The Can-Do Candida Diet: Sushi Rice for the Candida Diet: This is How We Roll
Can-Do Candida © Isabelle Burden 2013 All rights reserved

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sushi Rice for the Candida Diet: This is How We Roll

I recently had a craving that was so strong I simply had to follow my instincts and create a Candida Can-Do version I could enjoy on the spot.

My family has always had a multi-generational love affair with Japanese culture. My father spent some time there as a young man, even training as a sushi chef for a few months, and it was only natural that he passed that love of culture and food to his children.

My sister and I grew up with weekly sushi dinners, Miyazaki movies, and of course a cornucopia of kawaii creatures with over-sized eyes and stylized expressions.

One of my favorites lunches as a kid was onigiri.

Quinoa onigiri filled with bonito flakes and sesame seasoning

Onigiri, often called rice balls in America, is a typical Japanese meal made by shaping rice in round or triangular molds for bento boxes and other on-the-go eating. The rise can be seasoned or plain, and is often wrapped in nori (pressed and dried seaweed). Onigiri can be filled with any number of things, including mayonnaise-dressed salads of shrimp or fish, umeboshi (pickled plums), or tempura shrimp.  

When my father made them for me I was still a picky American 7 year-old, so some of the more traditional ingredients were swapped to fit my palate. “Onigiri” in my house was a ball of sushi rice (sushi rice is flavored with sugar and vinegar, and is not used in typical onigiri) seasoned with sesame seeds, seaweed and bonito flakes, all rolled up in strips of savory nori.

My sister’s preferred rice recipe at the time involved two steps – putting it in a bowl and adding butter – so I suppose I could be considered adventurous by comparison.

When I was fourteen my father took me to Japan for the first time where I tried real, traditional Japanese onigiri.  The place was called Onigiri Is Motherlove, and was located on a busy avenue in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood. I stood in the lunch hour line behind several Japanese businessmen and marveled at the expansive menu displayed above the fast-food-style counter.

Of course, being on the candida diet I can’t eat rice. So I had to figure out how to create the classic flavors of my childhood onigiri without sugar or rice, and without feeling like either was missing. 

The result, I must say, sent my taste buds on a very pleasant trip down memory lane.

Rice is a grain while quinoa is technically a seed, therefore quinoa does not have the same starchiness as rice.  While this makes it a more appropriate choice for the candida diet, it does mean that the quinoa will need a little help holding itself together.

The trick to making a sticky, rollable quinoa “rice” is to add a pinch of psyllium husk powder - a flavorless and finely ground fiber that will hold your quinoa in place without adding extra starch to your diet.    

Quinoa cucumber avocado roll


For the sushi “rice”:

1 tbsp water
¼ tsp salt
2 ¼ tsps white vinegar
¾ tsp granulated stevia, such as Stevia in the Raw
2 cups cooked white quinoa
Pinch psyllium husk powder

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the water, salt, vinegar, and stevia until all solids have dissolved into a solution. Add the cooked quinoa and the psyllium husk powder to this mixture and stir well to coat the quinoa in the vinegar mixture.

Refrigerate the bowl of quinoa sushi rice until it is chilled to just below room temperature.

For the onigiri:

1 sheet nori
Bonito flakes to taste
Gomashio rice seasoning to taste
Filling of your choice

Place a pile of quinoa sushi rice about the size of a large fist onto the center of a piece of plastic wrap. Tamp the quinoa rice down until it is spread out and about 1/4-inch thick. Place the filling of your choice in the center, then wrap the plastic so that the quinoa comes together around the filling. Work the quinoa through the plastic with your hand to form a ball.

Because quinoa has no gluten, the onigiri will not stick as readily as a traditional rice ball. Try wrapping the plastic wrap tightly or massaging the grain a little with your hands. If all else fails, eat it with a fork – it will still taste delicious.

For the cucumber avocado roll:

Quinoa sushi rice
Nori sheets (1 sheet per roll)
Half a ripe avocado, seed removed, sliced into strips
1 cucumber, peeled, cored, and julienned
Sesame seeds (optional)

Place a sheet of plastic wrap over a bamboo sushi mat.  Place one sheet of nori onto the mat.  Create a rectangle of quinoa that spans the length of the nori, about a quarter-inch thick and two inches wide, at the end of the mat closest to you.  Place thinly sliced strips of avocado lengthwise along the center of the quinoa.  Place a few of the julienned pieces of cucumber in line with the avocados. Roll the mat from the edge closest to you, using your fingers to keep the roll tight. Move the mat out of the way as you continue to roll the sushi.

For more visual instruction on how to make a sushi roll, try this video on youtube.
Note that not all the steps will be the same for this recipe and the recipe in the video, but the general motion of rolling the sushi will be the same. 

While this recipe is a little too messy to be a true on-the-go lunch, I highly recommend giving it a try for a sit down meal at home.  And feel free to get creative with your fillings!


  1. These look delicious! I would have never known it wasn't real rice! I oftentimes sub in cauliflower for rice in my recipes.

  2. U.U mine never got stick together .. and first time trying quinoa.. D: is too sweet