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Rice paper rolls

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I've become a fan of rice paper rolls. Easier to make than you might think, they look great and are very versatile. The rolls provide a thin wrap for the filling of your choice; the rice paper has a slightly chewy texture; opaque, you get a pretty good idea of what's inside; think pita pocket with less calories! Rice paper has little taste of its own.

Firstly, ROLLING. There are 3 basic shapes.
- the 'cigar' shape is made like this:

- the 'parcel' shape is made in a similar fashion, BUT start with a square rather rectangular gob of filling and roll up each side equally
- the 'open' style is made like the cigar, but start with the filling in a rectangle that touches one edge of the circle of rice paper. Fold left side toward centre, bottom side toward top, and right side toward centre to seal, leaving one end open at the top. See here:

Another way to make small opens is to do cigars and then cut them in half (at a snazzy angle) to expose the delectable and attractive fillings, voila.

Typical Asian-style fillings include
- vegetables: carrots, yam (jicama), red pepper, chinese cabbage, kang kong, green paw-paw, cucumber
- zingy bits: garlic, onion, chilli
- fillers: vermicelli
- protein: tofu, tempeh, nuts, sunflower seeds
- live spices: (Thai) basil leaf, mint leaf, spring onion, coriander, rocket, sprouts
Non-traditional fillings: whitlof, purple cabbage, grated parsnip, slivered almonds, julienned summer squash or zucchini, celery leaves, refried beans, snow peas, raisins, pickled anything, leftover cooked vegetables, etc.
Otherwise you go with whatever you like, don't you? The thing is you can do a bit of a cross-over between stuff you would put in a bowl salad and stuff you would put in a bread roll. Traditional fillings are mostly raw or only lightly cooked; you want the end result to have some crunch about it.


This is a typical kind of dipping sauce to have them with:

Otherwise tweak it how you like. Sometimes I just put a splodge - that's a technical term some of you beginners might not know - of sweet chilli sauce inside the roll itself and that's enough for me. These fillings go well with peanuts so a gloppet - another technical term, I'm convinced of that - of peanut butter works great too.

Serve at room temperature. Hence can be prepared beforehand if necessary. Think lunch, lunchbox, healthy and neat-o party snack, dinner entree, etc. If you do the cigar shapes you can tie them up with a chive for an extra flourish (they don't need it to hold together, the rice paper gets tacky and stays stuck just fine on its own). Note: if making rolls for a platter, try to not have them touching or they will stick together like tax fraud to dodgy accountants.

Cheap! A packet of 30 costs me $2. They're the large-ish size, about 22cm diameter. For a man, 5 makes a lunch. For a woman maybe 3. Hence 1 packet goes a long way. No need to keep in fridge, they are dry goods. There are different sizes so if you want to make delicate canape-style rolls that have just a sliver of this and that inside get the ones that are about as big as a bread roll plate.

Each rice paper sheet/wrapper (22cm diameter) is 23 calories, 4.5g carbohydrate, 5g protein, 0g fat. Win!

This guy suggests using them in place of nori for those who don't like the taste of seaweed:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SWEDE_SU 6/8/2014 6:16AM

    they look great!

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JEANNIE0312 10/22/2013 8:02AM

    I have a pack of these wrappers at home & have used them to make basil rolls when I have asian food. I never thought of using them as a wrap for lunch instead of pitas or bread!!
Thanks for the idea!!!

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QUEEN-EYDIE 9/13/2011 6:08AM

    These look fabulous! I can see making these in my very near future, especially while there's still fresh basil in the garden.

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EMBBEAR 2/25/2011 1:15AM


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RMREEVESOLIS 2/10/2011 11:43PM

    thanks on the suggestions of using the rice paper. I bought a pack since they are gluten free, but I have yet to use them. This gives me plenty of ideas and lets me use less calories doing it! :)

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MATEYMATE1 1/30/2011 12:17AM

    I have been looking for a substitute for bread or pita as I am not keen on any. This could be my answer. Thank you for the info. As soon as I go to the smoke I will get some.

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DS9KIE 1/25/2011 9:04AM

    that looks sooo yummy

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JUGE300000 1/25/2011 6:31AM

    Sounds good!


