Man do I love Mexican food. Stick me in a Mexican restaurant with those unlimited freshly fried warm tortilla chips and guacamole and you might as well bring a wheelbarrow to roll me on home. Its torture, you sit in the restaurant starving while you decide which dish to indulge in (Tamales are my weakness) and then… here come the endless bowls of warm chips… you chat, and if you are like me your hands all of a sudden have a mind of there own and you “unconsciously” keep dipping and chipping away. I did the paleo diet for a while and tried other diets where I have had to give up corn and grain and I think the biggest challenge was meeting up with friends for Mexican and then just having to look at and smell the fresh tortilla chips. Its desperate times like those that you are just spooning the guacamole in your mouth and telling yourself its even better with out the tortilla. Lies. Its good and we know it.
The other day I was thinking about how many times I go out for mexican a week (being that I am in LA good mexican food is not hard to find) and it was quite a few. I do try and pick healthier options and although I am at war with myself and the tortilla chips I can only sometimes eat in moderation. Actually one of my favorite places in Santa Monica called Lula serves a mean plate of Cauliflower nachos and Mexican Kale and quinoa salad. With Mexican food on the mind I decided to create the “Mexican Spring Roll.” Spring rolls are something that is actually new to me, I have had a few great Thai spring rolls but sometimes the sauce is too sweet or the roll is off. I love the idea of fresh and raw veggies wrapped with protein. So I thought, why not try it Mexican style, or even Italian (coming soon in a later post).
After biting into this guy my world changed… I have decided that from here on out I am going to bring these sorts of spring rolls to work or shoots where there may be excellent catering, but there will not be something as fresh and good as this. I actually consumed the one pictured above the following day. I knew I needed to use the ingredients and take pictures for a post but I was so hungry after coming home from the gym I just made a salad with the innards of the roll and called it good while I worked on roll itself. Let me tell you, the roll was amazing even after resting for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Sooner than you know you will be joining me late at night before bed building fresh spring rolls for lunches/dinners through out the week!
While shopping at whole foods or other markets I like to explore the isles without a plan of action to see what kind of fun ingredients I haven’t tried or types of dishes I haven’t yet conquered. The Asian food isles are always fun and have countless options. The other day I noticed rice paper and stopped to pick it up. Usually I just scan that over and pass on it because it looks WAY TOO complicated and foreign, this time I read the instructions which were literally… Put one piece of rice paper in warm water for 5 seconds, place fillings on rice paper and then wrap. I was taken back by how easy they were to use and wondered why I hadn’t adopted them into my everyday meals. I mean hello!.. they will last longer than tortillas anyway. I buy tortillas and use about 3 and then the rest just get stale or moldy by the time I am ready to use them again. These guys are ready to be used when ever you need them!
The options for spring/summer/winter rolls are endless, I have even thought about sweet fillings such as chia pudding or cashew cream with bananas. PERFECT for travel. My friends would immediately say “you bragger” while I say this but I do not care, I am very confident that I am an excellent airport/travel pre-made lunch creator. Some may say master (I brag). I have been known to eat lettuce wrapped gyros, or lettuce wrapped chicken salad sandwiches while my seat partner munches on Mickey D’s french fries and double trouble or I mean the “Big Mac.” Once while traveling to Paris they played the movie Eat Pray Love. This movie should be banned from planes where food is slim pickings anyway and the nutrients of the meals served are questionable. I was THAT person unaffected by the hangry pains of the movie and sat quite happily enjoying overnight quinoa porridge with hazelnuts and hints of cinnamon and vanilla. Just imagine whipping out a protein and veggie filled spring roll with your choice of fresh flavors, whether that be, Italian, Greek, Indian etc. Try it out and fear not the infamous Taco Tuesdays… the Mexican spring roll is here to revive you and keep you guilt-free even when you reach for that second margarita or warm plate of tortilla chips with fresh guacamole.
- The Chicken Marinade
- 1 TBL Garlic infused olive oil ** or regular olive with 1sp crushed garlic
- 1 Handful of Chopped Cilantro (you cant really overdose)
- 2 tsp of Trader Joes Taco Seasoning or 2 tsp of your own choice of Taco Seasonings
- The Juice of One Lime
- 1 Dollop of Greek Yogurt
- 4 Chicken Tenders
- 1 packet of brown Rice spring roll wrapper ** I found mine at Wholefoods or use white rice
- ½ of a Jicama cut in strips
- 1 big Red Pepper cut in strips
- 1 sliced onion
- 1 tsp crushed garlic (I use the crushed garlic in a jar from Trader Joes)
- 1 can of Spicy Black beans Drained
- 1 cup cooked Quinoa
- 1 bunch of Purple Kale (I found mine at the farmers market) ** can also use spinach or other greens
- 1 tsp Taco Seasoning
- 1 Head Romain Lettuce, shredded
- 1 Jar of Trader Joes Salsa or a salsa of your choice
- 1 Dollop of Plain Greek Yogurt *** optional sub for sour cream or withhold if you are dairy free
- A bunch of Cilantro for topping the wrap
- 1 Avocado. cut into slices
- In a zip lock bag place 4 chicken tenders and pour in the marinade ingredients.
- Marinade for 2+ hours (I made 4 different marinades at once for different roll options so I used the chicken the next day)
- For the innards, lightly spray a saute pan with coconut oil and add garlic and chopped onions,
- saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Then add shredded stemless kale and half of the red pepper strips.
- saute for another 2 minutes.
- Add can of drained spicy black beans and 1 cup cooked quinoa.
- add a fresh squeeze of lime and another handful or chopped cilantro.
- Sprinkle taco seasoning ( you can also add extra spices like cumin or cayenne for an extra kick) stir.
- Turn stove to low.
- In another pan spayed lightly with coconut oil, place the chicken tenders and cook until browned on each side usually 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Heat a shallow, wide rimmed bowl with warm water (wide rimmed so that you can set the rice paper on top of it easily-- (I just used another saute pan).
- The wraps should be ready to start building now. They are made just like tacos/burritos accept for the initial dipping of the rice paper in warm water for 5 seconds.
- Once the rice paper is transparent move it to a nearby surface (plate, cutting board, etc)
- The paper can be sticky so sometimes it helps if I rub a little coconut oil on my hands before handling.
- Once the paper is laid out flat on the plate, begin building your burrito/taco how you would normally. I put the quinoa bean mixture down first then add a piece of chicken or 2 of the 4 chicken strips.
- Then line with fresh chopped lettuce, dollop of salsa, a few strips of jicima and fresh red pepper.
- If dairy is not an issue I love a dollop of Greek yogurt topped with chopped cilantro and then a few sliced of fresh avocado!
- Fold the 2 long sides first (or follow the directions on the spring roll wrapper) and then fold the short sides over! It should all hold nicely! (as long as you don't try to stuff it too full).
- You can eat them fresh while they are still warm or wrap them up and save them for lunch the next day!!!
Or top a head of Romain lettuce with innards and enjoy as a salad! Like this one!