I know it’s a bit of a cliche to talk about simple food after a holiday week, but it can be such a relief to get back to basics after even a few days of nonstop cooking, eating out, or travel. I didn’t cook a Thanksgiving meal this year, but I did do a lot of cooking in general the week prior. I’m very happy to have all of the ingredients I need to make these wholesome roasted vegetable & kale puff nourish bowls with creamy hemp herb dressing tonight.
Nutrition clients often ask me about strategies for getting back into a grounded, steady cooking and food routine after the holidays. Every person is different, of course, but my strategies have always included the following:
- Rely on leftovers. If I did any holiday cooking, I’ve usually got some leftover mashed potatoes lying around, a container of roasted veggies, or even some leftover salad that needs to be eaten quickly. Simple bowls are a great way to combine them all.
- When I’m out of leftovers, I rely on my favorite store-bought staples till I’m back in the groove. The last time I prepared Thanksgiving, three of us impressively polished off just about everything. The days after were a great time for frozen veggie burgers, vegan meats, batch cooked (or pre-cooked) beans and grains, and ready-to-eat vegan meals—all great resources to depend on as I got back into my usual cooking routine.
- Bring it all together with a sauce. The simplest bowl or plate of leftovers can be transformed into something new and surprising with the help of a really great dressing or sauce.
These nourish bowls are a combination of all three approaches. They feature two vegetables—sweet potatoes and cauliflower—that you may have roasted up for a holiday feast, or which you might be making a lot of during the early winter season, anyway. And you can definitely swap out the roasted veggies you’ve got if you don’t happen to have or care for either vegetable.
They’re also enriched with the use of Dr. Praeger’s kale puffs, which are basically a more wholesome and (I think) flavorful spin on traditional tater tots. They’re made with skin-on red bliss potatoes and flecked with kale; the first time I tried them I was surprised how much of the potato was visible in the texture of the puffs, in spite of the fact that they’re super light and crisp. They’d be a perfect addition to a brunch plate, or as a means of encouraging picky eaters to eat kale. But they’re also a great bowl component: comforting and starchy, but not heavy or greasy, and very easy to crisp up in the oven.
Finally, the bowls feature a bright-tasting and bright green dressing that I’m already planning to make again. I used to make hemp based dressings all the time, and I’ve gotten out of the habit for no particular reason (except maybe my addiction to tahini?).
Hemp seeds are great sources of protein and essential fatty acids, and they blend up easily in a powerful blender without any need to pre-soak, which makes them ideal for last minute, nutrient-dense, creamy dressings and sauces. This one keeps to the spirit of the bowl in its simplicity: just herbs, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and a pitted date for mild sweetness. It would be lovely on a simple green salad, mixed together with rice and beans (or quinoa and beans), and its tangy notes are a great contrast to all of the other earthy flavors in the bowl.
For the bowls:
- 2 cups roasted cauliflower florets you could substitute broccoli or Brussels sprouts, too
- 2 cups roasted sweet potato or winter squash, or another root vegetable
- 1 container Dr. Praeger’s Kale Puffs about 42 puffs, warmed according to package instructions
- 4-6 heaping cups spring mix or leafy greens of choice
For the creamy hemp herb dressing:
- 1/2 cup shelled hemp seeds
- 1 large or 2 small pitted dates
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup packed parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro
- 3/4 cup water
- To prepare the dressing, blend all ingredients together in a powerful blender for about a minute, or until the dressing is creamy and smooth. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.
- Divide bowl ingredients into four serving bowls and dressing generously with the hemp dressing. Enjoy.
I loved all of the textures in these bowls, from the crisped-up kale puffs to the tender sweet potatoes and fresh greens. It’s an almost-instant meal that’s a pleasure to eat and feels totally nourishing. Not much of a formal recipe, I know, but hope it sparks some bowl inspiration for you! And if you give the dressing a try, I hope you like it.
It’s been an interesting couple days here. Yesterday brought up tremendous gratitude along with some complex emotions, which I think is a common experience during the holidays. I’m reflecting on it (I’ll probably have more clarity by the time I sit down to think about my weekend reading post) but for now I want to express again my gratitude and peaceful wishes to all of you. Happy Friday.
This post is sponsored by Dr. Praeger’s Purely Sensible Foods. All opinions are my own, and I’m a huge fan of this brand’s easy vegan offerings. Thanks for your support!