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Tofu Banh Mi Collard Wraps with Wasabi Peanut Sauce

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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Simple Collards Wraps with Curried Lentils & Quinoa

Simple Collards Wraps with Curried Lentils & Rice

My first step off the plane back into my home of Philadelphia welcomed me with a rush of balmy hot air. Hello East Coast. Hello 90-degree summer. Hello “please take me back west”.

In all reality, transitioning from a vacation is significantly easier when done in the summer. This is the time of year when I love my city the most. It’s the time of year where Philly offers free yoga classes, outdoors, every day of the week. (Sweat & smiles, all around). The time when I can ride my bike effortlessly, no jacket needed. And when beer gardens pop-up by the handful to meet my bike-induced, thirst-quenching needs. (Although, I am still waiting for that California/Portland kombucha-on-tap scene to take over Philly and fulfill those needs, too.)

As for the west coast – I feel we may meet again one day. Sunny California, you stole a piece of my heart. And did a good job streaking my hair blonde with your sunrays.

Grace Dickinson

My recent travels took me through L.A., some smaller towns of Cali, all around Portland by bike, and up and down numerous, breathtaking mountains. There was lots of vegan food to be had, some of which I will be recreating (in particular, the Coconut Lentil Quesadillas from Real Food Daily!). An abundance of inspiration. Park picnics with friends. Fantastic & jolting iced coffee (Intelligentsia, for the win). Corresponding coffeeshop interactions. Adventures, surfboard crashes, and even a reality TV show recruiting.

I’ve never been so active on a vacation. Daily swim-yoga-hiking combinations unfolded, and its climbing those West Coast mountains that I’ll miss the most. I tell you, that’s where I truly feel alive.

Beluga lentils

Now that I’m back though, I want to keep that feeling of “aliveness” alive. That calls for healthy, nourishing food, and with this killer East Coast heat wave, some cool eats, too.

Shall this be the summer of collard wraps? I’ve already deemed it the summer of socca, but it can be both, right?

Simple Collards Wraps with Curried Lentils & Rice

I love how light and refreshing collard wraps feel, while also being able to easily pack in a bunch of flavor into one portable package. It’s the kind of meal that won’t weigh you down on blazing sunny days, and also one that can generally be enjoyed hot or cold.

Keep the filling hot if you’re feeling a warm but light dinner. Or roll these up, place them in the fridge, and have a cool, ready-to-go lunch for the next day. I, of course, did both.

Simple Collards Wraps with Curried Lentils & Rice

This meal would fit right into the forward-thinking cities of Cali (and Portland, too!). So in a sense, I’m just bringing my trip home with me. Working or not, I like to view every day of summer as vacation, and these are so easy to make, they fit well into that mindset. A one-pot meal? Packaged into fresh summer greens? With tomatoes and avocado? Ready to join me for the Cali-inspired summer of collard wraps? Yeah, me too.

But don’t worry. More socca is on its way too. And for my East Coast friends, I’m not moving just yet.

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Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Ever feel like if you eat another spoonful of tahini or drizzle of toasted sesame oil, you’ll turn into the seed its made from? Or that you eat so much coconut curry there’s no way you shouldn’t already be sitting on the next plane to Thailand? Maybe for you it’s cumin and chili powder. Rice and beans. Turmeric and chickpeas.

Perhaps it’s none of things – but all I know is that as a vegetarian, it’s rare I’m cooking something other than ethnic cuisine. Usually it’s Asian-inspired. Usually there’s tahini involved. Usually I’m a happy camper.

Sometimes, however, I just crave something more, I don’t know, American? After maple-tahini on my oatmeal, and soy sauce/tahini/sesame oil on my lunchtime beans and grains, I have to tell myself to step away from the tahini jar. I’m telling you – lately it’s been going on everything, and dare I say, might just be outcompeting peanut butter in my diet.

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

I can’t tell you how American tempeh is, but I’m fairly certain Old Bay is the country’s seasoning of the summer. So forget pizza, forget pasta. My non-Asian oriented meal is going to have tempeh, and I’m going to label it American. You can call it otherwise, I really don’t care. (In this case, perhaps an American flag would’ve made a better table setting than the Mexican blanket I used…)

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Come summertime, throw some corn cobs on the grill, this tempeh on the stove, a beer in your hand, and a fresh tomato salad onto the side section of your plate, and then you can give me your answer. I’m already dreaming of this day as I type. Count me in for summer seasonings and garden-fresh sides all season long. (We’ll see if this can kick my tahini habit to a once-per-day max.)

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Meatless Meaty Tacos

How about  bringing in the New Year with a cruelty-free, “meaty” meal?

Meaty and meatless is an interesting dichotomy in the world of vegetarian food.  Some veg. chefs strive to stay as far away as possible from creating anything resembling the texture or flavor of meat, while others play numerous trial and errors until nearly exact replications of meat-filled dishes are achieved.  Me?  I very rarely ever crave meat anymore, but I do sometimes miss that chewy, dense texture.  Needless to say, that does occasionally lead me to using meat substitutes, and I frequently go heavy on the mushrooms.

With the following recipe, I replaced the beans in my traditional vegetarian tacos with soy crumbles (made out of TVP-Textured Vegetarian Protein).  While you could certainly keep the refried beans too, I decided to lean slightly towards a lighter fajita-styled taco, instead adding sauteed onions, peppers, and of course, mushrooms.  Add the usual toppings— salsa, avocados, lettuce—and you really can’t go wrong with tacos, meatless or not.

Meatless Meaty Tacos

(Serves 3-4)

-1 large onion, sliced
-2 large garlic cloves, minced
-2 medium bell peppers, sliced
-1-2 chili peppers, depending on personal taste, minced
-2 cups baby portobellos, sliced
-3 cups soy crumble (I usually use Morning Star)
-3 tsp. chili powder
-3 slices of lime
-Avocado, diced
-Shredded lettuce
-Whole wheat tortillas
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-1 tbsp. olive oil

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Saute garlic, onions, and both peppers for two minutes.  Add mushrooms, chili powder, and salt and pepper, to taste.  Saute 6-8 minutes, or until onions and peppers are tender but still hold a slight crisp.  Stir in soy crumbles.  Saute for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Place small handful of shredded lettuce on a tortilla shell.  Top with soy crumble mixture, spoonful of salsa, and diced avocado.  Squeeze slice of lime on top.  Roll, and serve.