Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Bento Box Snapshot: Lox Sans a Bagel Spring Roll

This cloudy morning has brought me two things: a cancelled anthropology class and my blog’s first (official) supporter. Melanie of Mindful Food commented on my I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Avocado and Carrot Muffins post with these kind words:

"Hi - I saw your post on Karina's FB page and came over to see what you are about. GF ratio rally! I don't remember seeing you in the big list last week. I also had a recipe in the rally…

Melanie's Gluten Free Ratio Rally entry... YUM!
I also am fairly new to food blogging but have surely caught the bug. I've signed up as your first follower!

I love the idea of using avocado as the fat in baked goods - I haven't tried it yet - but your recipe has inspired me!

Best of luck! I'll be back. Blessings, Melanie"

I did that? I inspired someone? She’ll be back?

Melanie, you truly made my day.

As for anthropology, does class being cancelled mean I’m going back to bed and laze the day away until 4:20 p.m. for my three-hour community conflict resolution class? Goodness gracious no! I’ve got awesome Morri things to do today.

Like this post, for example. And this recipe.

My first week of blogging has been such a delight. Family members and friends alike have been so supportive, commenting on my pancake post, suggesting recipes and trying out mine. Really, thank you for everything. I hope to hear more of your voices as this blog goes into full swing. Feel free to comment on the recipes, ask questions, make suggestions, and email me. It’s as much of a learning experience for me as it is for you.

And I am hungry for more.

Speaking of hunger, after my hypothyroid diagnosis and five days of being on the Armour Thyroid, she has gone from being a feral cat scratching and biting at my arms to a playful kitten pawing for attention. I’m not waking up at 4:30 a.m. or getting these intense headaches throughout the day. My body temperature has gone from 96.5ºF to 98.1ºF (thus, I am no longer a member of the lizard family). My hands and feet aren’t like ice, and they’ve lost their yellowish hue. My jaw line and neck is more pronounced. Pants that were tight fitting are looser. I have more energy and am hardly fatigued. And these are just the physical changes. Mentally I can retain the information I’m given, both in social and academic settings, more efficiently. The channel between what I’m thinking to what I’m saying isn’t blocked. I am vigilant and aware, with a winning attitude and a confident stride. I am not dwelling on things I can’t control in my life, and with the complete 180º of my mental/emotional/physical/spiritual focus, life (although a bangin’ adventure before my treatment) has never seemed so crisp and clear and beautiful.

The only downside I can think of is the menopausal-like hot flashes I’m getting 1 – 3 times a day. (To think, women deal with this for ten years or more.) But I like how my mom described it: “It’s like turning on the furnace after it has been off for an entire summer.” Eventually, the flushing will subside, but the fact I’m experiencing this at all means my body is working up to its full potential. And when you’re body is functioning properly, the first thing it tells you is that it’s hungry.

I admit I arrived late on the bring-your-lunch-to-school parade (a senior in college). But with my classes being at the times they are, it was necessary if I didn’t want to start getting my daily fiber intake by gnawing on my desk. It took me a week or so to get the hang of it, but pretty soon I was munching away while taking notes on Social Identity Theory and debating the differences between free will and determinism.

That’s where the idea of Bento comes in. Now, if you haven’t been to Just Bento, you really should. I became enamored with this site (and its sister, Just Hungry) while in Sweden, and looked forward to having a bento box of my very own. By February I got my wish. Sadly, my beautiful bento box is not insulated, so I bought a flat purple lunch box to keep the food at a safe eating temperature. Plus, I can add other little containers for snackage when my body needs it.

So what does a Morri put in her bento box, you ask? Why, a ton of things, a ton of things indeed. I am all about variety and trying out new things, but I strive for nutritional balance for every bento, with tons of veggies, plenty of protein, and maybe a grain (like rice) or a root vegetable (like sweet potato). 

This recipe was something of an experiment, but a successful one. You’ve heard of lox on a bagel, right? How about lox in a spring roll?

How to make a spring roll (source)

I think what is so amazing about the concept of a spring roll is how flexible they are when it comes to taste and preparation. They can be sweet or savory. They can be raw, fried, or baked. A cashier at my local Trader Joe’s suggested using rice paper to make wontons (definitely on my to-do list, by the way). And really, your average spring roll is, with practice, very easy to make but also an elegant dish others will gush over.

Lox Sans a Bagel Spring Roll 

8 Sheets of rice paper (check label to see if it's gluten free)
16 Fresh basil leaves
4 oz (one package, typically) Wild smoked salmon, separated into eight parts
4 oz Cream cheese (I used soft goat cheese), separated into eight parts
1 Small red onion, diced
Sesame seeds (optional)

Take one piece of rice paper at a time.
Dip it into warm (not hot!) water for 5 seconds.
Place it on a plate.
Add basil leaves, smoked salmon, cream cheese (or any soft cheese you like), and diced red onion on the rice paper.
Wrap it up into a roll.
Sprinkle sesame seeds on top for garnish.

Makes 8 spring rolls. Serves 2 as a light lunch or starter.

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