Buddha Bowl Basics

Countless variations on the Buddha Bowl can be found on any Pinterest or Google search these days. I’m throwing my recipe in the ring because I think it’s an easy way to get your greens and other essential nutrients into one big bowl of deliciousness.

Some of you may be asking what exactly is a Buddha Bowl? Typically  it’s a big bowl (duh), filled with a variety of greens, grains and beans and topped with a tasty sauce. Almost every vegan cookbook, website and blog has some variation of a bowl.  According to collinsdictionary.com “a buddha bowl is a meal-sized bowl filled with vegetarian food.” That certainly leaves a lot of room for interpretation, wouldn’t you say?  Delish.com says the bowls were named as such because they resemble the belly of a giant buddha.  I find it ironic that it’s named for the buddha’s belly, because eating this bowl shouldn’t make YOUR tummy look anything like a buddha’s! Regardless of its origins, I find that my Buddha bowl makes for a healthy, delicious and nutritious meal.

I’ve been on the “bowl” bandwagon pretty much from the beginning of my plant based journey. Making up bowls is one of the easiest ways to combine all the healthy ingredients that you love into one fabulous dish. And it goes back to my mantra of batch cooking as well. When you have grains and vegetables already prepped in your fridge, then throwing together a bowl is a simple and fast way to get lunch or dinner on the table. It’s also completely customizable –– so you can have an ingredient buffet set up for all of your family and everyone can make their own bowl.

The bowl I’m featuring today came about because I had half  a red cabbage in the fridge and I wasn’t quite sure what else to do with it. I also had some zucchini and squash to use up, so that was going in the bowl too. My recipe can be tweaked with what you like –– but the basic formula is: a grain (could be quinoa, brown rice or whole wheat pasta), several veggies, both raw and cooked, some beans and a sauce. I tend to favor asian flavors, so this peanut sauce is my go-to. If you like Mexican flavors, you could use salsa or hot sauce and add in some avocado and maybe some homemade baked tortilla chips. You could also make a falafel bowl with mediterranean toppings like tahini, sesame seeds and cucumber and tomato. I have never made a bowl that wasn’t great!

Heidi's Buddha Bowl

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 each, yellow squash and zucchini, cut into zoodle shape or julienned
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 cups of chopped, cooked broccoli
  • 1 cup of dry quinoa, cooked
  • 1 batch of peanut dressing (see below)

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to package directions and set aside. Take the raw zoodles and microwave for about 2-3 minutes until tender, and then drain them. Combine all the ingredients in individual bowls and drizzle with the peanut dressing. Note: The serving size will vary with the bowl size used.

Peanut Dressing:

Note: Dressing adapted from The Engine 2 Diet Cookbook

  • 1/4 cup of fresh ground peanut butter
  • 3 T. rice vinegar
  • 2 T. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1-2 T. pure maple syrup
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1/2 to 1 T. sriracha (to your spice level)
  • 2 t. jarred, minced ginger
  • 1/4- 1/2 C. water (depends on how thick or thin you like your dressing)
  • Juice of one lime

Directions:

Blend all the dressing ingredients in a high speed blender. Refrigerate any unused dressing. It will last for about a week.

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I hope you give this recipe a try or maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own. Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

“Everything But The Bagel” Breadsticks

I found the most amazing new product last week while I was scrolling through one of my Plant Based LinkedIn groups. There was a post from Feel Good Dough and a beautiful food photo that caught my eye. I contacted the company to ask if this product was available in Florida, and the owner, Terry Thomsen, replied that it was not, but she would send me a dry mix dough to try out. I was super excited to receive my Feel Good Dough Oil Free, Whole Grain dough mix in the mail today.

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I had never heard of Feel Good Dough. A trip to their website shows all of the products that they offer and also has many recipes using their varieties of dough. In the dry mix, you can choose from three all organic mixes: Classic Original, Oil free-100% Whole Grain, and Chocolate. There is also a Grain Free Garbanzo mix. All of these are available to order on their website. The frozen doughs are sold in Ohio area stores, which they list on their website. The six frozen doughs are : Classic, Italian Herb, Roasted Garlic, Oil Free 100% Whole Grain and Chocolate–all “Clean” as well as a Cauliflower dough.

