Sesame Almond Brown Rice Balls Recipe

Perfectly portable sesame almond brown rice balls. I packed these for a road trip from SF to Portland last week. They're flecked with green onion, and you can tuck edible surprises (i.e. avocado) in the centers if you like.

Sesame Almond Brown Rice Balls

The last time I was stranded on the side of a road was in Sri Lanka. The sun was intent on breaking us, the location remote. I can tell you this, a shredded tire on the side of an Oregon highway, storm or no storm, is preferable than one outside a game park near Wellawaya. Remedying that situation involved hitching rides in unfamiliar minivans. Then a visit to a Sri Lankan safari don's living room where we commissioned a ride south (you can imagine who had the upper hand in that negotiation). This one? A phone call, a flat bed truck, and a short stint in the waiting room of the repair shop. I'm home now, and aside from a couple hurdles (wind, rain, snow, icy roads, flat tires) driving along the coast from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon is beautiful. Although...I might make it a summer trip the next time around.

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I'm realizing that a good number of the shots I took over the past week were from where I was sitting IN the car. The wind was blowing so hard at some points that it was hard to open the door.

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As far as provisions go...aside from the cake, I packed the car with all sorts of things to make into snacks (or meals) in a pinch. With a bit of soy sauce and some tofu we grilled on the balcony of the hotel, these brown rice balls worked out nicely as a quick dinner one night. I should clarify the hotel was more like a condo with a sizable balcony and I'm guessing not all properties allow this.You can tuck little cubes of avocado,or whatever else, into the centers to make them as substantial as you like.

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You can make the rice balls as large or small. I like them on the small side - more golf ball than baseball. As long as you use the right kind of rice, shaping them just takes a bit of patience and practice. I line a tiny, steep-sided bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap, fill the bowl, twist, shape, peel. The cup I use is about 1/2 cup capacity, and I fill it 2/3 full. You want to use short grain brown rice - I use short grain brown Japanese rice, sometimes labeled sushi rice. Long grain rice doesn't work as well. Arborio rice works well too, but I never see that sold as whole grain. Have a look at the photo (up above) so you can see the size of the rice grains in my hand.

Brown Rice BallsBrown Rice BallsBrown Rice Balls

I seasoned this batch of rice balls with sesame seeds and green onions, studded them with chopped almond slices. As you can imagine, you can go in a million different directions here. They are super portable - picnic, cubicle, car, plane, school lunch - as long as you have a structured container, they should survive intact. I put mine in a parchment lined cake pan.

Brown Rice BallsBrown Rice BallsBrown Rice Balls

Before I sign off I wanted to thank all of you who sent such nice notes about the James Beard nomination of Super Natural Every Day (here's a PDF of the nominees). They made my day. It's a fantastic feeling to be nominated, even better to know so many of you are excited as well. I keep saying it, the support and enthusiasm you've directed toward my book over the past year continues to blow me away. And it certainly keeps me thinking about how I can raise the bar the next time around. xoxo -h

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Sesame Almond Brown Rice Balls

Because brown rice has all the stuff that can go rancid still intact - bran/germ, if you can find organic rice labeled "new crop", go with that. And, in case you want to make a larger pot of rice, use ~1 1/2 cups / 360 ml water for each cup of rice - perhaps a splash more.

2 cups / 14 oz / 400 g brown sushi rice (stubby, short grains)
3 cups / 710 ml water
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1/4 cup / 1.5 oz / 45 g sesame seeds (white/black mix)
3 tablespoons toasted almond slices/slivers, chopped
1/4 cup / 4 tablespoons minced green onions

Optional: things to tuck in the middle: avocado cubes (toss in lemon juice first), tofu, etc.

In a colander or fine-mesh strainer, rinse the rice briefly and drain. If you have time to soak the rice for an hour or two, do it. If not, just proceed. Bring the rice to a boil over medium-high heat in your thickest-bottomed pot. Dial the heat back so the water is just simmering actively - low-med. Cover with tight fitting lid, and try not to peek too often.

