Cooking Green Goodness with Ayane (Part 3): Veggie Sushi Rolls

Sometimes you have to roll with the punches, and other times, what’s most appropriate is rolling a nutrition-packed sea vegetable around sticky rice. You see, Ayane, my little food hero, loves sushi and requested a lesson in making her own homemade California rolls. In this segment, Ayane and I are both learning new things – in more ways than one.

In Conversation: Ready, Set, Roll!

In the kitchen taking pictures of the process is Ayane’s mom, Janice. Janice is a mother of four children – 1 girl and 3 boys between the ages of 2 and 9 – Ayane being the oldest. She’s also a beloved high school teacher of 10 years and is called “Miss” by her students. I often joke that Janice is the Michelle Pfeiffer of her high school, except, the struggles of her students witnessed on a daily basis is not the movies but real life. Here’s me and Janice in conversation throughout the day discussing her role as “Miss,” while balancing life as a wife and mother of four.

Janice: “As a mother, I always contemplate the food I offer my children; it can feel like a tug of war at times.  I’m worried about creating healthy habits for them, but the foods they want are full of sugar and not balanced, so compromise needs to exist. But, regardless of the compromise I know my children are fed.

As a teacher, I have been blessed to work with the most wonderful students.  Students who appreciate genuine support; who are transparent and raw and unfortunately ones who are hungry.  It saddens me to know that my students, someone’s child is hungry, not out of greed but due to lack of food in their lives.

Before working at my school I only thought to bring my own lunch but as I began to know my students I came to understand that food was not always easy to come by. At this point, I would buy extra groceries and bring them to school for them.  Sometimes, you see kids and they seem uninterested, tired, and we think its their lack of motivation, but in reality it could be due to hunger.  These kids have many obstacles that they have to face before walking in their school doors.”

Why did you decide to become a teacher? Being a teacher was not my first idea.  I wanted to be a psychologist at first but decided after my undergrad that I still was unsure of my path.  I went to work and then decided to try teachers college.  It was during my practicum placements working with students that I realized I could make a positive impact on young lives and enjoy what I do.

What grade and subject do your teach? I am a special education resource teacher (SERT) in secondary school and specialize working with “at risk” youth.  I teach the GLE Learning Strategies courses, specifically the grade 11 and 12’s.

What is your goal for your students? My goal for students is their success, well-being and happiness.  When working with disadvantaged youth you see the obstacles they face before even entering the school doors and I want to support them and help them overcome their obstacles and to open their minds to strategies so that they can break cycles and have higher expectations for themselves and do what they want to do and not what others have prescribed for them.

You mentioned that your students are often “hungry.” Does your school offer a food program? If so, can you tell us about it? If not, what resources do you think should me made available to support these students? Yes, a lot of our students come to school hungry.  Our school does offer a free breakfast and lunch program to students regardless of their need.  Some breakfast options are fruits, yogurt, and cereal.  Lunch options vary on school supply but may be a sandwich, chili, or fries. By no means is the food supplied top grade or fulfilling, however the goal is to help give students energy to get through the day.

As a working Mom with four children, how do you and your husband (my big brother), handle meal times? Meal times can be hectic as not all of our children enjoy eating the same foods.  I usually prepare the school lunches which are packed with fruits, vegetables, hummus, cheese, sushi, sandwiches and other healthy items.  Breakfasts are usually rushed and small.  My kids will eat cereal or a bagel.  Dinners vary depending on who is cooking and what after school activities we are doing that day.  But, a typical dinner meal would be pasta, vegetables and meat.

How did Ayane enjoy this experience; learning to make smoothies, cooking zucchini, rolling her own sushi? Ayane enjoyed her experience cooking new foods with her aunt.  She is very hands on and is comfortable in the kitchen.  With more exposure to different foods, my hope will be that her taste buds will widen and include a variety of healthy foods from different cultures and of course make her more independent in creating meals for herself and hopefully….her family.

Inspire Creativity

Hi guys! Thanks for checking out the last of my there part series with Ayane. Ayane (pronounced Aya-neh) is my adorable 9 year old niece and we’ve been having fun in the kitchen cooking together. If you missed our first two segments together, please check out: Creating The Perfect Smoothie (part 1) and Zucchini Pizza Bites (part 2).

I believe that when you empower a child to make healthier lifestyle choices through experiential learning, highlighting healthy eating, nutrition, cooking skills and active living, these things can make a difference in promoting and improving their quality of life.

The experience making veggie sushi rolls reminded me of a well planned, hands on arts and crafts project. There was a lot of research involved including purchase of authentic ingredients and tools like the bamboo mats. With this dish alone, Ayane learned to cook with three different types of vegetables – carrot, cucumber, roasted seaweed (nori) – and one fruit; avocado. Among other things, we learned how to make sticky rice and our own spicy mayo (referred to as “the yummy pink sauce” by Ayane) from scratch.


