Preparing your own food in the kitchen is a great way to learn about nutrition, pick up an essential life skill and start to try more fresh, wholesome ingredients. It’s best to find recipes with several hands-on components, so both parents and kids can be involved as much as possible.

We love rolling spring rolls with our three children. These are a traditional Vietnamese dish featuring veggies and protein wrapped in rice paper.

What You Need 

  • 1 lb. cooked, cooled shrimp or tofu
  • 1 lb. cooked rice vermicelli
  • 3 cups washed, chopped romaine
  • ½ cup washed, chopped mint leaves
  • 1 cup washed bean sprouts
  • 1 package rice paper

What You Do

  1. Peel the shrimp, slice lengthwise into two halves and remove the veins. Or cut the tofu into rectangles. Wash the lettuce and mint and coarsely chop both.
  2. Prepare a large bowl of warm water. Dip a sheet of rice paper into the water, removing it immediately after submerging. Shake off any excess water and place on a flat surface.
  3. Place the shrimp (skin side down) or tofu in the middle of the rice paper. Top with lettuce, sprouts, mint and vermicelli.
  4. Carefully roll the rice paper once or twice until you reach the center.
  5. Fold the sides of the rice paper into the center, then continue to roll until you form a log.
  6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 for each roll.

What Else to Do

Have fun experimenting with ingredients like fresh fruit, seasonal veggies or sliced turkey and mashed potatoes. If traditional spring rolls don’t do it for you, try rice paper as a great base for creative wraps.

Pat and Sara Lee are the husband and wife team behind Austin’s PhoNatic restaurants. Photo by Courtney Pierce.

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