Sushi joint frequenters either love or hate the spicy accouterments their rolls are served with. If you’re anything like us—true wasabi and ginger fans—you likely fall into two pools. Either you portion out a small bead of the green paste and slather it onto spicy tuna, or you stir the chunk of wasabi into the soy sauce dish to upgrade your dip. Whichever way you prefer to spice things up, you’ll want to know that the green stuff that comes with your sushi isn’t real wasabi. Yes, you read that right.

To help us demystify what most sushi restaurants use in place of real wasabi, we spoke to Ce Bian, the Executive Chef at Robata Japanese restaurant Roka Akor (which serves the real stuff!). We also enlisted the help of Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN of Maya Feller Nutrition, a registered dietitian nutritionist on the Eat This, Not That! Advisory Board, to get the nutritional lowdown on this mysterious paste. Read on to find out exactly what you’re pairing your sushi with.

What is real wasabi?

grated wasabi rootShutterstock

“Real wasabi or Japanese horseradish [scientifically known as Wasabia japonica, Cochlearia wasabi, or Eutrema japonica] is a root that grows on farms in Japan. Fresh wasabi paste is made by grating the wasabi rhizome, the subterranean stem of the plant,” Bian tells us.

Once grated, the plant’s volatile sulfur compound allyl isothiocyanate (AITC)—which gives the paste its signature bold kick—can lose its potency in as little as 15 minutes. The formation of AITC is triggered immediately upon grating the wasabi root very finely before a pungent compound present in wasabi (known as sinigrin) reacts with the enzyme myrosinase, Comprehensive Natural Products II states.

Why don’t sushi restaurants use real wasabi—and what do they use instead?

So why does your local sashimi spot skip on serving the authentic condiment?

“Most sushi restaurants don’t use real wasabi because it is very expensive (around $200 per kilogram), and it can be hard to find and purchase,” Bian tells us, adding that real wasabi’s lifetime is very short. “Most sushi restaurants use horseradish with green food coloring as wasabi. Not only does real wasabi taste better, but fresh wasabi has strong anti-bacterial agents and fights against some of the bacteria from raw fish. Real wasabi doesn’t overpower fish, but pairs perfectly with high-quality raw fish,” Bian says. The taste discrepancy is due to the presence of higher levels of the most volatile isothiocyanates in Japanese horseradish versus European horseradish that are released upon grating, a study in Food, Agriculture & Environment notes.

Are there any health benefits to eating faux wasabi, or should you skip it altogether?

Salmon sushi rollShutterstock

Now that you know how real wasabi differs from the pseudo paste they offer at your local sushi place, you may be wondering if you should even dip your chopstick into this fake food. Luckily, if you’re a fan of the sinus-triggering tang, Feller tells us that it certainly shouldn’t harm you if you don’t have any sensitivities to the additives in the processed wasabi.

“Both real wasabi and real horseradish have some functional properties, including antioxidant and antimicrobial capabilities. It’s worth noting that they come from the same family, Brassicaceae [which also includes kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, among others]—think of them as cousins,” Feller tells us. “Also, the health benefits are seen when they are consumed in their whole and minimally processed forms.” In fact, a study in the journal BioFactors found that both wasabi and horseradish prevent the growth of food poisoning bacteria and fungi and can even deactivate a well-known carcinogen in broiled fish and meat—making both choices excellent sides to your raw fish dinner.

RELATED: Learn how to harness the power of tea to lose weight.

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MRI Scan of human brain

The results “make it clear that amyloid PET imaging can have a major impact on how we diagnose and care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline,” said the study’s lead author.

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Drive down the busiest street of any major American city and you’d be hard-pressed to miss the countless fast food signs that litter the skyline. But before you could rely on these drive-thrus to have an outpost at every rest stop, these fast food restaurants boasted humble beginnings akin to your local pizzeria. Yes, fast food restaurants first locations look a lot different than they do today!

Oftentimes, broke founders had just a few bucks and big dreams to their name, yet they ultimately launched some of the most successful quick-service restaurants today’s America has ever seen.

