Peanut Cabbage Roll Ups

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Thank you for such a wonderful and warm response to Heather’s Green Recovery story! I thought it was so enthusiastic and inspiring. I’m also glad that it prompted so many thoughtful comments on how important it is to be careful when commenting upon another person’s appearance. I personally try to comment on appearances as little as possible; if a friend seems particularly radiant or well, I’m far more likely to exclaim “you seem so energetic and positive!” than say “you look great!” Some might find this aversion to physical commentary a little extreme, but I’ve experienced firsthand how discomfiting aesthetic criticisms and compliments can be, and I file it under the category of doing unto others as I would have them do to me.

Here, as a community, we’ve all applauded each other’s recovery efforts and triumphs. But let’s also remember that we can contribute to a cultural dialog that is less likely to instigate and fuel eating disorders by avoiding “fat talk,” physical commentary, offhand remarks about weight loss, and judgments of how much other people eat.

Weeks ago, before returning home for my winter break, I mentioned that I’d be without a food processor or high speed blender. As terrifying as life without a Cuisinart may have seemed at the time, I can’t say it’s been too much of a problem. I’ve been eating out a lot, first of all. Second, I don’t give myself enough credit for creativity: I did, after all, “go raw” with only a decade old processor and a few sharp knives. I’m good at making simple soups, salads, and slaws the cornerstone of my diet. I always have been. These foods satisfy me profoundly, and they’re simple to make.

This recipe is a perfect example of the sort of raw food dish that anyone can make. It does not matter how big your kitchen is, or how much experience you have with raw: this recipe is as siple as shredded cabbage and whisking together a dressing. I personally like to marinade the collard leaves for this recipe, as I think it softens them nicely, but you could also flash steam them or leave them as they are.

If you do choose to marinade the collard leaves, you’ll want to do it about 3-4 hours (or more) before you make this dish. The marinade itself should be about 2 teaspoons olive oil, the juice of a large lemon, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Before I get a collective freakout for the oil, let me ‘splain: the leaves won’t remain covered in marinade! You’ll be wiping them off before serving. The idea is simply to soften them and to give them just a tiny bit of flavor. Again, you can skip this step if you want. I think the marinade enriches this recipe, but you could of course do as I do in my raw collard wraps, and leave them plain.

So: mix together 2 tsps olive oil with the juice of 1 lemon and a sprinkle of sea salt. Pour marinade on a plate. Cover with about 3-4 collard leaves (washed and dried), and flip the leaves around to coat them all. Leave on the marinade plate for about 3-4 hours.


When it comes time to make your wraps, lay a paper towel on your prep surface. Place a marinated leaf over it, and mop up excess marinade with a second paper towel.

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And now, you’re ready to roll. Literally.

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Peanut Cabbage Roll Ups (high raw, vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Serves 1-2

3 large collard leaves, marinated and removed of excess marinade (per above)
1 1/4 cup white cabbage, shredded
1 1/4 cup red cabbage, shredded
Generous handful cilantro, chopped
3-4 tbsp quick and easy peanut sauce

1) Cut each collard leaf in half

2) Mix the cabbages, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl with about 3-4 tbsp of the peanut sauce. You can vary how much you use depending on how “saucy” you want the filling to be (he he).

4) Layer about 1/3 cup filling on one end of a half leaf. Roll the leaf up with the filling inside; you don’t have to bother with the normal collard wrap process. The point of this recipe is ease!

5) Serve with a nutrient dense salad, a side of steamed vegetables and beans, or a whole grain!

Who knew that raw, vegan food could be so quick, so simple, and so tasty?!

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Hope you guys try this recipe! It would also make for a very easy high-raw, vegan appetizer or party food.

Today is the week anniversary of 2012’s arrival. Doesn’t time fly? This year, I shared some cautionary thoughts about unrealistic dietary resolutions. In your comments, many of you pointed out that, while crash diets are no good, there are certain kinds of resolutions and commitments that can feel really inspiring at this time of year. In keeping with that sentiment, I’d like to share three approaches to resolutions and greeting a new year that really impressed me this week.

1) The Year I Stopped Chasing Skinny, by the sassy, sexy, and stupendous JL of JL Goes Vegan.

