Eating deliciously and healthily can be a difficult balance on top of a busy schedule. So I decided to follow the saying to "Ëat the Rainbow", it's less work and you can't go wrong when shopping for ingredients. The Koreans follow the color rule as well for thousands of years to create not only delicious and healthy meals but also visually appealing dishes that they present to their emperor (also to keep his health in check). So if this rule is good enough for the King, it is for me! (There's some science behind it, but I'll not go into it).
Basically the different colors represent the presence of different nutrients, like carrots are orange which comes from beta carotene which our body then converts to Vitamin A (Retinol), which is necessary for healthy skin and mucus membranes, immune system, and good eye health and vision.
Here are 3 easy-to-put-together lunch bowls that I conjure up on a daily basis, interchanging the ingredients with seasonal ingredients. There are different great and delicious vegetables and ingredients unique to the different parts of the world so have fun building your own!!!
I find that with a variety of ingredients, comes a variety of flavor, so there is little need for additional flavoring.
As I am trying to cut down on unhealthy fats, reduce my sugar intake, eat clean, here is my rule of thumb:
1. Low GI foods (Glycemic Index)
2. High fiber
3. Lean and Quality protein
4. Eat the Rainbow! (ingredients in a myriad of colors)
And the 4 main components you should have in your bowl are:
2. fiber, vegetable
3. lean protein
4. healthy oil
Step 1: Recipe #1: Black Rice Tofu Bibbimbap (Korean Mixed Rice)
- 1 big bowl, I like using the metal mixing bowl
- 1 small bowl cooked black rice (you can use other rices, but black is the lowest GI)
- Mushroom, sliced and toasted off in the pan, no oil
- Cucumber, match stick size
- Carrot, match stick size, sauteed with a bit of oil or raw
- Bean Sprouts, sauteed with a bit of oil, or blanched
- Tofu, sauteed and cut into stripes
- Red Peppers, match stick size, sauteed or raw
- Red Cabbage, sliced into thin stripes and sauteed with a bit of oil
- 1 egg, Sunny Side Up (for vegan option, leave out the egg)
- 1/2 tsp Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste, you can get this at the Korean mart)
- Soy sauce to Taste
- 1/2 tsp olive oil (originally sesame oil for an additional nuttiness and aroma), we are going for a healthier option here, you can do without it if you are using avocado
Flip your small bowl of black rice into the middle of your big bowl, turning it out beautifully.
Assemble your match stick ingredients beautifully around the rim of your bowl, topping off with the sunny side up egg (for vegan option, leave out the egg). Garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, the 1/2 tsp of Gochujang, and drizzle of soy sauce. Serve!
How to Eat: Mix it all up real good and eat it! Kinda ironic after we assembled it so beautifully, but that's the fun of it, because as its name implies, Bibbimbap literally means Mix Rice.
I love the Korean Bibbimbap. This version is my own rendition to fit into my clean and healthy eating lifestyle. You don't need to give up your favorite dishes for a healthier body. You just need to substitute the ingredients for healthier ones, and along the way, I have come to appreciate the natural flavors of a lot of vegetables and ingredients.
This is a high fiber healthy and highly versatile all-in-one meal where you can change the ingredients as the seasons go. Try a spring greens bowl, use your favorite meats and proteins. You can do seafood, vegan, use what's available in your markets and your gardens, you can even do flavored rice (tomato, lemon), quinoa, bulgur wheat. Best of all, it is great social food where you can lay out all the ingredients for your friends, family, and guests to customize to their taste. It is great for dinner parties where you can have fun and try something new together. Your guests will love it!
Step 2: Recipe #2: Teriyaki Chicken and Orange Quinoa Salad Jar
- Teriyaki Chicken, sauteed then coat with glaze (soy and honey glaze 2:1 ratio)
- Cucumber, diced
- Hard-boiled Egg, 1, big chunks
- Bell Peppers, thin rings
- Half a Small Orange, segmented and chunked
- Half an Avocado, dice
- Quinoa, cooked, 4 heap Tbsp
- Dressing (olive oil and lime/lemon juice)
- Jar (optional, you can just put them all in a bowl)
Prep all ingredient, assemble all your ingredients in the jar, add dressing, close jar and transport. Your meal is ready for you whenever you need it!
Light, clean, healthy, balanced, filling meal, satisfying flavors, high in nutrients and fiber, leaving you feeling full and in no danger of that mid day lethargy! Change it up too, if you have your favorite salad combinations!
Step 3: Recipe #3: Tomato and Chicken Lentils in an Eggplant Bowl With Cumin Roasted Vegetables
There seems like a lot of ingredients, but they all go into the same place, and are cooked together. So this is quite a fast recipe. The vegetables are surprisingly light, with the salt bringing out the sweetness of the pumpkin and the tartness of the lemon cuts the sweetness of the vegetables. Tomato is also great for making a hearty and healthy sauce base, adding flavor without too many seasoning. If it seems substantial, pick smaller eggplants or share this with someone else. It makes for a healthy, delicious and fibrous meal.
- 3 Tbsp Lentils (per serving), rinsed
- Tomato, chopped into small chunks
- Chicken breast or thigh meat, I used thigh: small cubes/pieces (vegan option, use tofu or a protein substitute)
- Eggplant, halved
- Beetroot, small cubes
- Pumpkin, small cubes
- Baby Corn, diagonally halved
- Ladies finger, diagonally halved
- Red Onions, sliced and separated
- Seasoning: 4 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, cumin powder, lemon slices
Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit or 190 degrees celsius.
