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Sarah Lawrence

Quick Veggie Pad Thai (gluten free vegan goodness)

After the ridiculous story that broke yesterday about pizza being qualified as a vegetable by the USDA for US School Lunches, I just have to write!  When the pizza industry rules the world, it’s a SAD day!   According to an ABC news article the details boil down to cost and big business influence where dairy, wheat and mystery meat are the standard.  Well, this momma doesn’t play that way... and I'm not alone!  I think it’s time that we stand up and say, “There’s a new sheriff in town!” and actually mean it!  UGH!  Stand with me and make a change in your family.  Start where you are able.  If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I adore Dr. Fuhrman.  His “Nutritarian” approach to eating literally changed my health in the span of a few months and has given me back a balanced, nearly pain free body despite my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis.  I make  nutrient dense foods the main players in my meals (I almost wrote that I “try” to make them the main players, but, as my inner Yoda reminds me: “Do or Do Not.  There is no Try.” LOL!)   Now, if any of you follow Dr. Joel Fuhrman, you may have heard this acronym that he uses “GOMBBS” --- it’s an easy way to remember a list of potent antioxidant rich foods that Fuhrman cites not only as being superfoods, but also as being part of a cancer preventative way to eat.  So, GOMBBS foods are Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries/Beans, and Seeds/Nuts.  There is a plethora of science backing the goodness of these guys.  You can read more about that here.  My vegetable rich, GOMBBS filled Pad Thai is an example of how I pack our family meals with all the goodness I can while still making something that tastes great, is high in fiber, gluten free and dairy free (to meet our requirements from allergy and intolerances). I used to make this dish with white rice noodles but have found brown rice noodles that offer more fiber than their counterpart while adding a pleasant nuttiness.  If you can find them, give them a try.  If not, use traditional white rice maifun.  Either way, know that you are making a meal that is colorful, flavorful and healthful!  This makes a generous 6-8 portions and it reheats beautifully for lunch or a meal another day. Enjoy! [caption id="attachment_500" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Quick Veggie Pad Thai"]Quick Veggie Pad Thai[/caption] Quick Vegan Pad Thai with Veg, Greens and Goji (serves 6, 15 minutes start to finish) 2 packages dry brown rice noodles (maifun) 1 package firm, cubed tofu (I use Nasoya organic), drained 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 lb cabbage or bok choy, shredded ½ lb carrot, sliced thinly on the diagonal or into matchsticks ½ lb celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal or into matchsticks ½ lb onion, sliced thinly ½ lb kale, shredded ½ lb mushrooms, sliced ½ lb zucchini, sliced thinly on the diagonal or into matchsticks (optional) ½ cup peanuts, unsalted 1/3 cup gluten free tamari 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar 1 Tbsp tamarind paste 1/4 cup goji berries dash of sriracha or fresh red thai chili 2 dates green onions, for topping 1-2 Tbsp oil for the pan Put rice noodles into a large bowl and pour hot water over them.  You want the noodles covered with hot water so they soften. In the now, heat a wok or large cast iron skillet and add a bit of oil.  Toss in your garlic and tofu.  We want them to get golden, but not brown.  Stir often with a metal spatula and remove everything to a big serving bowl after about 5 minutes or when yours are golden and fragrant. In the same hot skillet that you just took the garlic and tofu out of, throw in all the veggies except the mushroom and get them going.  These guys are going to work for about 4 minutes. While the veggies are sweating, mix the tamari, vinegar, tamarind, sriracha, goji and dates in your Vitamix or food processor until you have a smooth sauce.  Taste it and adjust the seasoning to suite your taste if necessary. Check the veggies and give them a few good stirs.  Add the mushrooms into the mix.  We are looking for the veggies to get soft, but not mushy and the mushrooms end up keeping a nice toothsome bite since we're arriving to the party fashionably late.  Give the veggies another 3-4 minutes then transfer them to the serving bowl right on top of the garlic and tofu. Add a tiny bit of oil to your pan.  While it’s heating, drain the noodles that were soaking.  Add the noodles to the hot pan and immediately stir them around.  Pour the sauce over the top and use tongs or a big spoon to combine everything.  You want to keep the noodles moving so they don’t stick.  Once they’re hot and the sauce is fragrant tip the veggies, tofu and garlic back into the pan.  Add the peanuts.  Use tongs to combine everything.  Transfer the lot to the serving bowl or straight onto dishes if you prefer.  Top with the sliced green onion and extra peanuts if you like.  YUM!


