Springtime in Australia often means a readjustment of the weekly menu in many households including mine. The hot, warming soups, casseroles and slow cooked meal options are often replaced with salads, BBQ’s and more cooling meal options. Whilst I am a slow cooker devotee all year round due to the simplicity of it in a time poor household, it is always my mission as a naturopath to devise tasty, quick, and nutritious recipes for my family and my clients.
Coming up with a title for this recipe was not as easy as I thought. This is because we have many different trendy bowls out there don’t we – from a Poke Bowl, Buddha Bowl and also a Nourish bowl.
Technically, a Poke Bowl which is pronounced poh-keh is a Hawaiian fisherman’s dish where a freshly caught fish such as salmon or tuna is served on a bed of rice, sesame oil, soy sauce, seaweed, and onions. Now it combines a range of ingredients on that bed of rice with edamame beans, lots of colourful vegetables and a nice dressing of sesame or similar.
Then there is the Buddha Bowl which from my research is kind of like a poke bowl but can include different grains, and the protein is a vegetable protein such as tofu or tempeh or legumes with loads of colourful vegetables, seeds, nuts and a yummy dressing.
I thought of calling this dish a Buddha Bowl however in my recipe the protein choice is optional as some people want vegan, some vegetarian and others want animal based and for this reason, I landed on calling this a Nourish Bowl.
Quite an adventure for the title right!!
From reading a whole lot of information on Nourish Bowls – the following was clear. A Nourish Bowl is definitely a more versatile and easy-going bowl of healthy goodness compared to the Poke and Buddha versions. Again, a grain is often chosen, lots of yummy salad options, any kind of protein and healthy fats with a delicious dressing.
So given we now know the meaning of a Nourish Bowl, here are some details around my version for you.
Quinoa: Most people I speak with have heard of quinoa, but rarely does it make it onto their plates, especially when cooking their own meals at home.
So, what is quinoa? Quinoa is a wonderful substitute for grains, especially rice. As opposed to being a grain however, it is a gluten-free, nutritious seed that is native to South America from a plant called Chenopodium.
As a naturopath dietary protein is always an important KPI for my clients due to the important role it plays in many processes within the body. With more and more people having vegan meals, I often see protein at insufficient levels. Welcome quinoa.
Quinoa packs a mighty fine punch when it comes to protein at 8 grams per cup compared to brown & white rice which only brings 4-5 grams per cup to the table. Not only that, but quinoa is rare in that it is one of the very few plant sources that can claim the title of a “complete protein”. This means it contains all nine essential amino acids which establishes its role as a perfect choice for vegans, vegetarians, and those amongst us who have significantly reduced animal sources in our diets.
Essential amino acids cannot be made by our bodies. Instead, the following 9 essential amino acids must come from our food: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan & valine.
Another reason that I hold quinoa in such high regard is because it acts as a prebiotic and feeds good bacteria whilst also possessing three to four times more nutrients than brown rice. Quinoa is high in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, calcium and more plus it has a low glycaemic index (GI) meaning that it balances blood sugar levels, keeps you energized for longer and contributes to healthier cholesterol levels.
I do have a caveat on adding quinoa to recipes though. Buy Australian grown as with the boom of Quinoa around the world, this has created some human rights issues and environmental issues in countries such as Bolivia where the fragile ecosystems of the region are in danger. If you google Australian grown quinoa, you will find some fabulous brands grown in Tasmania and more. This is the only quinoa I will buy and cook with.
Another caveat is that quinoa have lectins. Lectins are a protein that attach to carbohydrates and defend plants in nature from harm. They can cause digestive issues for some people as they resist being broken down in the gut.
To avoid this impact on digestion, soak, and rinse for several hours before cooking.
Protein: In this recipe, I use a range of proteins from tofu, marinated chicken, salmon sashimi or baked tempeh from my recipe here.
The choice is yours.
Salad & Vegetables: For this recipe I use Chinese cabbage, cucumber, however, often use grated carrot, purple cabbage, asparagus however you can use whatever salad and vegetables you desire. Baked cubes of sweet potato and butternut pumpkin are yummy and can be added as an ingredient when cooled.
Healthy fat: for me this is always the almighty superpower “avocado”.
So, let’s get preparing shall we! This recipe serves 2 people however I will often double it and make extra for left-overs as we are a time poor family or use left over quinoa for my stuffed roast capsicum recipe here.
Spicy Peanut Sauce
- ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
- ½ cup tamari or gluten free soy sauce
- 6 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- Squeeze juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 200g semi fried organic tofu nuggets
- 1 cup quinoa, soaked and rinsed
- 2 cups of water
- ½ tsp of vegetable salt
- 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 medium avocado, sliced
- 2 tablespoons of dry fried pine nuts
- 1 cup of Chinese cabbage, shredded
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- ½ cup of edamame beans (defrosted)
- Handful of snow pea sprouts
- 2 teaspoons of Japanese pickled ginger
- Pepper for taste
In a small bowl, mix the peanut butter, honey, tamari, lime juice, vinegar, and chilli flakes for your dressing.
After soaking quinoa, rinse and add 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water and add vegetable salt and bring to the boil om medium high heat.
Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water.
Take quinoa off the heat, place lid on saucepan and let quinoa steam for 5 more minutes and then cool as this dish has cold quinoa served.
Prepare your two bowls or more if you are making left-overs.
Place quinoa in bowl and halve all toppings and add to bowl.
Pour peanut sauce over your beautiful bowl and I love to mix this through.