Whether 2022 is your year to go ‘cold turkey’ on meat, or you’re simply looking for inspiration to eat more plant foods, you may have discovered Cherie Tu – a Sydney foodie who is all about dishing up healthy, wholesome, plant-based goodness.
Her droolworthy Instagram channel Thriving on Plants has almost 400k followers and its popularity led to 2 vegan cookbooks by the same name – Cherie’s first Thriving on Plants cookbook was such a hit she brought out a second volume.
Cherie’s aim is to get us all excited about eating more plant foods and to ignite our imagination about the endless combinations of delectable dishes that can be created with simple pantry staples and tasty veggies.
So to power up on plants, and help us hit 30 plants a week – and for those on the gut health challenge – Cherie’s dishing up her favourite nourish bowl combinations, the perfect meals for weeknight dinners, especially on hot summer nights when you can’t stand to be in the kitchen.
“Nourish bowls are my favourite go-to because they’re so versatile and the flavour combinations are endless,” says Cherie.
“These three bowls are super quick to make and are inspired by new trends in plant foods, as well as my tried and tested, favourite combinations.
“When it comes to building a nourish bowl, I try not to over complicate it. I start off by picking a good quality carb (e.g. brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato), followed by some plant protein (e.g. tofu, black beans, lentils, tempeh) and finally good fats (e.g. avocado, nuts, seed). From there, I add in all the good stuff including leafy greens, loads of veggies, tasty herbs and top it off with a delicious dressing. It’s honestly as simple as that and, as you can see, the options are endless.”
“Bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish that’s deliciously satisfying and absolutely loaded with flavour. At its simplest, bibimbap means ‘mixed rice’ and is often built with veggies, sliced beef and topped with an egg,” says Cherie.
“When it comes to Korean food, it's one of the most popular comfort meals out there. The best part is that it not only looks and tastes amazing, but it is incredibly easy to make.
“I love the challenge of turning my favourite dishes plant-based, and that’s why I’ve created my version of bibimbap. I’ve swapped out the beef with meat alternative and this bowl is so saucy and delicious, you won’t even miss the egg.
“The gouchujang sauce is really the star of this recipe and gives it an authentic flavour. This Korean red chilli paste is both sweet and savoury, a little spicy and very versatile (a little goes a long way!). We’re sure to see a lot more of it in 2022 since both spicy foods and Korean cuisine in general are being shared and loved worldwide thanks to social media. Thankfully you can now also find it at most Aussie supermarkets.”
As far as the other ingredients, there’s plenty of room to stray from the recipe and use what you have.
“You can really use any veggies you enjoy, or the leftovers in the fridge. Similarly for the rice, use what you prefer or have handy in the pantry – white, brown, or even black rice.”
Feeding lots of mouths? No worries – it’s easy to make more bowls by doubling or tripling the recipe. Cherie says to save time you can also stir fry the ingredients all together or make in bulk and refrigerate until you need them.
Here’s Cherie Tu’s bimibap bowl recipe
Dietitian tip: Why I love this bowl
Sanitarium Dietitian Trish Guy says this bowl is a great example of how simple it can be to replace meat with vegetarian alternatives. “Making the swap to a meat alternative, such as Vegie Delights, will reduce cooking time and give you a source of protein that is lower in saturated fat than meat and provides the same key nutrients, such as iron, zinc and vitamin B12,” says Trish.
“From a young age I’ve loved cooking and anything food related. I am Chinese, so I make a lot of Asian dishes that have been inspired by the food that I had as a kid, both through my mum's cooking and eating at local Asian restaurants,” says Cherie.
“I love cooking with tofu
and this is the perfect dish to try if you haven’t cooked tofu before. Tofu often gets a bad rap for being bland but that’s exactly why it’s so great. It soaks up flavour and you can have fun pairing it with different sauces and marinades.
“In this bowl, I’ve teamed it up with my favourite Asian flavours of sesame and miso
. Miso is packed with umami
– that same satisfying, savoury taste that gives mushrooms their unique flavour. It’s a strong flavour that pairs well with something lighter such as sesame, soba and tofu.
“The flavours and textures of the bowl are perfectly balanced, with edamame
adding a beautiful bite and avocado bringing a delicious creaminess.”
The noodles and edamame are the only elements that need cooking, which makes this bowl incredibly fast to whip up. Be sure you buy edamame that are frozen and already shelled. The rest of the bowl can be quickly thrown together once the noodles and edamame are cooked. Here’s Cherie Tu’s sesame, soba with miso tofu recipe.
Dietitian tip: Why I love this bowl
Sanitarium Dietitian Eliza Baird says it’s packed with nutritious soy foods, including both tofu and edamame.
“Soy foods provide fibre, high quality protein and phytoestrogens, natural occurring substances found in plant foods,” says Eliza.
“The main type of phytoestrogens found in soy are isoflavones – they are one of the nutrients in soy foods that provide protective health benefits. This includes providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as reducing cholesterol and hot flushes. Isoflavones also help to reduce the harmful effects of oestrogen, which can increase heart disease risk.’
A simple tray of roast veggies really can be a kitchen saviour – and that’s exactly what inspired Cherie to create this summer roast bowl.
“I’ve always loved being able to throw everything on a baking tray, chuck it in the oven, and prepare everything else while the veggies cook,” said Cherie.
“This is the perfect way to get your roast veggie fix in summer. You can even prep the veggies and the sauce in advance. So, on hot nights, when you don’t want to turn on the oven, you’re ready to go with all you need to build a delicious bowl.
“The sauce is the highlight of this bowl. It elevates it from something simple to extra special, with very little effort.
“The base of the curry sauce is tahini, a creamy paste made from ground, roasted sesame seeds. It’s one of my go-to staples because of its versatility and is an ingredient that I have been using more and more in both sweet and savoury dishes. It gives the curry sauce a gorgeous, creamy texture and a lovely, nutty flavour.”
Here’s Cherie Tu’s summer roast bowl with curry tahini sauce.
Dietitian tip: Why I love this bowl
Sanitarium Dietitian Charlotte Moor says as well as a delicious way to get a wide variety of veggies, there are loads of nutrients in the tasty sauce thanks to the tahini.
“Containing all the goodness of ground sesame seeds, tahini is high in good fats as well as thiamin (B1), which helps your body produce energy. Combining the veggies and a tahini-based sauce makes this bowl super tasty and means it also delivers the essential minerals iron, zinc and calcium.”
For more tips on how to build the best nourish bowl, and other delicious nourish bowl recipes such as this Vegetarian Nourish Bowl, check out our recipe collection.