Vegan Sushi

summer vegan sushi
Summer is definitely here. The children are out of school, the weather is heating up, we are outdoors every day, and our little island is overrun with tourists- reminding us how lucky we are to live here in this blessed village by the sea.

Inspired by Chef Joann, the all-star caterer for our Sophia Camp Benefit Fundraisers, I thought I’d try a Vegan version of sushi, and now this is one of my favorite summer lunches. It works well for picnics as it is an easy pack, and it’s been a favorite at parties. You can make it with anything, even almond butter and banana, so it’s a child pleaser too, especially if you involve them in choosing their own ingredients and rolling their own rolls.

Picnic Meals-Vegan Sushi

Vegan Sushi-Collard Rolls

Vegan Sushi Roll

You can do so much with this. You could julienne a cucumber, slice an avocado, grate zucchini, add vibrancy with red or yellow pepper, replace the chard with any fresh, favorite green, spoon in some hummus, stack some rice – really it is all according to your own taste, creativity and local, seasonal availability.

Vegan Sushi
makes 4 servings

4 Collard Leaves
2 Carrots
2 Chard leaves
1 small handful of Sun Sprouts
Bamboo skewers

Optional, any or all: 
2-3 Basil leaves
1 small handful Cilantro
a pinch of Dill

Aioli
2 T Vegan Mayonnaise
1 t Dijon Mustard
1 clove Garlic, finely minced, or 1/2 t garlic powder
1 t fresh Lemon juice
Sprinkle of Red Pepper Flakes
Pink Salt & fresh cracked Black Pepper

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, lemon juice and red pepper flakes until it is well mixed. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

Grate the carrots. Stack chard leaves and roll them up tight. Slice the leaves widthwise into narrow pieces to create long thin strips. Slice through the length to make smaller strips. Do the same with the basil and then finely chop the Cilantro.

Lay the carrots, chard and sprouts out in tight rows lengthwise on your collard leaf. Add another tight, thin row of herbs. Fold one side of your collard in and begin to roll. Pull your vegetables in close as you roll to keep it tight. Once it is rolled, take a very sharp knife and cut them into “sushi rolls.” Gently pierce the collard with your skewer and drive it through the roll to hold it all together. The skewer then becomes your utensil for serving and dipping. Serve with the aioli, and enjoy with a refreshing rose fennel tea.

Vegan Sushi

vegan sushi-collard rolls

Since summer is Pitta season, raw food is generally okay at lunchtime when our digestive fires are strongest. My digestion still needs help, though, with raw food in any season, thus the mustard, lemon, garlic, and red pepper as digestive aids. Here are some suggestions to tailor this meal according to your own digestive strength ~

Vata: Lightly sauté the carrot and greens with minced ginger and a dash of Tamari to soften. Replace red pepper with a sprinkle of powdered ginger in the aioli.
Pitta: Omit the garlic and red pepper in the aioli. Try fennel powder instead, adding small amounts at first and increasing to taste.
Kapha: Use both fresh and powdered garlic and be generous with the red and black pepper. You might enjoy ginger tea with your meal, or chew on a stick of ginger soaked in lemon just prior to lunch.

raw vegan sushi-aioli dipping sauce

I loved your comments on my last post on rice. You shared so much of your heart, and often your family history. Since it is such fun to hear from you and to give, I’ve decided to make this the summer of giveaways. This time it is a book – Chef AJ’s Unprocessed with over 100 healthy and gluten-free recipes. Just comment below and let us know what you are loving for summer meals, and we will randomly pick a name to receive it.

Thank you & Namaste!

Glorious, Guilt-free Dark Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate Medicine

A couple of weeks ago I asked, “What do you crave?” Across the vast interconnected web of planetary health-wizards and cultural creatives came the resounding answer, “Chocolate!”

Why, of course. Chocolate is a stimulant, so it is not surprising in this hyper-active world of ours that we look for an easy, edible pick-me-up. Plus, combined as it usually is with sugar and fat, it can be undeniably delicious.

Perhaps more than the stimulant, for some of us it is that sweetness that is craved: a little comfort, relief from the stresses of every day life, a bit of soothing reassurance. Of course, too much of that and instead of a lift, you get a false high and then a deep, enduring bottom.

In fact, studies show that people who snack on chocolate regularly are more depressed than those who only eat it now and again. Ayurvedic Practitioner Alex Duncan wrote a great article about that on his blog, Ayurveda & Life.

But did you know that chocolate can be good for you?

Cocoa Beans

The source of chocolate, Cocoa beans are chock full of heart-healthy anti-oxidants, anti-depressants such as serotonin and dopamine, brain enhancing neurotransmitters, and the “love” chemical phenylethylamine.  The Ayurvedic taste of pure chocolate is Bitter which means it has a cleansing, dilating and therefore cooling, anti-inflammatory action, almost like an air-conditioner to the inner body. It is usually craved by Pitta’s – people who run hot and benefit from the heat-reducing qualities of chocolate.

Another delicious benefit is that bitter (cocoa) unites with sweet to help alleviate pain. In Ayurveda, we understand that the sweet taste provides a feeling of contentment or pleasure to the body and comfort to the sense organs. It is no wonder we sometimes consider chocolate like  a medicine.

Combining dark chocolate with whole, fresh foods like banana, almonds, or avocado (yes, really!) gives you a great snack to satisfy cravings ~ in moderation, of course.  As long as you use pure 100% cocoa (nibs or powder) with healthy ingredients, a little now and then can help you remember that life, as with food, is a love story!

Raw Chocolate Pudding

This Chocolate Pudding has been a favorite around our house, and neighborhood, all summer ~

“No Cook” Chocolate Pudding
Serves 2

1 Avocado
2 tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Cardamom, Turmeric
Dash of Himalayan Salt
Maple Syrup to Taste

Blend the ingredients together until it is a smooth consistency. Spoon into bowls and dive in!

The original recipe for “No-Cook” Chocolate Pudding came from Whole Living, but their recipe calls for Honey which has a heating action on the body. For Summer, Maple Syrup is recommended by Ayurveda. Coconut sugar is another option. Careful though – this doesn’t need much!

I also like to add Cardamom for a little digestive boost, not to mention that exotic peppery note. Turmeric will help keep the tissues clean and the channels clear after any heavy food, as this is.

Maha Shakti Detox Protein Powder

For extra medicinal goodness, I add a spoonful of my Maha Shakti Detox Protein Powder, one of my Ayurvedic Specialty Foods now carried at the recently opened Urban Food & Gourmet in San Diego.

Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying the last days of August, especially the juicy bounty of late summer’s colorful harvest!

Namaste ~