Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

How shall I put this?

I’m a bit of a…klutz at times. I missed the coordinated gene, but I got more than my fair share of the clumsy one.

I’ve been dying to make my own sushi for ages, but, psychic that I am, I realized that any roll I tried to wrap would likely fall apart before making it to my mouth.

Why not go for the preemptive strike and deconstruct it before I even get it together? 

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

I took all of the elements of my favorite sweet potato and avocado sushi roll and plopped them into a one-dish dinner! Salty and chewy seaweed, deliciously sticky rice, creamy fresh avocado, lightly crisped sweet potato slivers, zippy wasabi and earthy, tangy soy sauce came together for perfect quasi-Japanese entrée.

dried edible seaweed

Sticky rice is the key here – it makes the dish more than just a grain topped with veggies and soy sauce. Sticky rice requires a lot of rinsing and pre-soaking, and neither step can be skipped without sacrificing the starchy texture. It’s a bit of a pain in the arse to make, but the end result is worth the bazillion steps.

sushi rice, sweet potato and avocado

I love that you can play around with the ingredients to replicate your favorite roll. I designed the recipe as a vegetarian sushi bowl, but crab, salmon or any other sushi ingredient would be equally impressive!

vegetarian sushi bowl

Sweet Potato and Avocado Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

Vegan, Gluten Free, Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (dry) sushi rice. DO NOT sub any other type of rice – it won’t get sticky!
  • 2 cups water (plus more for rinsing)
  • 1/2 large sweet potato
  • 1/2 large avocado (Haas is my preference over California for this dish)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup Mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 large strips dried seaweed (I used Lavash)
  • Wasabi and soy sauce to taste

Directions:

  • Pour your Japanese sushi rice into a small bowl and fill to the brim with water. Stir the rice until the water becomes cloudy; drain and repeat 3-4 times until the water runs clear.
  • Fill the bowl up one last time with water and allow the rice to soak for a minimum of 30 minutes (up to 2 hours is ideal).
  • After rice has soaked, bring two cups of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Drain rice from soaking water and pour rice into boiling water. Cover tightly and cook for one minute.
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes, leaving the lid tightly on the pot.
  • Turn heat to very low and continue to cook until all of the water is absorbed.
  • Once the water is absorbed, remove pot from heat, remove lid and loosely drape a towel across the top. Allow to cool for 10-20 minutes.
  • Peel, dice and boil your sweet potato. Once boiled, add sesame oil to a small saucepan, stir in sweet potato chunks and lightly brown until the edges begin to crisp.
  • Cube avocado.
  • In a small dish, stir together mirin, sugar and water. Once your rice is room temperature, gently pour mirin mixture over rice (half at a time) and fold into rice.
  • Stir sweet potato and avocado cubes into rice. Plate and garnish with seaweed strips.
  • Serve chilled, room temperature or warm with your choice of sushi condiments.

sushi bowl

Even though the directions sound slightly complicated, the entire process took me no more than an hour to an hour and a half.

Holy wasabi, was the payoff ever worth it – and so much simpler than wrapping a roll!

sticky rice and veggies

What is your absolute all-time favorite sushi roll? I think I’ve made abundantly clear which one mine is!


It’s Not Me, It’s You

Funny how the weekend always seems to be a blur by the time Monday rolls around…

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Is it really already Monday?

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Yep, sensible breakfast…it must be the workweek again!

It’s Not Me, It’s You

Last night, I re-read the comments that past readers have left on my About Me pages. I haven’t looked at either of those posts in quite some time, and re-reading the outpouring of encouragement and support absolutely floored me.

When I started my blog, I had been reading Oh She Glows for several months. I identified so much with Angela’s story and was so inspired that I decided to launch my own blog in the hopes that even one woman could find a little piece of herself in my own story and know that she was not alone.

Pouring over the comments you left over the last 16 months, I felt like the luckiest blogger in the world. Not due to my technology, my writing skills, my photography or even my blog setup – but because of my readers. It’s not me that makes this blog interesting – it’s you all.

Without your empathy and understanding, I’m just a crazy lady who bakes with flax eggs and photographs her yogurt before she eats it. Without you, this would just be a collection of jumbled words, thoughts and recipes. It’s only because of your continued support and kindness that Lovely as Charged is a place of positivity and love within the blogging community. Thank you so much for all of your comments, emails, comradery and readership – I love you all and am continually grateful for all of the conversations that we can have!


MINE

Yesterday, it seemed like I had “Seagull Syndrome” from the moment I woke up. Everything I saw, I wanted, and I declared it MINE.

The first Living Social deal to hit my inbox – an unlimited month of Boot Camp classes – instantly MINE.

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With that price, I feel like I couldn’t turn it down. Even if I only go once a week, it will average out to $5 a class. Oh, it’s gonna hurt so good!

Cold, sweet, extra-chocolatey breakfast? MINE.

chocolatey smoothie

My grabby hands couldn’t make my favorite healthy chocolate smoothie fast enough!

