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A New Twist on the Plain Ole Lunchbox Sandwich: Spring Rolls (and Vegan Pumpkin Dip)

This post is linked to September’s edition of  Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free!which is being hosted by Ali over at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.  Ali chose the theme: Ideas for Packing a Healthy School Lunch, yea!!!  I am really excited to see all of the fantastic ideas that will certainly come of this event.  :-D

So how did I land on spring rolls you ask?  Well, last month Ricki from Diet, Dessert and Dogs shared a recipe for spring rolls when she “adopted” Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness for August’s “Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger” event which was hosted by one of my favorite people, Shirley of Gluten Free Easily!

Phew, did you catch all of that?

I am sure there are at least 23 different grammatical errors in the above run-on sentence, but I did it on purpose (you believe that, right?) to demonstrate what can happen as a result of poor nutrition in school lunches…you don’t pay attention in grammar class! ;-)

My typical school lunches growing up consisted of PB&J or bologna and cheese (the processed American cheese complete with their own individual wrappers) on Wonder bread, Doritos, Oreos and maybe a piece of browned fruit and/or some carrot sticks (which inevitably would end up in the trash, because why on Earth would I eat that when I had all the yummy high fat, high salt, and high sugar goodness calling my name?

You remember those plastic-wrapped little 4×4 slices of “pasteurized cheese product” joy, don’t you?  With the unnatural pale yellow hue and the gooey gelatinous texture that very much resembled the plastic wrap it came in?  Then, when you were done eating it, you would use the wrapper to tickle your lips as you hummed against it…okay, maybe that last part was just me. :mrgreen:

Did you know that you can make your own homemade “processed” cheese product? Ah, I digress.

Anyhoo, Ricki’s post on spring rolls got me to thinking, how would these go over with Sam as a lunchbox option?  If you read my recent post on “Inside Out Sandwiches,” you may recall me mentioning that I have been having some trouble getting my eldest to eat his lunch because he does more talking than eating during his lunch period (I have NO IDEA where he gets that from!).  I had never made fresh spring rolls before, so I thought I would see if the almighty Google could point me in the direction of a video tutorial on how to make them!

I thought that the following video by Chef John of Foodwishes.com was a great tutorial for learning how to fill and wrap a spring roll.  The first part of the video is for a specific recipe using imitation krab meat, which is not gluten-free, so just skip over that part.  Starting at about the 2 minute and 20 second mark, John begins demonstrating the filling and rolling of the spring rolls.  He did such a good job, I almost felt like a natural the first time I made my own!

For my first homemade spring roll undertaking, I went with what I like, shrimp.  Other than that, I decided to keep it pretty simple so I wouldn’t scare my youngest off, and I just added julienned red bell pepper, carrots and cucumbers for the contrasting colors (top photo) For the dipping sauce, I made Martha’s Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce, subbing the soy sauce for gluten-free Tamari (low-sodium) and the sugar for honey.  I held my breath as S&L sampled them and just as I suspected, Sam loved them but Luke was iffy until I offered him the soy dipping sauce and called the spring rolls “mummy fingers.” ;-)

For my second attempt, I made basically the same spring roll only this time I added some pre-cooked gluten-free rice vermicelli, chopped green onions and a few leaves of romaine lettuce.  For the dipping sauce, I used Sweet Red Chili Sauce (the Thai Kitchen brand is gluten-free), or you can make your own Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.

Then I got a wild hair for my latest spring roll adventure and did an Asian-Italian Fusion!  I had made some veggie pasta for dinner one evening and decided to use the leftovers as a spring roll filling.

Aren’t the “noodles” in the above photo cool looking (and they are naturally GF!)?  Using a spiralizer is a GREAT way to get kiddos interested in veggies (the vegetables I used above were yellow squash, zucchini, and Chioggia Beets); as well as adding lots of low-carb vegetables into our own diets (another of my 70-lb. weight loss tips)! :-D

I have the World Cuisine Spiral Vegetable Slicer and Lexie from Lexie’s Kitchen shares her slicer in her post on Inside Out California Rolls. You can also use a vegetable peeler for making wider “noodles.”

Here’s what got me on this one…my picky 3 year old LOVED this spring roll! :-D  Sometimes, you just gotta keep pushing forward until you find “that thing” to unlock the door to accepting new foods (it also hasn’t hurt that I have put him on a no added-sugar hiatus; more on that later though).

The Vegan Pumpkin Dip is super simple to make and it has been a big hit around here for dipping fresh apple slices!

