As I sit in the sweltering heat that has encapsulated my bedroom on this summer’s eve, I cannot help but wonder what I will bring to work for lunch on Monday. I’m also wondering why my air conditioning isn’t working (but this is beside the point). Eating vegan is a lot easier when you are at home and can make food at your leisure, but packing a quick and filling lunch for an active day with kids has proven to be tricky.
A satisfying lunch is a well rounded one. Parents spend years cultivating their children’s eating habits so they grow up healthy and can participate in the day’s activities. One of the many joys of having campers in first and second grade is how us counselors have to keep constant watch in order to make sure they eat enough for lunch. Bribing children by withholding their cookies or pudding until they take two more big bites of that sandwich mom packed usually does the trick. There is nothing worse than a cranky and hungry six year old in archery class during the hottest part of the day. It is not a fun time.
However, constantly watching over campers usually means that many other counselors and I do not finish our own lunches. I can pack all the fruits and veggies in the world for my meal, but they will do me no good unless I have time to actually eat them. Numerous bathroom runs and the occasional trip to the nurse also cut into eating time, which results in a not-so-fun situation in rocketry class with a hungry and cranky counselor. At least in theory.
So how does one rectify such a situation? I tend to carry food with me while I escort campers to and from their various pit stops, but this is still difficult to do with a fork or knife in the mix. Then it came to me: wrap ‘em up! Such a simple yet commonly overlooked concept I had dreamt up while shopping with my mom.
Simple but delicious, these little summer rolls are perfect for the heat and great on the go. My mom also pointed out that they would be great appetizers or for an outdoor concert. Such incite. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, vegan eating is possible.
As an added bonus, making these little rolls is pretty fun. I had a surprisingly good time finely chopping up all the veggies and rolling everything in the rice sheet. The whole concept was very new to me, so that may explain my excitement. But this is a great snack for kids to make themselves or those of us that would like to pretend we are still kids. The vegetables I suggested here are easy enough to find, but the rice paper had to be bought at a specialty store. The summer roll can also be served with soy sauce for dipping, but can definitely hold its own.
Round rice paper spring roll wrappers
1 bell pepper
1 seedless cucumber
4 medium carrots
Red leaf lettuce leaves
Soy sauce (optional)
1. Deseed the bell pepper and cut into long, skinny pieces.
2. Cut the carrots, cucumbers and green onion into long, skinny pieces (skinny works best for the wrapping of the spring roll).
3. Cut the lettuce leaves down the center in halves.
4. Finely chop the cilantro and mint to your liking.
5. Place one piece of rice paper in a warm bowl of water for five seconds. Each piece must be done individually and they should not touch each other until they dry.
6. Remove the paper and place the pepper, cucumber, carrot and onion on the wrap. Sprinkle on mint and cilantro to taste and place half of a lettuce leaf on top.
7. Roll the paper tight around the vegetables.
Photos by Christie Merino/Gavel Media