Chirba Chirba Dumpling Truck

Chirba Chirba Dumpling Truck

The Chirba Chirba Dumpling Truck just pulled up outside my office, and I couldn’t resist the charm of its mascot. Painted on the side of the yellow truck, the smiling, plump, cartoon dumpling seemed to say “please eat me… I am so scrumptious and cheerful.”

Chirba Chirba’s menu is short and sweet, featuring three types of dumplings – two meaty, and one vegan. Called “Veggie-lings,” the vegan dumplings are moist and savory, containing seasoned mixed vegetables, mushrooms, and soy sheet. A pineapple salsa tops off the dumplings, adding a sweet complementary flavor.  The truck also offers a vegan side item, máo dòu, which is your typical salty edamame appetizer. Several complimentary self-serve sauces allow you to customize your meal.


Veggie-lings: Vegan Dumplings


Chela Tu, co-owner of Chirba Chirba

Chela Tu, co-owner of Chirba Chirba Dumpling Truck

I spoke to Chela Tu, one of the truck’s four co-founders, about the beginnings of Chirba Chirba. She said the truck was the brainchild of her group of friends, all of whom have strong ties to China and a love of dumplings. They chose the name “Chirba Chirba” because it means “Eat, eat!” in Mandarin Chinese, sort of like the expression “Mangia, mangia!” in Italian. The truck is only about ten weeks old, and the Durham-based group is still getting the hang of things in the food truck world, but already has plans to expand the menu. The next addition will be a gluten-free dumpling option, Tu says.

You can find out where the Chirba Chirba Dumpling Truck will be parked next by going to the website, or following @ChirbaChirba on Twitter.

Black Bean Chili, Quinoa, Kale, and Squash Fritters

My Garden Grows Squash Fritters with Creamy Dill Sauce

Community Garden

The community garden outside my office. My department's plot is in the back center.

Fritter Veggies

Fritter Veggies


Well, not literally… but I did just harvest my first squash from the new community garden at work. The facilities team built a fenced-in garden with one above-ground plot for each department. It’s a wonderful job perk, and one that really helps me out, since I have an apartment with no ground space to grow veggies and very little sun on my porch. So far, I am growing yellow squash, green and red bell peppers, tomatoes, banana peppers, basil, mint, parsley, okra, and chives. This is my very first garden! :-)

In honor of my squash harvest, I decided to make a meal around squash fritters. I found a squash fritter recipe at This Primal Life that I heavily modified to make the patties more colorful and crunchy.

Squash Fritters with Creamy Dill Sauce

Fritter Ingredients

  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 cup diced green onions
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 fresh ear of corn kernels
  • 1 tsp Lowry’s seasoned salt (or regular salt)
  • 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed mixed with 1 tbsp. water (as egg replacer)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. parsley, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp. chives, chopped fine
  • dash chili powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • dash pepper
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil for frying

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
  • 1/4 cup Vegenaise
  • 1 tbsp. dill
  • splash apple cider vinegar


Combine sauce ingredients in a small dish and mix well. Refrigerate until fritters are ready.

Wash the squash and zucchini, chop off the ends of each, and grate through a cheese grater. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and let sit for 10 minutes. If you have a cheesecloth, drain the grated squash through it, otherwise, do like I did and squeeze the squash with your hands to drain it. There was quite a bit of water, and you want to get out as much as you can. You can use a clean washcloth or napkin to press more water out. Next, heat the coconut oil in a frying pan on medium to medium-high heat. As the oil is heating, combine the grated squash in a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients (green onions, bell pepper, corn, flaxseed mixture, garlic, parsley, chives, chili powder, flour, and pepper). Mix thoroughly with a spoon. Once the oil is hot, use your hands to make patties about three inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Place the fritters one at a time on the end of a spatula or slotted spoon and carefully drop into the oil. My fritters took about 3 or 4 minutes to brown nicely on the bottom. Once they are browned, turn them over with the spatula and fry another 2 or 3 minutes. Drain on a clean kitchen towel. Drizzle with dill sauce when ready to eat.

To accompany my fritters, I made quinoa, steamed kale, and black bean chili from a PCRM database recipe. The meal was outstanding if I do say so myself. I’m looking forward to more yummy squash meals from my garden.

