Vietnamese spring rolls (gỏi cuốn)

Jay’s parents are Korean and mine, Vietnamese. One of Jay’s close friends is also Korean-American and has a partner of Vietnamese heritage. Naturally, when we get together, we wind up talking about our favorite cultural institution: food!

Recently, the two came over for a spring roll (gỏi cuốn) making party in honor of our friend D’s impending move. They brought the rice paper wrappers, vermicelli noodles, and boiled & butterflied shrimp — we provided the rest. Spring rolls are a pinch to make, requiring only easy prep and the simplest of cooking methods: boiling. The rolls are truly tasty, but in my opinion, the real magic lies within the peanut sauce typically served alongside them. Creamy, tangy, and toasty, the dip is a perfect contrast to the crunch and freshness of the rolls.

The best part about this meal, however, isn’t its near-effortlessness. It’s the sense of community. This is the kind of meal that requires all its participants sit down and share. On the table, you have a spread of your individual components; in front of you, you have your plate, waiting to be filled. Shyness won’t do you any favors here — you reach out and grab those ingredients!

Continue reading

healthy orange-chocolate mousse bars

Back in April, my extraordinarily talented friend K whipped up a chocolate mousse. What’s more — it was healthy. Not even just relatively healthy, mind you. It was loaded with protein, low in fat, rich in flavor, and light in texture. Exactly right.

The secret ingredient? (You should know by now, there’s always a secret ingredient!)

Continue reading

oats and egg white bars

Even though I’m somehow able to wake up early to work out each day, I’m not Superwoman. I could never sacrifice the 10 minutes of sleep required to make myself breakfast each day.

I’ve experimented quite a bit with breakfasts over the past few months. Sometimes I get down and dirty with Clif bars. Other weeks, I’ll go on benders prepping healthy foods, like overnight oatmeal, Greek yogurt and Kashi “parfaits,” and egg whites cooked in mugs.

I’ve now entered a new phase of breakfasting: experimenting with tried-and-true ingredients. Introducing… healthy “french toast-inspired” bars. I know, they’re not the most glamorous-looking things out there — but I’m enjoying them immensely. The addition of golden raisins and chocolate chips makes them quite the treat, though they still pack quite the nutritional punch. Next time, I’m adding protein powder to make them balls-to-the-wall health food. You can also feel free to swap in various toppings; I imagine fruit, peanut butter, and nuts would all work wonderfully in this. Make this on Sunday and enjoy having breakfast throughout the work week — I sure will.

Continue reading

vegan chocolate avocado cake

Note: This recipe was updated with photographs on March 3rd, 2014.

My mom adores avocados. As a child, I remember watching her eagerly dig into a halved avocado with a spoon, savoring every buttery bite. I was notoriously picky and couldn’t, for the life of me, understand the appeal of such a weird-looking fruit. Now I know better… and thank goodness for that!

Naturally, when I was home last week, my mom sent me home with tons of food — among them, a lot of homegrown avocados. I had to use them all, and guacamole was out (my mom had also included a tub of it in her care package)! Researching ways to prepare and eat my bounty, I came across Joy the Baker’s recipe for vegan chocolate avocado cake. Totally intriguing. I’m not a newcomer to vegan baking, nor am I scared of funky-healthy ingredients in my desserts. Consider this baby made.

Continue reading