In this brave post, JL opens up about how 2011 was the year in which she stopped dieting, accepted a weight at which her body is comfortable and healthy, and learned to fall in love with her most authentic shape. Many of my readers have expressed to me that they have spent years and years pursuing a weight that is just below what their body can maintain naturally and effortlessly. If it seems to you that the weight your body seems to maintain on its own is always five or ten pounds more than the weight you want, and if you’ve been dieting, restricting, or over-exercising as a result, I urge you to please read JL’s words.

We’re all socialized to think “thinner is better”: this year, accept that all of us have a spectrum of healthy weights, and that the lowest number is not always the healthiest or most honest.

2) 10 Questions Animal Activists Should Ask Themselves, by Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House

An essential post for early 2012. Jasmin, one of the two energetic and innovative co-founders of Our Hen House, encourages all activists to question whether or not they’re doing everything possible to help animals this year (and in general). What I’ve learned from Jasmin and Mariann is that we all have the power to be activists, so I believe this post is relevant to everyone who cares about animal rights (or another important personal cause). Aside from the big, leading question—Am I effectively doing what I can in my life to change the world for animals?—Jasmin also asks more subtle and thought-provoking questions, like “Do I have a safe space around me — through my romantic relationship or my social circles, or even online — in which to express my fears and desires as they pertain to my animal activism?”

3) Resolutions (and Chocolate Rice Pudding) by Alyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan

The brilliance of this characteristically aesthetic and articulate post (Alyson, if you don’t know her already, is a fabulous vegan chef) is its effortless avoidance of superficiality. Rather than launching into a laundry list of ways in which she intends to shed pounds or tone up, Alyson avows basic self-acceptance, and then lists a few ways in which she hopes to enrich, but not improve, herself. She intends to learn French, do more art, work on a second book, and tune out naysaying about her lifestyle in 2012. I can’t think of better and more well rounded intentions.

I hope that we can all take inspiration from these fabulous ladies’ and their hopes for the new year. And of course, I’d love to hear how you intend to deepen your activism in 2012, and enrich your life?


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  4. i love simple food, it is my comfort for sure! i was scared to eat raw collards for a really long time. i thought for sure my stomach would kill me but it didn’t! i wouldn’t go eat a ton of raw collard leaves but i can handle 2 🙂

  5. Thanks for the ever-welcome reminder about how comments and judgements on appearance and eating habits affect both those commenting and those on the receiving end. For me, I think it’s especially important to remember how those judgements affect me as the person doing the judging!

  6. Yum – those wraps looks so tasty! And they come at just the right time for me, as I’m easing back into eating with raw foods this weekend after a weekend juice cleanse.

    I also really like the articles that you referenced. They are all well written and honest in ways that I can only hope to strive for this year. My intention for this year is to do a lot more volunteer work with a local animal rights organization, but more than that, I am mostly just striving to be more compassionate in my everyday life, whether it be to animals or people (and to be honest I find it a lot tougher to be compassionate towards people most of the time).

  7. Interesting thoughts concerning commenting on someone else’s appearance. I have this weird aversion to people noticing that I’ve lost weight. Is that weird? It seems that a lot of people think I should welcome (revel in?) the observation that I’ve lost weight. But it just makes me feel uncomfortable and scrutinized.

    Minefield indeed!

  8. Wraps can be so satisfying! They’re my favorite thing to order at common bar-like restaurants because everyone has hummus and avocado on hand to add in.

    I adore JL’s blog and that post really resonated with me, as I’m sure it did for so many other women. Once we accept ourselves, we can move forward and channel our efforts into more important things – like activism!

    Being in school and holding down two jobs, I often feel guilty because I don’t do nearly as much as I should for animal activism. For now, I’m trying to focus on the little things that matter. For instance at Wildflour vegan bakery, the owner’s golden lab (Henry!) is always outside. I make sure to pet him for a minute or so and talk to him. Maybe someone will walk by and think twice about being more compassionate to animals.

  9. Gena, the roll-ups look so fresh, crunchy and delicious. I find that I eat higher raw

    Thank you so much for your kind words about my new year’s post. It’s been a journey and you’ve really helped me along the way. I am inspired by Jasmin and Alyson and am humbled to be in their the winter and this is a must-make this week

    I thought Heather’s story was powerful. Just yesterday I was in Philadelphia talking to high school students about harassment and bias crimes and the power of words. Heather reminds me that this spans every aspect of our life. Talk about taking control of her own power, though! Wow. I continue to be inspired by your Green Recovery series.