Cook the rice until the water has been absorbed and the grains are cooked through, usually about an hour, less if you've soaked the rice.If the grains have cooked but there's still water to be absorbed, dial the heat up to medium-high until the pan dries out, being careful not to scorch the rice at the bottom. Remove the rice from heat and let rest, covered, for at least 15 minutes, preferably a bit longer. Fluff with a fork, then gradually add and incorporate the sesame seeds, almonds, and green onions. At this point, taste, and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt if needed. I let the rice cool quite a bit before shaping.

To form the rice balls, line a small cup with plastic wrap, sprinkle the plastic wrap with a dab of water, then fill the cup 2/3 full with rice mixture. No need to pack it down. You can tuck something in the center at this point if you like. Gather the plastic wrap like you would a ponytail, and twist at the base of the rice. Make sure there is no air trapped, and use your opposite palm to shape into a ball (see photo up above). Carefully remove plastic wrap and set the rice ball in a parchment lined container or on a plate. Repeat with the remaining rice.

A couple tips: If your fingers get sticky, dab with water. And if you run out of steam making rice balls, just cook up a couple eggs into a thin omelette, cut into shreds, and toss with the rice - makes for one of my favorite quick lunches.

Makes about 2 dozen small rice balls.

Prep time: 20 minutes - Cook time: 60 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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I love the recent travel friendly recipes! Thanks for the great ideas and commitment to eating well even on the move!


I liked the flavor but mine wouldn’t hold shape. I’ve tried them twice but no luck. What went wrong? I’d love to take this as a snack for picnic if it held together.


Congratulations on the nomination! much deserved – maybe one day something I can hope to emulate!
Love this recipe as I really like rice but get bored with it very quickly and it’s always good to find new ways of using it. I can really see these rice balls working in so many ways – as a snack, really small ones as canapes or as a side on a main dish! It’s good to know that they stay in one piece without having to deep fry them.
Looking forward to your next recipe as always!

Adam Levy

This is great, really good for lunch box. It is so convenience to eat. I like the idea to add omelet shreds. 🙂

love cooking

I just made these to take for a picnic at the beach last night. They were really yummy although I made them too big and they fell apart before reaching my month. I was tempted to rescue them from the sand but decided against it.
I have been following your website for a while and its my absolute favourite.
My mom just bought me Super Natural Everyday and sent it to me here in Curacao. I have made almost half of the recipes already! So amazing. Even my husband loves it. (Meat and potatoes type) I am going to give both your books as a wedding present this September to a good friend. She is from Toronto and is getting married in Napa. Kind of fitting.
How do you ever read all these comments? Thanks again.

HS: Thanks Hollie! I’d love to be snacking on rice balls in Curacao! It has been mostly rainy here the past week.


Looks good!!!!


Congratulations on your nomination. I love your cookbook! Love it love it love it. And I can’t wait to try that chocolate bundt cake.


These were delicious, but I had a lot of difficulty getting the balls to stay together. I used the pressure cooker for the rice instead of cooking it on the stovetop. But the rice seemed plenty sticky. We ended up eating it as a rice bowl, topped with avocado and some spinach sauteed in chili sesame oil–which was delicious nonetheless! Any suggestions on getting it to stick together better? Thanks!


سايت خوبي داريد


Congrats on the nomination! Love this idea. Not much of a cook but love your blog and enjoy looking at your pictures.


Heidi…you’ve done it this time.
I get the notion about once a year to Make arancini, baked, and I never get them to work quite right so the rice sticks around the cheese. I don’t know why I never thought to use this same technique to make a nice tight rice shell. Brilliant.
I like this sushi-esque twist, too, but this method will be at work in my kitchen with a heavy Italian accent. 😉


These do look like yummy snacks – perfect for a picnic, lunchbox, or???? They remind me of Italian Arancini – but healthy.


It’s a beautiful twist to Japanese classic comfort food! I can’t go on a road trip without them: ) Your beautiful photographs always lift my soul. Thank you for all your hard work!


Heidi, congrats on the nomination! I just love your book (I asked my brother to buy it when he was in the States and I’ve been cooking lots of your recipes). About the brown rice ball, do you think it would be ok to change it for cooked millet (or even quinoa)? I can’t find brown rice here in Buenos Aires. All the best!


