Raw food is good for you. Vegan food is good for the animals. But raw vegan screams boring. Plus, let's face it: Trying to make anything appetizing that is both raw and vegan isn't easy. And it's certainly not something that's on everyone's to-do list.
But if eating healthier, more nutritious foods is a path you'd like to venture down, substituting a few SAD meals with a raw vegan dish every now and then couldn't hurt. SAD stands for "Standard American Diet," our nation's daily menu of cooked meats, dairy, and processed, high-fructose-laden foods the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine believes is responsible for more than 60 percent of deaths in the U.S.
Still, there's only one problem: You want something that's good for you and tastes good to boot. Vegetarians and vegans can extoll the virtues of veggies, wheatgrass, seeds, and bean sprouts all they like, but such a limited ingredient spread can get pretty bland and boring, pretty fast.
Enter Hippocrates executive chef Ken Blue, who has more than ten years of experience whipping up healthy -- as well as flavorful and delicious -- raw vegan dishes for the students enrolled in the West Palm Beach institute's three-week signature Life Transformation Program. Part of that role means instructing people on ways to prepare equally tasty, raw vegan eats at home.
Here, Blue shows us how to make one of his favorite raw vegan snacks, a dish almost anyone can appreciate: a vegetable nori roll.
"This is one of the easiest things you can make at home, and with very few ingredients," Blue told Clean Plate Charlie during a recent interview. "But just make sure you're using untoasted nori. Toasted nori means you aren't eating raw, and that means less nutrients."
Making your own sushi is also an inexpensive raw vegan snack, and it's actually a lot easier than you may think. All you need is sharp knife and a bamboo sushi mat. We found ours for less than $3 at a local Asian market, a bargain compared to all those fancy, expensive tools necessary for cooking, heating, toasting, searing, and baking foods that need to be cooked.
What You Will Need:
A sharp knife for cutting vegetables
A bamboo sushi mat
A small cup for water
4 to 6 sheets of dried nori seaweed (un-toasted)
1/2 to 1 cup julienned cucumber slivers
1/2 to 1 cup julienned carrots slivers
1/2 to 3/4 cup thin-slices avocado
2 to 3 cups sprouts (alfalfa, broccoli, clover, etc.)
Soy sauce, sushi vinegar or miso to taste (or any vegan dressing)
1 cup of water
Step 1: Place your nori sheet "shiny side" down on the bamboo mat, making sure the edge of the nori is in line with the edge of mat. Take note of the dotted horizontal cuts (seen clearly above) along the length of the sheet. Use them as markers for how far to spread your sushi "stuffing" before rolling.
Step 2: For all you 100-percent-raw vegans out there, skip this step. For those who prefer using some sticky rice, now is the time to spread a few spoonfuls within the first two rectangular sections on your nori sheet, then proceed to the next step. For a rice alternative, you can also consider using quinoa or sprouted kamut (shown above). Also, for a grain-free alternative -- but a little more flavor -- consider spreading a thin layer of hummus over the nori like you would rice.
Step 3: Place the desired amount of sliced cucumber and carrot on your nori sheet along the edge closest to you. Be sure to spread the slices out so they fill the entire width of the nori sheet (go ahead and let it spill over the edge a bit) and filling the entire space before the first dotted line on the nori sheet.
Step 4: Place sliced avocado along the top of the cucumber and carrots. Again, be sure to fill the entire space from left to right. Avocado lends the most flavor to plain vegetable rolls that don't use grains, hummus or vinegars, so make sur you have enough.
Step 5: Take a handful of sprouts and pull them apart so you can pile it across the avocado, cucumber and carrots. Sprouts may look like they take up a lot of room, but once you start rolling they compress fairly easily. If you choose not to use rice or quinoa, make sure you don't skimp on the sprouts -- or your roll will be very small and harder to roll.
Step 6: Time to roll: grab the bottom of the sushi mat and bring it up and over the pile of veggies, creating a tube. You want to go for one-half roll so that you cannot see your filling anymore, then "tuck and squeeze" it under with your hands over the sushi mat. DO NOT keep rolling, or you will end up with a bamboo sushi roll. Not too appetizing. It's important to make this "tuck" tight, so that your sushi stays together and the filling won't fall out of the middle when you slice it.
Step 7: Once you have your tuck, move the curled single roll section of the sushi back to the edge of the mat closest to you. Continue rolling. Stop when your roll looks like the photo above. You should have at least an inch left unrolled. You will need this section to "seal" your roll shut.
Step 8: You're almost done! To seal the edge of the nori paper to the roll, simply wet the unrolled portion of nori with some water (you can dab your fingers in a bowl of water and rub or sprinkle it on, or use a brush).
Step 9: Go ahead and give it a final roll against the bamboo mat to make sure everything is sealed and tight. And there you have it: your very own homemade (and raw vegan) nori sushi roll. Enjoy!
To learn more about Hippocrates Health Institute, visit the website and Facebook page, or call 888-228-1755. For additional information on the Institute's LifeTransformation Program, call a program coordinator at 800-842-2125.
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