Fritters Fritterin'

Fritters Fritterin'

Black Bean Chili, Quinoa, Kale, and Squash Fritters

Black Bean Chili, Quinoa, Kale, and Squash Fritters


The Protein Question



I’ve been asked questions about protein for a long, long time, and I’d like to take this blog post to ruminate on the topic. Everyone knows that lean meat has high amounts of protein, but a lot of people have the misconception that eating meat and dairy is the only way to get an adequate amount. Let me clear that up right now – it’s total hogwash!

First, we need to find out how much protein is recommended per day. The CDC has a handy little table on their website, which states that women ages 19 – 70+ need 46 grams of protein every day. So this chart doesn’t take into account factors like weight, lifestyle, and BMI. The Institute of Medicine designates that “adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day.” So, if I am 125 pounds, that works out to about 45 grams of protein per day for me.  Well, I’ve heard from other reputable sources that you should eat half your body weight in protein (in grams of course!), meaning I would need 62.5 g of protein a day. I don’t pay close attention to my protein intake, because I don’t often feel like I am lacking protein. But just to see how much I’m getting on any given day, I decided to write down everything I ate yesterday and calculate the calories and protein amount. Here it is:

What I Ate: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

FoodCaloriesProtein (g)
Oat Bran aka Breakfast #1:
1/4 Cup Hodgson Mill Oat Bran Hot Cereal1206
1/4 Cup Apple Juice Sweetened Raisins910.7
Smoothie aka Breakfast #2:
1 Banana1051
1 Tbsp. MLO Brown Rice Protein Powder557.5
1/2 Cup Silk Vanilla Soymilk503
1 Cup Tropical Mixed Fruit701
Meditterranean Chickpea Wrap:
1 La Tortilla Whole Grain Soft Wrap1008
4 oz. chickpeas863.6
1 oz. sundried tomatoes34.81.9
1/2 cup roasted pepper, onion, and potato mixture 500.8
Spinach Salad:
1 Cup Baby Spinach7.51
1/2 Slicing Tomato16.50.8
1 Sweet Red Pepper130.6
1 Tbsp. Brianna's Ginger Mandarin Dressing750
1 Gala apple750.2
1 oz. Sunflower Seeds, raw, hulled1606
2 pieces Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate Espresso Bar37.40.7
2 Cups Made from Scratch Red Beans and Rice72710.6
4 Tbsp. Tofutti Sour Cream1702
27 Ruffle's Natural Sea Salt Ridges Chips2504

Making this food journal is eye-opening for me in a couple ways. First, wow, I eat a lot! I eat all day long. It’s basically six meals that I eat, and that’s not counting nights when I have dessert. But whatevs, I’m always hungry, and it seems to work for me. I exercise too, so that burns some of those calories off. Second, I am impressed by the amount of protein in whole grains. The brown rice, oat bran, and whole grain wrap I ate yesterday account for 19 grams of protein, not including the brown rice powder I put in my smoothie. So if I go by the CDC’s standards, I’m actually eating too much protein, which I sort of thought all along, and I really just want to show people that I am not protein-deficient.

If you want more vegetarian ideas for protein, check out this blog post from trainer (and vegan celebrity) Bob Harper of Biggest Loser fame. I think he got tired of fielding protein questions, too!

MY Protein Choices!

Posted: November 15th, 2010  Author: Bob Harper

A lot of you have been asking me about plant-based protein.. So let me give you a breakdown of all my protein choices:

1. ALL kinds of beans (black, kidney, great northern, chick peas, black eyed peas, green peas, lentils, pinto beans, lima beans)
2. Tempeh
3. Seitan
4. Tofu
5. Veggie burger
6. Quinoa
7. Oatmeal
8. Brown rice
9. Whole wheat bread
10. Nuts
11. Peanut butter
12. Soy milk
13. Hemp Protein
14. Green Pea Protein
15. Brown Rice Protein
16. Vegan Protein Powder
17. Chlorella
18. Plenty of rich green leafy vegetables

So, what do you guys think? If you are veg, do you get this question like every day? And if you’re not veg, are you surprised how much protein there is in whole grains and veggies? Am I eating too much protein? Am I eating too much in general?? I welcome any and all criticism and/or advice!

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