Healthy Travel Find: Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls
These are very close to my heart, I have a cousin from Vietnam and one of my favorite things that she makes are spring rolls. This is saying a lot because she is a fantastic cook and just about everything she makes is delish. But those spring rolls…
I have been excited to visit Vietnam and a huge part of that is the food- the fresh, vegetable heavy food! And I have been drooling over the idea of getting my hands on more of those spring rolls, and I have to say that they absolutely live up to the impossibly high expectations I put on them. Why do I love them so much? The fresh burst of flavor, the crunchy veggies, the decadent flavor that makes me think I am eating something wildly unhealthy but in reality is packed full of nutrients and the tangy, sweet/salty peanut sauce, of course!
Ingredients for these vary widely, protein ranges from chicken to egg to pork to shrimp, and the veggies are even more varied. I picked the ingredients that I have seen most often, not just in recipes but from my own research on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Check out the crazy healthy ingredients, then try your hand at making your own from the recipes below:
Jicama– This tuber provides a very satisfying crunch as well as fiber, vitamin C and potassium. The fiber comes in a form called inulin which, among other things, helps the body absorb calcium and promote healthy bones. It also promotes a healthy gut by providing food to the healthy bacteria defending the gut. A diet high in potassium can help healthy individuals counteract the effects of a high sodium diet.
Carrot– Carrots add crunch, and keep you healthy with their beta-carotene and vitamin A content. The beta-carotene in carrots may help protect against skin, lung and oral cancers and, thanks to the vitamin A, carrots also promote healthy skin and eyes. For everything you ever wanted to know about beta-carotene, read this article.
Basil– One of my all time favorite flavors, basil adds a pleasant flavor and may help reduce inflammation and thanks to its antioxidants, it may even help prevent some cancers.
Cilantro– Herbs provide almost no calories, but add tons of flavor and are loaded with phytochemicals and antioxidants. Cilantro contains vitamin A, which is important for healthy eyes and vision and also has antibacterial properties.
Mint– Has been shown to help promote digestion and even help relieve indigestion. It adds a pleasant, cooling flavor.
Cucumber– Yup, more crunch. A variety of textures in these spring rolls really give them oomph! Leave the skin on for more cholesterol lowering, healthy bacteria feeding, colon cancer preventing fiber. Cukes are also a source of bone-building vitamin K.
Lettuce– Lettuces are low in calories and sodium but provide vitamins C & A, beta-carotene, calcium, folate, fiber and plenty of antioxidants. Go for darker lettuces (green leaf lettuce or romaine) or even spinach or massaged kale which tend to be higher in antioxidants. Learn all about lettuces (including safety tips!) HERE.
Rice Wrappers & Rice Vermicelli– Not a lot in the way of nutrition, nothing good, but nothing bad either. These slippery little devils require no cooking, just a quick soak in hot water. Made from rice flour they are also a naturally gluten free option. If you want another option, check out these ideas.
Peanuts– They often get a bad rap, but I think peanuts deserve another look- they are high in protein and vitamin E, B vitamins and may even help prevent food borne illnesses.
Hoisin Sauce– This sauce provides a sweet and salty zing, but it is high in sodium and sugar, so be sure and use it in moderation!
Ready to give these healthy ingredients a whirl and try your hand at making Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls?
Try out some of the different variations below: