Let's talk about new resolutions in regards to diet changes. I love the idea to reset and have a clean slate. Recharging your health by simply adding more color to your meals. Like many others, I resisted a plant-based whole food diet under the assumption that I will not obtain enough protein. Last year, January 2020, I pledged to a one-month vegan challenge, Veganuary. This pledge is to urge everyone to embrace the opportunity to try vegan and reshape the future. That one month changed my life and I never went back to my previous lifestyle.
Something important to note is there is a difference for your health between a vegan diet and a vegan whole plant food diet. Some vegans rely heavily on processed foods and may not eat a sufficient variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains; which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. According to Netflix documentary, Forks over Knives, “the best sources of protein are whole plant foods, which provide ample protein without any cholesterol.”
If you are considering to try vegan, or just simply eat more plant-based this new year, then try out this recipe. It's packed with whole plant foods that have high concentrations of protein. It's very nutritious and it keeps you full enough to avoid snacking in between meals.
What's used as the base?
Farro, it's an ancient wheat grain. There are 3 different kinds of farro; einkorn, emmer, and spelt. The most commonly found is emmer wheat. It is light brown, nutty in flavor, and chewy in texture. I like to cook my Farro the same way, I cook my pasta. Simply fill up a pot with water (about two-thirds of the way), bring to a boil, and then add the farro. Boil for about 15 minutes until soft and chewy, then drain out the water. You can also follow the cooking instructions on the packaging.
It’s a great source of protein, fiber and nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B. Since farro is a form of wheat, it does contain gluten. If gluten is a concern for your diet, then you can substitute farro for quinoa, or any other gluten-free grain. Farro and quinoa have the same amount of protein per serving, but farro does contain more fiber.
What is used for protein?
Edamame are baby soy beans harvested when ripped. Edamame are sold either cooked, frozen or shelled. For this recipe, I thawed and mildly boiled some frozen edamame till slightly tender. You can use cooked edamame to save time. I just like to keep a packet of frozen edamame in the freezer for impromptu salads, bowls, or snacking; it's an excellent snack/side for kids.
Tofu is made by curdling soy milk with a coagulant to form tofu blocks. Since tofu lacks flavor, it's easy to flavor it per your taste. To make your tofu soft from the inside and crispy from the outside, you can either bake or stir-fry. But before you do anything, it is important to drain out all the water from the tofu. Simply wrap a towel around your tofu block and set something heavy on top of it (like a cast iron pan) for 20 to 30 minutes. Once the water drains out, then cut into cubes or as you prefer.
How to pickle?
This is one of the smartest ways to preserve food and give your dishes a tasteful tang. Instead of letting your left over vegetables go bad in the refrigerator, you can always pickle them into a mason jar to use when needed. For this recipe, I just simply submerged my carrots into a 1:1 ratio of water and distilled vinegar with sugar and salt and let it sit for at least an hour.
Vegans are Kale-ing it!
For this recipe, I used tuscan kale as my leafy greens. It is also known as Dinosaur or Lacinato Kale. It is loaded with powerful antioxidants and it is known to be extremely anti-inflammatory. Since kale has rough characteristics, it's good to massage it with some lime and oil. This allows the kale to soften up, and it makes it easier to digest.
Protein Powered Vegan Bowl
- ½ cup Farro I used Trader Joe's 10 Min Farro
- 1 block tofu extra firm
- 2 tablespoon sesame seed oil toasted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
- ½ cup edamame
- 1 cup tuscan kale shredded
- 2 teaspoon sesame seed oil toasted
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 whole carrot julienne cut
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup distilled vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- lime wedges
- Mix water, distilled vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Submerge julienne cut carrots, and set aside for at least an hour.
- Wrap tofu block with a kitchen towel and set something heavy over it (I used a cast iron) for 15 to 20 minutes. Then unwrap the towel from the tofu block, and cut into cubes. In a medium size skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Once hot, sauté tofu, flip occasionally to cook on all sides; allowing all sides to get brown. Drizzle hoisin sauce, sriracha, salt and gently coat all sides of the tofu. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes till crispy.
- Boil water (about two-thirds of the way) in a medium sauce pan. Add farro and let it cook for 15 minutes. Drain farro and rinse under warm water.
- Put shredded kale in a small mixing bowl and drizzle it with oil, lime juice and salt. Wash your hands properly and then massage the kale (gently squeezing and tossing) until it softens.
- If you have frozen edamame, then make sure to thaw it. You can also steam or boil frozen edamame for 15 minutes till soft and chewy.
- Divide all components into each bowl in the amount desired. Place the farro in the bowl, add the edamame, tofu, leafy greens, pickled carrots and garnish with cilantro, lime and my homemade Sriracha Aioli Sauce.