Just Say No to Spicy Tuna Rolls: 6 Tips for a Healthy Office Lunch, Sushi-Style

Posted by on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 with 0 Comments

Eating healthy at the office can be notoriously difficult, especially when coworkers team up to order from a takeout place. Most dieters breathe a sigh of relief, however, when we hear that the sushi place is the delivery pick of the day. Fish, vegetables, rice — sushi’s totally healthy. Right?

takeout sushi with miso soup

Miso soup helps make a healthy sushi lunch.
Image source: Flickr user Marisa | Food in Jars

Not so fast. Traditional sushi fare, like sashimi (just super-fresh fish), and nigiri (a small mound of rice topped with a slice of fish), are simple, fresh, and usually quite high in protein and low in calories. However, when you start ordering some Americanized rolls, stuffed with cream cheese and topped with heavy mayo-based sauces, you also start loading on saturated fats and calories.

You don’t need to stick to plain fish and rice to make a healthy office lunch, though, if that doesn’t sound appealing. Most sushi menus are full of smart choices — all it takes is a little planning and, frankly, some common sense. Here’s what to keep in mind as you plan your meal:

1) Get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck by selecting sushi that includes salmon and tuna. Not only are they both low in calories and high in protein — both contain a considerable amount of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also among the few natural food sources of vitamin D, which boasts health benefits like boosting immunity and alleviating depression.

takeout plate of nigiri sushi

Nigiri, especially salmon or tuna, is one of the smartest sushi choices.
Image source: Flickr user Stephen Rees

2) As with most meals, starting with a broth-based soup is a smart idea, and most sushi restaurants have one of the healthiest options available. Adding a cup of miso soup to your takeout order won’t just curb your appetite before you dig into the sushi itself: miso (made from fermented soybeans) is high in minerals like manganese, zinc, and phosphorous, as well as protein and fiber.

3) Another healthy appetizer to add? Edamame. Packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins while keeping relatively low on calories, these shelled soybeans’ only downside is that they’re usually prepared with lots of salt.

bowl of edamame

Protein-rich edamame makes an excellent appetizer.
Image source: Flickr user su-lin

4) Purists may be horrified at the idea, but order rolls made with brown rice instead of traditional sushi rice, which is white — and a sushi roll can include as much as one cup of rice, or about 200 calories. As a healthy whole grain, brown rice includes more nutrients and fiber, and will keep you feeling fuller throughout the day.

5) Watch the sauces. Most “spicy” rolls, including the ubiquitous spicy tuna, are topped with a calorie-laden mayo-based sauce. Eel rolls get their sweet-and-salty kick from their thick, sugary brown sauce (also higher in calories). Philadelphia rolls, naturally, get their name because they include cream cheese. If these are among your favorites (and they are delicious!) ask a coworker to share an order rather than making it your entire lunch.

spicy tuna rolls takeout

“Spicy” rolls can be a less healthy option, thanks to their rich sauces.
Image source: Flickr user wendalicious

6) And finally, beware of the temptation of tempura. These crispy shrimp and vegetables are full of flavor and a Japanese tradition, but building your meal around fried food isn’t generally a healthy lunch idea. This is also where common sense comes into play: if the menu description includes the words “crispy” or “crunchy”, you can bet it will be fried.

To keep your sushi lunch as healthy as possible, keep it simple. A cup of miso soup, an order of edamame, and a few servings of salmon or tuna nigiri makes for a nutritious lunch that’s full of flavor. Simplicity, nuanced flavors, and good health: just what Japanese cuisine is meant to be.

Make your office lunches not only healthy, but convenient: Waiter.com offers easy online ordering for groups, as well as prompt delivery. You can focus on your healthy office lunch, not the hassle of getting it to the break room!

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — Waiter.com is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & deliveryWaiter.com offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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