I think you have a winner on the hands with the recipe book


I made these the day before serving them, put them into a closed-lid container and they dried out. 🙁 How would you prevent them from drying out?

cucee sprouts

There’s a large container of sesame seeds in my pantry which say, “use me” every time I open the door. I think somehow they’ve crawled into the computer to scream a little louder.

Mikaela Cowles

These look fantastic! Such a clever idea. I’m definitely going to keep this in mind for both travel and bringing to gatherings.


These are rally good. I made them, and they are delicious dipped in soy sauce. I followed the recipe exactly, and put tofu in the middle. Great recipe.


oh my!! I recently purchased sweet brown rice to recreate some of my childhood dishes my mom used to make. This looks PERFECT!!


I will be making these soon!

full-flavored Life

i have tried and failed at rice balls so many times, i’ve lost count. the cup trick, though, is new to me. thanks for the blow-by-blow. try, try again…


Even though that Sri Lankan adventure may have been unnerving, it makes for a good story. These rice balls are exactly the sort of thing I’d love to snack on in the afternoon.

Cookin' Canuck

Brilliant. Invariably every week I have leftover brown rice, home pickled carrots and cucumbers, and avocado at hand.
I’ve been wondering what happened with the London trip. I’ve been wanting to read about our finds there. Do you plan to share?

HS: I do! I’m nearly done with my London map. Sorry it took so long.


I imagine eating these with chopsticks and dipping and wasabi and soy sauce! Thanks for the recipe!


What a perfect recipe as picnic season approaches. I love how versatile it is!

Abby @ Fig & Fork

What a perfect recipe as picnic season approaches. I love how versatile it is!

Abby @ Fig & Fork

Woo Hoo! These look like something I can do!
I am a Peace Corps volunteer serving in a rural, Mayan village of Belize. While I most of the time can’t control my diet because of the culture and what is available (I have been eating a lot of corns, beans, and unfortunately lard), I look forward to receiving the e-mails of your recipes in the hopes of a healthier lifestyle again. It just so happens that I can get some fresh brown rice in the rice mill the next village over, except that it is long grain. Any tips on how to get it as sticky as the sushi/short grain rice?
Even though I was out-of-country, I sent your cookbooks to special ladies as presents. And for my birthday someone sent me a “digital cookbook” of all the PDF files of your online recipes so I could try my hand at them in my little thatch house. My villagers really like the shortbread (except I have to get creative or compromising with most of the ingredients).
Anyway, thanks again.


I made these today. I put avocado in them and boy, oh boy, they are really good! I used pistachios instead of almonds. Thank you so much for this and all your other yummy recipes.


Well done on the nomination!!
Loving the look of these rice balls!

Anna @ the shady pine

Hello Heidi,
You are such an inspiration in my life, thankyou.
Just returned from the market with ingredients in hand. Perfect to take to university for lunch tomorrow.
Thanks for making food so enjoyable.
Eli. Auckland, NZ.

Eli Christy-Munro

Could these be any simpler, more delicious looking, or fabulously healthy? Absolutely wonderful looking food 🙂 Loving your blog as a new reader, btw – simply wonderful!


An even easier way to form the balls is to fill a little bowl with vinegar and water. Wet your hands with this before forming each ball in the palm of your hand. This is the way a Japanese cook taught me.


these look so refreshing and inviting – I will try with a squeeze of lemon juice over them, many thanks for the idea!

Ozlem's Turkish Table

So yummy and healthy of course! loved it!


I just wanted to say congratulations on the Beard nom. I look forward to that list every year, and was so excited for you when I saw your name up there! It’s well deserved. Thanks again for all that share with us! Your book and your site are both near and dear to my heart.

Linda NYC

As usual your photographs transport to another place. Thanks for sharing these bits of beauty. Might you also be willing to share the source of your cake pan in the picture? The size looks just right for all kinds of things in the kitchen. Looking forward to making the rice ball recipe. Best wishes!


Heidi, I figured this could be your preview of your mention in NY Magazine, since I couldn’t figure out how to get you photos so go to my Flickr page. I mean you were called “blogger nonpareil” and I just grinned and grinned when I saw that.
I would send you an issue but…um…ahhh…well just enlarge this. For those who don’t know, it means Heidi has no equal!
We knew that!!!

