Ninety-nine per cent of the time our suppers are comprised of three components: whole grains, steamed veggies, and a tasty sauce—basically a macro bowl. Not highly original, I know, but a solid choice nonetheless. As I've mentioned before, it's often a struggle for many of us to make supper when we come home late from school or work. For years I would be the one who would spend so much time debating what healthy supper to make, that I'd just end up eating a good amount of Kettle chips instead. It's about balance, right?
Then years ago I met Adam, and beyond the world of prog rock and Carcassonne that came with him, he enlightened me to this entire new side of steaming vegetables.
Growing up, veggies were often over-steamed. And this is in no way a fault of my busy mother who was feeding five people and tripping over endless cats and dogs in a kitchen the size of a postage stamp. Steaming veg is hard work. You have to time it correctly, make sure one veggie doesn't get overcooked while others remain rock hard, or worse, wait around for one veggie to finish steaming while all the other components grow cold. The fear of improperly steaming veggies scared me so much that for years I would just roast them- a over roasted carrot is great, while an over steamed one is basically baby food. Simple as that.
Then I was shown this simple method (which I'll share below) to steam whatever veggies we had left in the fridge in a manner where they would all be done at the same time as the rice! Life-changing? A little. The beautiful thing about this method is that it works for just about anything. This recipe isn't confined to the ingredients I used, but more of a guide on how to adapt whatever veggie you have in the fridge, happen to be on sale, or in season during a given month.
The bowl food we tend to eat at home mostly resembles the Macro bowl. You've probably seen these plastered all over IG or at the menu of your local healthy cafe. While the bowls may vary in appearance, the fundamentals of them all remain the same. Based on the Macrobiotic diet (which like all diets came and went), it focuses on creating a meal of whole grains, plenty of veggies, plant protein, and some fermentation goodness. In a nutshell, a balanced meal full of nutrition.
BUILDING A MACRO BOWL 101
- WHOLE GRAINS - Whole grains should make up the base of your bowl. Options I like are brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, or barley. Or try mixing grains that have a similar cooking time like Heidi's recipe.
- VEGGIES - Veggies are the second most important ingredients in a macro bowl, but sometimes they come number one in our house. Choosing seasonal veggies is crucial. Look for produce that is locally grown - cauliflower, broccoli, squashes, beets, carrot, kale, yam, and (roasted) mushrooms in the fall and winter. In the spring try veggies like asparagus, turnips, and tender greens. Fresh veggies like avocado, tomato, and cucumber also add a nice freshness in the summer months.
- PROTEIN - In this recipe, I opted for tofu, but tempeh is also a great addition. If you are avoiding soy or can't get a non-soy based tempeh, add chickpeas, adzuki beans, or green lentils.
- SOMETHING FERMENTED - This recipe doubles up on the fermentation with miso and sauerkraut, but try to add at least one fermented component to your bowls such as miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, or tempeh.
- SEA VEGETABLES - I like adding some soaked arame to our bowls for another textural component and dose of vitamins. If you cannot find arame you can either try cooking your beans (if adding beans) with kombu or even chopping up some sheets of nori for a garnish.
- SPROUTS - Including sprouts in dishes brings a great bit of freshness and vitality. Sprouted lentils, mung beans, pea shoots, sunflower sprouts, or any microgreen would do.
- SEEDS OR NUTS - As a final garnish sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds help finish off the bowl.
- TASTY SAUCE - This is the real star right here! In this recipe, I used a Tahini Miso sauce, but a Tamari Ginger Sauce, Nut Butter Sauce, or Miso Gravy work just as well.
STEAMING VEGETABLE GUIDE
In 12 minutes you can steam just about any vegetable you have in your fridge. If you don't have a steamer look for either a metal one or an inexpensive bamboo steamer - both work equally as well. For best results make sure most veggies are cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes or bite-size florets (large bites).
- Begin by bringing a large pot of water (with your steamer on top) to the boil. If you're feeling fancy you can add some makrut lime leaves or lemongrass to the water for flavour and aroma, but this is not necessary.
- Once the water is boiling add your hard vegetables like winter squash, yam, sweet potato, beet, and turnip. Cover and set the timer for 4-5 minutes (check after 4, and they should start to become fork-tender, but not soft enough to break apart)
- After the four-five minute mark is up, add the veggies you're able to eat and raw like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Cover and set the timer for 4 more minutes.
- Finally, add the softer veggies which require little heat like sweet peppers, zucchini, and kale or other greens. Cover and let this steams for 3 minutes more.
Through this process, in the end, you will have steamed harder vegetables like squash and beets for 12 minutes, your broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots for a total of 7, and your softer veggies like peppers, zucchini, and kale for 3.
- 2 Small heads of Broccoli, Chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 3 Medium Beets, or 2 Large, Peeled and Chopped into 1-inch Cubes or Slices
- 1/4 of a Kabocha or other Winter Squash, Chopped in 1-inch Cubes (we leave Kabocha skin on, but peel if using another squash)
- 1 Cup Brown Rice
- Miso Tahini Sauce (Below)
- Crispy Tofu (Below)
- To Garnish- Arame soaked in water for 30 minutes, Sprouts, Sesame Seeds, Sauerkraut (we used a beet ginger variety from WildBrine)
Miso Tahini Sauce
- 4 Tbsp. Tahini
- 2 Tbsp. Miso
- 4 Garlic Cloves (or less if you like)
- 2 tsp. Grated Ginger
- 1/2 Lemon (2 Tbsp. Juice)
- 1 tsp. Tamari
- 1/2 tsp. Honey or Vegan Liquid Sweetener
- 6 Tbsp. Water, approximately
- 350 G (12 oz) Firm Tofu
- 2 Tbsp. Tamari
- 2 Tbsp. Arrowroot Powder
- 1 Tbsp. Olive (I used liquid coconut)
Begin by getting your rice on to cook. Add 1 3/4 cup of water along with the 1 cup rice. Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately cover and turn down to the lowest simmer. Cook for about 40 minutes. Different types of rice will have varying cooking times. Check the package for details.
Next, get all your veggies peeled and prepped and have ready to steam.
Make the Tahini Sauce (Recipe Below)
Cook-off your Crispy Tofu (Recipe Below)
With five minutes or so left on your rice, get a pot and steamer basket ready. Fill the boil with water and bring to the boil.
As soon as it begins to boil add your kabocha and beets. Set the time five minutes (see guide above)
After the five minutes is up, add the broccoli and continue to steam for 5-7 minutes or until tender.
Once the veggies are cooked, fill bowls with rice, veggies, and garnish and a side of sauce.
- Place all the ingredients except the water in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the water a Tbsp. at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
- Chop the tofu into bite-size cubes and pat it well with a tea towel to remove any extra water. In a shallow dish toss together all the ingredients until the starch is dissolved. Let the tofu marinate for about 5 minutes, but not too long. Once they've hung out in the mixture, toss them again and place the tofu on a baking tray or plate so that any extra liquid can drain off (this helps with the crisping)
- Heat a frying pan to medium and add about 1 tsp. oil. Add the tofu a piece at a time (if it's dry it shouldn't splatter) leaving enough room that it doesn't touch. You may need to work in two batches if you have a small pan. Once the tofu starts to brown, flip it until all four sides are crisped and browned.
- If you are making this before steaming your veggies, you can leave it in the oven at a low temp to stay warm.