How to Make Healthy and Delicious Summer Rolls *VIDEO*

I love summer rolls — crunchy, fresh, and flavorful all wrapped in a delicate rice paper wrapper.  Summer rolls are one of those things I never thought I could make at home.  The wrappers, the rolling, the sauce!  Not only are they way easier than I imagined, but they can be quite the nutritious dish to boot.  Filled with loads of raw veggies and herbs, a summer roll is like a salad all wrapped up in a neat little package.  In the video above, I go a pretty traditional route with avocado, cabbage, carrots and herbs, but also I use less traditional roasted sweet potato sticks and shredded Brussels sprouts.  Rice paper is so neutral.  Who says you couldn’t put a cobb salad in there or poached chicken, corn, cabbage and barbecue sauce?  I say the sky’s the limit and can we talk about perfect these would be for school lunches?!  Per-fect!

If you want to make these in advance, cover them with a damp paper towel and refrigerate for ideally up to one day, but I’ve even kept them 2 or 3 days.

healthy and delicious summer rolls | pamela salzman

5.0 from 4 reviews
Healthy and Delicious Summer Rolls
Serves: 8 rolls
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter, preferably organic (or cashew or almond butter)
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ½ Tablespoon raw honey (choose a mild flavor)
  • ½ Tablespoon water
  • ½ Tablespoon shoyu or gluten-free tamari
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • For the summer rolls:
  • 8 (8-inch) rice paper rounds, plus additional in case some tear
  • 1 large sweet potato, (peeled if desired) and cut into ¼” matchsticks
  • unrefined coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4 medium brussels sprouts, thinly sliced or shredded
  • ¼ head of small red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded, grated, or julienned
  • 1 large avocado, cut into thin slices
  • handful each of fresh mint leaves, basil leaves and cilantro leaves
  • Other possibilities: cooked shrimp, chicken, tempeh or tofu, cooked rice noodles
  1. To make the sauce: whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl or a glass jar and set aside. *
  2. To make the summer rolls: Drizzle the sweet potatoes with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 18-20 minutes until tender.
  3. Fill a shallow baking dish or a skillet with warm water. Soak 1 rice paper round (make sure there are no holes) in warm water until pliable, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the water and transfer to a plate or cutting board.
  4. Spread 2 teaspoons of peanut sauce on the rice paper (or omit and use as a dip once rolls are assembled) and top with 2-3 large mint leaves, 1-2 large basil leaves, a pinch of cilantro leaves, a
  5. pinch each of the Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and carrot, a few sticks of sweet potato, and a couple of avocado slices, taking care not to overstuff. Roll up rice paper tightly around filling, folding in sides and continue rolling.
  6. Transfer summer roll to a plate and cover with dampened paper towels.
  7. Make the remaining rolls in the same manner. Serve rolls halved on the diagonal.
  8. Store in the fridge covered with a damp paper towel 2-3 days.
* Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature and re-emulsify before using.

You are going to have so much fun making these summer rolls!

By the way, I have a YouTube channel!  I would love it if you subscribed over here.  Thank you!

Slow cooker vegetarian chili with sweet potatoes (stovetop version, too!)

As I type this, my slow cooker has been on for 36 hours straight.  Is that allowed?  I am officially obsessed and I completely understand why you all have been too while I was under a little rock.  Wow!  I made this awesome sweet potato chili the other night, then washed out the insert and put in some beef bones to make beef stock while I slept.  Then the next morning strained the beef stock and made a grass-fed beef brisket with veggies that I turned into a delicious sauce for pasta.  I’m on fire!

Are you gearing up for Super Bowl Sunday?  I love football, so I am always excited for the big day.  What I’d really like to know though, is why does everyone make chili for the Super Bowl?  Or a lot of Tex-Mex food?  I take that back.  My family in NY will be eating sausage and peppers and a baked pasta of some sort.  Maybe it’s just Southern California, but everyone I know is ripening their avocados for guacamole to go on top of their tacos or nachos or what have you.   Just curious since I am one of these people too and I’m not quite sure how I got to be.

I do try and mix it up a little every year, but somehow chili makes it onto the menu in some way.  I have been alternating between Vegetable Chili (my favorite) and Deer Valley Turkey and Black Bean Chili, which I serve alongside a baked potato bar, corn bread and Mexican Chopped Salad which I have a feeling doesn’t resemble anything you’d get in Mexico but sure is the perfect salad to go along with everything else Tex-Mex-y.  I’m in a bit of a conundrum this year with only two days to go until Super Bowl Sunday because I have no menu yet!  There are too many things I would love to make, including this fabulous chili as well as Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos or even this terrific-looking vegetarian tortilla soup recipe I spotted on Foodily.  Alas, I have a mere one slow cooker.