If you’ve ever wondered what the Golden Arches of McDonald’s looked like before their revenue equated to a small country’s GDP or whether or not White Castle was ever an actual fortress, we’ve got you covered with this inside look into what every fast food chain looked like on its birthday.

These throwback photos will take you a time when Macbooks were as ubiquitous as unicorns and hamburgers cost less than a quarter. See below for some major nostalgia!


Burger King

Burger King first locationCourtesy of Burger King

In 1954, James W. McLamore and David Edgerton opened the first Burger King franchise in Miami, Florida where they sold their classic hamburgers and milkshakes for just 18 cents. The famous Whopper debuted just three years after the chain’s inception and is now one of the most iconic fast food meals in America.



Chick-fil-A first locationChick-fil-A/Facebook

In 1967, Truett Cathy founded and opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta’s Greenbriar Shopping Center—just three years after inventing the quintessential Original Chicken Sandwich. And in 1986, the chicken chain debuted its first free-standing location outside mall food courts in North Druid Hills Road in Atlanta.



First Chipotle locationChipotle Mexican Grill/Facebook

Backtrack to July 13, 1993, when Steve Ells opened up the very first Chipotle location on Evans Avenue in Denver, Colorado. The brick and mortar shop offered tacos, fajitas, and, of course, the emblematic giant burritos with fillings including beans, lime-cilantro rice, salsa, guacamole, peppers with onions, chicken, pork, and beef, according to Bustle.


Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin Donuts first locationCourtesy of Dunkin' Donuts

The year 1948 marked the inception of Open Kettle, a restaurant dedicated to serving premium coffee and doughnuts. In 1950, founder Bill Rosenberg decided to rename the joint Dunkin’ Donuts because the sweet treats are just better when dipped in a cup of Joe! Munchkins were only introduced to the menu in 1972 followed by bagels in 1996 and Coolatta frozen drinks and breakfast sandwiches in 1997.


Sonic Drive-In

Sonic Drive InCourtesy of Sonic Drive-In

Shawnee, Oklahoma circa 1953 was the home of the first-ever Sonic Drive-In location, which was actually dubbed Top Hat. Back in the 50s, the fast food giant had customers place their orders via curbside speakers—without stepping foot outside their cars. This revolutionary technology coined the now-trademarked slogan, “Service at the Speed of Sound.” Inspired by the slogan, Troy Smith Sr. changed the name from Top Hat to Sonic Drive-In in 1959.



First McDonaldsCourtesy of McDonald's

After Dick and Mac McDonald failed in the movie biz, they took the drive-in restaurant business by storm, casting the first Golden Arches in 1948 in San Bernardino, California. The McDonald brothers perfected their Speedee Service System, which cranked out hamburgers, shakes, and fries all sold for just 15 cents—that’s just $1.58 in today’s dollar. In April 1955, Ray Kroc became McDonald’s franchise agent and opened up the first franchised location in Des Plaines, Illinois.


Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme first locationCourtesy of Krispy Kreme

As outlandish as it may seem, Krispy Kreme’s glorious empire all began when founder Vernon Rudolph bought a secret doughnut recipe from a French chef. After snagging the write-up, Rudolph began selling his Krispy Kreme doughnuts on July 13, 1937, to local supermarkets around North Carolina. Passersby were so enticed by the freshly-baked aroma wafting through the streets that they asked to buy the warm treats on the spot. Rudolph complied, selling his Original Glazed doughnuts through a hole in the wall (seriously—he cut a hole in the outside wall of his building).



First Arby's locationArby's/Facebook

Back in 1964, brothers Leroy and Forrest Raffel wanted to serve up speedy sandwiches instead of all-too-ubiquitous burgers, and so Arby’s was born. The first location debuted in Boardman, Ohio. Seven years later, the franchise revamped their signature roast beef recipe, and the slow-roasted, freshly-sliced meat has been served the same way since.



KFC first locationCourtesy of KFC

In 1930, Colonel Sanders debuted the first unofficial Kentucky Fried Chicken hotspot: Sanders Court & Cafe in Corbin, Kentucky. Most notably, the fast food icon struck success in his sixties, when he cooked for hungry travelers making a pit stop at a service station in Corbin. While the secret 11 herbs and spices are under locks in a safe in Kentucky, Harland Sanders used to store his special blend in his car.