I followed Alanna’s Pumpkin Dip recipe over at A Veggie Venture, only I subbed the dairy-based cream cheese with Cashew Cream Cheese so it would be casein-free.  Did you know that cashews are high in magnesium?  Want to know more about this “faux-dairy” nut?  WHFoods.com has a great article on cashews that I recommend reading.

What is in your lunchbox this week? Have you branched out and tried anything new recently? :-D

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Comments

  1. Jenn says:

    What a creative idea for lunches! I love spring rolls, but would never have thought of packing them in my lunch!!! Perfect submission for this month's GAHIGF!

    • Thanks Jenn! I had never thought of them either, not to pack for lunch or even to make my own in the first place, LOL!

      They are REALLY easy too, I even filled one with Almond Butter and fresh Raspberries…the texture was a little funny on that one though. :-D

  2. Breanna says:

    I love fresh rolls! We've made them quite a bit over the years- fillings we like include thin rice noodles or bean thread noodles with shrimp (or real crab) and avocados. If you cut tofu into strips then brown it, it's really good, too. Also, mint leaves or cilantro add a good dose of flavor. Did I mention I love spring rolls :-) I had to laugh at the veggie noodle part, we made the boys yellow squash noodles for dinner tonight, called them "zoo noodles." they devoured them then asked for more "zoo noodles," ahhh, the little things that help get them to eat :-)

    Breanna at Allergic Adventures

    • Zoo noodles, I love it! It's funny how something as simple as changing the name to something funny can change a child's attitude towards a certain food! I also buy Tinkyada's spinach spaghetti noodles and when I top it with a chunky red sauce, we call it "green worms with blood and guts," oh how my boys get excited for that, LOL!

      Heidi

      • Breanna says:

        ohhh, "green worms with blood and guts," I love it! That'd go over huge in our house! We haven't tried tomatoes with him in a long time, but I'm definitely saving that idea when we do :-)

  3. GOOD GRAVY.. how many posts are you able to do a day?? :-P This is wonderful!! Lovely job!! Those spring rolls looks really delicious and I can't wait to try that pumpkin dip!! :-)

    • Carrie,

      Well, I had dropped myself down to 2 posts a week, but my recipes, etc. have been piling up on me and I needed to "purge" them before I get buried alive. The only reason two went out yesterday was because of my deadline for GAHIGF…and I got my post to Ali with 3 minutes to spare. I'm such a procrastinator!

      xo,
      Heidi

  4. GF-er says:

    Looks great! Quick question – where do you get the wraps for the spring rolls? I hesitate so often because I'm never sure if the manufacturer of the ones I see is actually gluten-free and not going to have cross-contamination. Any tips are much appreciated.

    • Rita,

      There's the rub with the spring rolls…I have not found a certified GF rice or tapioca flour wrapper yet. And since I do not experience any obvious symptoms when I get glutened, I can't tell you if I suspect any CC.

      Because of that, I will be limiting our intake of spring rolls (since what it boils down to is reducing our risk as much as possible) and I know all too well that just because one does not "feel" sick, does not mean the same thing as "no immune response."

      It's a pickle of a situation…I wonder if it's possible to make our own wrappers? ;-)

      Heidi

  5. Amazing, my dear! Thinking outside the box (or little "kiddie-sized" plastic container) is indeed the way to go for lunch. We've used the spiral slicer at our meetings before and loves the yellow squash and zucchini "pasta." And, Karen, over at Cook4Seasons, showed how you can use a mandoline to make veggie pasta. One of her readers shared that she actually used her veggie peeler as you mentioned and got great results. All cool, huh? But not nearly as cool as these mummy fingers. LOL … Heidi wins Coolest Mom Award! I bet no spoiled leftovers came home from those lunches! Now I must check out Lexie's post and all the other links you shared. Thanks for mentioning my adoption event hosting, too. You're the best! :-)

    Hugs,

    Shirley

    • Hi Shirley!!

      Thanks for the tip about Karen using a mandoline to make veggie "pasta," I will have to check it (although, I am dangerous with my mandoline..I will be fingerless before long)! :-D I just recently got my spiral cutter (thanks to Lexie's inside out sushi post) but before that, I used the veggie peeler, then used a knife to cut skinnier noodles…works great, just no curly Q's.

      And you are right…not "mummy fingers" were sent home from school…SCORE! :-D

      xoxo,
      Heidi

      • Christi S says:

        My husband got me some kevlar gloves because he got tired of walking through the kitchen to find me using the mandolin without the guard-thingy. He was positive I was going to cut my finger off while slicing carrots. Anyway, those are wonderful.

