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Plant Power Bowl-The Secret to a Well-Balanced Meal

By Kelsie White

Plant Power Bowl-The Secret to a Well-Balanced Meal

Nutrition Bites | Week 4

This week on Nutrition Bites, we will be discussing one of my favorite recipes! Plant Power Bowls aka “Buddha Bowls” are one of the most versatile ways to eat a variety of plant foods. Because there are so many ways to make it your own, we are going to talk about a blueprint for making bowls like this, so that you are guaranteed to have a well-balanced meal. We are also going to talk about sauces and dressings, and how these really do make or break a meal! I will share some recipes for healthy homemade dressings, as well as some tips for choosing one at the grocery store. Let’s get started.

Plant Power Bowls

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

Veggies:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled
  • 4 cups mushrooms
  • 1 small onion
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 avocado

Lemon Tahini Sauce:

  • 12 oz firm silken tofu
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Chop all vegetables and mix in a large bowl with olive oil and seasonings.
  3. Spread onto two baking sheets. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until vegetables are browned.
  4. Cook quinoa according to package instructions.
  5. Combine the silken tofu, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and cumin in a blender and mix until smooth. Drizzle over top of the roasted vegetables. Top with avocado.
  6. Enjoy!
Plant Power Bowl Blueprint 

Now don’t panic. The ingredient list for this recipe looks like a long one, but feel free to experiment with whatever veggies and spices you have on hand! That is the beauty of meals like this; the possibilities are endless, and it is a simple way to use up leftover vegetables. Let’s say you are going to make a Plant Power Bowl with different ingredients. Here are some step-by-step instructions from Forks Over Knives to make that happen:

  1. Choose a grain base
  2. Pile on the veggies (cooked or raw)
  3. Add legumes
  4. Sprinkle with a crunch
  5. Drizzle with sauce

A Balanced Bowl

The great thing about making bowls like this is that they have the potential to provide you with all three macronutrients as well as many micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), all in one meal! This recipe specifically includes carbohydrates, protein, and fats. The quinoa, sweet potatoes and chickpeas provide a great source of complex carbohydrates. Additionally, all the veggies provide lots of soluble and insoluble fiber. Chickpeas, silken tofu and quinoa are also great sources of plant protein, and the avocado and tahini provide some healthy sources of fat. It’s an all-in-one meal deal!

A Note on Silken Tofu

The sauce recipe above calls for silken tofu to make it super creamy. This type of tofu is a very soft, Japanese-style tofu and is usually found in the International or World Foods section of the grocery store. It is shelf-stable, and is great for making vegan sauces, dressings, and even yogurt. As mentioned above, tofu is a good source of protein as well as healthy fats, iron, and phytochemicals including isoflavones and sterols.

Benefits of Cruciferous Veggies 

This recipe if full of cruciferous veggies: cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. In my opinion, these are some of the best foods to include in your diet, as they have so many health benefits. They are a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, they are rich in vitamins and minerals such as folate and vitamin K, and they also contain phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds found only in plants that help to protect them from threats in their environment. When we eat foods rich in phytochemicals, some of those same properties are then used in the human body and can be considered protective against harmful substances or toxins. Cruciferous veggies specifically contain a phytochemical known as ITC, which is known as an anti-cancer compound.

The Deets on Dressings 

Lastly, I want to talk about salad dressings and sauces. These really have the ability to make or break a recipe, so it is important to choose wisely. Oftentimes, store-bought dressings are high in fat, salt and sugar, so I want to share a few tips to take with you next time you are grocery shopping.

  • Aim for a short ingredient list with words you recognize.
  • Look for vegetable-based dressings, like those made from cauliflower or carrots.
  • If choosing a vinaigrette, take the “Lite” option, as water is usually the first ingredient instead of oil.
  • Check the portion size. It may look low in calories, but check to make sure the portion size isn’t so small that you would need to use 10x the amount recommended.

Additionally, if you have the time and interest, making your own dressings and sauces is a great way to make sure you have healthy options. Check out these recipes for Forks Over Knives for some great plant-based dressing recipes.

Weekly Challenge

As you can see, there are a lot of healthy reasons to make Plant Power Bowls. They can also be personalized to your taste and preferences as well as to what you have on hand. This week, I want to challenge you to try making a Plant Power Bowl twice during the week, using whatever vegetables and grains sound best!

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