HS: Thanks so much Susann!


I love reading about your adventures. I am looking forward to linking some of your recipes with the vegetables that I will be selling at the farmer’s market this summer and also writing about on our farm blog. Thanks for using a variety of vegetables in your recipes.


Heidi: I discovered you online, and have been fixing some of your recipes here and there, but this week got your cookbook. OMG! I read it through in an evening, sticking post-it’s on things I wanted to try RIGHT AWAY. So, in our house, it’s been a Heidi week! I made the rice casserole, cauliflower and tempeh, the oatcakes and tonight was the biscuits with yogurt. (YUM) So far, we’ve loved it all! Tomorrow is the eggplant with miso. I just can’t stop, you cook like me – and I feel completely empowered to shift things around a tich.
So thanks. For great photos, great food, great ideas! You really have inspired me.


Hi Heidi!
I’m a big fan. You make good-for-you food look and taste so GOOD!
I thought you’d want to know, round rice balls are usually served after funerals in Japanese-Hawaiian culture (not sure if this is so in Japan, where serving someone a rounded scoop of rice is seen as an insult for the same reason–this is an offering for the dead). You might want to do the regular triangular onigiri. Maybe you’ll have better car luck with pointy rice balls? Just a thought.
Thank you for all of your food inspiration!


I love reading about your adventures. I am looking forward to linking some of your recipes with the vegetables that I will be selling at the farmer’s market this summer and also writing about on our farm blog. Thanks for using a variety of vegetables in your recipes.


Just made a version of these using your recipe and adding a splash of rice vinegar and a few drops of toasted sesame oil (this made shaping & unwrapping very easy). I put a piece of avocado or a dollop of umeboshi paste in the middle (or both). Sprinkled some gomasio & black sesame seeds on top after unwrapping. Tasty and so pretty! Are you ever coming to Santa Barbara, Heidi? Thanks always for your wonderful posts, photos, and the care with which you present your recipes.


I have to tell you, I would freak the *bleep* out if I was stranded on the side of the road in Sri Lanka. Like loooose my mind. Glad you guys got back okay. Great shots. Cool recipe too. I love the avocado inside. Do you think you could deep fry something like this?

Oana from dishchronicles

wonderfull place!! very good stuff! for sure I will visit again!!
greatings from Portugal
João Silva

João Silva

Yum on the riceballs.


Thanks for sharing so many great ideas for taking a vegetarian lifestyle on the road. Posts like this one are extremely valuable to those of us trying to make healthier, but still convenient and delicious choices.
…and congratulations on the nomination!

Anne Marie

I’ve been incorporated brown rice and Japanese Adzuki beans into our meals, and these brown rice balls look delicious. I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.


Congratulations on the nomination! I made the Gougeres on Sunday for Mother’s Day (earlier in Europe) and they went down an absolute BOMB! Possibly best thing ever made.
Anyway, just on the whole James Beard thing – does anyone else get sick of vegetarian & whole food always being marketed as ‘healthy’? I just think Super Natural is the most fabulous cookbook because every recipe is reliable and tasty and almost always gets me to think of ingredients in new and creative ways. I eat food because it’s wonderful and a joy to share with those you love (or just by yourself) not out of some antiseptic desire to be healthy.


These look perfect for any time of day, be it breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack or dinner! And they totally seem to suit my cravings as of late. Can’t wait to try them out.
And congratulations on the nomination. Well deserved!


I just love sesame… I put it everywhere, especially toasted!! I also love avocado, this is really a recipe for me! Thanks!!
The Life After

The life after

These look amazing, I should definatelly give it a try! Thank you!


Wow – what a great looking snack. Can’t wait to try it! And by the way, I finally tried your Raw Tuscan Kale Salad and have been eating it for two weeks straight. Can’t get enough… thank you!


The rice balls will be tried soonest, that fabulous last photo of misty road amidst the trees kept to look at for the longest time!


They look very delicious! Can’t wait to make them. Thanks for sharing.


Can I travel with you please? You always make the best plane/travel food! Next time I need to organize myself a bit better and try this out. Congrats on your nomination!! Truly well deserved.

