An integral part of Japanese cuisine, sushi is quite delightful. While the sushi rice is the key ingredient, others include fish and vegetables. Sushi may or may not use raw fish, though surprisingly patrons often get confused between sashimi and sushi. Sashimi is raw, sliced fish or meat which is served without the sushi rice. Sushi is prepared and served in several different ways. The most popular in the US is of course the sushi roll.
Sushi is a healthy food that is designed to tantalize the palate with the natural flavors of the ingredients. How healthy your sushi is dependent on the kind that you order. It could offer as little as 300 to 400 calories or as much as well over 1000 calories. If you stick to traditional food you are likely to eat a healthy meal. On the other hand, if you opt for westernized versions of sushi you will probably find that you are consuming more calories that you may have imagined.
Let’s Get Counting
Reduce the Rice
When you eat sushi it is a good idea to restrict yourself to one or, at the most, two rolls. This would mean about six to eight pieces to a roll. Moderation is the key to healthy eating; this is also true when you are eating Japanese food.
When you are at a sushi restaurant take your time reading the menu, and do take note of the ingredients that each dish uses. A combo meal may seem easier to order, and will probably have a soup, several rolls and salad. It is best avoided or you will end up eating more than you meant to. Here is a practical suggestion; you could order one or two portions of sashimi and a sushi roll to go with the miso soup.
If you want to ensure that your meal is low in calories and carbohydrates you may wish to opt for sashimi, which is served without sushi rice. A one ounce piece of sashimi such as ikura or salmon roe may have as little as 19 calories, while enago or conger eel has 67 calories. At the end of day, the calorie count of your meal is dependent on your choices. This makes it imperative for you to do a little bit research before you go to a sushi restaurant.
The rice accounts for a large portion of the calorie count of your Japanese meal, and this makes it important for you to order your meal thoughtfully. Here is an easy way to illustrate how the sushi rice increases the calorie count. A portion of tuna sashimi offers the body about 35 calories. The same tuna when prepared as tuna nigiri, with sushi rice has a calorie count of 61. Now a sushi roll with the tuna would have 240 calories simply because of the sushi rice and before the chef adds the fish and other fillings. A roll of sushi uses about a cup of sushi rice.
Choose your Filling and Topping Wisely
Healthy sushi options include sushi that uses vegetarian filling. Kappa Maki is a maki roll that has cucumber strips in the sushi rice. It offers as little as 136 calories per roll. Nutritionists suggest that you try the naruto or the roll that is wrapped in cucumber rather than in sushi rice. This is a good way of reducing your sushi rice intake.
If you have a tough time deciding the healthiest fish fillings to go for at a sushi bar, you may like to opt for tuna, salmon or yellow tail. These are some of the leanest fish that you can choose and are prepared in many different ways, raw as well as cooked. Fish like eel and mackerel are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, and are good for you.
Just because a sushi roll has fish as an ingredient doesn’t mean that it would offer less calories. The Rainbow Roll is quite delicious and uses crab substitute, avocado, sushi rice and several raw fish toppings. It is high in both, carbohydrates and protein, and offers the body 476 calories. While avocado is a source of good fat, it is also high in carbohydrates.
Do try to avoid deep fried fillings and also the westernized kind. The spicy tuna roll has raw tuna, chilli sauce and mayo. The roll has a 290 calorie count. If it were prepared and served without the mayo, it goes down by as much as 100 calories. The Philadelphia roll is made with cream cheese, salmon and sushi rice and also has a 290 calorie count.
It’s a good idea to avoid sushi rolls that use mayo and cream cheese, and increase the calorie count of the dish. Similarly avoid Japanese salads that have a creamy dressing. Instead opt for a salad that comes with a side dressing that you may or may not wish to add to the greens. Many nutritionists warn that the more descriptive a roll, the higher the chances of it having a high calorie count.
The Temptation of Tempura
Crunchy, tasty and mouth-watering, this is how tempura is often described by patrons. It is a Japanese dish that is dipped in batter and deep fried. Tempura can be made with vegetables as well as with seafood. Common choices for vegetarian tempura include bamboo shoots, butternut squash, bell pepper, okra, shiitake mushrooms and green beans. The shrimp or ebi tempura is very popular. Other choices for seafood include prawn, crab, cod, haddock, sea bass and white fish. It is conventionally served with a spicy sauce.
If you are watching the calories your meal offers, then it is best to stay away from tempura. A shrimp tempura roll has 544 calories. While the ingredients are not high in calories or fat, the process of making the tempura makes it an unhealthy option. It is a good idea to pay close attention to the food that you order and keep away from deep friend fillings. If you are unsure don’t hesitate to ask your server or request the itamae for appropriate recommendations.
Choosing the Right Fats
Every dish that you order will have some amount of fats. It is vital that you opt for the right kind of fats. For instance, if you order a portion of tuna belly nigiri, the sushi contains only 55 calories but is high in unsaturated fats. If you were to consume an entire roll your calorie count would come to about 400 calories. This choice is high in protein and offers the body good fats. It is low in bad fats or the saturated fats. On the other hand, if you had chosen a sushi roll that used cream cheese or mayo, you may have consumed the same amount of calories but the fats would be bad for your body. So, when it comes to fats it’s important that you make the right selection.
Bring Down the Sodium
As a rule Japanese foods are high in sodium. This mineral leads to water retention and leaves you feeling bloated. When you are feasting on sushi, do use the soy sauce sparingly as it is high in sodium. The same is true of miso. Even the edamame may be seasoned with salt. You could also ask your server for low sodium soy sauce, and for recommendations for sushi that is low on salt. When you make sushi rolls at home you will gain a fair idea of the amount of salt that goes into your meal.
Ordering and Eating Sushi
The key to eating a healthy and satisfying sushi meal is to order it with care. You may like to skip the appetizers that are high in calories and go straight to the sushi. Here too, you can choose from several options, enjoy a portion of rainbow roll but also add a naruto to balance things out.
The manner in which the sushi is prepared is as important as the fillings and ingredients itself. For a low calorie meal, you may want to opt for sashimi and perhaps one or two bite sized servings of sushi roll. It’s wise to stay clear of recipes that feature cream cheese and mayo prominently. Nigiri sushi is a far better option than a sushi roll. A piece of nigiri sushi can offer about 40-60 calories in every serving, while an ounce piece of sashimi may have about 20-60 calories, based on your choice.
The brain takes about 20 minutes to realize that you have eaten enough. So when you eat fast, you tend to overeat. Sushi is served as bite sized portions and meant to be something of a finger food. It should be enjoyed in leisure and the meal should not be rushed through. Take your time eating and enjoy the flavors that the sushi offers the palate. Dieticians recommend that women eat about six pieces of nigiri or maki and men eat about nine pieces. You can add a salad sans the dressing and a miso soup to make a complete meal.