Make Your Own Sushi – It’s Easy as 1, 2, 3…

The other night my best friend Jenn came over for dinner.  “What should we make for dinner?” I asked her.  I was thinking maybe something like Cottage Cheese Pizza or Smoked Salmon Potato Salad.  Not Jenn though.  Her response was, “Well, to be honest, what I really want is sushi.”
Now, normally I would just have said, “Alright let’s do it – hop in the car and we’ll go to Akitas (our favorite local sushi place)” but this time I was feeling up for a challenge, so I said, “We can make that.”  And make it we did.

Make Your Own Sushi, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

I had made sushi once or twice in college, but it has definitely been a handful of years since I attempted it.  It was actually surprisingly easy.  I can say hands down that the hardest part of making the sushi is collecting all the ingredients.  We ended up needing to go to two different grocery stores.  The seaweed (Nori) was the toughest thing to find, but in a well-stocked supermarket, most everything you need should be in the international aisle.  Sushi is great because you just need a few staples, and then you can mix and match veggies and proteins to your heart’s content.  Here’s what you need:

Ingredients & Supplies: 

Sushi rice (found in the international aisle at the grocery store)–I used 1 whole box, which was like 3 cups of dry rice
2/3 cup of seasoned rice vinegar (this has some sugar in it so it makes the rice sticky, which is just what you need)
Nori (dried seaweed)–I used one package of 10 sheets, so I made 10 rolls
I would suggest buying a sushi mat because it makes rolling the sushi really easy.  I got a mat and a paddle (for the rice I guess…) in a little sushi-making kit in the international aisle for 5 dollars.

Now, you also need some veggies, and some protein if you so desire.  It’s great cause you can mix and match as much as you want.
I used 1 cucumber, 1 bunch of asparagus, 1 avocado, and 1 pound of raw salmon

Method:

1.  Make your rice.  Add the 3 cups dry rice to a pot and add 4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil.  Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.  Let the rice simmer for like 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Taste it when you think it’s done and just make sure it’s not crunchy.  Remove the rice from heat.  Add in the 2/3 cup of seasoned rice vinegar and stir to get it evenly coated.  Now set the rice aside.

2. Prepare your sushi innards.  For vegetables, it’s very simple, just julienne them (which means cut them into thin, long slices).  For cucumbers, peel them first and then slice thin.  Avocados need to be peeled, seeded, and then sliced thin.  For asparagus, steam it in a covered, microwave safe dish with a little water for about five minutes.  (Don’t need to julienne the asparagus because nature did it for you!  Isn’t nature awesome sometimes?)  For the salmon, this is a little trickier because you need to get the skin off before you can julienne it.  My best advice is to use a super sharp knife (like a fillet knife) and to grab the salmon skin by one end and try to carefully use the knife to separate the skin from the flesh.  If this step sounds intimidating to you, just watch a tutorial on YouTube that shows you how to do it. After you’ve removed the skin, just slice the salmon into thin slices.

3.  Get your roll on.  Lay out the sushi rolling mat.  Lay a slice of nori on top.  Then, take a little rice (just about 1/4 of a cup), and spread it thinly on the nori.  Make sure you leave some room at the end of the nori without rice so that it’s easier to roll it up and have it seal better.  Next, choose your innards.  My favorite combination from this dinner was avocado, asparagus, and salmon.  Now, the first time you put innards in your roll, you may be tempted to pile it in there–resist that urge!  Adding too much to the inside of the roll makes it really difficult to roll up.  So start small and get a feel for how it rolls before you go crazy adding filings.  So for example, say you chose to start out with just veggies.  You would take a piece of asparagus and lay it at the end of the piece of nori (not the end that you left rice-less).  Then lay a slice of cucumber next to it.  Now, you’re ready to roll.  Starting at the end with the fillings, use your fingers to start the roll.  After you get it started with your fingers, then use the mat.  Using the bamboo mat helps you get it really tight.  It’s kind of difficult to explain, but you start rolling the mat.  You roll it maybe 1/4 of the way and then stop and unroll the mat (because you don’t want to roll the mat into your sushi).  Then you keep rolling the mat making sure you don’t roll the mat into your food.  Here’s a YouTube video showing you how to roll sushi (you can skip to about  a minute and half into the video).  After that, you can slice your sushi roll into 6-8 pieces and dunk it in some low sodium soy sauce!

