This article originally appeared in the August 2007 issue of the Kansas City Wellness Magazine, www.kcwellnessmagazine.com.
In my July column, I suggested that many people feel better without grains in their diet, especially when they avoid the gluten containing grains, wheat, rye and barley. Many people do not tolerate gluten, a protein in these grains that leads to a wide variety of symptoms or even disease.
So what do you do instead? First, check out websites for people with celiac disease. These folks must eat a gluten-free diet to stay well and are experts. Second, try “grains” that are really seeds, such as quinoa and buckwheat. Quinoa is botanically related to spinach and Swiss chard. Buckwheat is related to rhubarb and sorrel. Third, consider spelt, a distant relative of wheat. Spelt is an ancient predecessor of wheat with greater nutritional value than current wheat hybrids. It tends not to cause symptoms associated with grain intolerance.
Lastly, get creative! I’ve been slicing raw zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips using a new tool in my kitchen, a mandoline. One website describes a mandoline as a manual food processor, but more refined. I agree. I never took to using my food processor for anything but grinding and pureeing. I got better results with a chef knife, until now. A mandoline makes quick work of slicing and dicing and does so beautifully. I enjoy this raw zucchini “spaghetti” as I would any pasta.
Jicama easily replaces rice in sushi, a favorite right now because I can make it without turning on the stove. Jicama is a root, native to Central America. It is also known as taro potato. The flesh looks like a raw potato or pear. Jicama is high in inulin, a fructo-oligosaccharide or FOS. FOS is food for the normal bacteria in our gastrointestinal system and supports bowel health. Always peel the brown skin off the jicama. What remains is the edible part. We put just about any vegetable on hand into sushi at our house. The vegetables in the recipe below are just a starting point. Just slice them into long strips or match sticks. With the popularity of sushi, bamboo mats, nori sheets, pickled ginger slices, wasabi powder and gomasio are available at any grocery store. They can also be found in the macrobiotic section of your health food store. This recipe was inspired by a more complicated sushi recipe from Raw Food Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis.
6 cups jicama, chopped into 1-inch dice (about one 6 inch diameter jicama)
½ cup pine nuts
¼ cup brown rice vinegar
2 TBSP agave nectar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium carrot sliced lengthwise into thin strips
1 medium cucumber sliced lengthwise into thin strips
1 avocado sliced lengthwise into thin strips
1 bunch sunflower sprouts or other long-stemmed spouts
6 to 8 nori sheets
1 ½ teaspoons wasabi powder
Pickled ginger slices
Bamboo mat for rolling sushi
Place the diced jicama and pine nuts and chop it into rice size pieces using a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Place the mixture between two tea towels, roll up the towels and squeeze out the water. Do this over a sink or a bowl since there will be lots of water. In a large bowl combine the jicama mixture, rice, agave nectar and sea salt and mix well.
Place a sheet of nori on the bamboo mat with the rough side up. If you look closely at the mat one side is flat and the other is bumpy. Keep the bumpy side up. Place about ½ cup of the mixture on the bottom 1/3 of the sheet and spread it evenly. Place a slice of carrot, cucumber, a few avocado strips and some sunflower sprouts across the mixture. It’s artful to extend the leafy ends of the sprouts past the end of the nori sheet.
Fold the bottom of the bamboo mat up and over the filling, continue to roll, squeezing slightly to make a tight roll. Gently unroll the mat. Using a sharp non-serrated knife, slice the roll crosswise into six pieces. Repeat for each nori sheet.
Add water to the wasabi powder a few drops at a time until a mustard-like consistency is reached. Arrange the sushi on a plate. Sprinkle the sushi with gomasio. Garnish with wasabi powder and pickled ginger slices.