Fear not, good people.  I will share with you how to make this recipe on the stove in case you either do not have a slow cooker (yet) or you only have one slow cooker and you are planning on making my slow cooker chicken tacos.  I like to have a good balance of different food groups even on Super Bowl Sunday so that it’s not just chips and animal protein all day long.  Personally, I think chili is an easy dish to do vegetarian.  All those beans are super high in fiber and protein so they’re really filling and it’s the spices that make everything taste delicious, not the meat.  This chili is really interesting because it includes a bit of sweet potato, one of my most favorite foods.  There’s a touch of cinnamon and cocoa powder which you can’t really taste, but pairs great with the chili powder.  I didn’t add any leafy greens, but in retrospect I think a few chopped leaves of chard, spinach or kale would have been a nice addition at the end.  This Super Bowl I’m rooting for you to eat something healthful!

5.0 from 4 reviews
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes
Serves: 6
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined olive oil (or skip this if you don’t want to pre-saute vegetables)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (remove seeds to make it less hot or use half or omit altogether)
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt (depending on salt in tomatoes)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 28-ounce container chopped or diced tomatoes with the juice (I prefer to use Pomi from a box or tomatoes in glass jars to avoid the inevitable BPA in canned tomatoes.)
  • 1 ½ cups cooked black beans or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed (click here to learn how to cook beans from scratch, otherwise Eden Organics doesn't use BPA in their cans)
  • 1 ½ cups cooked kidney beans or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, about 1 pound total, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup water (use 2 cups water if cooking this on the stove)
  1. Omit this step if you cannot bear to pre-cook anything when using a slow cooker. I like to sauté my vegetables because I think it adds more flavor, but feel free to dump everything (omit the oil) into the slow cooker and press “start.” Otherwise, heat oil in a large skillet (if not using a slow cooker, sauté in a large pot) over medium heat. Add onion, peppers and garlic and sauté until onions are tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add spices, salt and pepper and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. If your tomatoes are unsalted, use 2 teaspoons salt.
  3. Add tomatoes and their liquid and cook for another minute or two.
  4. Pour the onion and pepper mixture into a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Stir in beans, sweet potato and 1 cup water. (If cooking on the stove, add remaining ingredients to the pot plus 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until sweet potatoes are tender and everything is nice and thick, about 1 hour.)
  5. Cover and cook until sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
  6. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with desired toppings such as tortilla chips, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, and sour cream.
I have also served this with cooked quinoa and millet, which was delicious. Also, I think adding some chopped fresh leafy greens about 10 minutes before serving would be very nice, too. Swiss chard, spinach and kale would all work well.


Shredded sweet potatoes and apple

Are you confused about the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?  Yep, so is my local supermarket.  In all fairness, I had to do a little research to get to the bottom of it, because I wasn’t sure myself.  The names “sweet potato,” which is not at all related to a regular potato, and “yam” are used interchangeably in the US, but they both generally refer to sweet potatoes, no matter the color.  Even the dark ones called yams are technically sweet potatoes.  True yams are native to Africa and are a staple in tropical and subtropical countries.  I have never actually seen one in our country, but here’s what you might find in your market if you live in the States:

  • Brown or red-skinned (often called called yams) —  these have a soft orange flesh and sweet flavor.  The varieties you will likely see are Garnet, Jewel, and Christmas Beauregard.  Garnets are my favorites and what I used in these photos.
  • Beige-skinned — have a pale yellow flesh.  Varieties include Nancy Hall and Juicy Yellow.
  • Purple skinned — I see these at my farmer’s market.  They have a white flesh and the farmer calls them Japanese sweet potatoes.  I don’t find the flesh to be quite as moist as the others mentioned above.
No matter what you call them, sweet potatoes are delicious and completely underrated.  It baffles me that so many people look to sweet potatoes only at Thanksgiving.  We eat them much more often in our house than regular potatoes and they are just as versatile.  They are also way more nutritious — you probably don’t need me to tell you that.  When you look at that deep orange flesh, you immediately think Beta-carotene, right?  They are loaded with so many vitamins, minerals and fiber, but it’s the antioxidant profile that sweet potatoes are so rich in.
I could eat a plain roasted sweet potato any day of the week for breakfast, lunch or dinner and I make them that way as an easy side dish quite often.  The down side of roasting whole sweet potatoes is that they take a good 50 minutes to cook.  We don’t always have that kind of time.  Here comes “Plan B Sweet Potatoes.”  Is this starting to sound like my “Plan B Salmon” from last week?  I actually shouldn’t call this Plan B, because this is my kids’ favorite sweet potato recipe and the ONLY way my husband enjoys them (Mr. Picky had to come from somewhere.)  The sweet potatoes take on the flavor of apple without getting too sweet.  I cook them long enough that they’re just tender with a little bite to them.  Leaving the peel on would give you more fiber and nutrients, but my kids prefer the skin off so they don’t get random bites of peel.  Last night we had this dish with some steamed whitefish and a green salad, but I think it’s even better suited to chicken, turkey or pork.  Have you located the shredding disc of your food processor?  I live for that thing.  If you have it, this will be on the dinner table in 15 minutes tops.
Speaking of turkey, I’m starting the Thanksgiving countdown this Thursday, which is four weeks from the big day.  We have lots to do to start preparing and getting organized, so tune in and I’ll get you through this with no stress.  It might even be fun!

