Monday, January 20, 2020

Foods that Nourish: Sweet Potato, Kale, and Brown Rice Bowls with Creamy Savory Cashew Sauce

If you hate reading long, drawn out stories before getting to the actual recipes, well...start scrolling now, because this one? This one's gonna be a doozy.
If you have followed me for any amount of time, you know I love me some burgers, fries, pot-pies, pizza, tacos, nachos, burritos, mac and cheese, and a slew of other tasty comfort foods. And that has not changed. I do, and will always, love vegan versions of the greasiest, saltiest, tastiest foods out there. They serve an absolute purpose. They nourish the soul. They satisfy that craving. They remind us that vegans need not give up on flavor just because we gave up on torture. They have a place and a time. Unfortunately, for me, that place was beginning to look like my house, and the time...every day. That, my friends, is not nourishing for anyone.

2019 was very challenging for me. I received some not-very-good news about my health which lead to some depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, and to be honest, physical pain. I began relying on convenience foods and fast foods to feed us, because some days, I just couldn't muster up the strength or willpower to stand in the kitchen and cook something.

The drive thru was easy...and with Del Taco, Burger King, and Carl's Jr. all having plant-based options, it was tasty, too. On the days when I was feeling up to it, I would cook up some frozen vegan convenience foods, like burgers, chicken nuggets, burritos. Or throw together a grilled cheese and heat up some Top Ramen. While it was filling us up, it really wasn't feeding us.

So...what has changed? I had surgery on January 10. The first of what may be several, we are still doing tests to figure out the rest. (Sorry for the vagueness here, but I don't have a lot of info either.) But, this particular surgery was to remove my gall bladder, which was seriously inflamed and packed full of gallstones. Gross!

I. FEEL. SO. MUCH. BETTER. And it has only been a little over a week. As soon as I felt strong enough to stand, I was already in the kitchen cooking from scratch. And for the first time, in a long time, I didn't want any of that other stuff. I wanted nourishing, warm, satisfying foods that were not only good for me, but good tasting, too. So, I am on a mission to create a slew of easy to make, tasty, health-ful foods that will aid in my recovery. (Don't worry, I am still going to enjoy those fun foods, too...just not as often!)

Below you will find several recipes. They can be used on their own, or all together to make the bowl. Now...go forth and create some nourishing foods of your own! And, please! Leave a comment below with your favorite nourishing foods.

Trabuco Canyon Magic Dust
This recipe comes from my Vegan Food Gifts book so the quantity is HUGE that way you can pack it up in jars and give it out as gifts. Feel free to cut it down as needed. It was actually developed by Karen Balthaser (RIP) at the Big "B" Ranch in Trabuco Canyon, California. Karen said you can fuss around with the amounts to suit your taste. I find it to be a nice blend that works well in so many applications. I keep a big jar of it on hand and use it to sprinkle on just about everything, from salads to soups to pasta to sandwiches, and in this case sweet potatoes!

2 cups (576 g) salt
2 cups (256 g) granulated garlic
3⁄4 cup (72 g) ground black pepper
3⁄4 cup (96 g) onion powder
1⁄2 cup (56 g) cayenne pepper
1⁄4 cup (24 g) ground white pepper
2 tablespoons (13 g) celery seed
2 tablespoons (4 g) dried parsley flakes, finely ground in a coffee grinder

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl until well combined.
Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Yield: 6 1⁄2 cups (1.1 kg)

Magic Sweet Potatoes
Magic because they are seasoned with Magic Dust (see above) and because they magically taste amazing on their own, hot or cold, tossed onto salads, and, of course, in this bowl. Make up a big batch to keep in the fridge to toss onto meals throughout the week.

4 cups (532 g) diced sweet potatoes (note that I used Red Japanese Sweet Potatoes which have a white flesh instead of orange, they also have a slightly less sweet flavor, and a fluffier texture. You can use any type of sweet potato for this recipe with great results.)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 g) Trabuco Canyon Magic Dust (see above)

Add diced potatoes to a bowl and toss with oil and seasoning. Use your hands to really get it mixed up good and even.
Bake in a single layer on a baking sheet at 425 F for 35 minutes OR air fry at 400 F for 12 to 15 minutes.

Yield: About 4 cups (500 g)

Creamy Savory Cashew Sauce
This creamy sauce is super simple to make. I love the noochiness of it, but its flavor profile can be easily switched up by adding other ingredients...for example, leave out the nooch and add lime juice (instead of lemon) and cilantro for a lovely cilantro lime crema for tacos (or taco bowls!) Or you can add capers and a splash of caper brine to make it a more Caesar-type dressing. Add a tablespoon of miso for a sharper, cheesier flavor. You can really play around with it to get the flavor profile just right. As written, the recipe is pretty thick, which makes it perfect for dips and massaging kale. However, I generally thin it out with some additional water to make it pour-able as a dressing.

1 cup (112 g) raw cashews, soaked and drained (If you don't have time to soak your cashews overnight, you can simmer them gently for about 20 minutes, then drain and rinse thm. This method does cause the cashews to lose a little bit of their raw nutritional value, but it works in a pinch!)
1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
1/4 cup (60 ml) mild flavored vegetable oil, optional (add more water if not using oil)
1/4 cup (60 ml) water, plus more as needed to reach desired consistency
2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
1 tablespoon (10 g) minced garlic
1 tablespoon (15 g) stone ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. Add additional water to thin to desired consistency. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) depending upon how much water you add

Massaged Kale
Okay, so this isn't really a recipe, rather a technique. And it surprises me when folks don't already know how important it is to give your kale a good rub down before eating it. Raw kale is so bitter and tough on its own, it's no wonder why people think they don't like it! The truth is, you can use any fat to massage your kale. Avocado works nicely. Olive oil will do the trick. Or in this case, your new favorite dressing!

1 bunch, or about 3 cups (200 g) tightly packed dino lacinato (aka Dinosaur) kale ribbon (Up to you if you like to leave the ribs in. I hate them, personally, but the husband likes the crunch so I leave some of them in for him.)
1/4 cup (60 ml) Creamy Savory Cashew Sauce (see above)

Add kale ribbons and cashew sauce to a mixing bowl and massage the sauce into the kale for about 3 to 5 minutes until wilted. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Yield: About 2 1/2 cups

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Brown Rice Bowls with Creamy Savory Cashew Sauce
Now it's time to put it all together! Once again, not a specific recipe, per se. Follow these general directions and you can mix and match all sorts of ingredients to make the perfect bowl!

What you will need:
  • mixed tender greens
  • steamed brown rice
  • roasted sweet potatoes
  • massaged kale
  • shredded carrots
  • green onions
  • nuts and/or seeds (I used pistachios here)
  • lots'o'sauce 

Assemble your bowl in layers. Start with mixed greens on the bottom, then hot rice (It will wilt the greens!) then the kale topped with hot sweet potatoes (It will wilt and tenderize the kale even more!)  Then top with shredded carrots, green onions, nuts and seeds, and drizzle on lots and lots of sauce!

You can also pre-pack these in the refrigerator. They taste good cold, too. But...I prefer warm, so I pack mine in microwave safe bowls and heat for about 2 minutes before eating.


Kelly said...

So sorry to hear about your health issues, but I'm glad the surgery has had such a quick and positive effect. Hope you only get better from here!

Susan said...

I'm sorry to hear it was such a rough time for you. I am glad you are feeling better from the gall stone surgery, hopefully a step in the right direction whatever is still to come. <3
This bowl sounds amazing and delicious and perfect for comfort and taste.

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All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni