These veggie quinoa sushi rolls may look exotic, but they are actually very easy to make. I say this as the person who allowed nori sheets to sit in my pantry for several weeks before working up the nerve to use them for the first time. Once I made my first batch of veggie sushi rolls I was hooked.
What Is Nori?
Nori is a red algae that turns dark green when dried. It has been eaten in Japan for more than two thousand years – they developed a process to form it into dried sheets using methods similar to Japanese papermaking.
Westerners are most familiar with nori as the dark strip of dried seaweed that holds sushi rolls together. However it can also be used as a garnish or flavoring in noodle dishes and soups.
In addition to its utilitarian function, nori offers some great health benefits:
- Nori is a rich source of plant protein – comparable to soybeans.
- Studies indicate nori may play an important role in stabilizing cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Nori is a high fiber, low calorie food – contributing to digestive health and weight management.
- Consumption of Nori has been linked to lowered rates of breast cancer.
- Nori is rich in iron, but unlike many grains and beans, it does not contain phytates, which can interfere with iron absorption.
- Nori is rich in both calcium and magnesium – making it a perfect bone-builder.
- One sushi roll wrapped in nori contains over 60% of an adult’s RDI of iodine.
- Nori also features impressive levels of vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, phosphorous, potassium and zinc.
Who knew the unassuming little strip of seaweed holding our sushi rolls together was such a nutritional powerhouse!
Quinoa vs. Brown Rice
I usually use short-grain brown rice when I make veggie sushi. I wanted to mix things up a bit for these veggie quinoa sushi rolls. From a nutritional perspective, quinoa comes out slightly ahead of brown rice. Prevention.com shares a great info graphic that compares the two. In summary, quinoa has more of the following nutrients compared to brown rice:
Quinoa also cooks in less than half the amount of time needed for brown rice – making it a real time saver. I like to cook quinoa in my rice cooker because I can fix it and forget it, but it’s also easy to prepare on a stovetop.
Veggie Quinoa Sushi Rolls
These veggie quinoa sushi rolls feature just a few ingredients:
They have a light, pleasing flavor yet they are surprisingly filling.
I’ve heard it’s possible to roll sushi without a bamboo mat, but I’m not sure I’d want to try it. The bamboo mat makes the rolling process much easier! Before I worked up the nerve to make my own sushi rolls I watched a number of video tutorials on YouTube. eHow Food shares a great tutorial on how to roll sushi:
If you don’t have a bamboo mat, I see Amazon has packages that include a free bamboo mat with some organic nori sheet orders. I don’t recall what I paid for my bamboo mat, but based on what I have paid for nori sheets in health food stores, the Amazon offers look like a good deal.
Once you have all the necessary ingredients and supplies, give these veggie quinoa sushi rolls a try!
Veggie Quinoa Sushi Rolls
- 4-5 nori sheets
- 1 cup quinoa (I use Ancient Harvest pre-washed quinoa. Be sure to rinse quinoa if it is not pre-washed.)
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. agave nectar (I don’t usually use agave nectar because of its high fructose content. If you have similar concerns you could try using maple syrup instead.)
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/2 cucumber medium
- 1/2 cup baby carrots
- 1 cup baby romaine
- reduced sodium tamari soy sauce to taste
Add quinoa, water, ground ginger, and salt to inner pot in rice cooker, close lid and cook on white rice setting.
Alternately, you can cook the quinoa on a stovetop - add the ingredients to a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil then allow to simmer on medium low for approximately 15 minutes.
When quinoa is done, remove from heat and stir in vinegar and agave nectar.
Allow quinoa to cool while you peel and seed the cucumber and avocado and slice into long thin strips.
Slice baby carrots into thin strips lengthwise.
Place a nori sheet on a bamboo mat and place about 2/3 cups of quinoa in the center of the nori sheet.
Wet the tips of your fingers (you may wish to have a bowl of cool water nearby for this purpose) and press/spread the quinoa into a thin layer - working towards the edges of the sheet, leaving about an inch of sheet remaining on the edge farthest from you.
Place a row of baby romaine leaves an inch or two in from the edge closest to you.
Top with a thin row of cucumber, carrot and avocado slices.
Use bamboo mat to roll the sushi roll. (See video.)
Set sushi roll aside and repeat with remaining ingredients.
Once all ingredients are used, slice the sushi rolls into evenly sized pieces and serve with low sodium tamari soy sauce.
Recipe makes 4-5 sushi rolls.
Note: I do not include nutrition information with my recipes because I subscribe to the theories presented in the book Whole and believe we should focus on eating a variety of whole foods instead of counting calories or keeping track of individual nutrients.
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