As a plant based eater who avoids using oil in my cooking and food, I was so intrigued by this product. And all of you lucky readers will now know about this fabulous product and you’ll have a new recipe too!

The dry mix recipe is really simple to make. It’s really my kind of cooking-one bowl is all you need. The instructions are very straight forward. There’s a small packet of yeast when you open the bag, and all you need to do is mix the entire bag (less one tablespoon that you’ll need for dusting your work surface) with the yeast, add 1 cup of lukewarm water and mix until you can form into a ball. Then you can knead the dough until its in a smooth ball and divide the dough in half. You’ll then need to roll out the dough.  ** Sentimental note regarding my rolling pin. **The giant wooden rolling pin that I use was given to me by my mother, who says it was her Grandmother Hannah’s, which she brought with her to America from Hungary. I was named after my great grandmother, so that rolling pin is kind of special!

Today, I decided to use half the recipe to make breadsticks, and I will likely use the other half to make a pizza tonight for dinner. The instructions on the dry mix state that any dough not used right away can be store in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen.

Everything but the Bagel Seasoning is an exclusive Trader Joe’s product and we use it in our house almost everything. It’s delicious on avocado toast or on top of (non dairy) cream cheese or sprinkled on cucumber slices-there are no wrong answers here. So when I thought about a recipe today, I immediately reached for my go-to spice. It was a great choice.

After I rolled out the dough to about a 12 inch form, that (as you can see from my picture), was not quite a circle. I used a pizza cutter to make strips. I transferred the strips to a round pizza stone and brushed each strip with aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas) and then liberally sprinkled with the seasoning.  I used the aquafaba as an egg wash replacement. If you aren’t plant based, then you can use an egg mixed with some water to brush on top of the dough to give it some color. It also gives the seasoning something to “stick” to.  I baked them for 12 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven until they looked golden and toasted. You can see how crispy and delicious they look, right??!

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They are really crunchy and tasted great on their own, but we also thought they’d taste even better dipped in some marinara sauce or some oil free basil pesto that we had in the fridge. Both are great options that won’t add a lot of calories and are great oil free options.

I hope that you give Feel Good Dough a try. I know I’ll be ordering some very soon. Hmmm, just thinking about what I can make with that Chocolate dough….Mmmmm!

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Living in a (non)plant based world

Ahhh…imagine walking into any restaurant and seeing so many choices that you couldn’t possibly make up your mind. The appetizer section has whole wheat crostini topped with a dairy free pesto and brown rice paper spring rolls filled with just veggies. For the entrees there’s bbq tempeh and seitan piccata, or your choice of stir fry with tofu. The dessert list has sorbet and fresh fruit and not a single buttercream topped cupcake or death by chocolate brownie sundae. Have you seen this place? Yeah, neither have I. This is the restaurant in my dreams! But, the tide is turning.

Last week, I was a guest at the Empty Bowls at Lakewood Ranch- a fundraising event to benefit Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee County. It was billed as the “longest lunch table” It’s mission is to unite one table to envision hunger relief together in Manatee County.  When attendees arrived  at the event (for a $30 ticket), they were given an envelope with several tickets and 3 small tasting cups. The first ticket was to pick out their bowl. Beneath a massive tent were hundreds of hand painted ceramic bowls that volunteers and board members created for the event. After choosing the bowl, you then moved on to a long table filled with soup pots from more than a dozen local restaurants. You were able to sample 3 soups with your mini cup and when you decided on your “bowl”, you turned in your ticket for your soup. In addition, there were bread slices and water to compliment the soup as well as some dessert options. Once you had your soup, it was time to join a large community table and enjoy!

