In many people’s eyes, sushi already has superpowers, with its seemingly endless bite-size choices of fresh, savory, delicious ingredients. And these bites are nutritionally powerful, too! The seaweed that often wraps sushi is one of nature’s most nutrient-dense edible forms of minerals. The filling, while traditionally made from fish, can also be made from delectable plant-based options, like protein-rich tofu, vitamin powerhouses like greens or sprouts, and creamy avocado which offers a dose of the monounsaturated fats your whole body loves. Even the accoutrements of ginger and wasabi are potent immune-boosting, circulation-promoting additions.
In fact, if there were but one “weak link” in sushi (at least in the nutrition department), it would be its rice. While the rice acts as an easy-to-digest and gluten-free carbohydrate, its beneficial nutrients are sadly very few. Fortunately, there’s a very simple way to enhance rice’s purposeful contribution: add turmeric. Turmeric contains a very important antioxidant called curcumin, which serves as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent for the whole body, and protects your cells from oxidation (aging). The spice doesn’t offer a tremendous amount of flavor, especially when saddled amongst hearty grains, but your big clue to its presence is the lovely golden hue it imparts on the food it accompanies. When added to sushi rice, it makes rolls beam with color, and ensures your body has an extra layer of protection against stress of all varieties. A favorite dish with a new favorite benefit? That’s exactly how “healthy” becomes “easy.”
Turmeric Sushi Rolls
For a colorful (and plant-based) twist on traditional sushi, these golden rolls make a fantastic visual statement on the table (and taste even better than they look!). Makes 3-4 servings
1 cup dry sushi rice
1½ cups water
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
¾ teaspoons sea salt
3 sheets nori
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into ¼-inch strips
4 ounces teryiaki (or other flavor) baked tofu, cut into ¼-inch strips
1 small Persian cucumber, cut into matchsticks
Handful pea sprouts
Tamari, Wasabi, and Pickled Ginger, for serving
First, make the turmeric sushi rice. Rinse the rice very well in a colander, or until the water runs clear. In a medium saucepan, mix together the rinsed rice, water, and turmeric powder. Let soak at room temperature for 30 minutes (do not heat). After soaking, bring to a boil over high heat, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove from heat and let the rice steam for 10 minutes longer, without removing the lid. Finally, in a small bowl, mix together the rice vinegar, coconut sugar, and salt. Add the liquid to the rice, and fluff with a fork to combine. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
To make the sushi, lay a piece of nori on a bamboo rolling mat, and keep a small bowl of water handy to help with the sticky rice. Place about 1/3 of the rice on the nori, spreading it out over the entire surface except for a 1-inch-thick line at the top edge of the nori farthest away from you – leave this bare. Take care not to overly compact the rice, and dip your fingers in the water as needed to prevent the rice from sticking to your skin. At the bottom of the roll, closest to you, lay down your filling ingredients: a lateral line of avocado, a line of tofu, a line of cucumber, and a line of pea sprouts. Use the bamboo mat to roll up the sushi, gently squeezing and smoothing out the surface as you roll to compact the ingredients. Lay the rolled sushi face down, and let sit for at least a minute before cutting into slices with a damp, very sharp knife. Repeat with the remaining rolls. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. Enjoy with tamari (or soy sauce), wasabi, and ginger.