Lunchboxes Recipes

Sushi at Home

If you ask Autumn what her favorite food is she will always say “sushi”.  Sushi to her means a plain avocado roll.  We make our own when we have the time – there are a couple places in town that we can actually buy nut, egg and dairy free sushi. We are lucky to have many great Japanese restaurants in town, but unfortunately Autumn can’t eat any food at them.  Many use nut butters, eggs, small chopped nuts, cream cheese, nut oils and other specialty sauces. It is impossible to find a restaurant without a risk of cross-contamination. Wiping the knife on a towel just isn’t sufficient to remove allergen residue.

But the good news is – sushi rolls are fun to make and work great in lunches that you can keep cold. We put out little bowls of ingredients and let the kids make their own.  Put out a little bowl of water so rice doesn’t stick to fingers.

Here’s our recipe for rice and a list of our favorite fillings. Making sushi rice is an art form in itself not to mention the rolling, so I won’t go into the techniques and methods, but just a general recipe.  You can google for more details if you want to explore those techniques.


Short-grain rice / brown or white
Rice Vinegar
Agave nectar

Depending on how much you want to make this is the ratios we use: rice: water = 1:1 cups, vinegar: agave = 1:1 tablespoons -example: 2 cups of rice, 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of agave  These ratios keep things simple.

You can use a rice cooker or stove top method to cook the rice. Measure your rice and water in a 1:1 ration (2 cups rice / 2 cups water) and cook according to directions. Before cooking your rice, rinse it well. While its cooking combine rice vinegar and agave nectar 1:1 ratio also. For 2 cups of rice, I use 2 tablespoons of vinegar: 2 tablespoons of agave nectar.   When the rice is done and cooling,  slowly add the vinegar mixture and mix carefully.  Let the rice cool completely before using. Toast your nori sheets very quickly by holding them with tongs over an open flame (I use the gas burner). To assemble the rolls, spread the rice on the rough side of the nori in a thin layer and leave a space open on one long end to seal the rolls. You can use a roller or a towel to roll up your creations.


Here are some of our favorite combinations:

avocado, cucumber, sauteed mushrooms

avocado, mango, vegan cream cheese
yam, scallions
basil, pickled onions, sauteed mushrooms
smoked salmon jerky, vegan cream cheese
grilled chicken, mango
lox, vegan cream cheese
breaded fish, sprouts

I like to use a cold bento box to hold these – the avocado tends to stay fresher. The kids don’t really like it when it turns brown – who does?

Allergens to watch out for:
soy sauce – contains soy, can contain gluten
vegan cream cheese – contains soy, also look for one without trans fats
mushrooms – contain glutamic acid, the same amino acid (a building block of protein) found in MSG (monosodium glutamate)
jerky or smoked salmon – can have gluten or soy

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  • Reply
    August 19, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Hi, Lisa — my brother John told me about your site. It’s great! I was drawn to this post b/c my 7 yr old (who has Celiac Disease) would say it’s his favorite food, too! It’s such a great gluten-free option for us. We recently started making it at home and both my boys think it’s so fun! 🙂 It’s like an art project!

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