Nutrition Bowls

Bliss bowls are not a new idea, but they are such a simple and delicious way to include plenty of vegetables, fibre and essential fatty acids into your day. This spring-inspired bowl features a smokey tahini dressing and an anti-inflammatory dukkah to add more flavour and nutrients. If you prepare the dukkah, dressing and baked vegetables ahead of time, these bowls are a snap to put together.

Baking Vegetables – Which oil is best?

Did you know that extra virgin olive oil is great for baking? Research has shown that good quality extra virgin olive oil is more stable when cooking than other oils such as coconut oil, due largely to its high content of polyphenols (antioxidants). When you cook with extra virgin olive oil the antioxidants transfer to the food and compounds such as betacarotene (from carrots and sweet potato) and glucosinolates (from brassica vegetables such as broccoli and brussels sprouts) are more readily absorbed by the body. So drizzle, bake, sauté & fry away, just make sure you choose a good quality Australian extra virgin olive oil (Cobram Estate is one of my favourites).

Prebiotics and Resistant Starch

Cooked and cooled vegetables (such as potato or sweet potato) and grains (like rice) are a great source of resistant starch. This starch acts like a type of prebiotic soluble fibre in the colon and feeds the beneficial bacteria that live in your large intestine. During this process, short chain fatty acids such as butyrate are produced. Butyrate has a role in maintaining the integrity of the gut wall and provides energy for the cells of the colon. Resistant starch has also been associated with beneficial outcomes such as improved insulin sensitivity and increased satiety (feeling satisfied and full after eating).

Onto the recipe!

Spring Nutrition Bowl

Ingredients for 1 bowl:
– ½ cup cooked quinoa, buckwheat or black/red/brown rice (I used quinoa)
– 1 cup or more of baked vegetables (I included zucchini, carrots, sweet potato, broccoli and beetroot)
– 1 cup or more of greens, such as rocket or mixed lettuce (I used parsley)
– 1 fillet of cooked wild caught salmon, 2 boiled eggs or ½ cup cooked beans or hummus
– 1-2 tablespoons of smokey tahini dressing (recipe below)
– 1-2 tablespoons of anti-inflammatory dukkha (recipe below)

Smokey Tahini Dressing
(makes about ½ cup)
– ¼ cup tahini
– 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
– ½ teaspoon lemon zest
– ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
– ½ teaspoon ground cumin
– ½ teaspoon maple syrup
– ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
– ¼ cup water, plus more if needed

Whisk together all ingredients except the water. Slowly add water, as needed, whisking after each addition. I added almost all of the ¼ cup of water, but the amount you need will depend on the consistency of the tahini and how creamy or runny you would like the dressing. You can make the dressing ahead of time and store it in the fridge in a glass jar for 3 days.

Anti-inflammatory Dukkha
(makes about 2 cups)
– 1 cup raw almonds
– ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
– 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
– 2 tablespoon cumin seeds
– 2 tablespoon coriander seeds
– 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
– 3/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
– Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Pop almonds onto baking paper lined tray and roast for 4 minutes. Stir almonds and add pepitas to the tray. Roast almonds and pepitas for a further 4 minutes. Stir through the sesame seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds and roast another 2-4 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes, until spices are fragrant and nuts and seeds are golden. Allow to cool, then pop the contents of the tray, along with the sea salt, turmeric and pepper into a food processor. Pulse a few times, to achieve desired consistency (almonds and spices should be chopped, but you do not want to lose all of the crunch). You can make the dukkah ahead of time and store it in the fridge in a glass jar for up to 1 month.

References

De Alvarenga,J. F. R., Quifer-Rada, P., Juliano, F. F., Hurtado-Barroso,S., Illan, M., Torrado-Prat, X., & Lamuela-Raventós, R. M. (2019). Using extra virgin olive oil to cook vegetables enhances polyphenol and carotenoid extractability: A study applying the sofrito technique. Molecules, 24(8): 1555. https://doi.org/0.3390/molecules24081555

De Alzaa, F., Guillaume C., & Ravetti, L. (2018). Evaluation of chemical and physical changes in different commercial oils during heating. Acta Scientific Nutritional Health, 2(6), 2-11. https://actascientific.com/ASNH/pdf/ASNH-02-0083.pdf

Keenan, M. J., Zhou, J., Hegsted, M., Pelkman, C., Durham, H. A., Coulon, D. B., Martin, R. J. (2015). Role of resistant starch in improving gut health, adiposity, and insulin resistance. Advances in Nutrition, 6(2), 198–205. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.114.007419

Morrison, D. J., & Preston, T. (2016). Formation of short chain fatty acids by the gut microbiota and their impact on human metabolism. Gut Microbes, 7(3), 189-200. https://doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2015.1134082

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