On-The-Go Fried Rice Roll Up

Sit down meals….love them…wish we could do more of them.  With all that we’ve got going on in our lives, though, eating on the run is, unfortunately, starting to become the norm at our happy homestead — if you’ve lead a busy life, then I’m sure you know what I mean.

I’m always looking for ways to make quick, easy meals that are made from non, or minimally processed, healthy, whole foods that we can grab and eat quickly before our evening activities begin.  Believe me, it is a HUGE challenge!

Our standard, home-cooked “fast food”  is usually some type of bean burrito.  It’s filling, we can eat it with our hands, and is easily portable…the perfect on-the-go food.

But, after a while, the pallet needs a little change.  So, this week, I decided to create an Asian-inspired “burrito” to fit the bill.

As an added bonus, it makes use of fresh kale and carrots from my garden!

portugeuse kale

colorful carrots

It’s really easy to put this meal together, but you may want a couple more hands around to help, if you’re really in a hurry, like I almost always am.

Anyway, let’s get on to the recipe!

Ingredients: (these measurements are not exact – I didn’t have time to measure everything out, but, I don’t think you could go wrong if you used a little more or less of anything).

2 1/2 cups finely chopped, fresh, kale leaves

1 1/2 cups shredded carrots

1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts (almost make it the consistency of course graham cracker crumbs)

1 small package mushrooms, stems removed, finely chopped

2 cups cooked and cooled brown rice (I used instant – just as nutritious as the uncooked, but great for when you need it fast!)

1 small onion, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 -2  tbsp. ginger paste

2-3  tbsp. soy sauce, or tamari

dash, red chili flakes

salt and pepper to taste

1 package egg roll wraps (I used Nasoya brand)

1/2 – 1 tbsp. grape seed oil (or other cooking oil) to lightly baste the rolls before baking

Instructions:

To a hot wok, or large skillet, add the onion and a little bit of water and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.  Add the garlic and chili flakes, and continue to cook, stirring for 1 minute (add a little more water as you go, if food is beginning to stick).  Add walnuts and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until they begin to toast.  Add mushrooms and ginger paste, and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add in kale, and cook for 1 minute.  Add in rice, soy sauce, salt and pepper, and cook for 1 more minute.  Turn off heat.

Place about 1/3 cup of mixture onto the middle of an egg roll wrap and roll up, according to package instructions.  (Here’s a link to a video of how to do it, also).

Brush a tiny bit of oil over the top of each wrap, and bake, on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes.  Let them cool for a bit, then grab ’em and get going to whatever activity you’re already running late for! 😉

fried rice roll ups

Hope you enjoy these Asian-inspired roll-ups as much as my family does.

Perhaps, sometime, they can even become part of a larger, sit-down meal.

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Happily Ever After Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Grilled cheese sandwiches used to be a staple in our home.  I loaded them up with cheese — usually a combination of Jack and Cheddar,  and then cooked them in about an inch of melted butter —  they were absolutely, to-die-for fabulous!  Everyone in our family loved them, including my  husband, who has a major aversion to cheese.

But, as the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end”,  and when we switched to a plant-based diet, about a year ago, that was the end of our grilled cheese sandwich.

I know, I know — Horror of horrors and tragedy of tragedies!

But, hang on a bit… this story does have a happy ending.

Although our family now consumes a diet of, mainly, plant-based foods, we’ve learned that as long as we keep our consumption of animal-based protein to 5%, or less, of our overall diet, we still  have the ability to stave off  what are called ”diseases of affluence”, like heart disease, cancer and diabetes — our main reason for making the diet change (if you’re interested, here’s the movie that got it all started for us).

Here’s what our grilled cheese sandwiches look like, now…

They are loaded with chopped kale, apples, and a little bit of aged cheddar cheese  — 5% that acts as the “glue” to help hold them all together! 🙂

For eight, sandwiches, I use a total of 7 oz. of aged cheddar cheese , about 2 cups of fresh, chopped kale from my garden, and one large, organic, red delicious apple.  *A note on cheese selection:  it’s best to use organic cheese that comes from grass-fed cows to avoid consuming GMOs, which will, most certainly, be found in the feed of non grass-fed cows — if you’re eating what they eat, then you may, unsuspectingly, be consuming genetically modified food, too.

I use  Dave’s Killer Bread as the bookends on these sandwiches.  I appreciate that the goal at this company is to “create the ultimate healthy bread using the best organic ingredients available on the market”, but what I love, even more, is the story about Dave, the man behind the bread — a wonderful, second-chance story, of an ex-con who has turned his life around, and is now paying it forward in many different ways.

I don’t think the process of putting this sandwich together takes any explanation, but a couple of hints on making it:

1.  Slice your apples nice and thin – you want them to get nice and warm along with the other ingredients inside of the sandwich.

2.  Shred your cheese, rather than slicing it.  This way you can better control the amount that goes onto each sandwich.

2.  Layer the kale and apples in between the cheese – as I said, you need some “glue” to hold it all together.

3.  Lightly oil your griddle with a touch of coconut oil to help brown the bread – another good oil is grapeseed oil (these both remain stable at high heats).  *You’ll want to avoid canola oil, as it is, most likely, genetically modified, and butter, as it is high in cholesterol and fat.  (Technically, all oils are 100% fat, so, if you are cutting down on fat in your diet, just skip the oil altogether, it’ll still brown fairly nicely without it).

4.  When flipping the sandwich, use a spatula underneath and your hand on the top to help hold the sandwich together while turning it over, otherwise you may end up with a big mess. 🙂

This sandwich is as nutritious as it is delicious.  The pairing of cheese and apples is wonderful — I especially enjoy how the sweet balances out the strong aged cheddar flavor (another reason why you can get away with so little cheese),  and the kale provides a nice, mild tasting third layer of flavor.  For those who don’t like kale, spinach would also be a nice alternative, and so would some spicy arugula!

In fact, if you are strictly a plant-based eater, you could make an even healthier grilled cheese sandwich by using a vegan “cheez” sauce, like this one, which I am going to do the next time I make these.

So, although we no longer consume the traditional grilled cheese sandwich, loaded with cheese and cooked in oodles of butter, we haven’t completely given up on them.

The version we eat now, however, is more suited to helping us live “happily ever after”, and what better ending to a story could you ask for than that?   🙂