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JUDYFRANCE 1/25/2011 5:43AM

    Fabulous! Thanks for all of the information. I've recently started doing lots of these. My family goes gaga over them. They are so fresh. Here, in France, they are called Spring Rolls - I suppose because of all the springtime veggies inside. Only problem is that it takes some time to make for whole family. I get my kids involved. We set up a factory line and get rollin'.

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IMEMINE1 1/25/2011 5:02AM

    Looks so good.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
Thanks to the phenomenal record that is the Food Tracker I was able to do something as nerdy and self-indulgent as adding up my fruit consumption for the past week:
Mangoes - topped the list with 2.39kg. Wow! I can hardly wait till mango season again next year :-)
Bananas - silver medal with 1.14kg. Can't go wrong with our little yellow friends, can we?
Jackfruit - 865g. That's fresh. Prolly another kilogram of cooked jackfruit went into a coconut curry I had a few nights, but that's another story.
Paw-paw - 765g. Wasn't a particularly nice one and I had to throw a bit of it away.
Fruit salad - 500g. Mixed!
Nectarines - 300g. Disappointing. Probably would have eaten more if they'd been any good.
Pineapple - 250g. I'm fussy about pineapple so avoid tinned and eat fresh when I can get it.
Grapefruit - 2 and a half, which I'll call about 250g. The local grapefruit aren't that big in size, at least not at this time of year.
Rambutan - 18, which I'll call about 160g. They were lovely and I have another bag to eat this week.
TOTAL was about 6.62kg of fresh fruit for the week. That's getting up towards a kilogram a day (over 2 pounds for you Americano types). I'm pretty happy with the balance of my diet at the moment and very glad that I'm getting plenty of the fresh stuff in.
Go fruit goooooooooooooo!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HAWTGRANNY2014 6/29/2013 11:56AM

    Never tried mangoes, paw paw, jackfruit or Rambutan. Never even heard of the last three. I guess I have an adventure awaiting me LOL. I have not eaten any meat but fish for over a year and now giving up fish. I have started on a crazy sexy diet book and it is mostly vegan. Just on my second day though. You are doing an awesome job. Great blog.

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CONTESSAGRIGIA 12/28/2010 10:35PM

    Super! Sounds so good!

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MATEYMATE1 12/27/2010 11:01PM

    How I would love to eat all that fruit. However, the natural sweetness of the fruit plays havoc with my blood sugars. Mangos are my very favourite. I found if I dry them I can regulate how much I have a day hence no increase in insulin required.
Go go for it mate it is the best food ever.
hugs Syl

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SLUGGOISMYDOG 12/26/2010 11:11AM

    I love my fruit too. Yea nectarines are out of season right now and the flavor is not there. I am a vegan produce manager. Talk about being right where I need to be huh? I love when I hear people enjoying fruits and vegetables! Good job! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MEANCARLEEN 12/26/2010 10:22AM


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First H-M

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On 7 November I ran my first ever half-marathon, a year after first 'getting off the couch'. I crossed the finish line in 1:43:39, apparently in 24th place of the 230 who started. But the important thing was just the being there, the sheer joy of running, the finishing, the knowing that I had set a goal and achieved it.

I had a wonderful time running along the scenic tracks and roads around Marysville although the hill climb to the waterfall - about km 13 to 17 - was nasty. The sprint downhill to the finish hammered my quadriceps as well so I was very sore the next day or two. Still, I now feel like a real athlete :-) And now that I'm 29kilograms (about 64 pounds) lighter than when I started exercising, I'm thrilled with the way I feel (and look) in general.
Having done this I'd now like to turn my sights to a full marathon. Possibly around March or April next year would suit me. There are no events where I live so I'll need to travel. I have been thinking about the Strasimeno in Italy although I haven't made my mind up yet. Please make a suggestion if you know of any fun marathon events. (There were plenty of times in my life when I could not have imagined 'marathon' and 'fun' appearing in the same sentence, so I've come a fair way!)

Hope you're all doing well too!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHIVAMOON 10/9/2011 6:53PM

    Alan, There is a fun marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii, but it's in December. For 2011 it's on Dec 11th. For 2012 it's on Dec 9th.

