Hello friends! Happy new year!
If you follow me on instagram, you're probably aware that I spent the holidays hanging around a hospital. My mom had a fairly major reconstructive surgery on her spine just before Christmas, so I flew to Vancouver to be with my family during that time. I packed all kinds of books, knitting, episodes of Grey's Anatomy, and enough edited photos to crank out at least four blog posts, which I thought I'd merrily tap out at my mom's bedside while she recouped. It ended up being a much more intense couple of weeks than I think any of us expected, and though I lugged my computer and my book and my knitting between my sister's apartment and the hospital each day, it all sat virtually untouched for the duration.
Though it wasn't the easiest of trips, there isn't anywhere I would have rather been, and the way my family rallied together filled my heart to bursting. This year was all about presence, not presents, and from that respect it was a very good Christmas.
After two weeks of consuming a diet that was essentially hospital cafeteria food and snacks (i.e., cheese), it's good to get back into my kitchen and put some wholesome food into my belly.
This bowl full of goodness is something my mom and I made together when we last cooked together, and so I've dubbed it Heather's Hallelujah Bowl. It has fairly basic beginnings and from there is open to interpretation. A bed of whole grains go down first - in this case brown rice - followed by whatever vegetables you like, some cubes of crispy fried tofu, and some crunchy almonds. It can be enjoyed hot or cold and mixed up any way you like.
So what pushes such a humble bowl of ingredients into a hallelujah situation? You guys, the dressing. It's a creamy combination of some of my favourite things; nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, soy, tahini... so much yum! If the portions seem a bit crazy, just know that the dressing recipe makes almost enough to bathe in. You could cut it in half, but it'd be a real shame since once you try it you'll want to douse pretty much everything in it. For real - and I don't even like salad dressings usually! I have cut the oil down a bit from the original, and there is probably room to cut it down a bit more if you wanted to. My advice is to keep it as is and use the dressing in moderation on a big beautiful bowl of brown rice and veggies. Hallelujah!
Heather's Hallelujah Bowls Recipe:
If you've cooked your grains ahead of time this recipe comes together really quickly. I like to cook up a big pot of brown rice, farro, or quinoa at the beginning of the week to use in meals throughout. You can also freeze cooked grains in individual portions for busier times. I've included proportions for four Hallelujah bowls, but like I said, you'll have much more dressing than what you need. Leftovers will last a couple of weeks in the fridge, and I don't think you'll have trouble using it up.
Recipe Adapted from Whitewater Cooks
For four bowls:
4 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup grated carrot
2 cups spinach leaves or other greens
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 pkg (250g) firm tofu, cubed
½ cup toasted almonds
For the dressing:
½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup tamari or soy sauce (I use Braggs)
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 ¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoon tahini paste
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the cubes of tofu until they're browned on all sides. Lightly steam the broccoli and cauliflower florets - just for a minute or two until the broccoli is bright green. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking and drain well.
Whisk all dressing ingredients together, or use a blender to emulsify.
Layer brown rice into the bottom of four bowls. Top with spinach, grated carrot, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, tofu cubes, and almonds. Top with dressing (go moderately!) and serve immediately.
Okay, so the dressing here is full of all kinds of good and nutrient rich ingredients, but it also packs a pretty good caloric punch. Go moderately - a little goes a long way!
Broccoli is good for you, right? It is a great source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and high broccoli consumption is thought to be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease and some cancers. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, in the same family as broccoli, kale, and cabbage, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits. Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. It is a great source of vitamin B5, potassium, dietary fiber, and a good source of protein, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins B1-3, and iron. Brown rice is a source of dietary fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and tryptophan. Did you know that the process of converting brown rice to white rice destroys 60 - 80% of the vitamins and minerals, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids? Think of white rice like cake, it's a special occasion food and should be eaten in moderation. Brown rice, on the other hand, is a whole food with a myriad of health benefits from colon health to cholesterol lowering. You can have your cake and eat it too!