Mei-I @ gastronomic nomad

Congrats on the nomination – you deserve it!
These rice balls look delicious. Seems like a fun way to make quick sushi bites without all of the rolling – I’ll try them this weekend with chopped nori, avocado, and a little dollop of sriracha mayo…Thank you, as always, for your inspiring way…


Thanks Heidi – I think my sons will love these for their school lunch!


Heidi, your road food is always so inspiring. On a recent trip to Hawaii, I packed your wintry summer rolls for the plane and was thrilled to munch on something so clean and refreshing! Congrats on the well-deserved James Beard nomination and thanks for your great work. xo


What I really want to do is congratulate you not only on your well deserved nomination but…BUT…for having a spinach recipe from your new book featured in New York Magazine this week. That is prestige! as well.
Thank you for all that you do.
On a more serious note, yowzah Heidi!
Your rice balls looks wonderful. Will make this next week when I am staying at someone’s place for the week. I am a visiting nurse for animals and I do sleep over a lot so it is a great time to try new recipes since distractions are few when you are not home. Will experiment some plus I found a recipe for homemade tempeh that is easier than I would have thought.

HS: Was it in print Susann? I’ll have to track down a copy. Would love to see it.


Never thought about making my onigiri this way. It sounds good. This’ll be in my kid’s lunch box tomorrow. Congrats on your nomination!


If you can be bothered to soak the rice overnight, it only takes 20 minutes from the boil to cook the next day. If you soak the rice and then decide not to make the balls the next day, you can freeze it uncooked and use it another day. Freezing makes it cook even faster when you do decide to cook it.


I’m going to try these with arboreo rice which I can find easily around here. They look incredibly yummy.
Congrats on your nomination.


Those look amazing…What a great idea!

Sarah @ Fresh Living

First…CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING NOMINATED!!! Second, this is a super recipe. Salad time? Tuck in cooked shrimp, piece of nice cheese?
Love your photo and your recipes. I sent this to my DD too as she has such a difficult diet to follow. I think this will be wonderful for all of us.

Beverly Jane

I love your technique for making no-mess rice balls! I will adopt it. These remind me of the time I made brown rice/tofu balls, flavored with sesame seeds and fish sauce… and the cat found them irresistible.


It looks so nice. The little balls are so cute. It looks really tasty. And to me it is was since a long time that you did not put a recipe that looks appetizing. It is the 4th time that I’ve made today your nice berry pie, it’s just delicious! It’s the best dessert I ever made!


Great way to incorporate left-over brown sticky rice!


I love the size of these, and the combination of seeds and grains. You know you are really on to something when I think, duh, why didn’t I think of that sooner. Thanks, and congrats on the nomination. I’ve been loving you’re book as well…


Congrats on the nomination! I happened upon your book in perfect condition at Goodwill. To my disbiellf someone let your book slip through their hands. Thank you for the beautiful endless simple and healthy recipes in you book and e-mails to nourish my body and soul. Happy cooking everyone!


I was trying to think of something portable and nutritious to make and take with us this weekend. Getting out of the snow and into the sun. I’m making these rice balls for our kids, their spouses and 3 little grandchildren for snacking purposes. We’re the ones staying in the hotel with a lazy river and lots of pools! They all live nearby the hotel and will be visiting for the day. I love your site and have used many of your recipes. Can’t wait to make this one.


Heidi, I love seeing your travelogues online. The experiences you describe and your great photography really make for enjoyable reading. This rice ball recipe looks great.
One question, how do you get the Coleman stove into your hotel room without management complaints? I’ve lived in apartments where cooking wasn’t allowed on balconies!
Regarding the reader comment saying roadside problems in the US would be much better than in any 3rd world country: Yeah, probably. Though my husband and I had one experience in the hinterlands somewhere between Minnesota and California that wasn’t the best ever. We checked into a motel, and managed to lock our car with the keys in it. I insisted we call one of the major road-side assistance companies. They didn’t have anyone within 100 miles, so sent someone local–who used a wire coat hanger (like we couldn’t have done that!) We waited for about an hour for him to show up, then he took 45 minutes to open the car, and charged us $20–which in 1980 was a LOT–at that time, I fed us for a week on $10. When we found the only place within 30 miles to eat, and saw the man who unlocked our car with his pregnant wife and three small children eating burgers and fries, I felt better. At least we’d provided a meal for his family. And I’m not proud to admit, the fact that the food was really really bad didn’t alter my feelings.