Baked Egg Rolls

Egg rolls are one of those things that are missed by the gluten free.  I haven’t tried making my own gluten free pasta type wrapper, but that may be coming in the near future!  Tonight I went back to my old friends, the rice paper wrappers.  We’ve had good times and bad, me and the rice paper wrapper.   Not sure if you were with me earlier in the week for my crash and burn experiment with steaming rice wrapped bundles, but it wasn’t pretty.  There was an incident with frying rice paper wrapped spring rolls last year and that was exceptionally ugly.  Many, many hours of soaking and scraping were required to reclaim my favorite sauté pan! Needless to say, tonight we fared much better because I have photos and am ready to share the recipe with you.  Know that anything I share here is something I think worth sharing.  I wouldn’t write it out if I didn’t think you should try it.  I’m not that kind of cruel!  Now, I’ll say that these guys, like most gluten free versions of things, aren’t exactly like the originals.  But at this point in my life, I don’t consider different a bad thing.   If things work out for you like they did for me, you will have gluten free rice paper wrapped egg rolls that stay crispy for about 30 minutes before going a bit limp.  Make everything else you need to make before you start these guys.  Have the table set.  Have the salad on the table and the drinks poured.  Then and only then start these guys. I am all about setting you up for success!
Because the other members of my family don’t have gluten issues I still use some mainstream products.  Here I figured I’d share my hybrid meal strategy for egg rolls which is a bit complicated because I did a gluten free vegan version, a regular vegan version and a regular non vegan version.  Take that!  (And know that if you have an amazing hybrid family of eaters as I do that you can do it with minimal extra effort as long as you feed your sense of humor every day!)

Baked Egg rolls – 2 ways
1 medium onion, diced – about 1 cup
3 baby bok choy, cleaned and sliced – about 4 cups
5 or 6  leaves of kale, cleaned and sliced, thick stems removed – about 2 cups
A splash of Braggs liquid amino acids (substitute for soy sauce)
A splash of rice vinegar
A twist of pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger (from a piece of ginger about 1 inch long)
2 large carrots, grated – about 1 cup
¼ cup cilantro leaves, minced
¾ block of tofu, sliced into strips and diced (optional)

12 or 24 egg roll wrappers (not gluten free)
12 or 24 rice paper wrappers (gluten free)

In a large saucepan, saute all filling ingredients except for the carrots and cilantro for 10 minutes until wilted, but still a bit firm.  Remove from heat and mix in the carrots and cilantro.  If you are adding in the tofu, go ahead and do it now or hold it aside and add it to the rolls as you make them.  Let cool.

Turn on the oven to 450 while the filling is cooling.  We want the oven good and hot!
Once the filling is cool you can begin stuffing the egg rolls.  If you are serving people who are not gluten restricted go ahead and work with the regular egg roll wrappers.  You can find these in the refrigerated section of the market, usually in the produce department (though I don’t know why!)  Alternatively, I think you can purchase egg roll skins frozen.  I haven’t used this type of frozen product, but my guess is that it is similar to the refrigerated product.
If you are working gluten free go for the rice paper wrappers.  Whichever wrapper you choose, the method for filling and baking is the same.
Using rice paper wrappers for the first time?  They can be a little daunting, but let me share what I’ve learned over the last few years.  First, set out a lasagna pan with about ½ inch of warm water.  Take a clean kitchen towel and get it wet in running water then wring it out.  Lay the wet cloth onto your work surface.  Take out a wrapper and dip it into the warm water bath.  We need only bathe the thin beauty for about 5-10 seconds before taking it out and laying it on the wet cloth.  When I started using rice wrappers a few years ago I was soaking the wrappers for almost 30 seconds and using very limp wrappers. (No lewd comments!)  Now I dip them and remove them at a point when the press imprints are still visible on the paper.  Using the wet cloth as the work surface base and keeping the wrapper a bit more firm seems to make rolling easier.  Less tears and tighter rolls make for a better product.

