Unless you’ve been living on a remote Scandinavian island the last few years (and props to you if you have!), you’ve probably heard or read something about the latest health craze, probiotics. It turns out that we’ve been doing more harm than good by fastidiously killing germs and dirt with tiny bottles of anti-bacterial gels and wipes, eliminating our interaction with the microbes that help us break down food on the inside and even be happier. Hence the proliferation of yogurts, fermented foods, and supplements on grocery store shelves in cities and towns the world over. The trend is even part of a delightfully satirical fictional twist in a novel I loved, Emma Straub’s Modern Lovers (read it to find out more…).
My foray into probiotics aligns nicely with another related gut-makeover I’m in the middle of–an Ayurvedic detox to balance out my overly dominant vata dosha. At this stage, having flushed out long-lingering toxins accumulating in my intestines, I’m ready to fire up my digestion with fermented foods, all of which are chock full of those tiny, invisible gut-helpers. This recipe combines the best vegan probiotics (many probiotics are not vegan, as you may have realized if you’ve tried any of this yourself already–sounds like another challenge…!): kimchi, miso, and ACV. I chose tofu for this recipe’s protein, but tempeh would be another great probiotic ingredient if you’re looking for an extra boost. Likewise, the fiery ginger and dahl are extra friendly to sensitive tummies. (I know that this combo of Asian ingredients must be quite politically incorrect, but we’ll call it a nod to the Asian fusion movement.)
My Ayurvedic detox also requires eating more warm and cooked foods, which is oh-so-fun in 90+ degree heat. I challenged myself to whip this up as fast as possible as such, and it turns out that this meal is convenient for any time of year and on busy weeknights.
30-Minute Asian Fusion Probiotic Bowl
- 1/4 cup dry moong dahl
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa
- 1-1/4 cup water
- 1/2 large cucumber, sliced
- 1 small bunch radish greens
- 2 stalks kale
- 1 block firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon red or white miso
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup kimchi
- 2 tablespoons kimchi juice (liquid from jar)
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
1. Strain and press the tofu wrapped in paper towel in a mesh sieve with a weight for 10-15 minutes.
2. Combine the dahl, quinoa, and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cover until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, still covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
3. While the grains cook, sprinkle salt on the cucumber slices and let sit in a separate sieve.
4. In a large skillet, toast the sesame seeds over low heat until they are browned and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
5. Chop the radish greens and kale; for the latter, remove the leaves from the tough stems (save them for roasting or stock if you like), stack 2-3 leaves on top of each other, roll and slice.
6. When the grains are done, add the oil, tamari, ginger, garlic, and miso to the skillet and stir to combine. Let the mixture heat for a few minutes before adding the tofu, cut into cubes. Stir to combine, and let the tofu begin to brown slightly before adding the cooked grains, kimchi, and kimchi juice to the pan. Stir well to combine over medium heat, and cook until slightly browned and thoroughly heated, 5-10 minutes.
7. In a separate medium pot, add greens, vinegar, and a splash of water. Steam for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the prepared sesame seeds.
8. Squeeze out any liquids you can from the cucumbers.
9. Combine grain/tofu mixture and greens in a bowl. Garnish with sliced cucumbers.
Also by Jennifer: Classic Vegan Carrot Cake
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Photos: Jennifer Kurdyla