A question I’ve been getting a lot on the road (unsurprisingly) is: how do you maintain your wellness habits while on the road?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a down pat answer.
While usually my travels for pleasure are scheduled almost solely around food, my time this round was mainly spent running around to meetings. I had hardly any bandwidth before boarding the plane to California to research the best tacos and cross-reference them with the best poke bowl places. In fact, during my time in San Francisco and LA, I only managed to eat one of each. I know…crazy talk.
Having less time for food crusades meant, well, less time for being a little traveling piglet. I took a page out of my friend Serena’s book and relied heavily on my snack pack. And since my energy was being sapped big time by overscheduling, I made more of an effort to seek out my favorite whole food eateries over the new renegade fusion taco stand. Holler, sweetgreen Philly!
I drank cilantro-rich green drinks to offset all the mercury in my tuna bowl. When I saw a gluten-free muffin on the menu, I did not order it. Save for one particularly baller avocado sunflower muffin in Buffalo. And as a result, I crossed the threshold of my apartment back in DUMBO yesterday tired and craving “our dinner,” but considering what I’ve put my body through, feeling relatively well.
I’m most excited about being home for a luxurious stretch of 10 days so that I can finally dig into other peoples’ books. I’ve had a pile sitting on my kitchen counter that I’ve leafed through, but have yet to cook multiple dishes from.
On deck is Pamela Salzman’s Kitchen Matters, which I had the pleasure of jointly celebrating in LA last week. Next are my cosmic book twins—i.e. two cookbooks that had the same launch date as mine—Heather Crosby’s Pantry to Plate and Kate Taylor’s Love Real Food.
The latter is packed with gorgeous vegetarian recipes that are just the kind of meal you want to whip up on a weeknight. I’ve been a fan and follower of Kate’s since the beginning, and have always loved her ability to make veg-centric food feel really accessible and un-froofy.
Before I left for this last Buffalo Part 1-Philadelphia-Los Angeles-Buffalo Part 2 trip, I whipped up a batch of her Fresh Sesame Soba Spring Rolls. The filling is packed with veggie noodles in addition to soba noodles, which replace the usual processed white rice strands.
Soba is traditionally made from buckwheat which, contrary to its name, is a gluten-free flour that’s rich in protein and fiber. It also has a wonderful earthy flavor that pairs well with toasted sesame oil. Just make sure to buy 100 percent buckwheat if you’re going the gluten-free route, as most of the time the noodle dough is cut with wheat flour.
I used almond butter instead of peanut butter in the dipping sauce, and the whole thing reminded me of the Almond-Sesame Soba Zoodle recipe I have in my own book, but in a bite-sized finger food package.
As fate would have it, or as cosmic book twins tend to do, Kate made that exact recipe on her site last week. Soba sisters!
You can serve these rolls at a party, but I ate them as a send-off meal with a side salad, and then again as my plane lunch en route to Buffalo. If only I still had a roll waiting for me in the fridge now that I’m home…
Read on for the recipe, and if you want more easy, feel-good vegetarian favorites, pick up a copy of Kate’s book!
Fresh Sesame Soba Spring Rolls with Almond Butter Dipping Sauce
For the dipping sauce:
- 1/3 cup creamy almond butter , see note
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey , see note
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 medium cloves garlic , pressed or minced
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
For the spring rolls:
- 1 large carrot , 1/4 pound
- 2 Persian cucumbers or 1 small cucumber
- 6 to 8 rice paper wrappers
- 2 medium jalapenos , seeded, deribbed and cut lengthwise into long, thin strips
- 1 avocado , cut into long thin strips
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- Handful fresh cilantro leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the soba noodles just until al dente, according to package directions. Rinse them under cold water, drain, and return them to the pot. Toss the noodles with the sesame seeds and toasted sesame oil. Set aside.
Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the almond butter, vinegar, tamari, honey, lime juice, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes until well combined. If the sauce is too thick for dipping, stir in a little more lime juice.
To prepare the spring rolls: Run a julienne peeler or vegetable peeler down the length of the carrot and cucumber repeatedly, turning halfway, to create long "noodles." Toss the carrot and cucumber with the soba noodles.
Fill a shallow pan larger than your rice papers (a pie pan works great) with warm water. Fold a lint-free towel in half and place it next to the dish (I just used a plastic cutting board). Make sure your prepared fillings are within reach.
Place one rice paper in the water and let it rest for about 20 seconds. You'll learn to go by feel here--wait until the sheet is pliable but not super floppy. Carefully lay it flat on the towel.
Leaving about one inch of open rice paper around the edges, cover the lower third of the paper with a handful of soba, carrot and cucumber noodles. Top with a few strips of jalapeño and avocado in a row on top of the noodles, then sprinkle with green onions and chopped cilantro.
Fold the lower edge over the fillings, then fold over the shorter sides like you would to make a burrito. Lastly, roll it up, stretching the remaining long side around the roll to seal it. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Halve the rolls on the diagonal with a sharp chef's knife (or serve whole) with the almond butter dipping sauce on the side.