new year’s plan & amazing paleo butternut squash sushi – with or without rice

Hello all,

It’s been a while, I know (sorry). That annoying thing called life snuck up and bombarded me with lots of things and I’ve been struggling to catch up. There have been a few recipe triumphs in that time (and a few disasters, but we don’t count those) which I’ve forgotten almost as soon as the dishes were washed- but this one I just couldn’t let go without a post.

But before that! As part of all this “new year new me” whatever I decided to do something I’ve been aiming at (and failing in) for a long time- cut out refined carbs. I love them, but alas it’s one sided as they play havoc with my health, hormones, weight, lots of things. Coming from a middle eastern background as I do I’ve always failed at avoiding them because seriously, all we eat is rice and bread, and I was raised in the UK so I quite like potatoes too. For the first time I came up with some acceptable substitutes for those, unlike the disgusting, unconvincing or incredibly time consuming ones I’d tried before. I’m going to assume you’re interested, if not skip to the food bit below.  Here they are.

1. Rice: substitute with cooked lentils. In the case of a stew, use the liquid to cook the lentils like a one-pot meal. This is so much less time consuming and much more palatable than that God-awful cauliflower rice everyone rants about (barf, seriously) which is so messy to make and time consuming to squeeze out and fry it dry enough not to taste vile. I really don’t know or care much if they class as legumes and aren’t paleo, that’s not why I’m making the switch.

2. Potatoes: use butternut squash, on the odd occasion we might want one.

3. my personal favourite- Bread: use hand-cooked potato crisps. I know I just said I won’t be using potatoes but I don’t care- this is important. Bread and pastry is a serious and harmful addiction for me, if a 25g bag of potato chips can give me something easy, fast and that I actually like to dip in my guacamole or use as a base for toppings instead of crackers, sandwiches or wraps then so be it. Otherwise I’ll be back to my 3 croissant a day habit and toasted white bread sandwiches on the side.  Bad.  Very bad.

So far these switches have been easy and taste good enough to be sustainable, almost a month in. That’s all I need right now. 8 weeks in and we’ll see if I’m ready to change a bit more.

So, the sushi.


I was going to make some, but didn’t want to use rice. I googled paleo sushi and saw lots of suggestions to use cauliflower (what the hell is wrong with those people, yuk) or avocado, which I felt would be too rich to use in that quantity. I compromised and did two things: made some with a very thin layer of rice and lots of fillings, and used roasted butternut squash instead of rice in the others. And OMG that butternut squash was AMAAAAZZZINNGGGGG…. I actually preferred it to the rice, so did my other half. It’s subtle sweetness matches the flavour from the sushi zu (vinegar & sugar seasoning to the rest of us), you could add a little vinegar if you wanted but I felt it was delicious without. Just scoop out the soft roasted (cooled) flesh of a butternut squash, press it on to the nori (seaweed) as you would the rice, roll then enjoy.

Here are the other fillings we used, in no particular order and various combinations:

Japanese style omelette (add a little soy sauce and sugar or sweetener of choice before frying)
finely sliced red onion
baby kale leaves
fine strips of carrot
thinly sliced green apple
sliced sweet pointed red peppers
tuna flakes
mascarpone cheese
strips of emmental cheese
more roasted butternut squash as a filling

we might have used avocado and smoked salmon if we had any. Either way, still yum.

Everybody loved the squash sushi, even the skeptics. I’ll definitely, definitely be making this again.




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