There was a summer during college when I came back to Toronto to find that 50% of my close friends were now vegan. I was shocked. I grew up in a very meat-centric family, both in my Brazilian and Chinese sides meals revolved around meat, whether it be my grandma’s galinha caipira com batata (‘hick’ chicken with potatoes) or my other grandma’s favorite, lion’s head meatballs (made of pork not lion FYI). So suddenly instead of summers filled with prosciutto pizza at Terroni, boats of glistening sashimi or late night McDonald’s runs there was one restaurant we could frequent: Fresh.
And you know what? It was ok. No, it was more than ok. I discovered tempeh and I discovered my Green Goddess bowl with steamed greens, broccoli, grilled tempeh, pickled ginger, toasted sunflower seeds, tahini sauce, toasted nori & ginger tamari sauce. This baby could come on rice or soba noodles and it was delicious. This was the first time I came to the conclusion that it was possible to eat super healthy food that was delicious and satisfying. Sure I was kind of forcibly coerced into eating there but hey. The more you know.
My love of bowls thus began at Fresh, and I especially love making these for lunch. Now this bowl is not vegan as it contains salmon but it can easily be made vegan by substituting tofu, tempeh, sweet potatoes, whathaveyou. This is also very low carb as it substitutes rice for cauliflower rice, something I have wanted to try for a while but was hesitant about. I am happy to report to you cauliflower rice is quite tasty. This also fits in quite nicely with a NYTimes article that came out today reporting on how beneficial low carb diets are for you both in terms of weight loss and cardiovascular health. But fear not, you do not have to subsist entirely on chicken breasts and celery sticks to reap the benefits of this diet, because high fat is a-ok. So pass the peanut butter, olive oil, fatty salmon steaks and tahini dressing.
Serves 1, with plenty of leftover cauliflower rice
- 1 head of cauliflower, chopped with large pieces of stem removed
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of thyme or preferred herbs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice (juice of 1/2 lemon)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: 1/2 cup of finely chopped beet greens or other greens
- 1/4 lb of raw good quality salmon, cubed
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or rice vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
- 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1/2 tablespoon of white miso paste
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 avocado
- Beets, or other vegetables
- green onions and sesame seeds
- For the poke, combine all the ingredients, mix well and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- For the cauliflower rice, process the cauliflower in a food processor until it is in rice-sized pieces. Discard any large pieces of leftover stem.
- Once processed, in a large pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Once hot add in cauliflower rice. If adding in greens, add in together with rice. Cook until cauliflower rice is al dente, approximately 5 minutes. Towards the last 2 minutes add in thyme or any herbs. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Once cooked, remove from heat and add in lemon juice, toss to combine. Set aside.
- To assemble the bowl, layer in cauliflower rice on the bottom (this can be hot or cold according to preference, I like it lukewarm), then top with salmon poke, avocado, beets and any other vegetables.
- Lastly, generously drizzle with the tahini-miso dressing and feel free to add green onions, sesame seeds and other toppings (perhaps some pickled ginger?).
The beets here are beautiful and something so unabashedly magenta just has to be good for you. Avocados make nearly every kind of bowl better. Fact. And the tahini-miso dressing adds a nice savoury umami richness that ties everything in together.
Although my friends’ veganism appeared to be just a phase (you should see how much cheese was consumed on our recent trip to Paris) I am forever thankful to be introduced to veggie-filled bowls that are both filling and tasty. Although one of the former vegan friends is now gluten intolerant so we’ll see where that leads….so far rice crackers with brie did not persuade me to abandon my gluten-full ways.