Sushi is a healthy lunch option, right? Well, not exactly… Unfortunately sushi that you buy from a store is usually laden with white rice (stripped of all its nutrients) which is then mixed with a rice-binding mix that more often than not contains sugar, gluten and other artificial nasties that give sushi rice its unique flavour. Not only that, but the meat inside sushi is not necessarily sustainable and is marinated in a whole mix of ingredients to give in the desired flavour. Thus, although sushi is probably still better than a Big Mac, it is still not the best option with regard to your health. So what is then?
The simple answer is to make your own sushi! It might be a little bit time-consuming and require you to be prepared, but making your own sushi is fun and if you do it with a bunch of friends you can mix and match your fillings according to what you like (and your dietary requirements). You can also add sides like the classic Japanese fermented vegetable, kimchi, which gives your sushi the added bonus of being good for your gut. This recipe is my healthy take on sushi that uses quinoa to up the protein and nutrient content and makes it more suitable for those of you who are intolerant to refined grains. You can mix and match the fillings according to what you like and your dietary needs, so for vegos/vegans simply leave out the meat or substitute with a meat alternative (tempeh or tofu would be great). You can also substitute the chicken for beef, salmon or tuna.
Quinoa Sushi Rolls (makes approx. 5 long rolls)
- 5 x nori seaweed sheets (found in the Asian food section of the supermarket)
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 2 Tbsp tahini
- 2 tsp + extra tamari (healthy version of soy sauce)
- 1 chicken breast
- 1 carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- Fermented veggies/kimchi
1. Bring a medium pot of water to the boil, add a pinch of sea salt and place the chicken breast into the water. Poach the chicken over medium heat for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until it is cooked through and falls apart nicely.
2. At the same time, place 1/2 cup quinoa into a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups cold water. Bring to the boil and reduce to simmer and cook until all the water has been absorbed. Turn off and allow the quinoa to cool.
3. Finely slice all of your veggies into long sticks (the same length as your sushi sheets) and place aside. Once the poached chicken has cooled, slice it up or tear it apart into smaller strips.
4. Add the tahini and 2 tsp tamari to the quinoa and mix it through thoroughly. The tahini helps the quinoa to stick together and the tamari gives it a slight saltiness.
5. To make the rolls, place one nori sheet on the chopping board. Get a glass of water and keep that close by too. Start by spreading a layer of quinoa over the half the sheet nearest to you. Then make a line of chicken and vegetables (including fermented veggies if you like) parallel to the edge of the sheet nearest you (see picture below).
6. Pick up the edge of the sheet closest to you and fold it over away from you, over the vegetables. Keep the roll tight as you roll it all way up to the other end. To seal the end, hold the sushi roll in one hand and dip the fingers of your other hand in the water, then wet down the dangling edge of the nori sheet. Roll the sushi all the way up and press the edge down with your wet hand to help it to stick.
7. Take the long roll and cut it however you would like, either in half or into lots of small sushi segments if you are sharing with others.