Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

Septemblur.

That’s all I have to say about this last month of summer. A good month for certain, but even more certainly, a fast one.

With just one (single!) day left of summer and one day till autumn, I have two words to say right now — s w e e t    p o t a t o.

Sweet Potatoes

I don’t know about you, but it feels like I woke up one morning, and poof, out of thin, (brisk, leaves-falling-through-it) air, autumn suddenly appeared. Sundress weather turned to sweater weather practically overnight, and sundown hours setup fort before I even had time to tell them I’d prefer they wait a bit longer.

That is life. You turn into this thing called an “adult” — generally the same meaning, but just a shorter form of the word adolescent — and life begins to blur.

Summer, don’t leave me. Please.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

On the bright side, fall brings with it an array of awesome qualities outside of just the dreaded onset of winter. Fall foliage, apple picking, apple pie, apple oatmeal, apple everything.

Like Bubba on shrimp, I could talk endlessly about the things you can do with apples. But instead, let’s talk sweet potatoes. After all, they define the warm color of this season, exemplifying its deepest shade at their best.

What am I looking forward to most this fall? Orange.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

I’m not ready to jump ship from summer. Don’t let this recipe deceive you. However, I admit, I am ready for sweet potatoes. When the weather crisps up, their soft heat brings more warmth to the table than my favorite winter sweater. And you know I am always ready for kale on that table, too.

So, here it is, my first autumn recipe of the year. Even if you’re a weeping-for-summer-to-stay kind of person like me, one thing’s for sure, this meal won’t disappoint. I say that even if the first cool, can’t-eat-outside evening you consume it during does. (Okay, okay. I know. Chilly evenings aren’t as bad as I’m making them out to be.)

Garlicky Kale

Here, garlicky kale and simply steamed sweet potatoes make for a classic pairing, yet an innovative, fall-feeling sushi. The ingredient combo also elevates an already healthy cuisine to a whole other level, which is exactly how I like to embrace the changing of seasons — on the right foot for my body.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

You’ll find sweet potato sushi as an option on many vegetarian sections of sushi restaurants. Yet, it’s rarely an item I reach for, given it’s often just sweet potato rolled up in rice. Make it yourself, however, and add some sautéed kale to that equation, and you get an incredibly flavorful roll, with sweet-bitter and soft-chewy contrasts. Creamy avocado, a mainstay in all my sushi dreams, makes the whole thing complete, along with wasabi to offset the sweet potato.

Still a simple roll, no part of this is really complicated. Yet together, it all works so well.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

Grab a sushi mat and get ready to roll. Even if you’re mat-less, a clean flat surface, and press from your hands can do the trick. Just don’t tell the sushi chef masters I ever suggested that. CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

Certain neighborhoods of Philly are infiltrated with Banh mi. The classic Vietnamese sandwich essentially acts as the Chipotle of the Asian food world, but even cheaper. You walk in, select your “meat”, and leave within 5-10 minutes with an aluminum wrapped, $5 foot-long sandwich, ready to be eaten. It’s a great feeling.

Scallions

Since it’s so easy to pick up a Banh mi around Philly, I rarely take the time to make it. Yet, it’s hands-down one of my favorites of the sandwich world, and so on the occasion that I’m getting a simultaneous desire for both Banh mi and a chef’s knife in my hand, I put on my cooking hat and grab my own tofu to be canvassed.

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

When Banh mi making is going down in my kitchen, you can nearly guarantee it’s going to have a little flair to it. What’s the point of making the original version when I can grab that anytime, with little detriment to my bank account?  Besides, if I’m recreating a dish, I’m always about finding further ways to maximize its flavor since the ingredient make-up lays entirely in my hands. No doubt, that’s going on with this recipe. Wassuppppp wasabi?

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

I don’t eat a ton of white bread, but when it comes to Banh Mi, a chewy white roll will always oust a whole wheat counterpart. This is one instance where whole wheat just won’t work. The flavor is unfortunately just too overpowering.

Collard wraps, on the other hand, those can create some Banh Mi magic.

CollardWraps_blog11

Here, collard wraps are able to balance the delicate freshness of the traditional Banh mi composition, while adding an even extra layer of freshness on top of it all. It lightens up the whole meal, while enabling more flavor to shine through. Peel back that one-inch layer of bread, and the notes of deliciousness from the slaw, cilantro and other jamboree of ingredients are able to reach their fullest potential.

Shredded carrots

Be patient with the tofu, and make sure it gets a nice crisp so it can add that contrast to the creamy peanut sauce you’ll place beneath it.

For a fun, spicy twist, this peanut sauce receives a generous punch of wasabi that’ll make it stand out among other sauces. I love the flavor it brings to the subtle sweetness of the peanuts and the carrots.

CollardWraps_blogmontage

True to the grab-and-go nature of banh mi — but more so with the intention to make your wrap-eating a little less messy! — envelope your collard packages in aluminum foil. This will seal in all the flavors so they don’t end up on your shirt. Although, if you’re like me, that’ll probably happen anyway.