HS: Hi Sue – I should clarify up above – the place we were staying had more of a condo feel than a hotel, with a good sized balcony. You should definitely check before breaking out a stove/grill. In a pinch you can always grill in the parking lot 😉


I have made a similar version stuffed with mushrooms sauteed with ginger. —- great to eat while doing long distance exercise. Easy to snack on , easy to digest.


These would make a perfect lunch – which for me, is almost always at my desk in the middle of a busy newsroom, so messy stuff, including most salads, is out (for the sake of my keyboard). I’m always looking for a high-protein, filling option – what a great alternative these are to the usual sandwich! And, a belated congrats on the very-well-deserved nomination.

Susan @Spoon & Shutter

These would make a perfect lunch – which for me, is almost always at my desk in the middle of a busy newsroom, so messy stuff, including most salads, is out (for the sake of my keyboard). I’m always looking for a high-protein, filling option – what a great alternative these are to the usual sandwich! And, a belated congrats on the very-well-deserved nomination.

Susan @Spoon & Shutter

I’m supposed to go to Seattle this summer and your pictures have me wanting to drive…its kind of a long drive, but it would be so much fun.


Heidi! My husband and I have a running comment in the kitchen: “Swanson is our hero!” We love you! If I read it correctly you mentioned you had an aunt in Boise?!? We are proud Boiseans and were stoked you have a relative running amuck in Le Boise!!!! Glad you made it back safe and sound:)


OH YEA, on your nomination! my computer died so have been out of the loop for a while. do hope you WIN!!!


These look delicious! I have a lot of long trips planned over the next couple months & have been needing a good healthy snack we can bring along (so we’re not tempted by the gas station treats)! What a brilliant idea, and they’re so pretty!


Can I bring you on my next roadtrip? You bring the food and I’ll supply the tires! 🙂


Adding my congratulations to your James Beard nomination!
Also, you said you couldn’t open your door because of high winds – you are lucky you didn’t! My husband did (here in Colorado) in the grocery parking lot and $762.00 later, the car is back from the auto body shop (for a 1/2-in. by 7-in. bend in the edge of the door). Body shop guy says we got lucky it hit something otherwise the hinges pull away from the frame bending it and that is a much costlier fix. Gusting winds can be expensive!
I am so making these rice balls! Thanks for the great idea.


Great story! Awesome pictures and the rice balls look fantastic :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Great Recipe! I love avocados, I’m thinkig adding some chopped serrano or jalapeno peppers to make it a little spicy.
Congratulation on the nomination.


These sounds really yummy and much more interesting than the standard granola bar to take on a trip. I’ll be driving halfway across the US in a couple weeks and will give these a try for the journey.


I am making these for when I go hiking (Yosemite Valley again, starting tomorrow). With a nut embedded in the middle, these would be awesome for longish hikes.
Also, I wondered…would you mind if your pictures were pinned on Pinterest?

HS: I don’t mind at all Molly. I just prefer that people don’t cut/paste recipes from the site elsewhere.


Heidi, do you have any recipes for savory power bars? Thanks!


These look tremendous! I love the little avocado nugget inside. these would make the perfect picnic snack with avocado in some and baby shrimp in others.


Heidi, if you ever run out of recipe ideas, I have a suggestion: savory power bars. The ones I make are all on the sweet side, and I’d love your input! Thanks!


Mmmm… I’ll be making these this weekend. Thx for the tip on ‘new crop’ rice.
If you hit the OR coast in the summer, don’t miss Manzanita. It has a great little downtown and a huge sandy beach.

HS: Manzanita was great even thought the weather was flat out bad.


Wow, Heidi! I don’t know how you manage to have your creative juices flowing 24/7!!!! Always such yummy and great ideas! And congrats on the nomination: we’ll deserved!!!


