As a nutritionist, I have a shocking confession to make I am not so good at eating kelp and other sea vegetables. There! I said it!
I don’t know what it is, possibly the slightly damp, salty/fishy taste of most kelps, but these highly nutritious items never seem to make it into my meals. I buy them. And then keep them in my cupboard where they look at me accusingly every time I reach for their neighbors. But recently I have decided to make the effort and find a sea vegetable-based recipe that I can happily incorporate into my diet on a weekly basis.
It is neigh impossible to make sushi without nori sheets; they are always delicious; simple to make; filling; versatile; plus they always seem to go down a treat no matter who comes for dinner. Happy days!
Now I know many people are worried these days about the safety and quality of their sea vegetables, with things in Japan going from bad to worse as far as Fukushima is concerned. There will most likely be a very sad day in the future when we can no longer harvest anything to eat from the sea, but at this stage, good quality companies test their sea vegetable products extensively.
If you are still concerned, I would email the company and enquire about where their products are grown. I only use organic, but between raw or toasted sheets, I have no true preference. The toasted is a little crispier I find.
The health benefits of seaweeds are numerous; nori contains high levels of iodine relative to other foods which is vital for healthy thyroid and adrenal function. Australian soils are notoriously iodine deficient so including sea vegetables in your diet is one way to boost your levels through food as medicine. Nori is also rich in calcium and magnesium.
It is about one-third protein and one-third dietary fiber and contains high proportions of vitamins A, B, and K, and iron. Nori is considered to be an important source of vitamin B12 for vegans. All around, it is a traditional food source that Western Cultures do not utilize. Luckily, foods from around the globe are now easily accessible and popular, so let’s get sushi-ing!
Depending on what I have in my cupboard I make my sushi with a variety of base ingredients. If I am using rice, I use red coral rice or brown rice which I cook for a little longer, with a little more water to ensure it ends up softer and stickier than normal.
Alternatively, I might use quinoa, although these grains do not tend to have that stickiness about them and they seem to like falling out of the roll in transport to the mouth! I have found a 50/50 combination of brown rice and quinoa works better. For raw foodies, cauliflower rice can work well, or even just stuffing your roll full of veggies without any rice-like substances results in a tasty, filling, veggie-packed meal.
For the filling, well the world is your oyster. Fresh crispy veggies are a must! Cut them thin or grate or julienne them and pack them in! If I’m wanting more of a protein hit I really enjoy a slice of marinated tempeh or some soaked sunflower seed based ‘not-tuna’. And to make things nice and sticky, I’ll use avocado, tahini, or nut butter, or nut-based cheese.
Then roll! I use a mat cause I’m not so good at the free-rolling thing. They don’t keep well, the nori goes soggy, so don’t make extra for lunch the next day. Not that will be any leftovers. It’s too good!
For dipping, I like making a little mix of tamari, organic rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, and organic sweet chili sauce. Yum! If you struggle with incorporating sea veggies into your diet on a regular basis, I challenge you to give this a go, and see if you’re not absolutely addicted!