Shredded Sweet Potatoes and Apples
Serves: 6
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, such as Garnet or Jewel, peeled (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 apple, cut into fourths and cored (I love using a tart variety, such as Granny Smith)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, unrefined coconut oil or unrefined extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • ½ cup water or apple juice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup (use less if you use juice)
  1. Shred the sweet potatoes and apple in a food processor fitted with the grater attachment.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet (if you don’t have a large one, do this in two batches. I used a 12-inch.) Add the shredded sweet potatoes and apple and season with sea salt (I use about ½ teaspoon) and black pepper to taste. Saute, stirring occasionally so that the mixture doesn’t stick, about 5 minutes.
  3. Once the sweet potatoes don’t look so raw anymore, stir in the water/juice and maple syrup and bring to a simmer. Cook another 5 minutes or until sweet potatoes achieve desired tenderness. Taste for seasoning.


Sweet potato-coconut soup recipe


sweet potato-coconut soup|pamela salzman

We are a family of soup lovers, which is great since soup is generally easy to prepare and I can put leftovers into a stainless thermos the next day in the kids’ lunchboxes (ok, just the older girls; my 7-year-old son won’t be caught dead at school with a thermos.  More on him in future posts.)

sweet potato-coconut soup|pamela salzman


Given how much soup I make during the school year,  it says a lot that this sweet potato-coconut soup might have been last year’s favorite.  It is silky and sweet with a rush of orange color that gets me emotional.  But the best part is a little kick of cayenne that is just the perfect way to balance the sweet.  I know, I know.  Those look like yams.  At least that’s what the supermarkets would have you believe and it seems everyone these days is using “yams” and “sweet potatoes” interchangeably.  But technically they are sweet potatoes (either Garnet or Jewel, I can’t remember), and furthermore, “Yam Soup” doesn’t sound very sexy.

Before you think this soup is just another pretty bowl of goodness, allow me to toot the horn of the sweet potato.  This delicious root vegetable is outrageously high in Beta-carotene, a phyto-nutrient that has powerful anti-cancer properties, as well as iron, fiber, potassium and Vitamin C.  In addition, sweet potatoes are excellent vanguards against heart disease.  And yeah, the color is so … well, sweet.

sweet potato-coconut soup|pamela salzman


For the vegetarians and vegans in the crowd, feel free to use vegetable stock or water in place of the chicken stock.  You might also note the coconut milk in the ingredient list.  There seems to be a lot of controversial information about coconut products.  My opinion is that you would be wise to consume coconut products the way you would any other high fat food – in moderation.  But there is a lot of interesting evidence which supports coconut’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties since coconut is super high in Lauric Acid, a fatty acid found in breast milk with immune-boosting properties.  But nutrition aside, the real reason to enjoy this soup is because it’s just like a cozy hug on a cold night!

sweet potato-coconut soup|pamela salzman


5.0 from 1 reviews
sweet potato-coconut soup recipe
Serves: 6
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (often labeled yams –red-skinned Garnet or Jewel), peeled and cubed or roasted and peeled
  • 3 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2-3 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • ½ 13-ounce can coconut milk*
  • several dashes or more of cayenne or to taste
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter until melted. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the cubed sweet potatoes and toss to coat with the oil, butter and onions. Pour in the chicken stock or water, sea salt and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook partially covered until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the maple syrup, coconut milk and cayenne. Cook until heated through. Puree soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately or allow to sit off the heat to thicken slightly.
*If you prefer to use more coconut milk, use a full can and use 1 cup less chicken stock.