  10. Hi Gena,
    I have been inspired by your previous posts on collard wraps to make my own today… then i saw your recent post and it was another fabulous collard wrap recipe – coincidence!
    I had to be a bit creative and use large chard leaves instead because I live in Australia and we don’t have collard leaves here. The wraps were not as strong as yours because of the different leaves but they still worked and turned out really delicious.
    Have a look at my blog post today to see my wraps… I credited you at the beginning 🙂
    Love what you’re doing!

  11. Incredible recipe, Gena! I thought of you today, because Lisa and I spent the day together (and get to spend tomorrow together too, yay!! Love that woman). We had an incredible raw falafel salad that blew my mind, and has reaffirmed my desire to eat more raw when I go home. Without a dehydrator, this recipe will surely help. 🙂

    I’ve yet to read Heather’s post, but I definitely will when I have the time to really concentrate (i.e. not on holiday 😛 ). However, from what you’ve said here, I completely agree. I pretty much never comment on my friend’s appearances, and struggle a bit with what to do with friends who’ve lost weight, as I’m absolutely terrified of the secret, sly effects, that I know too well from experience. I often say “You look happy” or “It’s lovely to see you glowing”, but even then I worry, and also feel guilty if I don’t say anything. It’s a minefield sometimes!

    • Minefield indeed. One of my readers pointed out that positive feedback on appearance can be very helpful and supportive in maintaining recovery, so it’s often hard to know how to handle these scenarios, because what’s vital to one person may be triggering to another.

      Lisa is without a doubt one of the more extraordinary people I know. Please smother her in hugs for me.

      • Oh, absolutely. I remember, for me, people saying that I looked terrible or too skinny was actually a helpful thing, and helped jolt me into realising what was going on, whereas for many people that can be taken as a secret congratulations. Ack! 😛

        Oh, I shall certainly smother her in hugs for you. And ask her to do the same to you for me when she next sees you 🙂

  12. First of all, re restraining from physical commentary: hear, hear! Such a double-edged sword, complimentary or not. JL’s post also resonated with me: that is the direction I’ve been trying to go (plus I’ve been needing more medication for my hypothyroidism and haven’t been exercising as much as I used to as well!). Acceptance and enjoyment are the keywords I hope to pursue, and with that in mind I didn’t make any resolutions at all; instead, I want to enjoy life as it is, and accept myself as I am. Thanks for the useful post.

  13. Great links, already read two and felt similarly that they were stellar.

    I have wanted to know how to marinate collard leaves after having one at a restaurant and my dad telling me he’d prefer a collard wrap marinated than raw (like I’d served, he preferred the restaurant one). So now I know! Thanks.

    I’ll be doing this but perhaps with cultured cabbage instead, for some reason plain raw unfermented cabbage cuts my insides up.

  14. Great posts, all three! I love reading JL’s views on “chasing skinny,” too. Such a wise, level-headed approach. And collard wraps don’t hurt, either. 😉

  15. The roll-ups look like a wonderful, portable lunch food. And I will gobble up anything having to do with peanut butter so they’re right up my alley.

    My health goals for the year all have to do with with how my food makes me FEEL. I’m not interested in quibbling over a few pounds as long as I feel good and have the energy I need to take care of all the other things I have planned for 2012!

    • I love the way you’ve expressed your goals like that, Hannah! It is the same conclusion I came to when I started to think about my intentions for this year, but much better worded! Thank you!

      And thank you, Gena, for another wonderful recipe – you make the world a brighter place 🙂

  16. What a great post, chock full of links to the other sites and love your reminder and message that it doesnt have to be daunting, hard, expensive, or unreachable to the average person to do raw/vegan food. You don’t have to have tons of equipment or spend days dehydrating this or that and steps and stages…you can just make food. And then eat it. And it will be wonderful 🙂

    These look yummy and great job on rolling them. Collard leaves can be such tricky little buggers to deal with sometimes!

  17. I recently tried a similar trick with collard leaves (I had a bunch that were just really really chewy and a bit greener than they can be in summer) and it is delightful. Love the recipe. And the links are super inspiring. Thank you 🙂

  18. Those wraps look great! Simple food really can be amazing. It is times when we have little that we learn how much raw food is just so flavourful and amazing all on its own! I also LOVED JL’s post. I wish all of us could pursue health instead of size. Strive to live longer and better not smaller! Thanks for the reminder.