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making spring rolls with children



This is something you can really get your kids into. You know how children always want to come into the kitchen when it's time to frost the cupcakes? (It's fun!) Trust me, they will also love to "build" a platter of spring rolls.

With summer right around the corner, I know many of you (and me) are looking for healthy, no-cook ideas to feed the littlest and the biggest members of your household. Might I suggest making spring rolls? Kids love to be involved with this process, and by simply searching through the refrigerator you will likely find no need to turn the stove on at all.

The wrappers used in spring rolls are made from rice, so they are gluten free for those interested in that. They can be found in the Thai or Macrobiotic section of any health food store and some grocery stores. A package of about 50 wrappers is just a couple of dollars. As you can see in a picture above, to "soften" them, Emily dips them in a bit of warm water. A pie plate works nicely for this. Most package instructions say to dip them in the water for 30 seconds but I find this to be way too long and the wrappers become too tender and fall apart easily. We just sort of dip and go... moving the wrapper to our cutting board where we build the spring roll. There is plenty of moisture remaining to soften the wrapper.

What goes inside is entirely up to you! On this particular day we had on hand: carrots, avocado, baked tofu, gomassio, cilantro, and parsley. You really only need about two heaping tablespoons of filling per roll. We first placed the long strips of tofu and avocado, then the shredded carrot, herbs, and a hefty sprinkling of gomassio. I've made spring rolls as a dessert before too. The filling was a coconut jasmine rice pudding with mango and I served them with a dipping sauce that was made of coconut milk, jasmine tea (a concentrated infusion), honey and lime zest. Oh my, typing that list of flavors makes me feel a little desperate to get in the kitchen and make a batch. So good.

Remember, there is no real recipe. The most important ingredient is the kids. Bring them into the kitchen and include them! My daughter does not have the same predisposition for cooking that I seemed to have at her age, but this? This is fun! I would say even three year olds could give it a go with a little support... pretty fabulous fine motor development indeed! Teach them how to roll one (put the filling sort-of in the center, gently fold the two sides in, then roll lengthwise, not too tight), and they will be off and running. As for a dipping sauce we love Coconut Peanut Sauce from Feeding the Whole Family (this sauce is good on many, many things and keeps for a couple weeks in the fridge). As for the man of the house? He thinks a heaping platter of these with a great dipping sauce would be great game food. A huge success all around!