This was my first time attending an event like this and I was very impressed. Initially, I was worried that there wouldn’t be any soup for me. ( I could hear the soup Nazi in my head saying “No Soup for YOU”). But, I was pleasantly surprised that I had 3 really great options in that pool of restaurants. I spoke to the man from Spacco Italian Grill who was serving Pasta Faglioli-which he promised me had no meat and no dairy and was cooked in vegetable broth. It was delicious and he also assured me that when I come to his restaurant, there are vegan options on his menu. There were two other vendors who provided plant based soup choice. There was a roasted garlic bisque from Ortygia and a healing vegetable soup from Jubilee Organics. The Pasta Faglioli was definitely my favorite!

And all of this gives me a positive feeling that restaurants are starting to take notice and offering healthier options for their guests. There is definitely a need for more fully plant based restaurants.  Let’s hope that this trend continues. If you’ve had a positive experience at a restaurant, let them know they are doing a great job. When I have a great meal and the staff is accommodating to my needs, I tell them. Let’s keep this going and hopefully someday we will see plant based foods as mainstream menu items.

See you in the kitchen (or restaurant) soon,

Heidi

Intermittent Fasting

Have you heard of this? I was waiting for Barre class to start this morning, and I overheard two women discussing intermittent fasting and one of the women explained that’s why she looked like she had lost some weight. I apologized to them for eavesdropping, but I was curious and wanted to know more. Just last week, I had a been asked by a friend if I knew anything about intermittent fasting.

I recently completed my training and certification in Nutrition and Wellness Counseling, and I learned the nutrition basics and all about how our digestion system works and the mechanics of our body’s processing of carbohydrates into energy. My textbooks did not address intermittent fasting, so I turned to the world wide web to learn more.

Apparently, Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a new-ish thing that is becoming more popular and has, of course, spawned diet plans and books with detailed instructions. The basic premise is that by putting your body in a state of “fasting”, you allow your fat cells to release their stored sugar to use for energy. The way IF works is that it allows the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.

The evidence is varied regarding how many hours you need to fast. Most experts agree that anything less that 13 hours is ineffective. Some fasting plans say you need a ratio of 16:8–meaning you must fast for 16 hours and can only eat during an 8 hour window. That seems quite restrictive, and it should be noted that during that 8 hours, you have to make sure you are fueling your body with whole foods–fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains (brown rice, whole wheat breads) and that you are not exceeding a reasonable caloric limit. In other words, if you consume 4,000 calories in 8 hours, you most likely won’t lose weight (unless you’re a high performance athlete).

Several other questions come to mind with such a plan. Can you have anything to drink during the fasting hours? One study that I read stated that as long as the beverage is under 50 calories, then it’s ok. So, if you add a splash of milk to your morning coffee, it shouldn’t “break” the fasting state. I then came across this YouTube video that discusses acceptable beverages that you can drink during your fast, and according to this video, milk is NOT allowed. And if you are a morning exerciser-it’s recommended to do your workout just before you are scheduled to eat.

And now back to the woman at Barre class today. The “faster” that I spoke with said she has been working up to a longer fast-16 hours and that she can’t say that she has lost any weight, but she (and her friends) have commented that she looks more toned and fit. She did admit to me that she actually “cheats” her fast by drinking an airborne drink, which she says gives her some energy. After hearing that, I can’t say I’m exactly sold on the whole IF phenomenon.

After reading a few studies on IF, I’m not sure if it is the right choice for me. My goal is to not eat after dinner, which enables me to have (most days) a12 hour fast.  I agree that there can be some benefits of keeping your insulin levels low throughout the day by not snacking between meals. Of course, none of this should be done without first consulting your doctor; especially if you have any medical conditions or take any medications.

The truth is that striving to eat a balanced diet-full of fruits, vegetables and whole unprocessed foods should be the standard for all of us. In the long run, it’s important to find what works for you but keep in mind that you should eat in a way that is sustainable in the long run. There’s no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to your health and well being.

See you in the produce aisle!

Heidi