        I love this idea! We have homeschool co-op every other week and need lunches for that. My daughter won't eat store bought GF bread and I am behind on baking. HMMMM maybe I should get off the computer and get in the kitchen.

  6. Maggie says:

    These look great Heidi – you're so creative. I've always wanted to try these with my kiddies. Pete and I love them. I find the prep of the spring rolls to be a pain – the whole dipping in water thing. Am I so lazy or what? Heck, I'll give it a shot! I badly need one of those slicers. If I order it through your link do you get $? Gotta support my girl and her blogging. PS I am so happy you have a follow-up comment box now. WOOHOO!

    • Maggie,

      I have to be honest, I wasn't nearly as "creative" before I began blogging and needed good material to share, LOL!

      I thought the spring rolls would be a pain too, but really, they're not! They are quick too, if you have your fillings ready to go. I want to try some with a kicked up chicken salad filling…I'm thinking a taco flavored chicken salad sounds yummy (do your kiddos eat meat?).

      The link I shared in the body of my post to the spiral slicer I have is not an affiliate link (I don't do that, it seems sneaky to me). I will add it to my Amazon store though (and I would get paid on those and 50% will be donated to various gluten-free causes…the other 50% will be used for personal giveaways…I want to be a gluten-free Oprah, LOL!).

      I didn't even notice that I didn't have a 'subscribe to comments' box until Shirley kindly pointed it out to me (thanks Shirley!!). Hopefully this will help keep the conversation flowing a bit better!

      xo,
      Heidi

  7. Kim says:

    Heidi – You rock!! I love Spring Rolls and can't wait to try some of your ideas!

    • Kim,

      Me too!! Whenever I go to Pei Wei, I get the GF Vietnamese Chicken Salad roll but because I don't go often for CC reasons, I wanted to figure how to make my own…so easy! :-D

      xo,
      Heidi

  8. gfveg says:

    wow these are beautiful! i think you've finally inspired me to get those rice papers out of the cupboard. one question: where did you get or who makes or what is your favorite spiralizer??

  9. Susan says:

    I love spring rolls! I'm going to try the veggie pealer for my veggies instead of slicing them like I do. What a great idea!

    I have to tell you, I was telling my chiropractor about the avocado chocolate pudding recipe I got off your blog and now he was very interested. You are so awesome! I love your creative ideas on what could be a very bland diet. Thanks so much!

    • Susan,

      Isn't that avocado chocolate pudding brilliant? Who'da thunk it? I think Maggie from She Let Them Eat Cake also uses it as a chocolate frosting for cake!

      I don't do "bland and boring" very well and really, why can't we have our cake and eat it too? By making our own GF versions of popular mainstream foods, we not only eliminate the gluten, we get to eliminate the all the chemicals too. We, my friend, will be laughing all the way to the bank, especially if we aren't paying so much money for healthcare because of said processed foods, ha! :-D

      xo,
      Heidi

  10. Alta says:

    Will you pack my lunch? These look great!

  11. kelly says:

    We just made spring rolls for the first time last week! I just used our leftover sweet and sour chicken and our leftover veggie fried rice. I had no clue what I was doing so I am watching your video link. =0)

  12. I feel like breaking out in song for you! You impress me on a daily basis! Where, or where, do you find the time to get these posts up? We lead similar lives….I think I am failing in my self-taught "time-management course".

    I love these spring rolls! I am totally going to try these out! Thanks, Heidi! i am so happy to be able to call you my friend, because, my dear…You Rock!!

    xo

    • Kim,

      Time…yeah, there never seems to be enough of it, which is why I am always late for everything!! :-D

      Glad you are my friend too! We all have a great way of helping each other out and in this lifestyle, we can all use a little help from time to time, but more importantly, the friendship of other moms who truly understand.

      xo,
      Heidi

  13. Staci A says:

    Those spring rolls look absolutely delicious!

    By the way, today I made the mozzarella sticks you featured earlier this week, and they were amazing!

  14. You're such an awesome mom! Will you come make me lunch too please?

  15. Debi says:

    These look wonderful! I wish I had thought to do something like this before. We lost our microwave at work and I was running out of ideas for cold lunches.

  16. I got hooked on spring rolls at Pei Wei and did the same thing–learned how to make them at home. They were my favorite lunch this summer. That spiral slicer thingy looks like fun. Can you have too many kitchen gadgets before someone does an intervention? You can pack my lunch anytime.

    Wendy

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