The Oregon Coast winter into spring season can be brutal, but you are right – it’s absolutely beautiful at times. Have lived here for almost 2 years now and still getting used to the frigid wind! Your photos depict the surroundings and environment wonderfully. Going on another trip myself – will be sure to pack your Sesame Almond treats for the road. Thank you, Heidi!

Jill @ 42potatoes

Oh, wow. I am going to make these and add some toasted sesame oil. Thanks for the recipe!


Heidi–I’m a big fan of yours. I have all three of your cookbooks. I tend to lurk on your site quietly. Congratulations on your nomination! And thanks for all the wonderful, healthy food ideas.

HS: Thanks Molly! 🙂

Molly in Mpls

WOW! I can’t wait for lunch! I think I will make a variety of these, some stuffed with avocado, some with tofu and I may even try some smoked salmon. The post is beautiful and an enjoyable read as always.


I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thank you and congratulations on the nomination!


I unsuccessfully tried to make these last week using another recipe but the instructions weren’t laid out as nicely there. Your step by step instructions will make a big difference, I am sure! can’t wait to take these on my plane trip to India next week!


I really enjoy your posts on travel- the pictures and your perspective. I’ve had plenty of “disasters” on the road, but when you’re in the U.S., it’s probably going to work out ok. Also, love the rice balls. I’m a snacker and these look like the perfect mini-meal. 🙂

la domestique

Those look delicious! How well do they hold together when you are eating them? I could imagine feeding them to my kids on road trips but I could imagine them not holding their shape and coating the car with rice.


Oh perfect! I’m going on a plane trip tomorrow & was just wondering what to bring for lunch! These will be delish.


These look so yummy.. p.s. you take the most beautiful images, it really inspires me to break out the cameras a little more often.


Did you come through Humboldt county? That’s where I live- I’m sure you would have loved it.


My daughter and I often make her wildly creative versions of onigiri (she’s five, so they get pretty wild), but we’ve never made them with sesame seeds mixed in. So beautiful! Perhaps I’ll make this version for her father and I when we go out hiking. Thank you for the lovely recipe, as always.

Monika {wcv}

Can’t wait to try these…I have some nigella seeds hanging out in my pantry, do you think that flavor would work alongside the white sesame seeds?

HS: I suspect they’d be nice Steph


Oh my goodness. Might have to make these asap.
As always, beautiful pictures.


This reminds me of the rice balls I ate when I lived in Seoul, Korea. I will definitely try making these sometime this week…yum!

Kara @ FitnessInformation

Awesome idea. Though I’m imagining them fried like arancini.

Samantha Angela

If you ever decide to write a travel book Heidi, look no further than the first lines of this post for your book’s opening. 🙂 I love the photo of the umbrella and coffee on that gorgeous beat-up counter.


I love the simplicity of something so gorgeous and surely delicious!

JL goes Vegan

Sounds like quite an adventure. These balls are delightful – and perfect for picnics indeed!

Belinda @zomppa

i love your blog, your website is beautifully designed. Clean and simple!


I love this idea of cooking foods on the balconies of hotels. Are there recommendations of useful tools to do this? A simple camping stove? I’m always looking for nutritious foods that travel well. You rock and congrats on the nomination as well!

HS: Hi Neeli, It’s just one of those portable Coleman camping stoves – burner on one side, grill on the other.


That last shot with the snow covering the road is just fantastic!
I really love those rice balls…they make a perfect food for a picnic in the park!

Mike @TheIronYou

These look great! I bet a splash of rice vinegar would taste great in them, sort of creating a sushi rice ball. Yum!


I see you enjoyed a Stumptown espresso in the lobby of the Ace Hotel (I would know that table anywhere)….. hope you enjoyed your trip to Portland!


The line “some tofu we grilled on the balcony of the hotel” made me smile – we’re just back from a trip through the South-west and several times, we cooked dinner on a hotel balcony. I see, we’re not the only ones:)


your adventures make me want to hit the road. You deserve the award, I have your cookbook proped in my kitchen.


Yummo! I make something similar with millet, but it would be great to try something similar using a grain too! The perfect snack to take to uni, thanks 🙂


Yes! I had the idea to make brown rice onigiri, but never jumped on it. I think I’ll make a batch today with some quick pickles on the inside…
Thanks for another brilliant post, and congratulations on the James Beard nomination!


