This super healthy vegan winter grain bowl is packed with seasonal produce – beets, carrots, persimmon, mandarin, and pomegranate, alongside quinoa, roasted chickpeas, and greens. Topped with an orange ginger dressing for a fresh cold weather lunch or light dinner – because winter needs a little colour!
It’s really not cold in Oldenburg right now. I don’t think it’s ever actually cold here, but it’s chilly enough that I want some good comfort food. It did snow this morning (the rain has washed it away now) so that means it’s sort of winter, right? The rain makes me irrationally grumpy, probably because I grew up in an area with so little rain, and I’m just outraged when rain falls on my face, ha. Now it seems like we’re probably moving to Ireland later this year for Graham’s masters, so I’ll have to put up with rain for a while longer. I keep reminding myself that rain is better than air that can freeze your face off.
Despite the freezing weather, you can be growing your own food inside – have you ever tried sprouting? If you never have before, they’re the easiest possible thing to grow, no green thumb needed. It’s the coolest thing to see little lentils transform right in from of you. To sprout seeds or legumes, just soak them for 24 hours, then drain and place in a glass jar. Fill the jar with water once in the morning and again in the evening, and drain. This keeps the sprouts wet enough without drowning them and creates a good environment for growth. I keep my jar on a north facing windowsill. You don’t need a special sprouting jar, just use the outside of a fine sieve with the opening of the jar pressed against it to drain the sprouts. They’ll start growing within a couple of days but I like to wait around five so that they’re good and green.
Sprouting foods increases both the amount and availability of the protein, vitamins, and minerals already present in legumes, grains, and seeds. My favourites are black, green, and brown lentils (not red) but mung beans are common, and if you’re looking to grow sprouts similar to the ones you buy at the supermarket, try mung beans. Store them in the fridge for about a week after they’re done growing, and add them to everything from buddha bowls to sandwiches and smoothies. Sprouts are especially beneficial in the winter, when we don’t have as much access to fresh foods.
This bowl is a little different from my usual wintertime meals because I used more fresh foods than cooked. Sometimes we eat too much cooked food during the colder months and forget about fresh, which provide more enzymes and help with digestion. Root vegetables are a good choice because they’re probably not coming from as far away. Graham had brought home lettuce the day I made these so the bottom of the bowl is a layer of hardier wintery greens, but you could use massaged kale or chard instead. I’m a big fan of crunchy roasted chickpeas (recipe below) and this bowl offers plenty of different textures.
Maybe this isn’t a fancy or complicated recipe, but it’s a good representation of what I eat on a daily basis. Give me some grains, beans, and seasonal veggies and I’m a happy camper. It’s really simple, nutritious food that only takes a few minutes of active kitchen time (and only about fifteen minutes cooking time), and it’ll keep you full and feeling good. It’s a flexible recipe and you can change it around to suit what’s in your kitchen or available in the stores, but just stick to a 3:1:1 ratio (vegetables, legumes, grains) and you’ll be good. This dressing is a special wintery one with fresh ginger and orange, and it’s the bomb.
P.S. I have a crazy kick-ass cookie recipe coming your way soon.
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The Cold Weather Bowl
- 2 cups mixed greens*
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 cup sumac roasted chickpeas
- 1/2 cup lentil sprouts
- 1 medium beet shredded
- 1 medium carrot shredded
- 1 persimmon sliced
- 1/4 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Sumac Roasted Chickpeas
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Orange Ginger Dressing
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons orange juice one small orange
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- Zest of an unwaxed orange
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Arrange everything in a bowl, top with dressing, and serve. (My bowls don't look like this when I'm not taking pictures.)
Sumac Roasted Chickpeas
Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F. Coat the chickpeas in the oil and spices, then place in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and crispy. They will lose their crispiness if left sitting for more than a day.
Orange Ginger Dressing
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl or jar and serve with the salad. Any leftover dressing will keep well in the fridge for up to three days.
• To cook quinoa, give it a rinse in a fine sieve and then cook it with 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water, bringing to a boil and then simmering until the quinoa has absorbed all the water. I usually turn the heat off when there's just a touch of water left and leave the lid on the pot (it'll keep cooking for a couple more minutes this way) to make sure I don't accidentally overcook it.
* Try massaged kale or chard in place of the mixed greens.