Taco Bell

Taco Bell first locationCourtesy of Taco Bell

Before Taco Bell became the #1 hotspot for drunk diners, founder Glen Bell created Bell’s Drive-In and Taco Tia in the San Bernardino area in 1954. Eight years later, Bell opened up the first Taco Bell restaurant in Downey, California. Decades later, in 2015, executives chose to save Taco Bell Numero Uno from demolition and relocate it to T-Bell’s headquarters in Irvine, CA.


Pizza Hut

Original pizza hutslaws404/Reddit/imgur

On June 15, 1958, University of Wichita students Frank and Dan Carney opened the first Pizza Hut to address the 50s pizza craze. And, ironically enough, the pizza joint’s name was influenced by the building’s structure, Wichita State University reports. “The building had a sign that would only accommodate nine characters. The brothers wanted to use ‘Pizza’ in the name and that left room for only three more letters. A family member suggested that the building looked like a hut—and Pizza Hut was born.”

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.



First Dominos pizzaCourtesy of Domino's

Brothers Tom and James Monaghan opened up a pizzeria named Dominick’s Pizza in 1960 and later changed the name to Domino’s, which spurred the red, white, and blue logo. A little fun fact: the three dots on the logo actually represent Tom’s first three pizza shops.



Blimpie first locationCourtesy of Blimpie

Inspired by an image of a blimp in a dictionary, three New Jersey natives decided to name their bigger and better sub shop Blimpie. Blimpie has been serving hoagies jam-packed with deli meats, cheese, veggies, and condiments since April 4th, 1964.



Bojangles first locationApril Benshosan

Seasoned veterans of the business, Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas had a vision when they opened the first Bojangles’ Restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1977. They saw a rising consumer demand for quick-service and sought out to separate their brand with distinctive flavors made from scratch, topped off with a festive restaurant design and friendly southern-style service.



Whataburger first locationWhataburger/Facebook

The world’s first Whataburger opened its doors in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1950. Equipped with zero restaurant experience, Harmon Dobson decided to realize his vision of a burger so big that diners couldn’t help but say “What a burger!” After Dobson invented the original five-inch burger—which was a whole inch larger than other fast food burgers at the time—the speedy selling rate proved the burgers lived up to their name.


White Castle

White Castle first locationWhite Castle/Facebook

Clad with just $700 and a lofty idea, Billy Ingram debuted his famous sliders in 1921. But if you look really close, you’ll notice that the fortress-shaped joint is labeled “No. 4.” Here’s why: “Before partnering with Billy Ingram, our co-founder, Walt Anderson, operated three hamburger stands, but each lacked some of the defining characteristics of our Castles. When the two men started building Castles together, they started with #4,” White Castle clarified on Facebook.


Long John Silver’s

Long John Silver'sKentucky Photo Archive

Inspired by a fish and chips dish he enjoyed on a trip to the coast, businessman Jim Patterson returned on a mission to bring the meal to the rest of America. In 1969 in Lexington, Kentucky he did just that when he opened the first Long John Silver’s. Within decades, the iconic chain spread across the country, introducing coastal cuisine to even the farthest communities from the sea.



Starbucks Pike Place first locationCourtesy of Starbucks

The java giant started small in a 1,200-foot shop nestled in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971. Folks from all over the globe flock to the still-standing corner store that’s clad with vintage-style manual espresso machines, wooden counters, and a shockingly brown logo—the original. The OG shop boasted no seating, let alone free WiFi, and its address, 1912 Pike Place, is the namesake of Starbucks’ signature Pike Place Roast.



Subway first locationCourtesy of Subway

In quite possibly the best advice a professor has ever given a student, nuclear physicist Dr. Peter Buck (and family friend) changed the life of college freshman Fred DeLuca when he suggested they open a submarine sandwich shop together to help cover the cost of his tuition. Peter provided the initial investment for a small store in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the pair had opened their first location, which was originally dubbed Pete’s Super Submarines in 1965. They sold 312 subs on their first day. If you plan to hit up the hoagie behemoth for lunch, don’t miss our report, Every Subway Sandwich—Ranked for Nutrition!

