Sweet & Salty Chickpea Satay Bowl
Otherwise known as a delectable Summer Style Poke Bowl. There is nothing quite like a delicious poke bowl – a bowl that taps into a multitude of flavors and textures. Traditionally, the poke bowl is a dish common in Hawaii that combines a variety of fresh veg with diced raw fish (usually using an oily tuna, octopus or more recently using yellowfin tuna). I feel like the Western, more “hipster” equivalent of this would be the well-known “Buddha Bowl”. What's so special about this here Vegan Poke Bowl? My favorite component of this dish and the real bum-clincher is the peanut buttery, rich, savory and delicious Satay Chickpeas with Wilted Green Onions.
Towards the end of last year, I was contacted by Nature’s Garden Frozen Veg to do a collaboration! I was so excited and of course jumped at the opportunity because for ages I have wanted to get a wonderful work opportunity like this, one that is in alignment with products and beliefs that I hold dear. They asked me to create a satisfying Summer dish for jumpstarting the New Year, and said that the recipe and photos would be published on their blog as well as in the Fresh Living Pick 'n Pay magazine, which is so exciting. I am humbled and so grateful and shoutout goes to Nature's Garden for the fantastic collaboration.
When turning over recipe ideas in my head, I immediately thought of something along the lines of this: something fresh, something tasty, something quick & easy and most importantly, something accessible and convenient for people so that the health and teeming vibrancy created by this dish can reach far and wide and hopefully become a go-to staple dish in the recipe bank/reservoir for those times when you are hungry and need to make something quick. It uses relatively affordable ingredients, many of which are staples in many households such as soy sauce, chickpeas, rice, peanut butter and ... frozen veg! I think it's so important for the vegan way to become more accessible to people - unfortunately many people have this misconception that veganism has to mean spending a whole lot more money on food than what one is currently spending on the standard diet. This is a tragedy because not only is veganism EASY once you get the just of it and begin to form sustainable habits that enable you to reap the many health benefits of a plant based diet (like meal prepping to avoid eating badly as one example), but it also really doesn't have to break the bank. Think about it this way, all of the age-old cultures around the world that have thrived and lived longest were eating predominantly plant foods: rice, potatoes, beans, root vegetables and such. Not only are these some of the cheapest foods out there, but they contain powerhouse nutrients which when you make these the base of your diet will increase your health and vitality, AND (bonus!) you can save cash dolla while you're at it.
Surrounding and showcasing the protein-rich portion of the dish is an array of delicious vegetables inspired by an Indonesian dish I once had which was a dish made with green beans and coconut. It was simply bursting with flavor and zest. What I love about this bowl is its’ versatility – you can have it for a savory breakfast, a lunch or a dinner, you can have it in Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter because it is both light and hearty, nourishing and delicious, comforting/grounding and uplifting. What a win!
For those concerned about protein intake, this is a high protein dish due to the chickpeas, the green vegetables and the rice. Did you know, that in certain combinations vegetable and plant foods create complete proteins? For example, if you combine mixed vegetables and rice: voila, you have a complete protein! And in the case of this recipe, if you combine a legume like chickpeas with brown rice: voila, you have a complete protein. Isn’t that magnificent? What’s more is that the quality of protein being consumed is the highest and best quality protein – meaning the body can easily break down, assimilate and use the nutrients with very little strain on the digestive system because they are all plant based proteins - i.e. proteins that the body is built to use as a means of sustenance, this kind of protein is the best building blocks for growth and cellular rejuvenation. Because there is less strain on the digestive system, this frees up energy and time within your body to feel good and do the things you’d like to do with more vitality, energy & clarity.
