There is just something about Asian cuisine that I love so much. Whether it is the freshness of some of the dishes or the tart and salty flavours (hello lime and soy sauce!). To me, Asian flavours mean coriander, lime, soy sauce, sesame oil, chilli and ginger. Yum! With the weather (very, very sloooowly) cooling down, I'm starting to move away from just salads and protein for dinner. We are now, finally, starting to enjoy a few warmer dishes here and there. I feel like this dish gives you that freshness of summer with the lime and coriander, while still fitting the Autumn dish criteria.
One thing that does disappoint with asian cuisine is the amount of sugar that is often added. Cooking your own asian dishes is ideal for this reason. You can control exactly what goes into your dish and how much. I rather eat as little sugar as possible so I haven't added any to this dish. This Asian Inspired Nourish Bowl is light yet filling and still full of flavour, despite having no sugar. As a side note, it is the perfect dish to make extra of to keep for the next days lunch.
To Soy or Not to Soy?
Can we just talk tofu for a minute? Because there are a lot of varied opinions out there on soy. Essentially, soy (what tofu is made from) contains phytoestrogens, goitrogens and phytates. Phyto-goitre-phytate-say what you may be thinking? Well, read on my dear friend for I have the answers for you.
Phytoestrogens are a natural substance which can mimic oestrogen. This can be beneficial or detrimental depending on the person. For example, someone that has high progesterone levels and lower than normal oestrogen could benefit from phytoestrogens in their diet. Eaten in excess however and you may see some negative effects in those who don't need it (think reduced fertility, man boobs and lowered testosterone).
Goitrogens are substances that can cause hypothyroidism (or reduced thyroid function) which can then lead to the typical goitre (swelling in the neck). For anyone who already has a slow thyroid or hypothyroidism, I would not recommend eating soy or soy products. For a person without out this condition, I see no harm in consuming soy in moderation.
Phytates are a compound known as an anti-nutrient. What this means is that phytates reduce the absorption of nutrients from your foods, causing potential deficiencies. There are many methods that help to remove phytates such as soaking, sprouting and cooking. However, the phytates in soy seem to be resistant to these methods. What does help to reduce phytates in soy is fermentation. Soy foods like tofu and tempeh are fermented and therefore contain less phytates. They also contain beneficial bacteria from the fermentation process so it is easier to digest these foods then highly processed soy products. Vegans and vegetarians beware of vegan meat replacements. These are made with very highly processed soy protein.
My biggest piece of advice would be to steer clear of highly processed soy foods BUT consume whole-food forms of soy such as tofu and tempeh so long as they are made from organic, non-GMO (genetically modified) soy beans.
Soy can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet when eaten in moderation and when eating organic non-GMO. It is a good plant-based source of protein and has a versatile flavour. I choose to consume soy only a few times per week and balance it between other quality sources of protein such as chickpeas, fish, lean grass fed meats and free range chicken.
Combining Plant-Based Protein Sources
I have spoken about this a lot but when consuming a vegetarian dish, it is very important to combine your sources of protein. Plant sources of protein include legumes (chickpeas, beans and lentils), grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats etc) and nuts and seeds. When you are making a vegetarian dish it is important to have at least 2 of these 3 sources of protein to ensure you have a complete protein. This means you will be getting all 9 essential amino acids, necessary for health and that our bodies can't make themselves. This dish is a complete protein as it contains brown rice (grain) and tofu (legume). Other examples of complete plant protein dishes are porridge (grains) with chia seeds sprinkled on top, hummus (legumes) on sourdough (grains) and pesto pasta (there are nuts in pesto and grains in the pasta).
If you want to check out some more nourish bowl goodness, have a look at my Mexican Nourish Bowl.
Enjoy! And don't forget to tag me in your creations on Instagram!
- 250 grams firm tofu
- 2 tblsp sesame oil
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 knob ginger finely grated (approximately 1 tblsp)
- juice of half lime
- 2 tblsp sesame seeds (black or white)
- 1 bunch asian greens (eg. bok choy, warregal greens, baby spinach)
- 1 ½ cups brown rice
- 400 grams sweet potato
- bean sprouts to serve
- coriander to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Chop the sweet potato into 1cm x 4cm strips and place in baking tray. Coat with extra virgin olive oil or rice bran oil and place in oven for 45 minutes.
- Place the brown rice into a medium saucepan with about 4 cups of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to a medium heat until cooked and tender.
- Meanwhile, chop the tofu into 1cmx1cm cubes and place in a glass dish. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and ginger and stir to combine.
- Once the sweet potato has been in the oven for about 30 minutes, place the tofu into a frypan and fry on a medium-high heat. When the sauce begins to thicken add the greens and sauté for 5 minutes.
- To serve, place brown rice in each bowl and top with tofu, sweet potato, greens, coriander, bean sprouts and sesame seeds.