Friday, March 21, 2014

Sushi's Healthy, Right?

While I'm in the process of completing #100HappyDays, I need to be a Debby Downer for a hot sec and talk about something that makes me sad.  Sushi. 

Actually, sushi makes me, and my taste buds, very happy.  In fact, after recently getting a friend hooked, I ate it 2 times in 4 days.  It's up there on the list of my all time favorite foods and I have no problem downing 3 rolls all by my lonesome.

(I may or may not have ordered all of this for myself. Hint: I ordered all of this for myself.) 

Unfortunately, I fear my days of contentedly popping pieces of shrimp tempura and spicy tuna rolls in my mouth while patting myself on the back for eating a healthy meal are over. (Notice I did NOT say my days of pigging out on sushi are over!) 

Ignorance really is bliss, but these days I like to be informed about the choices that I'm making when it comes to food. I'm totally that person reading every nutrition label and asking every waiter how dishes are prepared.  Through a variety of different articles, I've come to the sad conclusion that sushi is likely nowhere near as healthy as you think.  It can be a huge calorie trap if you aren't educated.  The good news is, it's not all bad news.  Nothing can replace doing your own research- but here's what I have discovered and some tips on how to make sushi the well-balanced meal that it has the potential to be.  

  1. I was shocked to read that each sushi roll is made with approximately one cup of rice! That's around 200 calories per roll in rice alone.  Most articles I read estimated that around 75% of a sushi roll is actually just rice. And to boot, sushi rice isn't just rice- it's made with vinegar and added sugar! News to me! 
    (Would you like some fish with that white rice?)

    If possible, when you're out for sushi,
    try to order it with brown rice.  While it doesn't make a dent in the calories, and it's often $1-$2 extra, brown rice will add fiber to the meal, which can make you feel full faster and helps aid digestion.  Plus, white rice is processed and stripped of most of it's nutritional value while brown rice is considered a whole grain! 
    Obviously, avoiding the rice altogether and ordering sashimi (just slices of the raw fish), is another option, although usually far more expensive than my budget can handle.
    One article I read suggested ordering "naruto" which from what I gather, is when the rice is replaced by wrapping the ingredients in cucumber- yum! Definitely something to ask about next time I'm out for sushi! 

  2. I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that my go-to order of spicy salmon and spicy tuna rolls, "With the crunchies, please!" is probably one of the worst things on the menu.  For one, those delicious "crunchies" are fried (go figure, Lauren).  And the reason they're "spicy?" Hot sauce mixed with mayo.  One article says that each tablespoon of spicy mayo clocks in at 100 calories and 11 grams of fat! Say it ain't so! Plus, the amount of actual fish used in spicy rolls is typically less than other rolls since it's chopped up and mixed with the sauce- and the quality of the fish can be worse! Sorry spicy rolls- I think we may need to see other people!
  3. Something I definitely steer clear of on any sushi menu is tempura.  Why batter and deep fry your fish when it's already so delicious on it's own?!
  4. Soy sauce is loaded with sodium, so try to ask for low sodium soy sauce when you're out.  Even then, be aware that the sodium content is hiiiigh and try to use it sparingly (I should take my own advice).  Also good to note is that anything "miso" is also high in sodium.
  5. If you're ordering an eel roll- it's likely going to have eel sauce. AKA sugar, sodium, and more sugar. 
(What's that? "Miso" = "Holy Sodium Batman"? But, Miso Eggplant, you were so delicious Tuesday night!)

I hope I didn't just completely ruin your day with this post.  Because remember, you can still go out, equipped with this information, and enjoy a delicious, nutritious and healthy sushi meal!  OR you can go out and order a spicy salmon roll and lobster tempura salad and that's OK too! Moderation :) 

Now that I know all of this, and have been reading articles on sushi for over an hour (is it time for lunch yet?), I really want to try to make my own! Consider it added to The Bucket List! Have any of you made sushi at home?  Any tips? 

I leave you with this hilarious video that I hope you enjoy!
(The building blocks of sushi: Sushi meat, peaches, and guacamole)


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