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

I brought that big pile up above into work last week, and served it with a slide of Asian slaw for my coworkers. Two thumbs up, all around.

Since these are destined for pre-packaging, this will makes a great recipe for your own workweek lunch. While best the first day, the wraps can certainly withstand being rolled up the night before and kept in the fridge till you head out.

Tofu Banh Mi Collard Wraps

Crispy tofu with a memorable, punchy sauce, getting all smitten together as a result of my love for collard wraps…this has FoodFitnessFreshAir written all over it. Collar’, collar’ GREENSSSS. Cheers.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Smoky Black Bean Burgers With Herb Yogurt Sauce

I’ve been writing a recipe column for Today’s Dietitian, and September’s edition features a somewhat controversial veggie from my childhood days  the beet.

Grated beets

As I wrote in my column, the discord stems primarily from parents with rather differing opinions about the beautiful, but dangerous, late summer vegetable. You see,

“Beets were my mom’s worst nightmare. The juice stained her cutting boards, tie-dyed her kids’ white T-shirts, and left her scrubbing the kitchen counters until her hands turned pink. On the other hand, beets were my dad’s favorite vegetable. They were one of his continuously best-growing crops in the family garden. He loved nothing more than staining his hands as he pulled the beets out of the ground each year, and he had an affinity for their taste that my mom couldn’t match. And unfortunately, my mom had cleaning skills that my dad couldn’t match, so every summer there was a comical bone of contention that surrounded beets.”

This had always left me unsettled about my own opinions for beets. I’ve always enjoyed, but not longed, for their flavor, and I’ve always sort of shied away from the mess they tend to create.

However, in recent years, I’ve developed a newfound love.

Smoky Black Bean Burgers With Herb Yogurt Sauce

After one small one went into this recipe for tabbouleh, I was sold. That color! It’s flavor in the dish was not super memorable, but the hue it lent to the entire bowl certainly was. From then on, I would find ways to employ the beet’s beautiful color, and do so in a way that wouldn’t destroy my counters. And white t-shirts, because unfortunately, mom isn’t buying those anymore.

This recipe for Smoky Black Bean Burgers utilizes the food processor to keep the mess at a bay, while enabling beets to add color to a veggie burger that’s hard to forget. Here, the veggie adds adds a hint of sweetness that goes perfectly with the smoky paprika, as well as the parsley herb sauce that tops it all off. (Note, feel free to use any summer herb that sounds good to you. I vote for basil as an alt.)

Head on over to the digital edition of the mag for the recipe! 

Asian Broccoli and Eggplant with Tempeh

As I relayed in my last post, I made a big move last weekend.

In reality I guess it could’ve been bigger. Me, and all my stuff, simply switched neighborhoods in my current city of Philadelphia. But, it was a big upgrade from my last residence — especially in terms of the kitchen.

Without many tears, I said goodbye to slanted linoleum floors. A goodbye to minimal counter space. And a huge audios to my old ’70s-styled kitchen.

Ah. That felt good.

Eggplant and broccoli

I will miss being steps away from the cheap, bustling, food-filled Italian Market of my former ‘hood. I will miss the park on my old corner. I will miss the 2-block walking distance of my favorite restaurant. I will miss a lot of things.

However, I am happy to report this recent life change feels better than expected. I’m realizing I lived in an entirely too small apartment for two years too many. No regrets though, right? It just means more things to look forward to, and more appreciation for this next change in life.

Asian Broccoli and Eggplant with Tempeh

Anyway, to celebrate the move, I christened my new kitchen not more than a day after putting all the plates I brought with me into its cabinets. It happened to be a Sunday, and in my book, a Sunday not spent adventuring in a new place is then automatically destined to be spent with wooden spoon in hand. After the whole moving process, no trips were in store. So instead, a Sunday afternoon of cooking was planned. I was more than ready to put that new counter space to use.

Broccoli and Eggplant

The first culinary creation of my new house? This one, of course, filled with summer eggplant and a simple pairing of Asian flavors. A little salty – thanks to some soy sauce. Mildly sweet – thank you Hoisin. And of course, needed hints of freshness with the help of my friend, cilantro.

All of these favorite characteristics pair well with eggplant that gets cooked till its creamy, and broccoli that throws back a bit of crispness to this dish. Add some tempeh for a little nutty protein, and place it all over rice, and you’ve got one heck of a meal.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

“How much sunlight do you get in this room? Is there any natural light in the kitchen? Does that tree make the living room super dark?”

Yep — pretty sure my new roommates thought I was a little crazy when checking out their place. Life of a photographer, and food blogger, and natural light obsessor.

Anyways, Food-Fitness-FreshAir (aka, Grace) is moving, onto a bigger and better kitchen. To be determined about the amount of awesome window light I’ll have, but this new kitchen I’ll be getting acquainted with has granite counters, and lot’s of space. That in itself I know will be awesome, so yes, I’m pretty psyched.

Until I get settled in, in the meantime, some photos of recent adventures. This summer is flying, as has my life been these past few weeks. Luckily some magical adventures were in the mix.

FoodFitnessFreshAir

FoodFitnessFreshAir

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…