Contrary to popular belief, sushi does not mean “raw fish.” As defined in the dictionary, “sushi” is a Japanese dish consisting of small balls or rolls of vinegar-flavoured cold cooked rice served with a garnish of raw fish, vegetables, or egg. The vinegar rice itself is referred to as shari. Raw fish served by itself without the rice is called sashimi.

Veggie Sushi Rolls: Steps to Prepare
  1. Start by cooking your sticky rice (recipe below).
  2. Prepare your vegetables and equipment (see instructional video: How To Make Simple And Delicious Sushi). This instructional video helped Ayane and I learn techniques for cutting the vegetables, rolling the sticky rice, topping the seaweed, and most important, how to roll the sushi with the bamboo mat. Having never made sushi before, this video was a good tutorial that worked for us.
  3. Wet hands, roll the sticky rice into a ball (see above pic). Flatten onto roasted seaweed.
  4. Top the center of the rice with sliced vegetables. At this point you can also top with sesame seeds.

Let’s Roll

The next important step was rolling the sushi with the bamboo mat and saran wrap. Learn the technique in the instructional video: How To Make Simple And Delicious Sushi.

Have a Good Time Cooking With Your Kids

Cooking with children isn’t just a nice-to-do activity. The kitchen, used properly, is a starting place for young people to get involved with meal planning and preparation – weaving together the realities of their nutritional needs. I also believe that it’s equally important to allow kids to have a choice and share what they’re thinking when it comes to teaching them how to prepare meals. It helps them to feel valued and could inspire creativity on both ends.

Veggie Sushi Rolls

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Kid made. Kid approved for eating. Roll with it!


Sticky Rice

  • 2 cups short grain rice
  • 2 14 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Sushi Filling

  • 1 large English cucumber, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • Sesame seeds

Dips for Serving

  • Tamari, or soya sauce
  • Wasabi
  • Spicy Mayo (mix together mayonnaise and sriracha)

Equipment Needed

  • 6 – 8 sheets roasted seaweed
  • 2 Bamboo mats, for rolling
  • Saran wrap, to cover the bamboo mats
  • Chopsticks for serving


  1. Pour the rice in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the rice and use your hands to vigorously swish the rice around. Pour out the water, which will be cloudy with starch. Repeat this step 3 to 4 more times, until the water being poured off is almost clear.
  2. Fill the pot with the washed rice with 2 1cups water and cover. Over high heat, bring the covered pot to a boil (listen for the chattering). Reduce the heat to low and let the rice cook for 15 – 20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed and all the grains of rice is cooked. Lift the lid to check inside.
  3. Remove from the heat and let sit, still covered, for 5 minutes.
  4. Scoop the rice in a large wooden bowl. Mix together the rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt and pour over the rice. The wooden bowl will absorb excess moisture. As the rice cools, it will become sticky.

To continue with your sushi making experience, see: How To Make Simple And Delicious Sushi.


Serve with pickled ginger.

Sea vegetables, the respectful term used to refer to the nutrition-packed plants commonly called “seaweed,” may not be as varied as “land” vegetables, but neither are they all dark and stringy or green and leafy. They vary by colour, shape, texture, and flavour and can be used in salads, as a condiment, or be eaten on their own.

See more: Cooking Green Goodness

10 thoughts on “Cooking Green Goodness with Ayane (Part 3): Veggie Sushi Rolls

  1. What a wonderful post! Kudos to all three of you! And extra kudos to Janice for her being so supportive of her students. It really saddens us to know that there are hungry children in the classroom in America in 2017. Watching US movies/series we always thought that there’s free food from the school in the cafeteria:/ This doesn’t seem to be the case, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, we also have similar problems after 2010 in Greece, with the -practically- bankrupt State. We had kids who fainted in the classrooms because they hadn’t eaten anything for some days. How horrible is this?
    And Janice taking groceries to school? Bless her soul, we were really touched reading this.
    As for the sushi rolls, we’re no big fans ourselves but still loved the post. You do have a way writing a beautiful post Eartha:)
    Sending you guys our love,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Mirella and Panos! Ok, so it took me a minute to think about what I’d like to say in my response to you, because there’s so much I could say about the issues surrounding hunger. Poverty is real, here in Canada – a most “welcoming” country. As policy change will not happen overnight with respect to poverty, wage gap, hunger, I’ll start by speaking on a specific subject: “Food Waste.” To think, there’s more than enough to go around but priorities are so skewed. It’s the old saying that unless it affects you then you really don’t have to care. I read an article in a major Canadian newspaper about two weeks ago with a quote “poor people don’t know how to cook.” I’m not quite sure if it was meant literally, or that those with lesser means might not have access to afford healthier food options. I do plan to address this matter in a post. Some of today’s most loved delicacies (including veggie dishes) came to be because the less fortunate worked with what they could, used fresh herbs, plants and seasonings from the land.