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[youtube]JOIN OUR NORTH BALI DURIAN RETREAT!! DATES: 12-18 February 2018 RETREAT LOCATION: Northern Bali Join the facebook group for all the info!

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Pixar embedded the Provençal vegetable dish in the brains of kids and adults alike with their 2007 animated smash hit, Ratatouille, which starred a literal cartoon rat who made the famous dish. Whatever it takes—even a prodigiously gifted anthropomorphic rat as a chef—to get people thinking about eating more vegetables works for us. This recipe is by no means a traditional ratatouille (nor do we recommend employing any rats, cartoon or otherwise, to cook it for you); it merely takes inspiration from the variety of vegetables that make up the ancient peasant dish from France. Nor does this recipe require every vegetable listed below—you can definitely get creative with your choices. Don’t have squash? No problem, leave it out of your version of ratatouille. Love tomatoes? Toss them directly onto the grill. Ratatouille, in particular, lends itself well to reinvention, and that’s the whole point of cooking: You have full creative control of the dish.

270 calories, 19 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 385 mg sodium

Serves 4

You’ll Need

1 large red onion, cut into 1⁄4″-thick slices
1 red bell pepper, quartered, stems and seeds removed
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1⁄4″-thick planks
1 large portobello mushroom cap, cut into 1⁄4″-thick slices
1  large zucchini, cut into 1⁄4″-thick planks
2  medium yellow squash, cut into 1⁄4″-thick planks
12–16 asparagus stalks, woody ends removed
4 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp prepared pesto
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan

How to Make It

  1. Preheat a grill.
  2. Toss the vegetables with 2 tablespoons olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill the vegetables until cooked through and lightly charred, removing each individually when it has reached this stage. Some vegetables (like the onion and pepper) will take longer than others (like the asparagus and squash).
  4. Combine the pesto and vinegar in a small bowl, then slowly drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  5. Cut the red pepper into thin slices, then toss all of the vegetables with the vinaigrette, pine nuts, and Parmesan.

Love this recipe? Subscribe to our Eat This, Not That! magazine for even more at-home cooking and healthy eating ideas.

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Deep-frying is the ultimate equalizer: It takes any raw ingredient, regardless of how healthy it may be, and turns it into nutritional garbage. (Plus, have you ever noticed how fried food all tastes the same? Don’t believe us? Order the 1,650-calorie Admiral’s Feast at Red Lobster and see if you can tell the difference between one type of fried seafood and the next.) Fish is full of nutrients that are healthy and energizing and have a complex and exciting taste. So why drown them away in a greasy deep fryer? Here’s where our healthy fish with herbed breadcrumbs enters to save the day.  This oven-baked fish is still butter-laced, but with a breadcrumb topping that gives you the satisfying crunch and richness of deep fried food without ruining the inherent flavor—or nutrition—of the fish itself, plus it cuts the calories by more than half.

320 calories, 11 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 390 mg sodium

Serves 4

You’ll Need

2 slices white bread or 1 English muffin, split
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
4 halibut fillets or other flaky white fish such as cod or swordfish (4–6 oz each) (Thinner fillets like catfish and tilapia are likely to overcook before the breadcrumbs are toasted, but any thick white fish fillet will be perfect.)
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp butter, softened

How to Make It

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Place the bread, parsley, and thyme in a food processor and pulse until you have small but not superfine breadcrumbs. You want a bit of texture here.
  3. Lay the fish on a baking sheet and season all over with salt and pepper.
  4. Smear the tops with a thin layer of softened butter, then press the herbed breadcrumbs into the butter so that they adhere to the fish.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and flakes with gentle pressure from your finger.

Eat This Tip

If you need a gluten-free option for breadcrumbs, seek out a box of panko breadcrumbs at your local grocery store (Ian’s is a trusted brand). You’ll still enjoy the crunch, but without the gluten.

This recipe (and hundreds more!) came from one of our Cook This, Not That! books. For more easy cooking ideas, you can also buy the book!

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