On a baking tray, lay down a piece of foil or baking sheet (optional, it will make cleaning up easier).
Combine olive oil, salt and pepper, and cumin powder in a mixing bowl, do not over salt. This is your seasoning mixture.
Toss your pumpkin cubes in this mixture, drain, and set onto tray.
Toss your baby corn and ladiés finger in the mixture, drank and set aside.
Take 1 Tbsp of the seasoning mixture to spread on each half of the eggplant. Set aside.
Lastly, toss your beetroot cubes in the seasoning mix, drain, and seal tightly in an aluminium packet (fast roasting). You are now ready to roast.
Set your oven for 40 minutes. Put your beetroot packet onto the tray beside the pumpkin and bake. Both of them will need 40 mins.
When there is 25 minutes left on the clock, put in the eggplant halves, baby corn, and ladies fingers. Continue baking.
When there is 10 mins left on the clock, put in the red onion slices along side the other vegetables, and put the lemon slices on the vegetables.
Bake till the 10 mins is up.
Lentils - (While the vegetables bake)
Cook lentils in lightly salted boiling water for 10-15 mins and drained.
In a small pot, brown off the chicken chunks in oil till outside is white (it will continue cooking), then add in tomato chunks and sear in high heat. when there is light brown charring at the bottom of the pot, add some boiling water and de-glaze the pot, scrapping up all the bits (those are flavorful), do not let it char.
Put in the cooked lentils and stir mixture still on high heat. Let all the liquid evaporate off reducing the mixture to a thick consistency or until you cannot see any flowing liquid. Then taste and turn off the heat. If you salted the lentils-cooking water, you should not need to season this, it should already taste good.
On your plate, dish up your eggplant halves face side up and top with lentils. Plate the rest of your roasted vegetables along side with lemon slice. Serve and enjoy!!!
I absolutely love beetroot! For a root vegetable, it is surprisingly light with a texture like cooked radish. Plus, every time I cut into them, the magenta red color wows me with every cut, so preparing the beetroot is a happy occasion for me. How can such an unassuming bulb hold such strong and vibrant color within it!!!
Step 4: Bonus Recipe: Roast Pumpkin With Sweet Pea and Tofu Stripes Warm Salad (feat. Apple and Cheese)
This is a bonus recipe of my own creation. It is a method I use to clean my fridge and use off all ripe ingredients that will soon go bad. I do this at the end of every 2 weeks or so, where I try to combine all the stuff that needs to be used. This is a surprisingly filing recipe.
However, they can't all be used together, so I separate them into main dish and dessert ingredients and find that one ingredient that can be use in both. Using that 1 ingredient as a bridge, I would create a main and dessert platter. In this case, the bridge here is either the squash or the tofu. The squash is great for both savory and sweet and surprisingly the tofu pairs very well with apple and is a good soy base for desserts. There is a pear and cheese dessert combo, so I thought why not apple and cheese, which works well if you choose the right cheese.
It may taste weird to you, but for me, I enjoy the pockets and burst of flavors sweet and tart hidden in the various ingredients. It is crazy so try at your own risk.
- Pumpkin, butternut or otherwise, 1 wedge per person
- 5-7 Cherry tomatoes: halved
- 10-15 Blueberries (a small hand-full), washed
- 1/4 Small Apple, thin slices
- a Small Piece of Cheese, small cubes
- 1 vegetable serving Sweet Peas, half them
- 1/2 vegetable serving Baby corn, thick slices
- Tofu Stripes: Baiye Tofu (These are tofu sheets, tofu that has been compressed into thin sheets, they are a great texture and are great for side dishes, salads, stir-fry), comes in 1 entire sheet in a package, 100g (2-3 10cm square, just cut along the folded edges) blanch in hot boiling water for 2 minutes
- Olive oil, salt and pepper, 1 herb (I chose rosemary)
- Cinnamon Powder
Get rid of the seeds and stringy bits of the pumpkin, keep the skin on, segment The top bit (the bottom is the crevice where the seeds use to sit) with cuts without cutting through the skin, rub with olive oil, salt pepper and rosemary. Wedge your apple slices into the cuts between the pumpkin segments and top with cinnamon powder (In this case I didn't manage to as I only found the apple as the pumpkin was baking). Put into preheated oven at 190 degrees celsius/375 degrees fahrenheit for 40 mins and roast till soft.
In a frying pan, saute your sweet peas and baby corn with the blanched tofu stripes with salt and pepper.
Plate up your pumpkin wedge, put the sweet pea corn and tofu stir fry in the bowl shape part of the pumpkin.
Then put the cheese cubes around the wedge of the pumpkin where the apple slices are.
Top the whole platter with your blueberries and add a last small drizzle of olive oil if you need it. Serve and try to enjoy! Hahaha!
This is one of my creative process, to deal with a weekly chore and when things and meals get boring. I get to disregard recipes and try to find my own. It is also a lazy way to take care of the main course and dessert in one plate. Plus this is a good way to find those weird pairings of foods that work together, like pickles and peanut butter. I find that as long as you don't go too crazy with the cooking method, like adding too many condiments or overcooking and reducing them to brown mush, even if the flavors don't work well with each other, they will still be edible, resembling a mismatched salad.
Participated in the
Colors of the Rainbow Contest