Make Your Own Sushi, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

 

Using the amounts of the ingredients listed in this post, we made 10 rolls–which was enough to feed 4 sushi-loving people.  If you are looking for a really great, more in-depth tutorial of making sushi, I suggest you check out this blog post by Peas & Crayons.  It provides a lot more detail about the process, and also provides you some ideas for extra toppings, sauces, etc.

Make Your Own Sushi, (healthy)VIttles&Bits

I cannot stress enough how easy this was.  Also, it was amazingly delicious.  I love going out for sushi, but it’s just so darn expensive! This is a very cost-effective way to make your own.  We bought all the ingredients listed here (except for the avocado because I had one left over from making the Avocado Hummus and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches), and it was less than $30 dollars.  Not bad to feed 4 people.  And by feed, I mean stuff them with sushi–we ate a ton.

This was last Saturday night.  There was also a pretty neat sunset happening, so I tried to take some pictures of that…

Sunset, (healthy)Vittles&BitsAnd one more for good luck….

Sunset, (healthy)Vittles&BitsAnd with that image, I take my leave.  Wishing you all a fantastic rest of the week!

Have you ever made your own sushi?  Was it easy?  What kind did you make?  

 

Thai Tuna Noodles

I’m pretty proud of the photos I took of this dish. So without any further introduction, let’s just dive right in…

Thai Tuna Noodles, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

This recipe is just a fancier version of one of my favorite stand-by recipes, Peanut Butter Noodles.  Yes, that sounds weird, but I promise you, they are delicious.  I don’t actually have that recipe up on the blog – yet.  Give me some time and I’ll get it up here, scouts honor.  If you’re looking for a good appetizer to feature before this main dish, I would recommend Smoky Sesame Crushed Pea Dip or Deviled Eggs with Pickled Onions would also be good.   Anyway, I had these tuna steaks in the freezer that I wanted to use up, so I decided to double the PB sauce and marinate/baste the tuna steaks in it before tossing it on the PB noodles.  Here’s how I did it.

For the marinade/sauce, I made two separate batches.  So you will need double the amount of the ingredients listed (or just go by the amount in the parentheses following each ingredient).  I just found it easier to make two separate batches of the sauce–one to use as a marinade for the tuna and one for the noodles.

Ingredients: 

Marinade/Sauce:
1/2 cup low fat, low sodium chicken broth (1 cup total)
1 tsp ground ginger–I used the “wet” ground ginger not the dried ground ginger, but either should work (2 tsp total)
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce (6 Tbsp total)
3 Tbsp peanut butter–I prefer natural but whatever you have is fine (6 Tbsp total)
1 and 1/2 Tbsp honey (3 Tbsp total)
1 – 2 tsp hot sauce, depending on how spicy you like things (2 – 4 tsp total)
3 cloves of garlic, minced (6 cloves total)
3 (4 oz) tuna steaks (thawed if they were frozen)
8 oz Asian noodles–I usually like to use Udon, but the store was out so I used Somen this time
1 batch of green onions (this is usually like 6 green onions), diced
1/2 cup of peanuts, chopped (I run mine through my mini food processor–works great)

Method: 

1.  In two separate bowls (one of which should be a flat, shallow bowl), mix together your two, separate batches of the marinade/sauce by adding all the sauce ingredients together and whisking until well blended.  In the shallow bowl of marinade, place the tuna steaks and allow them to marinate for about 30 minutes, turning them over once about 15 minutes in to make sure they are evenly coated.

Thai Tuna Noodles, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

Tuna steaks marinating in delicious PB sauce.

