapioca to the mix then add the turmeric

Add in cashews, lemon juice and chopped cilantro and take off heat

It's slightly sweet and spicy with a delightful crunch

Here’s the recipe

Sobudhana Kitchuri

1 1/2 cups of tapioca

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup frozen baby peas

6 dried apricots, diced

2 tbsp chopped Cilantro (Coriander leaves)

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

2 dry red chilies

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 carrot, shredded

4 tbsp oil

Gently was the tapioca in COLD water (or you’ll have a hot mess) and put 1/2 cup of cold water in tapioca to soak 6-8 hours.  Do not skimp on the time, this helps the tapioca fluff up but also to dry out so it’s not a gelatinous mess when stir frying.

In a dry hot skillet stir fry the cashews until they are toasted.  Set aside.  In the same skillet add the oil and heat it up.  Add cumin seeds, black mustard seeds and the red chili peppers.  Stir fry until the mustard seeds and cumin seeds start crackling.  Add in the peas and shredded carrot and stir fry a few minutes.  Add in garlic and chopped apricots and stir to incorporate then add in the tapioca.  Stir fry until everything is blended in, then add the turmeric, lemon juice and chopped cilantro leaves.  Mix well and take off heat. Serve warm.