In my last post, I briefly mentioned that I began the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet. Well, it’s been over two weeks now, and I’m still going strong! It’s been an adjustment, but the more recipes I’ve discovered, the more I’m actually enjoying it. Today, I’ll explain what exactly the AIP diet is and why it can be helpful!
There’s the old saying, “When you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Since I can’t cook most of my prior blog recipes right now, I better start creating some AIP recipes! So, I’m kicking things off with my Salmon Sushi Rolls made with crispy nori, avocado, cauliflower rice, wild-caught salmon, and fresh veggies! This recipe is AIP, Paleo, super healthy, and downright delicious!
Don’t let the word “sushi” scare you away from trying this! These Salmon Sushi Rolls are a breeze to make and don’t contain any raw fish! I have been making these for lunch since starting AIP and they have become my new fave! Let me tell you a bit more about why these Salmon Sushi Rolls are an amazing meal to support the Autoimmune Protocol.
The AIP diet repairs damage to the gut, reduces inflammation, aids in detoxification, pinpoints food sensitivities, and helps balance hormones and blood sugar. Those with autoimmune disorders (in my case- celiac disease) often need to go on this elimination diet in order to correct long-term damage to the digestive and immune systems. Typically, once the gut is healed, it can lead to restoration in other parts of the body.
Since I had already been eating primarily paleo and have done a Whole30 in the past, some of the aspects of AIP were easy for me. No gluten, no dairy, no grains, no refined sugars. That part I had covered! But, it gets trickier. I now need to avoid eggs, nuts, seeds, cocoa, alcohol, most vegetable oils, legumes, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant), and any spices made from nightshades, seeds, or nuts. So, even black pepper is off the table for awhile! Yikes, right?
At first glance, it does seem really harsh. Most people react with comments like, “I could NEVER do that.” Or, “Wow, you can’t eat anything!”
Friends, this may surprise you, but since starting AIP, there has not been one day that I have felt deprived. Shocking, but true. I can still eat meats of all kinds, seafood, all veggies aside from nightshades, and all fruits- in moderation. I can also eat coconut products of all sorts, which is awesome.
What I’ve found is that the more I’m restricted, the more I appreciate the simple, whole foods. I’m also much more willing to step outside my comfort zone and try new foods and recipes for the good of my health.
Am I saying it’s easy and fun to do AIP? Nope. It’s hard and it’s an adjustment- even for someone like me who has lived the Paleo life. My toughest challenge is handling social situations where food is the main component – parties, weddings, family gatherings. And restaurants are out of the question right now.
Yet, when I start to feel sorry for myself, I have to remember that AIP is like medicine for my body. The purpose isn’t that it’s always easy and fun. The purpose is to HEAL. To fuel the body with what it needs and help it get back on track as quickly as possible. And that means eating a LOT of organic vegetables, as well as high quality meats and fish, healthy fats, and really any foods and spices that aid in gut health.
The other key is VARIETY. You don’t want to eat chicken every night for dinner. It’s also easy to fall back on fruits and eat too much of them. I now keep a food log that helps me track just how much fruit I’m eating. It also holds me accountable to eating a variety and getting outside of my comfort zone.
For me, that includes incorporating organ meats (ew, liver), shellfish, and sea vegetables at least once per week- preferably as much as possible. Probiotic foods like sauerkraut and kombucha are great for gut health, too, which are fine by me! I also have to eat wild-caught fish at least three times per week for healthy Omega 3 fats.
That brings me back to the Salmon Sushi Rolls. When I found out I had to increase my sea vegetable and fish intake, I immediately thought of sushi. It covers both my sea vegetable and fish requirements in one easy meal!
I’d made paleo sushi in the past using cauliflower rice and wasn’t that impressed. I always had a hard time rolling it up and cutting it. The cauliflower rice alone just wasn’t sticky enough to hold it together.
