This week I am celebrating being another year older. Yep, it's my birthday! I have to say, I truly appreciate each and every birthday that comes my way. When I used to picture my life on a timeline, I would always vision it from birth to the age of 100 years old. I'm not sure if that's how most people see it, but it just seemed natural.
About 12 years ago, that timeline I had in my head was shattered. All of a sudden, when I pictured my husband and I, old, gray, fragile, with wrinkles, and walking hand in hand, it seemed like a precious gift that not everyone gets to live out. My two sons were much younger, so from a mother's perspective, it was a hard realization to think that I may not get to see them as young men. These are the things we take for granted until life slaps us in the face. Have you ever been in one of those situations? If you have, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
I made it through that rough patch, praise God, and I am a forever changed person because of it. So every year that I am gifted with the opportunity to blow out some candles and count a few more gray hair, I honestly can't think of a better gift.
Speaking of life and gifts, my family has been going through quite an event lately. Two weeks ago, my youngest son (16), sent me a text while at school saying that he was bringing home "a new family member". Keep in mind, we have no pets and haven't had pets for over a decade. Basically, that decision has come from the fact that we just don't have time for the commitment pets bring among several other reasons. So when I received this text, my first thought was "C" better not be coming home with a kitten! He has been begging for a cat for at least 5 years.
When I asked him who and what this new family member was, he sent me a picture of a Betta fish. I kind of rolled my eyes and thought this little guy doesn't stand a chance. It will probably end up being flushed in a week tops. We have had an aquarium in the past. I knew the work involved and it is no easy task! And the time commitment- ugh! I just don't have the time for another chore. By the time "C" got home with his new fish, the fish had a name...Charlie. Oh dear. I told him right off the bat, "You know he is going to die, right?" He said, "Mom, let's just celebrate his life, okay?" I said, "Okay, but I think it will be a short celebration."
Charlie was living in the cup he came in from the pet store. So we went out and bought him a 2 quart fish bowl, some water conditioner, food, and gravel- the bare essentials. Or so we thought. I can't believe I'm saying this, but our whole family was in love with Charlie within two days. No joke- a stinkin' fish! He is so personable that you literally can't help but love this little guy. But, a big problem was brewing. Charlie was getting sick and we didn't know it.
The short story is that 2 quarts is not big enough for Charlie to survive in. There is no way to heat the water properly and being the bowl is so small, it is a breeding ground for bacteria. As soon as we figured out there was a problem, I went into detective mode. We bought a 2.5 gallon tank, a heater, some aquarium salt, and a few other essentials for our little guy. You should have seen his behavior when he was transferred into his new home- ELATED! It was like he was shouting out a big "thank you" to us. I actually wanted to cry. I know I know, cray cray.
Currently, the situation is this. Charlie is definitely in a healthier environment and is much happier. However, he is not out of the woods yet. Hopefully within the week we will notice a huge difference. Our whole family is emotionally vested in Charlie and we just want to see him thrive. I will keep you posted!
So let's talk sushi! It's kind of ironic that I'm telling you all about our fish and now we have a sushi bowl recipe to dissect. And for that reason, this is a vegan sushi bowl, no raw fish here! Don't get me wrong, I love raw fish and sushi of all kinds, but out of respect for Charlie, we are gong to stick to the veggies today.
If you are a sushi lover, you are going to enjoy this bowl. It's quite simple to make and it is accompanied with many elements you would find at your favorite sushi bar. Filled with roasted sweet potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and avocado, this bowl brings great satisfaction! A touch of wasabi, ginger, sesame seeds, dulse flakes and miso dressing are all great complements. I used quinoa for my base but sushi rice is a great choice too. If you are paleo, try some cauliflower rice. I sauté the cauliflower rice in a frying pan with some sesame oil. Add a touch of garlic, sesame seeds, green onions, and dulse flakes. It's delicious and it totally passes for rice.
I typically stay away from soy. Why? Well, many soy based products on the market are genetically modified. I don't like that. Soy is also known to cause hormonal imbalances in some people due to the phytoestrogens in soybeans. Those are two big reasons for me. There are other reasons as well and perhaps we can get into all of that at some point. However, soy that is fermented actually has some health promoting properties which make it worth while to consume. Miso is one of those fermented foods. Miso Master is a brand to look for. It's an organic, non- GMO, fermented Miso paste that really adds a nice flavor to your dishes and actually has some health benefits. There are other quality brands out there. Just do your homework before choosing the best one for you. If you need to avoid soy all together, I would just leave off the dressing. There are so many other flavors going on here that this bowl is satisfying and tasty!
1 large sweet potato, peeled & diced (1/2 inch pieces, approx. 2 cups)
1 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, sliced into matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled, sliced into matchsticks
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked (sushi rice, brown rice, or cauliflower rice works too)
Ingredients for cauliflower rice (if making)
2 cups riced cauliflower
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup green onions, sliced (optional)
1 Tbs dulse flakes (optional)
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp white miso paste
2 Tbs rice vinegar
2 Tbs raw honey
1 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
3 Tbs sesame oil
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Dice and peel the sweet potato. Toss with the melted coconut oil, sea salt, and pepper. Bake for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Cook the quinoa (or rice) and prep the remaining vegetables. If you are making cauliflower rice, simply rice your cauliflower in a food processor. Then sauté the cauliflower rice in a frying pan with a tablespoon of sesame oil, a dash a toasted sesame oil, one minced garlic clove, and some sliced green onions. Cook for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in some dulse flakes and sesame seeds.
4. To make the dressing, simply place all of the ingredients into your blender or food processor and blend until fully incorporated.
5. Assemble your sushi bowls by placing the quinoa (or rice) as the base, then add the sweet potato, cucumber, carrots, and avocado. Sprinkle with the dulse flakes, sesame seeds, and green onions. Complement the bowls with some pickled ginger and wasabi paste. Drizzle with the Miso dressing and enjoy! Makes two bowls.