If you are using the egg roll wrappers you need no prep and should work on a dry surface.  You will need a little bowl of water so you can dip your fingers and moisten the edges of the pasta so it sticks to itself as you roll.
Now we’re ready!  We are working with one wrapper at a time.  Start by laying out the wrapper that you just dunked on a clean work surface.  Spoon about 2 Tbsp of filling onto the bottom 1/3 of the wrapper and begin rolling the bottom up over the filling.  Once your wrapper is covering the filling fold in the left side toward the center and  then fold in the right side toward the center.  You are sealing the edges with this step and it is the same move that you make when creating a burrito.  Sides folded in, now all you need to do is roll the roll up so the filling is well encased.  Done one?  Good, set it aside and continue until your filling is used up!
Step 1: place filling near bottom of moist wrapper

Step 2: pull bottom of wrapper up over filling and roll slightly

Step 3: fold left and right edges in to center

Step 4: roll from bottom to top

rice wrapped rolls before baking

Prep 2 sheet pans by lining each with a sheet of parchment paper.  Set the rolls on the sheet pans and brush them lightly with oil (I use olive oil).  Put the pans into the hot oven on a low rack and let them bake for 20 minutes.  We’re going to use tongs and flip the rolls so they brown evenly on both sides.  Put the pans back in the oven and bake again.  If you used egg roll wrappers you should be finished with another 10 minutes of baking.  If you used rice paper wrappers you’ve got another 20-30 minutes.  Trust me on this one, you don’t want to pull out the rice wrapped spring rolls until they are really crispy or they will get limp and soft before you can serve them.
rice wrapped crispy rolls
Crispy rolls are done… plate them and serve them hot.  Egg roll wrapped rolls will keep if you have leftovers.  Rice paper wrapped egg rolls with get soft after about 30 minutes, so don’t think you’re making a big batch and saving these guys or you’ll be disappointed.  If you want leftovers keep your rice wrapped rolls raw with raw ingredients inside.  Raw spring rolls can keep in the fridge for a few days.  I will share my favorite raw spring roll recipe with you sometime too.  I love them!

traditional egg roll wrappers

Non-veg option:  not everyone in my family is vegetarian.  They are close, but not quite.  So, I prep a poultry filling for spring rolls/egg rolls as well.  I set aside half of the vegetable mixture and add in ½  pound ground turkey or ground chicken that I’ve browned and drained.  My hybrid batch is 12 veg and 12 non veg rolls.  I used to make these with a full pound of ground meat and less veg, but I’ve worked the veg up and meat down and no one is complaining… lol!  Baby steps! 

New or unusual items:
Bragg’s Amino Acids – made from non-GMO soybeans, this liquid is a non-fermented, gluten free substitute for soy sauce.  Bragg’s claims many health benefits, but I’ll leave you to read those for yourself.  Check out the link for more info if you’d like it!

pen gives you an idea of how small these are

Baby Bok Choy – cute, tiny bok choy cabbage.  Very tender and very versatile.  Can be used in place of bok choy in recipes.  Can be steamed, roasted, sautéed whole --- can be sliced too.  Mild flavor. 

Egg Roll Wrappers – a square or round, fresh or frozen pasta sheet that is used to make egg rolls.  Not gluten free.  Requires refrigeration.

Rice Paper Wrappers – thin round or square, dry sheets of rice starch that need to be rehydrated briefly in a water bath before using.  Fabulous for making fresh, raw spring rolls.  Can also be baked and allegedly fried!  Gluten free, shelf stable, require no refrigeration until used.