Enter my new AIP best friend: the avocado. By mashing some avocado up with fresh ginger, sea salt, and lime juice, I created an Asian guacamole of sorts that is the perfect first layer for successful Paleo sushi! Since my spice rack is now limited to sea salt, garlic, onion, cinnamon, ginger, fresh and dried herbs, and turmeric (an anti-inflammatory super-food), I have to get pretty creative. In these Salmon Sushi Rolls, I utilize almost all my AIP-approved spices! Ginger, sea salt, turmeric, and coconut aminos which is a great soy sauce substitute. Despite being limited with seasonings, the flavors in these sushi rolls are on point!
To create the Salmon Sushi Rolls, you’ll first want to prep some cauliflower rice. I made a big batch of it to keep in the fridge all week so I could throw together sushi whenever I wanted. I seasoned my cauli rice with turmeric, ginger, garlic, sea salt, and coconut aminos. (You can also totally skip the cauliflower rice and still have delicious sushi!)
If you’re not familiar with nori, it’s roasted seaweed that is formed into a sheet. For the AIP diet, nori is a great wrap substitute, but sushi is what it’s best in. You can find nori at most large grocery stores or online.
I used a bamboo mat for rolling my sushi to keep my surface clean, but you could use plastic wrap or just roll it up on a plate. These are a lot less messy than regular sushi, since you’re not dealing with sticky rice!
Just make your avocado/ginger mash and spread it evenly over the nori, leaving a little space on the top edge. Then, add a bit of cauliflower rice, seasoned with turmeric, ginger, garlic, and sea salt.
I julienned some cucumbers and piled those on with shredded carrots and my wild-caught canned salmon. You could use any fish you like – shrimp would be excellent, too! If you’re brave and want to use a sushi-grade raw fish, go for it!
Place your fillings on the top third of your nori, then gently roll it up. I used my bamboo mat to help secure the sushi, but I’ve also rolled these up just fine without a mat. The avocado mash really helps seal these!
Once it’s tightly rolled, use a sharp or serrated knife and gently slice with a sawing motion. The end pieces will be a bit rough, but you should end up with 6-8 pieces.
Look how beautiful the colors are in this sushi! Soooo healthy and full of flavor. I dipped mine in some coconut aminos and it was delish.
When I’m eating my Salmon Sushi Rolls, I almost forget I’m on an AIP diet! That’s how good they are. I hope you’ll add some variety to your lunch or dinner menus and give my Salmon Sushi Rolls a try!
And, if you or anyone you know is on or about to start an AIP diet and needs encouragement, please connect with me! Happy to help where I can! 🙂
- 1 sheet nori (seaweed wrap)
- ¼ cup julienned carrots and cucumbers
- ⅛ cup cooked wild-caught salmon (I used canned)
- coconut aminos, for dipping
- ½ cup cauliflower rice
- ½ teaspoon coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
- pinch of sea salt, turmeric, ginger, garlic powder (to taste)
- ½ avocado
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- ¼ teaspoon lime juice
- pinch of sea salt
- Cook your cauliflower rice in a skillet over medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes. (I cooked a big batch and saved the rest for future sushi rolls!)
- Once cooked through, combine ½ cup cauliflower rice with spices and salt in a small bowl. Set aside to cool.
- Scoop out avocado flesh into a small bowl and mash with grated ginger, lime juice, and coconut aminos.
- To assemble, take a sheet of nori and place on a plate, plastic wrap, or bamboo mat. Spread avocado mash on top in an even layer on nori, leaving about an inch of space at the top edge.
- Spread your cauliflower rice on top of avocado layer.
- Place your vegetables and salmon in straight lines on the top third of the nori.
- Carefully roll up, keep the filling tucked inside.
- Once rolled, slice gently using a sharp or serrated knife. (Saw back and forth so you don't squish the roll!) You should get 6-8 pieces.
- Dip sushi pieces into coconut aminos or soy sauce of choice. Enjoy!
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