Living out on the west coast has some major perks, including (but definitely not limited to) mild winters, beautiful running scenery, more freshly squeezed juice shops than I’ve ever seen, and the ability to go from trekking up a mountain to lounging on the beach in the same day. To say I’m in love with it would be an understatement.
As a major foodie, another one of my absolute favourite things is the fresh seafood. Want to make my heart sing? Put a plate of salmon grilled on a cedar plank in front of me. Or a great big ahi tuna salad. Or sushi. Ohhhh the sushi.
Back when I lived in Ontario, my workmates and I at my first real ‘big girl job’ had regular all-you-can-eat sushi dates at a nearby restaurant. I’ve noticed that massive amounts of sushi served in all-you-can-eat restaurants seems to be more of an Ontario thing than a west coast thing. I’m by no means an expert on Vancouver’s Japanese restaurants, but there are far more a la carte ones. In addition, it’s very common to order sushi in non-Japanese restaurants, and you can bet I like to take full advantage of that!
If you also rank sushi up there in your list of favourite foods, I’m sure you’ve probably experienced the sushi coma that ensues after a big lunch or dinner of maki rolls. I don’t know about you, but that white rice gets me every time! I remember being absolutely exhausted by about 2pm after those all-you-can-eat lunches, but after a while, I figured out a few tricks for avoiding the desire for a mid-afternoon office nap. Conveniently, they’re also tricks that can help to keep your food intake and portion sizes under control the next time you go to your favourite sushi restaurant.
The numero uno, biggest, and possibly most effective tip: Avoid the all-you-can-eat restaurants! I know you can go to these places and get a whole lot of bang for your buck, but you’re setting yourself up for eating way more than planned. Instead, look for smaller sushi restaurants that focus on quality, not quantity. (Often all-you-can-eat restaurants add a lot more white rice to the dishes you order, and some charge you if you leave a bunch of it behind.)
Tip 2: Try swapping white rice for brown rice sushi. This is a bit of a controversial one. If you follow any paleo or ancestral lifestyle-following podcasters and bloggers, you might have read that they actually endorse white rice over brown. (Here’s an example with some great justification as to why white rice isn’t as bad as we once thought.) While I can totally get behind some of those reasons, I also notice a huge difference in how I feel after eating brown rice vs white rice. Traditional maki rolls with the white variety tend to leave me feeling really tired afterwards, whereas brown rice doesn’t have such a noticeable effect. I’ll chalk it up to the white rice creating a bigger blood sugar spike, but this is one you might just have to try for yourself.
Tip 3: Try sashimi instead of maki rolls. Again, I’m not trying to be a rice nazi, but this is a good one if you’re trying to keep your carb intake on the lower side. Sashimi (for those of you who may be unfamiliar) is just sushi-grade fish, which may or may not come served on a little bit of rice. Maki rolls are either lined or coated in white sticky rice (so you’re getting a lot more rice than fish) but they also have veggies inside, which is a good thing. Alternatively, do a balance of both for a good mix of carbs, protein and fast.
Tip 4: Tame your appetite with an appetizer. My favourites are miso soup, edamame, shrimp salad and seaweed salad. Edamame is high in protein which is great for satisfying a grumbling stomach, but it often comes coated in salt. If this is a concern for you, either brush the salt off or just ask your server to bring the pods out unsalted.
Tip #5: Avoid anything with ‘tempura’ in its name. Tempura basically means fried in batter. While some frying in oils that have high smoke points can be ok, the kinds of oils used in sushi restaurants often are not the ones that contain the high-quality fats our bodies thrive on.
Tip 6: Use your chopsticks! Not only is going out for sushi a great time to learn to use chopsticks (you never know when you might win a trip to Asia!) but it’s also a great opportunity to practice mindful eating. If you’re like me, you’re probably nowhere near as good at grabbing food with chopsticks as you are with a fork, and this will naturally force you to slow down. Eating slowly aids digestion, and it also leaves more time for our brains to register that we’ve eaten, we’re satisfied, and we can stop before overdoing it.
To take this a step further, set your chopsticks down between bites, drink plenty of water, and if you do find yourself at an all-you-can-eat restaurant, don’t be tempted to order #ALLthethings all at once. Wait a few minutes after you finish each dish before deciding to ask for more.
So what if you don’t want to go out for sushi, but want to re-create a similar experience at home? Well in that case, this recipe is for you! And if you’re not a raw fish fan, don’t you worry – you won’t find any of that here! This Vegan Sushi Bowl is a great no-cook lunch or dinner and is bursting with vitamins and minerals. You’ll get a protein fix from the edamame, healthy fats from the avocado, and some nice juicy sweetness thanks to bits of mango.
What about the rice? Well, since this is a no-cook recipe, I’ve swapped the traditional rice for a look-alike cauliflower version. You can make it in a food processor in less than 1 minute (and you don’t have to heat up the house – bonus!!) I’ve flavoured it with rice vinegar, low-sodium tamari, and some crumbled nori.
Nori is the same kind of seaweed that sushi rolls are wrapped in, and it’s a great source of iodine which we need for thyroid health. It’s pretty easy to find these days at mainstream grocery stores – just make sure you check the ingredients label to ensure you’re not getting a long list of funky ingredients along with your nori sheets.
Vegan Sushi Bowl
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 0 mins
Ingredients (1 serving)
For the cauliflower rice:
- 1 1/2 cups small cauliflower florets
- 1 sheet nori seaweed
- 1 tsp low sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
For the rest:
- 1 carrot
- 1/2 English cucumber, ends trimmed off
- 1/2 cup defrosted shelled edamame
- 1/4 avocado, diced
- 1/3 cup diced mango
- sesame seeds and sunflower sprouts, to garnish (optional)
For the dressing:
- 1 tsp each extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, low sodium tamari and rice vinegar
Pulse the cauliflower florets in a food processor for a few seconds to make the ‘rice’. (If your food processor is very small, it’s best to do this in batches so that the consistency stays even.)
Use scissors to cut the nori sheet into very small pieces. I like to cut the sheet into a few strips, stack them, then cut a fringe lengthwise up the strips. Next, cut cross-wise to create very small pieces.)
Mix the nori bits, tamari and rice vinegar into the cauliflower rice and set aside.
Use a julienne peeler to shave the cucumber and carrot into thin matchsticks.
Arrange the cauliflower rice, carrot and cucumber in the bottom of a bowl.
Follow with the edamame, avocado and mango pieces.
Garnish with sunflower sprouts and sesame seeds if desired.
For the dressing, mix together 1 tsp each of olive oil, lime juice, tamari and rice vinegar. Drizzle over top before serving.
[Tweet “A different kind of sushi bowl (post-meal sushi coma not included!)”]
Now over to you! Tell me…
- What menu item can you never resist at a sushi restaurant? For me, it’s the ahi tuna, salmon sashimi, and edamame pods!
- Do you notice a difference between white and brown sushi when it comes to how you feel afterwards?
Also, don’t forget that you can still enter my Sibu skincare giveaway! I’ll be choosing the winner on Thursday (June 18) night at 8pm PT.