Vegan Quinoa, Tofu and Spinach Buddha Bowl

Somi Igbene PhD ANutrMarch 12, 2022

This carefully balanced vegan Buddha bowl with quinoa, tofu, red kidney beans, and spinach makes a nourishing lunch or dinner. Its low glycaemic index is perfect for maintaining blood sugar balance in prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.  

Although considered a grain, quinoa is technically a seed. It comes in many varieties, red, purple, black, orange, yellow and pink, but yellow or white is the most popular. Quinoa is a good source of minerals, including magnesium, manganese, zinc and calcium, and vitamins B12 and E. It is also gluten-free and possibly the least allergenic of all grains. 

Although carbohydrate-rich, it is one of the few plant sources of quality proteins. Despite its carbohydrate content, quinoa is a nourishing pseudo-grain you certainly want to keep in your diet if you have prediabetes. 

Quinoa has a coating of saponins on its surface that tend to taste bitter if you don’t wash it properly before cooking. For perfectly cooked quinoa, add one part grain to one and a half parts liquid in a non-stick pan. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Quinoa tastes best slightly al dente; if it gets too mushy, it loses its flavour and appeal. 

The best way to maintain blood sugar balance when eating carbohydrate-rich foods like quinoa is to pair them with proteins, vegetables, and fat. Hence, this meal with quinoa, tofu, red kidney beans, tofu, and spinach is perfect! The proteins and fats slow down digestion, while vegetables provide fibre, and together, they reduce the glycaemic index (GI) of the meal, preventing blood sugar spikes. 

Before I share the recipe, let’s explore the 

Nutritional Highlights of Quinoa, Tofu and Spinach Buddha Bowl

This meal has an estimated GI of 12.7, which means it is a low GI meal that will not spike your blood sugar levels. Instead, you will get a steady energy release and remain satisfied for longer. Besides its low GI quality, this meal is a rich source of many essential nutrients, including:

Calcium, which is crucial for healthy bones and teeth. It is also vital for the activity of many enzymes (proteins that facilitate chemical reactions), muscle functioning, heartbeat regulation and the release of proteins that transmit messages between nerve cells. This meal is an excellent source of calcium, providing 1059 mg of calcium per serving, equating to 132% of the daily recommended intake (RI). 

Potassium, which is crucial for salt balance and healthy blood pressure. This meal is an excellent source of potassium, providing 1618 mg or 81% of the daily RI. 

Folates, which are crucial for DNA production. Without sufficient folic acid, cells do not divide properly, resulting in poor growth, diarrhoea, anaemia, gingivitis, and abnormal cervical smear in women. Folates are also critical for a baby’s developing nervous system, and deficiencies can lead to birth defects. This meal is an excellent source of folate, providing 305 mcg or 76% of the daily RI. 

Magnesium, which is crucial for energy production and blood glucose regulation. Approximately 60% of magnesium is found in the bone, 26% in the muscle and the remaining in soft tissue, including blood. This meal provides 208 mg of magnesium per serving, equating to 53% of the daily RI. 

Iron, which is a crucial component of haemoglobin that is necessary for oxygen transport around the body. It is also a component of several key enzymes involved in energy and DNA production. This meal provides 7.2 mg of iron per serving, equating to 51% of the daily RI. 

How to Cook 

Ingredients

  • 125g firm tofu, diced
  • 150g fresh spinach 
  • 5 baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon red kidney beans (optional)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ cup quinoa and bulgur mix
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil 
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Directions

Cook the quinoa according to instructions on the package using vegetable broth instead of water. Set aside and keep warm. 

To cook the spinach, heat half of the olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add the garlic powder and then add the spinach and stir continuously until it wilts. Season with salt and black pepper, then set aside and keep warm.

Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick pan, fry the spring onions for one minute, then add garlic, ginger, and tofu. Fry for three minutes until the tofu starts to brown, then add the dark soy sauce and kidney beans and season with a pinch of salt. Fry for 1-2 minutes, then add one or two drops of toasted sesame oil for extra flavour if you wish, then take the pan off the heat. 

Serve quinoa with spinach, tofu, and cherry tomatoes. Add a turn of black pepper for extra heat if you wish. Enjoy!

You can replace tofu with any other protein you enjoy including tempeh and seitan. If you prefer animal-based protein, prawns (shrimp), chicken, and beef work well too.

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Vegan Quinoa, Tofu and Spinach Buddha Bowl

  • Author: Somi Igbene PhD ANutr
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 1
  • Category: Lunch/Dinner
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Fusion
  • Diet: Diabetic

Description

A nourishing, carefully balanced, low GI Buddha bowl perfect for maintaining blood sugar balance in prediabetes


Ingredients

Scale
  • 125g firm tofu, diced
  • 150g fresh spinach
  • 5 baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon red kidney beans (optional)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ cup quinoa and bulgur mix
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Cook the quinoa according to instructions on the package using vegetable broth instead of water. Set aside and keep warm.

To cook the spinach, heat half of the olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add the garlic powder and then add the spinach and stir continuously until it wilts. Season with salt and black pepper, then set aside and keep warm.

Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick pan, fry the spring onions for one minute, then add garlic, ginger, and tofu. Fry for three minutes until the tofu starts to brown, then add the dark soy sauce and kidney beans and season with a pinch of salt. Fry for 1-2 minutes, then add one or two drops of toasted sesame oil for extra flavour if you wish, then take the pan off the heat.

Serve quinoa with spinach, tofu, and cherry tomatoes. Add a turn of black pepper for extra heat if you wish. Enjoy!


Notes

You can replace tofu with any other protein you enjoy including tempeh and seitan. If you prefer animal-based protein, prawns (shrimp), chicken, and beef work well too.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: Per Serving
  • Calories: 386
  • Sugar: 3.4g
  • Sodium: 87mg
  • Fat: 19.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.3g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 16.3g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 23.2g
  • Fiber: 10.1g
  • Protein: 29.1g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: Vegan, Low GI, Diabetes-friendly

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