Gotta love spring weather 😉 I live close to you in the Lake Tahoe area and got stuck myself down in Sonora during this last week’s storm. Beautiful weather now though! Your rice balls look great – I love the idea of putting avocado in the center for a nice creamy surprise. This makes me want to experiment by putting all sorts of veggies in the middle..I’m already getting carried away just thinking about it. Great snack!

Julia {The Roasted Root}

Heidi, you always come up with the perfect recipes for travel. Thanks for sharing another one with us! Lovely photographs, too. I’m a bit smitten with the one near the top, with the camera and stripes.


Congratulations on the nomination Heidi and best of luck!
My half-Japanese fiancé and I both love brown rice balls and these sound absolutely divine! They make a perfect travel-food and keep so well!

Maria @ Scandifoodie

Heidi, I am so smitten with this recipe! They look like an easier version of vegetarian sushi. I bet the avocado in the center stays pretty fresh since the rice is compacted around it. Cannot wait to try making my own!

Cookie + Kate

Ohhhh these look superb!

Laurie {Simply Scratch}

You can cut strips of seaweed– for making sushi– and wrap them around the rice balls.
What about a chunk of cheese, chicken or a bean in the middle?


Fabulous camera, wonderful pics, and awesome looking little balls. Can’t wait to try them!

Averie @ Averie Cooks

I love the idea of adding chopped almonds to brown rice with a tofu center–healthy onigiri with a hit of protein that even my kids would eat. I appreciate how your recipes tend to make something traditional a little bit (or a lot) better!


WOW these look great….
What a healthy snack….
Perfect on the go snack… Beautiful pics…

Reem | Simply Reem

I will definitely try this recipe on an upcoming road trip! Looks like kid-friendly fare, too. I grew up in an Oregon coast town … loved seeing these photos of your trip on HWY 101.


What a great snack for the road! I can’t wait to try these.
So sorry about your car troubles :/


I am completely in love with this recipe!
So simple and full of flavor i love the idea of putting avocado in the center, will be making these very soon!
thank you for sharing (:


looks yummy!! I want to try this


a) You rule. Always.
b) This snack makes me so happy.
c) I want to travel with you.
d) But you might not want to travel with me because I sing and do impressions, like, way too much.

Bev Weidner

Heidi you are the QUEEN of snacks


Simple and beautiful, and looks perfect for a lunchbox. Congratulations on the nomination, too!

leaf (the indolent cook)

oh what a fun idea! this is so creative! can’t wait to try these!

Simply Life

Dear Heidi,
I have your book over my dinning table in apartment in Buenos Aires. I was able to order it in Amazon and have it delivered to my hotel in the US last week, where I travelled for work.
The book is amazing! really worth it! I felt in love with the zucchini and ricotta bread, was expecting for it in the book, but although not present, I was in an awe with the amazing other recipes there. I will keep you posted as I prepare them!
(If you have the time, I would like to know how can I replace “buttermilk” and “Maple syrup” in the recipes?)
Thank you!!!

Cris M

What a wonderful road trip snack. You are so creative with your travel food.

Denise | Chez Danisse

I love it Heidi! Simple AND creative. You are brilliant! Such a great lunch idea. Great pics and congrats on the nomination!


I’ve been looking for some new things to pack for lunch now that I’m basically working full time again and these look like just the ticket. I can’t wait to give them a try!


These Sesame Almond Brown Rice Balls sound fantastic. I was looking for a recipe that was quick, healthy, tasty, and traveled well (thinking of lunches and picnics). I found it:) Thanks for a great post.

Geraldine Saucier

Is that an Oregon road I see? I’ve made that drive so many times, but now it’s just a memory. Thanks for reminding me of the beauty of an icy road in the NW – here in steamy Phnom Penh it seems so otherworldly.


These sound delicious. Congrats on the James Beard nomination, Heidi. Well deserved!


They look awesome and lunch-box worthy. Thanks for the great idea.


Wow, these look beautiful! What a nice whole-grain alternative to traditional onigiri.


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