Wow, you're doing just great.

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TKADEEPBREATH 11/28/2010 1:21PM

    This is so amazing Alan, you should be very proud. The picutres are great. You make me want to start to run . . . (walking is what I've done so far!).

Way to go!!! Jan

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MATEYMATE1 11/26/2010 11:32PM

    Wow you actually did it.
Congrats you just rock.
Hugs Syl

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WONDERJUL 11/24/2010 11:24PM

    emoticon You look like an athlete as well! Way to go finishing your first half! I hope you find a marathon location and date that works well for you. Congrats on your weight loss as well!

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Eggs are Egg-cellent article ... yukz

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Earlier this week the Sparkmail contained the introduction and link to an article shilling the wonderful benefits of eggs. And, predictably, none of the negatives were dealt with in a meaningful way.
Four days after this unbalanced article appeared, guess what I noticed at the top of one of the pages: "An Eggland's Best egg is an amazing, nutritious food and an ideal ingredient for all sorts of healthy recipes and eating occasions. Share your best healthy egg recipes for a chance to Win $1,000 in Free Groceries!"
That's right, Spark now has an egg producer as one of its sponsors. By all means think what you will of eggs but don't consider Spark as a reliable source of objective information. It is NOT.
A good start on at least understanding what eggs have come to be in the marketplace is this NY Times article:

Personally - and this should be a surprise to nobody given the teams I belong to - I find the concept of consuming the menstrual cycle of birds quite disgusting right from the outset. Then there is the disease angle. Even the American Council on Science and Health admits: "According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 2.3 million contaminated eggs are produced in the U.S. each year and about 100,000 to 150,000 cases of foodborne illness are caused each year by Salmonella in shell eggs." Are you feeling lucky?
Any good vegan web site will be able to tell you more about the negatives of eating eggs and how easy it is to manage without them. If you are interested enough in your own health and ethical living I'm sure you'll find them. C'est la vegan and have a great weekend!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 12/1/2010 7:30AM

    Hmmmm . . . . a healthy scepticism again!!

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Goal Weighty Matters

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Last Monday, on my 'official' weigh in day - if this was Biggest Loser would I have to vote myself out? - the scales saluted me with a 69 (kilograms...that's 151.8 for you poor pounds people). No, I wasn't reading the numbers upside down. Or maybe I was! The fact is that I have got here from 96. In 50 weeks.
Hmmmm. Okay, I am happy. I am feeling great and all my numbers are within healthy ranges, e.g. BMI, bodyfat, etc. Which set me thinking about goal weight. 69 was a number I picked a while back. Why? Because it was a bit under 70, which was what I weighed last time I felt fit. In other words it was an arbitrary figure based on a skerrick of history but nowt more than that.
After checking I found the recommended weight range for my height and gender is 56 to 75kg. As I can see myself feeling heavy at the 75 end, and looking like a prisoner-of-war at the 56 end, I need something in the middle. I also have begun to think of goal weight as a mini range in itself rather than a single number. Weight can be expected to vary a bit throughout the year, and that should be allowed to happen without panic. Gain a fraction during that two-week vacation? No dramas, just work back into a rhythm and steady the ship.
Eventually - and for now, as I'm still a work in progress - I settled for 64 to 70 as my goal weight range. For Spark goal weight purposes I have set a new 'target' of 67 as that lies squarely in the middle. Once I get to 67 I will consider to have 'arrived' and will formally go into weight maintenance mode while a large display of fireworks goes off in the background.
As I am still in marathon training and will keep running long distances while I am enjoying it, I expect to get a bit lower than 67. Maybe all the way to 64, who knows. That's what I mean about range. I already have lots of kilometres under my belt this year so it's fair I think to expect that I will keep getting leaner if I keep on running.
I'd like to do a blog with before/after photos but I'll save that for the coming 67 day, or at least when Internet Explorer is not doing my head in! Aarrggghhh!
I hope you're all doing well with your own programs. Keep strong!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MATEYMATE1 9/27/2010 2:10AM

    Can you please give me some of your confidence. I love your attuitude towards your healthy weight range. Good on you keep up the good work and hopefully a bit will rub off one me one day.
hugs Syl

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