If you’ve worked an office job in the last 5 years it’s safe to say you would have had sushi for lunch at least once. Right? You’ve probably even done the dash to get the last cooked tuna avo with brown rice or chatted with work mates as the sushi train rolls past, wondering if anyone actually chooses the strange green cake. Seriously what is that?
In my experience it’s also fine to assume that people who don’t like sushi are either a) allergic to rice or b) have a phobia of the little soy sauce fishes with red noses. I mean come on, everyone loves sushi.
So with all the rice smashing going on, the question we should be asking is this: is store-bought sushi really that good for you? Let’s break it down with some easy to follow rules for sushi lovers.
Choose brown rice over white rice
Swapping white for brown can make a huge different to the nutritional value of your lunch. Unlike white rice, brown rice has all bran layers intact and still contains all of its natural nutrients. It contains the highest amount of B vitamins out of all grains not to mention iron, vitamin E, amino acids and fibre. All this leads to slower digestion and longer lasting energy. Yeah son! If you can’t spot brown rice rolls at first glance at you local sushi joint, ask them to see if they can make it for you fresh. It’s a little longer to wait, but totally worth it (and you’re guaranteed a roll that hasn’t been sitting there for hours).
Go vego when you can
Some of the meat in sushi rolls, such as teriyaki chicken and cooked tuna, come with not-so-nice additives like mayonnaise and are often cooked in refined oils and sugars. Meat also amps up the calories in a sushi roll significantly. Go with vegetarian rolls when you can or choose a sashimi option like salmon and avocado. Oh, and it goes without saying avoid the “crunchy” rolls – hello deep-fried!
Go easy on the condiments
Wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce are all okay in small amounts. Lashings of soy sauce however will give you a massive hit of sodium. Stick to one small red nosed fish if you can.
Mix rice with other options
When I hit the sushi train, I’ll usually choose one delicious rice option and then bulk it out with some edamame beans, soba noodles, sashimi or a miso soup. Eat slowly, rice takes a while to hit your stomach and leaves you feeling tight and bloated if you happen to overeat. Try not to combine your sushi eating with a carbonated drink – as this too leads to a mini food baby!*
* I speak from experience of long forgotten diet-coke and sushi extravaganzas.
Now that we’re all over the store-bought sushi, let’s go one step further. A religious sushi eater for a good stretch there – I’d always toyed with the idea of making my own at home totally healthy version. Slightly intimidated at first, I turned to my old friend Google for some ideas from other healthy ladies. I garnered inspiration from two incredible blogs the Wholesome Cook (quinoa sushi rolls) and Nutrition Stripped (veggie sushi rolls) and trialled a few combinations before finding my groove with this recipe.
The rolls came together a lot easier than anticipated and were definitely not too fiddly to prepare. You don’t need the sushi rolling mat – just a little patience and some sweet chopping skills! You can interchange quinoa and brown rice in this recipe. I often mix the two up and cook them together. Mix and match your own combinations of topping as well once you’ve got into the swing of it.
Quinoa vegetable sushi
What you’ll need (makes about 4-5 long rolls)
- Nori sheets
- 1 carrot
- 1 avocado – mashed
- 1 Lebanese cucumber
- ¾ block of organic tofu
- Alfalfa sprouts
- ½ cup chopped coriander
- 1 cup quinoa (or brown rice)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- ½ cup sesame seeds and sunflower seeds
- Sea salt and pepper
- Tamari for dipping
How to go about it
- Bring the quinoa and vegetable stock to the boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes until cooked. Once cool, stir through the sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper.
- Slice carrot and cucumber into thin strips.
- Place the block of tofu in a pan with a little coconut oil. Grill until golden brown on both sides. Leave to cool slightly. Slice into thin strips.
To build the sushi rolls
- Place a nori sheet on your bench.
- First, spread the mashed avocado in a thick horizontal line working from the edge closest to you. Make sure you go all the way to the edges.
- Layer on top a thick line of the quinoa mix.
- Continue to layer the rest of the tofu and vegetable toppings, keeping it compact.
- Wet a finger with warm water, and dampen the far edge of your nori sheet.
- Starting at the edge close to you, tightly being to wrap your roll over.
- Place in the fridge to chill sightly, before cutting into sushi pieces using a sharp bread knife.
- Dip your sushi in tamari soy sauce, or check out this amazing secret sauce from Nutrition Stripped.