How to Order Healthy Sushi

  Shocker, I know. Not all sushi is healthy. But similar to my coffee, I manage to have a way of ordering sushi.

The weekend is getting closer and more than likely that means ... sushi! It's not every day I go out to eat (because A - it's expensive and B - I just like my food better.) So when I go out to eat it's typically Fish City or Gosh, here in good 'ol Lakeland. So yes, fish plays a major role in my diet. I don't know I how survived before without it.

Ordering unfamiliar items can be daunting enough, let alone trying to be healthy without seeming difficult or high-maintenance to your waiter. But hey, be difficult. It is your money and your sushi after all. (All those years as a Starbuck's employee taught me well: the customer is always right. Just ask any close friend or family member; I have no shame abiding to this rule of thumb when it's my turn to order.)

Here are some items you may be unfamiliar with and a little guide to ordering cleaner and healthier sushi:

Items you may not be familiar with...

Smelt roe - "poor man's" caviar.

Yellowtail - a very buttery tasting fish, not fishy tasting. Similar to tuna. ( My favorite - though it's not considered the most sustainable.)

Sashimi - raw fish, no rice.

Nigiri - raw fish over rice. A great option if you can stomach a lot of raw fish. Not so great when you go to a below Grade A sushi restaurant and they slap 5, 3oz pieces of raw tuna in front of you. Needless to say, it was a horrifying experience and a restaurant I've yet to return to.

Here are items to ask to be omitted for a healthier roll (if your dying to try to sauce, ask for it on the side and dip your chopsticks in it before picking up a piece)

Spicy sauce- typically a cream sauce that  is either drizzled overor mixed into the fish.

Cream Cheese - a given; best to avoid.

Tempura - either means the entire roll or the fish is fried, or sometimesfried panko bread crumbs are crumbled on top of the roll (which can be a tasty alternative to a completely fried roll.)

Eel sauce - This is not a "fish sauce", but usually a thick, syrup-y sauce that is likely loaded with calories. Best to avoid.

Japanese mayo - No, just because it's "Japanese" does not mean it's any healthier than American mayo (when served at an Americanized sushi restaurant, for sure.) Again, a given.

Coconut Shrimp - Means it's fried.

Seafood Dynamite Mix - A cream, spicy mix of imitation crab, shrimp and fish. Delicious, yes but definitely includes some spicy mayo.

Glaze - A guaranteed sugary sauce, you want to nix.

To make your sushi a little healthier (and  bring high maintenance to a whole new level), ask for ...

  • Half of the usual rice, or preferably brown if they have it ( but not all do, especially around here)
  • No dairy - ask for avacado in place of the cream cheese, so much better
  • Smaller slices
  • No rice (sometimes they can do this, other times they need to add just a bit for the seaweed to stick together)
  • Order a tempura roll, and ask for it not to be fried

Appetizers can also be an easy way to do yourself in before the rolls arrive so here are some healthy options to try...

  • Shrimp Dim Sum (soooo good - makes me wish I was back in NYC)
  • Steamed spring rolls (not fried)
  • Seaweed Salad
  • Edamame
  • Ahi Tuna (pronouced - Ahhhheee! )

Hopefully that will help you along next time you're ready to dive into your sushi rolls. Next time I'll dig a little deeper into the sustainable fish, for all you animal lovers out there.  But showing you a better way to order your sushi was priority.(As you will soon discover, to my mother's and last roomate's dismay, I'm not the most compassionate animal lover.)