A few months ago we met some raw food folks at the grocery store (giving away free samples of Grawnola). One of the things we picked up from the conversation we had with one of the guys is that he eats all raw except for some occasional cooked quinoa, particularly in the fall and winter.
With it being summertime and so much fresh produce all around us, I had forgotten about that until this week when I saw a video where chefs at Gabriel Cousens’ Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center were using cooked quinoa in a raw salad.
This got me thinking about the benefits of adding some quinoa to our diet, as a small-but-healthy exception to 100% raw, at least for a while as we continue to transition and learn what our bodies need.
Quinoa is a super food — unrefined, low-glycemic, low-gluten, easy to digest, packed full of vitamins, minerals and very high in complete protein.
More, a cup of cooked quinoa has calcium content equivalent to a quart of milk. I could go on, but this is a post about sushi, not quinoa… because ultimately two ideas collided.
We both love sushi and have wanted to include it somehow in our raw food diet. Most raw food books and videos have demos on how to make raw vegan sushi, but the examples we’ve seen involve julienne strips of crunchy vegetables and maybe a nut paté, all wrapped in nori. (Natalia Rose uses minced raw parsnip for “rice”– something we haven’t tried yet but it does sound interesting.)
Instead of creating recipes that only look like sushi, we’ve been very interested in experimenting with mimicking some of the tastes and textures of classical sushi while staying raw vegan. In this case it’s almost raw vegan– as we remembered the strong case for keeping cooked quinoa in an otherwise raw diet, we decided to give this sacred mother grain a try in sushi. Japanese meets Incan!
This was our first attempt at creating sushi. We have much to learn, but overall things went pretty well. The quinoa cooked up fluffy with a perfect sticky consistency. We dressed it Japanese style with vinegar (Braggs) and a smidge of agave syrup for that subtle sushi-rice flavor.
We used untoasted nori sheets, and for me this was the greatest departure in taste – it has a very seaweedy taste compared to the nori I’m used to in sushi restaurants– but it was a fitting taste. I had expected the quinoa to be overpowering with its nutty taste and special texture, but it wasn’t at all. The mouth-feel was much like soft sticky sushi rice rolled in sesame seeds.
For fillings, we marinated raw shiitake and raw portobello mushrooms each in a different blend of oils and raw condiments, spices, flavorings. We also made Matt Monarch’s cream cheese recipe which was delicious especially in this context!
To these delights we added various combinations of cucumbers, avocado, chives, sesame kale, etc. Many other things come to mind as well– use your imagination!
We figured out how to build a tidy roll, but still didn’t figure out how to get all the interior goodies centered in the spiral of rice and nori. Will try that again next time! We were winging it with no instructions– next time we’ll tap into YouTube and educate ourselves first! lol.
Just for fun we made an “eel sauce” out of (what else?!) dates and nama shoyu. Next we’ll try whipping up some raw vegan spicy mayo!