Family Project: Sushi

I love projects–especially the food kind.  Some of these projects are a family affair.   They offer everyone, no matter the age, something to make or do.  Like the ravioli we made for Christmas a couple of years ago.  Or the pot stickers for Chinese New Year.

Speaking of New Year’s, we needed to think about a special dinner to welcome in 2013.  And with Jim on a vegan diet, there was to be no roast beast on the table.

The choice was made when, while reorganizing kitchen cupboards, I stumbled upon a forgotten treasure behind a jar of red lentils (so much for my housekeeping skills).

I bought a “sushi kit” at a major grocery store chain several years ago that just happened to get lost.  Until now!

Not much to it–a bamboo rolling mat, wooden paddle and instruction booklet

tools of the sushi trade

Turns out, after preparing the sushi rice and prepping the fillings, there’s not much to making sushi either.  It’s about as easy as rolling a burrito.  And since you can customize your fillings, it can be vegan–or not.

Here are the basic ingredients we used.  All can be found at well stocked grocery or natural food stores.  We used tamari instead of the traditional soy sauce and found our pickled ginger (highly addictive) in the refrigerated section although it may be located with ethnic foods.

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The first step involves preparing the rice.  We bought ours at the local grocery store and followed this tutorial to make the traditional fragrant and seasoned sticky rice. This rice was so tasty that some party goers, who shall remain nameless (but you know who you are!), couldn’t stop themselves from plucking up little clumped balls of the savory/sweet rice and eating it straight from the bowl.

To see the whole process done properly check out The Good Food Channel’s great pictorial how-to tutorial for rolling sushi.  Find it here.

spreading on the seasoned rice

Jim takes a turn.

Moistening our hands in a mixture of vinegar and water (in a 1 to 3 ratio) helped keep sticky rice where it belongs and not stuck to our fingers.

moistening fingers so rice doesn't stick to them

Fillings?  We raided the fridge.  I julienned a couple of carrots.  My friend, Diana, steamed baby kale and made a very thin egg omelette which she later cut into thin strips.  Jim chopped up cilantro, and Sam sliced the avocado.

assorted fillings

We used carrots, cilantro, avocado, egg, steamed kale but didn’t put in the sun-dried tomato.

Each individual created their own “signature roll” by combining ingredients of their choice.

ready to roll

Sam is ready to roll.

rolling

Run a vinegar water dampened finger over the exposed nori at the top to help seal the roll.

gently squeeze and form

Rolling and forming. Jim is a master!

According to my sushi kit instruction booklet, the sushi should be served with soy sauce for dipping.  Sliced, pickled ginger and wasabi paste are also traditional.  We didn’t bother making the paste from the dried wasabi powder I’d bought when Jim pulled a jar of Trader Joe’s wasabi mayonnaise out of the refrigerator.  Not very traditional, but it’s our party!

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The first examples. They got better looking after this, but didn’t last long enough to take pictures of…

We had a lot of fun preparing these.  Don’t forget a good bottle of wine for the adults (or Japanese sake if you’re a purist) and sparkling cider for the kids.  And don’t wait for next year either.  Any occasion will do.

What food projects do you do with your family?

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5 Healthy Resolutions to Ring in the New Year

It’s that time of year again…

Ever since Sam was in kindergarten we’ve been making New Year’s resolutions a family affair.  I would carefully record everyone’s plans on paper and stuff them away in a manila envelope until the next year. Then we would look back on what we had hoped to accomplish–and see how we measured up.

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This turned out to be more of a time capsule than a useful tool for actually meeting hoped for goals.  It’s been interesting–and often worth a laugh or two–to look back on what was important in our lives the year before, but we’re ready to crank it up this year. Take it to the next level.

We’re ready to try to accomplish something.

And if you and your loved ones want to be healthier, happier, and better looking (if it’s possible) than you currently are, here are a few resolutions that you could stick with–for life.

I can think of 5 to choose from that would make a big difference:

1.  Eliminate soda, sports drinks, flavored waters and juice.  Number one place to begin.  Did you know Americans consume twice the recommended amount of sugar?  And over half of that is from beverages.

2   Eat more fruits and vegetables.  The most nutrient dense foods.  Eat your daily requirement (5 or more, preferably more) for all the vitamins, minerals and fiber–filling you up without all the fat and calories.

3. Watch portion size.  Resolve to use a smaller plate at mealtimes and/or don’t go back for seconds.

4. Focus on real food.  Food that’s closest to its natural state without all the vitamins,  minerals and fiber stripped away in processing.  Try to eat a serving or more at every meal.

5. Replace white with whole grains.  Whole grains help you maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of lots of dietary diseases.  Replace one refined grain item at a time with a whole grain variety.

Making resolutions is a snap.  Keeping them is where the rubber meets the road. Willpower only ever took me so far…  Try these ideas to maximize your success.

  • Limit yourself.  Choose only one or two to keep your focus strong.
  • Keep them close.  Literally.  No more manila envelopes in drawers in this house.  I’m thinking about pinning our resolutions on the cork board next to the refrigerator.  Out of sight really is out of mind.

And check out the Healthy Children website for age appropriate nutrition resolutions suitable for younger members of the household.  Remember, our children learn from our example.  Trying counts and praise goes a long way towards reinforcing good habits.

Have a happy and healthy new year!