Japanese-Inspired Healthy Meal Ideas

When you are like me, and need to count calories to make sure you don’t over-indulge (or at least make sure you don’t do it too often), it can be hard to find fun things to eat. I often fall in the trap of eating the same boring salad and same boring chicken.

Lately, my husband and I discovered that Japanese restaurants were our favorite place to go as we love sashimi, miso soup and sushi. I especially love tuna tartare and will rarely pass it up if it’s on the menu. But one of our favorite things about most Japanese restaurants if that they offer a lot of good, healthy, low carb options that still feel fun and satisfying.


When we came back from our trip to Detroit and Toronto (where we had some amazing Japanese meals), I kept pestering Jeff about trying to make miso soup. Little did I know, it’s ridiculously easy to make! Here’s the recipe I used.

So here are my favorite Japanese-inspired, low carb/low calorie dishes. Since most of them are very low in calories, I am able to eat more of it, which always feels like a treat!

Tuna Tartare Tower

I get my sushi-grade tuna from Buford Highway Farmer’s Market or H-Mart. Of course, you want to make sure it comes from a reliable source as you will be eating it raw.


The great thing about tuna tartare is that it looks impressive – and makes you feel like you’re eating at a restaurant- but it is so easy to make.

  1. Cut the tuna into small pieces (sized as desired) and marinate for 15 minutes. My go-to marinade is 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part sesame oil, 1 part lime juice, and sesame seeds. You can add cayenne pepper as well for an extra kick.
  2. Cut up a few fruits or vegetables. My favorite combo for tuna tartare is mango and avocado. I love things that are bright and colorful.
  3. Place a food ring on the serving plate and stack the different layers of ingredients. Make sure you push on them as you go to pack the ring as tightly as possible to help keep your tower up. Remove the food ring very slowly and carefully.
  4. Garnish, as desired, for example with sesame seeds and micro sprouts. You can also drizzle some of leftover tuna marinade on top.
  5. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, sliced baguette…or honestly just on a spoon. 🙂

Cauliflower-Rice Sushi

Do you love sushi but try to cut down on calories/carbs? I was pretty skeptical about using riced cauliflower instead of sushi rice but it turned out well! Of course, it doesn’t stick like real rice and isn’t quite the same but I still found it highly satisfying and so easy to make at home. This was my first time using nori (seaweed sheets) and trying to make sushi rolls. Some of them were a bit wobbly but they still tasted great.

Pictured: Cauliflower rice, tuna, mango and avocado

To make cauliflower-rice sushi, you will need:

  • Nori (seaweed sheets)
  • Protein of choice: sushi-grade tuna or salmon, cooked shrimp, imitation crab meat…
  • Cauliflower rice: baked at 425F for 30 minutes, then dry off as much as possible with paper towels
  • Any other vegetables/fruits: mango, avocado, cucumber, carrots…

The other low-carb roll I enjoyed making (and eating!) was made with alfalfa sprouts as the “filler” instead of cauliflower.

This one was made with Alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, mango and imitation crabmeat. This one was especially tasty when dipped in sweet chili sauce. Yum!


Really, the best thing about all these dishes is that they are easy to make, they look great, they are healthy, and they are very versatile. You can use what’s in season, what you’re in the mood for, what’s on sale…Just make it fresh, colorful and you won’t be disappointed!


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