For The Press

You don't have to dine at Asian restaurants to enjoy fresh spring rolls. Super easy to make, these fresh veggie spring rolls can be a snack, part of a meal or great appetizers at your next party. Brightly colored and crunchy with a satisfying fresh taste, these spring rolls are packed with cancer-preventive phytonutrients.

Thinly julienne sliced vegetables and layered leaves of herbs guarantee a pleasant crunchiness and fresh garden taste. Mint and basil leaves are included in this recipe, but cilantro leaves may be used too. Add a spicy, peppermint flavor with purple-green colored Thai basil (also known as holy basil), common in ethnic markets. Or use sweet basil with its hints of licorice, tarragon and a little sweetness. You might even see a Thai version of sweet basil. Use any basil you prefer or can find.

Peanuts add to the crunchiness, while avocado offers a layer of contrasting creaminess. Both peanuts and avocado provide satiating healthy fat.

One secret to great rolls is to lay out all ingredients in an assembly line for easy preparation. Carrots are layered first and the herb leaves last so their pretty colors and patterns will show through the transparent rice paper wrappers.

Fresh spring rolls are made complete with a delicious dipping sauce. While there are many great sauces, this recipe uses a combination of garlic, fresh lime juice, soy sauce, spicy red pepper and a bit of sugar to balance the lime juice. Using reduced-sodium soy sauce instead of fish sauce or regular soy sauce reduces the sodium content.

You can make fresh spring rolls early in the day and keep refrigerated to serve later. For a party, cut them in half diagonally to showcase the colorful vegetables and to create more bite size servings or serve them as a side dish for lunch or dinner. These rolls are a delicious complement to a stir-fry.

From the American Institute for Cancer Research

Fresh Avocado and Vegetable Spring Rolls

Ingredients

•1 medium carrot, cut in half crosswise, cut into thin julienne slices 4-5-inches

•1 medium cucumber, peeled, cut in half crosswise, cut flesh only into thin julienne slices 4-5-inches

•1 medium red pepper, seeded, cut into thin julienne slices 4-5-inches

•8 green onions, cut in half lengthwise 4-5-inches

•1 medium avocado, cut into 8 lengthwise thin slices

•1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted dry roasted peanuts

•1 bunch fresh sweet basil or Thai basil (about 40 small to medium size leaves)

•1 bunch fresh mint (about 40 small to medium size leaves)

•8 (about 8-inches) rice paper wrappers or brown rice paper wrappers

Directions:

Line up all ingredients, except wrappers, in assembly line on workstation.

In wide, shallow microwave safe dish or pie plate, dunk one wrapper in very warm water until pliable, about 15-20 seconds or according to package directions. Lay rough side of wrapper face up on workstation in front of ingredients.

On center, bottom third of wrapper, layer an eighth of each vegetable and 1 slice avocado in 4-5-inch line. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon peanuts over top. Line 5 leaves each of basil and mint in a row.

Gently lift up bottom of wrapper and fold over filling while pulling filling back with curled fingers to tighten. Roll one more turn and then fold wrapper sides inward over filling, like a burrito. Gently finish rolling and place roll seam side down on platter. Repeat. If water cools, reheat in microwave.

Serve rolls whole or cut diagonally in half to showcase filling with dipping sauce. If serving later in day, cover with moist paper towel and plastic wrap.

Makes: 8 servings.

Nutritional information per 1 roll serving: 111 calories, 6 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 13 g carbohydrate,

3 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 21 mg sodium.

Optional Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

•2 cloves garlic, sliced for milder flavor or crushed for stronger flavor

•3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

•2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

•2 teaspoons. sugar

•1 Thai pepper, cut in chunks or 1/2 tsp. red pepper, optional

Directions:

In small bowl, mix all ingredients until sugar dissolves. Serve with Spring Rolls.

Makes: 4 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 9 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 2 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 0 g dietary fiber, 150 mg sodium.