  • 1 large banana
  • 1 handful kale
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 3 ice cubes

It’s probably good that there was only a smidge of cereal left over in the box – I’m not sure how restrained I would have been if more goods were available to me!

chocolate smoothie in a bowl

When lunch rolled around, I enjoyed the leftover Chinese food that I finagled away from my mother after our weekend together.

Buddhist's Delight with egg

Leftover Buddhist’s Delight, not quite as good as the first time around, with a scrambled egg beater to freshen it up.

Of course, greedy snackage also occurred:

carrots and hummus

Fun fact: I hate raw carrots plain! I only eat them raw if I have a dip to smother them in!

Even after I escaped the florescent lighting, I still hadn’t escaped the MINE mindset!

yuengling draft

Oh hai, happy hour. When you advertising my favorite draft for $2 right in front of the path where I usually walk Haley…of course I have to swing in! Bam – MINE!

Since I was right next door to my favorite sushi restaurant, it would have been a crime not to grab dinner, no?

shin sushi

Definitely MINE. All mine.

Are you a “see it/have to have it” kind of person, or can you resist your urge to make everything yours?


Vegan “Summer Barbeque” Salad

I feel like such an old lady this morning – I was wide awake until almost midnight yesterday!

If I mentioned that a kayak found its way into a swimming pool, and I found my way into said kayak, would that give you a better picture of last night’s activities?

Before the ten of us headed to the courts for two rounds of beach volleyball (which left me with little wonder as to why I didn’t make my high school team – heh!), we chowed down! My contribution to the first barbeque of the summer was a vegan (but carnivore-friendly) pasta salad based on one of the few recipes I ever remember my mother making when I was a kid.

vegan pasta salad

I never know what my favorite part is – the spirally noodles, the vegan protein (which is always welcome at what tends to otherwise be a red meat fest), the tangy balsamic or the fresh vegetables for crunch!

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With simple, whole ingredients that everyone will recognize and less than 15 minutes of prep time, it’ll be the only dish you’ll want to bring to the summer barbeques this year!

Vegan “Summer Barbeque” Salad

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

  • 1 box whole wheat rotini (aka curly noodles)
  • 1 can black olives
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (approximately 15-20 baby carrots)
  • 2 cups red beans (or try kidney beans, pinto beans or garbanzo beans!)
  • Balsamic Viniagrette to taste (I used about half a bottle of Newman’s Own)

Directions:

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and simmer until tender.
  • Slice your zucchini into small slices. If you like, you can also halve your olives, but I like them whole!
  • In a large bowl, stir together your olives, zucchini, carrots and beans. Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain, rinse and add to the bowl as well.
  • Stir until well mixed; cover with half of your dressing (1/4 bottle of Newman’s Own Light Balsamic in my case) and stir until everything seems evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (overnight is optimal so the dressing can soak into the noodles!)
  • Before you serve, add the remaining dressing, pepper (if desired) and stir once again. Serve chilled!

If you’re lucky, you might get some leftovers for the next day!

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Lebanese Lunch Break

Looks like we survived another day!

Between writing assignments, some of my coworkers and I slipped out for lunch at Café Annie, a Lebanese restaurant in Orlando’s business district. I’ve ordered takeout from Annie’s several different times, but this was the first time I ate in!

Cafe Annie

The black bean soup that I ordered was spot-on, but I felt like the café salad was definitely overpriced for literally five pieces of Iceberg lettuce, a cucumber sliver and two tomato slices. C’mon guys, you can do better than that!

black bean soup and salad

At least I had great company – it was an awesome bonding moment with my team!

As we were leaving, I overheard the owner reaming out his busboy. I’m not talking about constructive criticism here – I mean a harsh, name-calling, belittling diatribe. What made it worse is that the two times I’ve previously visited, I’ve also heard him speak just as demeaningly to his other employees, and my coworkers have passed on their own horror stories about his temper. Not cool at all! I know not everyone is always sunshine and giggles, but his demeanor was so off-putting that I don’t feel good about bringing him my business.

I’ve got a barbeque to go to tonight, so it’s time to slip out of the work wear and into something I can play volleyball in!

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Dress, Susana Monaco. Belt, Vintage. Shoes, Manolo Blahnik

I think the game should take care of my 30 minutes of exercise for the day! Should be a blast – I haven’t played volleyball since trying out for the team my senior year of high school (I didn’t make it!)

Have you ever been so offended by the attitudes of a clerk, salesperson, waiter, etc that you have been completely turned off to the establishment? What would make you bring your business elsewhere?


Cholesterol Wake Up Call

Yesterday, I popped online to check the wellness screening results from when I last donated blood.

After reviewing my blood type and future eligibility information, I clicked over to the cholesterol tab…and my jaw nearly hit the floor.

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My cholesterol was 275?