2.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the noodles and cook according to the package instructions.  Once cooked, drain and set noodles aside.
3.  After the tuna steaks have marinated for about a half an hour, spray a frying pan with non-stick spray and place tuna steaks in it and turn stove on to medium high heat.  Using a basting brush, baste the tuna steaks with the leftover marinade.  Turn tuna steaks over about every minute until cooked evenly through.  I kept basting until I eventually just poured the marinade in there and let the tuna steaks sort of cook in the marinade.  Once tuna steaks are finished cooking, remove from heat, and using a wooden spoon or turner or some other handy kitchen utensil, break up the tuna steaks into bite sized pieces and stir them around in the sauce.  Should look something like this…

Thai Tuna Noodles, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

Tuna all broken into bite sized pieces, just waiting to be sat atop noodles and devoured.

4.  In a large pot (I used the same one that I had boiled the noodles in–now empty), add the second batch of sauce and turn on stove to medium heat.  Use a whisk to stir the sauce until peanut butter is all incorporated.  Then, add the pasta to the pot and stir to coat.
5. To serve, dish out some pasta and spoon some of the marinated tuna on top.  Then, top generously with the diced green onions and chopped peanuts.  Enjoy!

Thai Tuna Noodles, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

It may seem like a lot of work, but honestly it’s pretty easy and fairly quick to come together.  I can tell you that you will not be sorry you tried this dish (unless of course you have a peanut allergy in which case you would be very sorry–please eat responsibly 😉 )

I would love to hear your thoughts on this dish (and on my photography–always looking for tips/tricks to improve), so please leave me comments–nothing makes me happier than comments!  (Unless it’s shares, shares also make me very happy–there are buttons for sharing at the bottom of every post so feel free to share the food love!)

Thanks for reading everyone!  How about one more close up?

Thai Tuna Noodles, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

Have a great rest of the week!!!

Avocado Chicken Salad

Yes, it’s another avocado recipe.  I seriously just cannot get enough avocado these days.  (If you’re on that same wavelength with me, be sure to check out my recent posts on Healthy Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies and Quinoa Burgers with Creamy Avocado Sauce.)

I saw a post on pinterest featuring Paula Deen’s avocado chicken salad, but let’s face it–it was not very healthy (surprise, surprise…).  So I decided to try to do something similar yet with real nutritional value.  Here’s what I came up with:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

Delicious, nutritious, fresh.

This was really ridiculously easy to make.  The only slightly time consuming part is boiling and dicing up the chicken.  If you’re not familiar with that, you can read/watch more about it here: How to Boil Chicken Breasts.

Here’s how you make the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 large avocado, diced
1/4 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp of minced, fresh Basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1.   Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2.  Enjoy as a spread on crackers, pita pockets, between two slices of whole grain bread, on top of a bed of lettuce–or heck just eat it plain!

Now, let’s take a minute and breakdown that ingredients list – 

Chicken: great source of lean protein (for the lowest fat option, use white meat such as breast meat)
Avocado: great source of monounsaturated (aka heart healthy) fat.  Avocados are good for your skin, for your eyes, even for your bowels (there’s between 11-17 grams of fiber in just one avocado!)
Plain, Non-Fat Greek Yogurt:  Greek yogurt is a great source of protein, and can even have beneficial bacteria that helps your digestive system (look for the LAC seal on the yogurt container, which stands for live and active cultures.)
Low Fat Cottage Cheese:  Cottage cheese is basically just a protein bomb – especially the low or non fat kind – it’s basically just protein.

So there you have it.  The main players in this recipe are packed with protein, healthy fat, and even some fiber.  That’s why, when combined with a complex carb such as whole wheat bread, this avocado chicken salad makes for a very healthy, complete meal.

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

I would love to hear your thoughts about this recipe, so leave me a comment!

Also, tell me the truth– Are you guys sick of avocado yet?  Cause I’m not.  But if you’re tired of avocado recipes I can mix it up.  Just leave me a comment letting me know if you want move avocado or less avocado.

Also, have a fantastic weekend!!!