      There are organizations here that participate in food rescue programs – they are valued and appreciated, but there are corporations that are legally obligated for example to discard of cooked food after a period of time, to avoid legal repercussions if someone were to eat that food and get sick. Being a certified food handler I understand the importance of proper food storage and I do understand why these corporations would rather toss a whole chicken that’s been sitting than give it away – but seriously, if people actually cared that someone could use that food, they would put the effort into making sure that food is not wasted. The cost to society, our planet, if we continue these types of practices, is greater than any operational budget.

      I heard and read a lot in the news about the crisis that took place in Greece but to hear it in this context is heartbreaking. Children should not have to continue to suffer the decisions of policy makers. I’m curious to know, how were you able to manage that situation?

      On a lighter note, I think when Ayane mentioned that she wanted to make sushi I might have said “what? black people don’t cook sushi.” LOL! But that’s my ignorance and I was joking of course. I am of the mindset that it’s important to expand your horizons, especially when it comes to teaching children. Not to mention, it was a lot of fun – trial and error. The California rolls tasted as good as store bought and we both now know how to make sushi.
      As always, I appreciate you guys stopping by. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      • What a wonderful response! Indeed food waste is a huge subject, especially in the most developed countries. We recently read about food waste in the UK, which was extraordinary. And you’re right; there’s more than enough to go around! But there’s a cost in managing the extra food and it seems that there’s very little effort towards using it.
        Due to the crisis here in Greece there are examples with bakeries that give the da-old bread to charities etc. which is a step in the right direction. As for us, of course, the crisis hit us as well (it affected everybody living here), but we were lucky enough to still have a job that pays us on time (23% are unemployed and about half of those employed do not get paid on time and are owed months and months of wages!). More than 500K people immigrated (in a country of 10M). Taxes are beyond any reasoning as well as social security payments, for everyone who has a job or owns a small business. For instance, a blogger must pay more than 80% of the income in taxes and social security lol! It’s a ridiculous situation. We thank the Lord for keeping us safe for the moment, healthy and able to enjoy life. Greece is a beautiful place with bad governments and horrible mismanagement of the public sector, throughout the years. And it’s now the lab rat for various mixtures of austerity policies from the IMF and the EU without any prospect of a brighter future. It may sound bleak, but that’s how we all feel here. There’s really very little hope for better things in the economy.
        But let’s say something more cheerful:) We didn’t know that black people don’t cook sushi lol (we’re also joking of course)! This line reminded us the movie with the Jamaican bobsled team – what a great movie btw:) Sushi is rarely eaten here, it’s quite expensive and most people prefer other types of food. The most successful foreign food here has always been the American and the Italian. Pasta, pizza and burgers:) Much like the rest of the world. But the most popular street food remains the souvlaki and gyros. If you ever visit Greece you must taste it, it’s nothing like the lamb(?) gyros served in the Americas. Here we always use marinated pork. And it’s sooo good:)
        Anyway, here we are rumbling again:) Sending you lots and lots of hugs!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Geeze, Eartha! Now I have to try this recipe! My three GROWN children all love sushi, but I’ve never tried it because to me ALL sushi is sashimi! LOL!

    I know, I know. The kids have tried on numerous occasions to break it down to me. I have no more excuses, especially since California rolls are their favorite, and this recipe couldn’t be any simpler.

    Did I mention they bought me a sushi-making kit over two years ago? Hasn’t been opened yet. Guess that’s about to change! LOL! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s time to break out that sushi-making kit, Felicia. Two years? LOL!
      If not for Ayane though, making sushi would not be on my radar either. But that’s the thing about kids, they think everything’s possible.
      That video was my saving grace and I’m so glad we did it! We both learned a lot, had fun, created 6 rolls and shared with family. I even made some the day after at home just to say I can make sushi… woohoo!
      Glad you’re inspired. Thanks for stopping by and reading the post. You have to keep me posted on your sushi-making adventure. (:

      Liked by 2 people

      • It will be sooner than I like, Eartha! LOL!

        My son-in-law’s been re-assigned to another base half-way across the country for flight school, so my babygirl will be leaving before the holidays. *Sad face* And, if I make these AFTER she’s gone, I can say goodbye to Mother’s Day gifts forever! LOL!

        Will keep you posted – thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

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