How was that possible? How can a vegetarian have such high cholesterol? I don’t eat butter and rarely eat cheese or eggs, I get plenty of fiber and I exercise fairly regularly – so where’s the problem? How on earth is my cholesterol 75 full points higher than it should be?

While high cholesterol can be genetic, I am looking to naturally reduce my count through nutrition before turning to a prescription.

What I’m Going to do about my High Cholesterol

Because of my new piercing, I can’t donate blood again until six months to a year have passed. I do, however, plan to schedule a cholesterol screening within two months. Since cholesterol levels can be significantly lowered within six weeks, waiting eight weeks from my high cholesterol discovery should give my body adequate time to respond to the changes I plan to implement.

  • Reduce my consumption of animal products.  Shortly after becoming vegetarian, I decided to try a vegan diet. I saw a marked difference in how I felt, but although I knew I felt better with fewer animal foods in my system, I reintroduced cheese and eggs into my diet because I felt like I was missing out on things I desperately wanted to eat. For the next eight weeks, I’d like to reduce my dairy and egg consumption to a maximum of one serving a day.
  • Get more omega-3’s. These can help increase the LDL’s (good fats) and for vegetarians, omega-3’s can be found in flax seeds and walnuts. While I typically place flax seeds in my smoothies, I’ll be bumping up the quantity to at least 2 daily servings, or, if necessary, investing in an omega-3 supplement.
  • Increase my fiber. It seems like a no-brainer – especially considering my current whole foods-based diet, but I plan to strive for more soluble and insoluble fiber in the form of oatmeal, beans, millet, wheatberries, etc…rather than the more processed grains like toast, tortillas and pasta. That’s not to say I won’t enjoy them – they just won’t be primary components of my diet.

oatmeal fiber

  • Skip the afternoon snack. You know the drill – 2 pm rolls around, quarters magically appear in your hand, you wind up with butterfingers or Sunchips from the vending machine. That’s gotta stop. If necessary, I’ll bring unprocessed snacks from home to ward off the 2 p.m. munchies: apples, which are high in pectin, a cholesterol-reducing compound, or carrots, for example.
  • Hit the gym 5 times a week. This one may be the hardest for me. I love the gym and I love exercising – don’t get me wrong…but making it consistent has been a major struggle for the last several months. I’ve been averaging 2-3 times a week, which is absolutely better than nothing – but in the interest of dropping my cholesterol, I’ll have to increase the frequency of my workouts.

In light of the new changes, I made a breakfast that included plenty of fiber (at least two grams of insoluble fiber), omega-3s, fruit and a small serving of healthy fats.

oatmeal parfait

As I cooked 1/4 cup of steel cut oats, I dropped into the blender:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 scoop chocolate soy protein powder

cholesterol lowering breakfast

It came out far more voluminous than I’d expected! I’d planned to drizzle the topping over the oats…but instead, I drowned the oats in the smoothie!

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Topped the whole shebang with some berries, cinnamon and flax seed for a tasty cholesterol-lowering breakfast!

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I’m hoping to see a drop of at least 15 to 20 points in my cholesterol by the time of my next test. Let’s see how this goes!

Have you ever been blindsided by the results of a medical test?

How’s your cholesterol? Ever had to lower it? When was the last time you got it checked?


The End of the ‘End

Weekends ending is always bittersweet. I love the freshness of the new week, but I hate saying goodbye to soffe’ shorts and lax schedules!

I don’t know about you all, but weekends should begin at noon on Fridays like they did in university!

The Coach dropped by my office Friday afternoon and surprised me with a box of sushi from our favorite downtown sushi restaurant.

sweet potato tempura avocado sushi

You know someone is your best friend when they remember to ask the sushi chef to add avocado to your sweet potato tempura roll!

sweet potato roll with avocado

Right after work, I rolled by apartment to puppynap Haley and set off on the two hour drive to my grandparent’s house to celebrate Father’s day.

dog out car window

She’s too quiet of a travel companion!

One thing I love about my weekends home is that my mother and grandmother insist on putting food in my face nonstop. I’m sure not one to complain!

greek yogurt with fruit

toast and scrambled eggs

fresh canteloupe chunks

Buddhist's Delight

yogurt berries walnuts

In the small town where they live, a restaurant opening is a big event! Of course, in my world, a new sushi restaurant is a huge event, so naturally I convinced my mother to head to lunch with me!

wasabi sushi grill

We split a plate of vegetable tempura to start, and we both were impressed by the assortment.

vegetable tempura

Sweet potatoes, rutabaga, zucchini and broccoli all got the batter-fry treatment.

We also plowed through (well…I plowed through…she gracefully consumed) four different vegetarian rolls: shitake mushroom, sweet potato, avocado and an asparagus/cucumber/avocado combo.

vegetarian sushi platter

I’m not entirely sure if I had enough sushi this weekend!

Regardless, here we are back at Monday. There’s lots to do – I better get crackin!

What was the best part about your weekend? Anything you ate ridiculous amounts of?


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