For those wanting to shed some extra weight, this is also a great go-to recipe as it satiating, substantial and sustainable. What I mean by this is that you are less likely to have cravings and hunger pangs after eating a serving of this. This is due to a few factors: one of them being that when your body is being nourished on a cellular level, your body will not be craving nutrients and looking for more. This is one of the biggest problems with the SAD diet; that there is no shortage of energy as many of the foods being eaten are high in energy but low in nutrients. This feeling of dissatisfaction after eating a meal is a sign of imbalance: when a meal is fully balanced in both macro and micronutrients you will be less likely to experience cravings. Another reason is that this recipe is a very energetically balanced dish in terms of Macrobiotics, which is a science of understanding the energetic components of both the food itself and the techniques/methods with which you prepare the food, to read more about this you can go to my blog post called Macrobiotic Veg Soup in the savory section which has an Intro to Macrobiotics. In Macrobiotics there is a chart that shows foods that are considered balanced foods (think: your rice, legumes, vegetables, leafy greens and some light fruits) and then foods that are too yin or yang in energy that will often leave you feeling imbalanced and craving. Because it is a fully balanced and hearty meal it also means that it will keep you going for longer than your average “weight loss food” which will not only aid in your weight loss, but will also make it a sustainable and steady weight loss. One of the major advantages of having a hearty meal that also aids in any weight loss or weight maintenance goals is that you wont be constantly thinking about food as in the case with many of the weight loss fads out there that make you calorie restrict. Nadia, a famous food blogger so aptly put it: "Eat Better, Not Less". When you eat the right foods, restriction and limiting yourself is something you can leave to the past. Eating a plant based diet you can eat until you are fully satisfied and still find your happy spot in terms of your weight and overall health.
The components of this dish are:
1. Whole grain brown rice cooked with cayenne pepper, garlic and dried thyme.
2. Indonesian-style spinach & broccoli, tossed in a coconut cream and tangy ginger dressing, with toasted coconut
3. Light cherry tomato salsa with avocado & cranberries & microgreens
4. Sweet and salty peanut satay glazed chickpeas with green onions
For the Rice:
· 2 cups brown rice
· 1.5 tsp dried thyme
· 1 tsp cayenne pepper
· 1 garlic clove
· ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds PER person for garnishing
· Water for cooking
· Splash of soy sauce
For the Chickpeas:
· 2 tins chickpeas
· 4 tablespoons soy sauce
· 3 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
· 1 tsp grated ginger
· 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
· 1 tsp lemon juice
· 2 garlic cloves
· 8 spring onions, chopped
For the Salsa:
· 200g cherry tomatoes
· 1 big avocado
· 1 tablespoon lemon juice
· ½ tsp salt
· Shake of ground pepper
· 1 heaped tablespoon chopped cranberries
· Mixed fresh herbs (optional)
· Microgreens to garnish
For the Spinach and Broccoli
· 3 cups steamed Natures Garden broccoli
· 1 cup cooked chopped spinach
· Handful desiccated coconut (and some for garnish)
· Splash of red wine vinegar
· 1-2 tsp whole grain mustard
· 2 tablespoon coconut cream
· 1 heaped tsp freshly grated ginger
· Shake of ground pepper
· 1 tablespoon soy sauce
· 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
1. Prepare rice according to packet instructions, adding spices and herbs and smashed garlic clove to the water before bringing it to the boil.
2. Prepare Salsa by halving cherry tomatoes, adding salt and pepper, diced avo and lemon juice. Add herbs to taste, and set aside.
3. Prepare chickpeas, starting with sauce - combine soy, lemon juice, toasted sesame oil and peanut butter into a smooth paste. Set aside. Finely chop garlic and add into a saucepan, turn up the heat (without oil), then add chickpeas, cooking until heated through and garlic is tender. Stir in peanut sauce until all chickpeas are coated and the sauce begins to caramelize slightly (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat, add chopped spring onions, stir and adjust seasoning to taste.
4. Steam 3 cups Natures Garden broccoli. Drain and place in a mixing bowl with chopped chard/spinach. Toast desiccated coconut in a pan, stirring continuously. Set aside. To make sauce, mix vinegar, mustard, coconut cream, soy sauce, pepper, sweetener and ginger. Now mix about half the sauce into the vegetables, top with toasted coconut and stir well. Add more sauce, to taste. Top with more desiccated coconut.
5. Stir some soy sauce into the cooled rice.
6. To serve, place rice in bowl and top with toasted sesame seeds, then add some fresh salsa, chickpeas dish, broccoli / spinach dish and top it all off with some microgreens.