I go back to work in less than six weeks. Only one day less, but still. The year is vanishing, slipping through my fingers like sand. Not the silky fine-grain sand that runs through your fingers and back onto the beach with barely an impact, but wet, coarse sand, dropping in big dramatic clumps, and leaving me with hella sandy hands.
This time last year I was 36 weeks pregnant, and counting down how many days were left of dragging my heavy, tired, shuffling body into the office, and as of Friday this week I will have been off work for an entire year. We are so lucky to live in a country with such civilized parental leave – 18 months to split between us – and paternity leave a normal and expected part of the process. There is no doubt in my mind that my husband is his best self when he’s in dad mode. The other day I watched him fashion a pair of make-shift knee pads to allow him to play longer and more effectively with our son, and I felt certain that my boys are going to have the best time together during his months of paternity leave.
So, I’ve got six weeks left get my head back in the lunch packing game. I’ve always felt the need to organize myself healthy, but now, knowing that I’ll be going back to work with a different at-home workload on my hands and a mightily shifted set of priorities, it seems more important than ever.
We tend not to make the kind of weeknight meals that spin into lunch-worthy leftovers, so it’s all about rolling up our sleeves on the weekend and banging out a week’s worth of packed lunches. Inspired by our recent trip to Kauai, I thought I’d try my hands at a veganized poké bowl, and I must say I’m well pleased with the results.
Poké bowls (pronounced like poke-ay) are all the rage right now, and with good reason. Poké comes from a verb in the Hawaiian language which means to slice, section, or cut. Traditionally it’s marinated raw fish, but these days anything goes. I’ve started with a bed of short-grain brown rice seasoned with rice vinegar, then replaced the fish with cubes of tofu, marniated in a heavily bastardized ponzu sauce, which does double duty as a dressing for slivered lacinato kale. After that, the toppings are up to you. I went with strips of nori, thinly sliced radish, carrot ribbons, and avocado.
If you’re making this poké for packed lunches, leave the avocado (and any other more delicate toppings) off until it’s time to serve. Everything else can get packed up together, and will last several days in an air-tight container in the fridge. The kale will only improve and tenderize with time, so don’t be shy about doing it in advance.
Brown rice is a source of dietary fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and tryptophan. Did you know that the process of converting brown rice to white rice destroys 60 – 80% of the vitamins and minerals, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids? Think of white rice like cake, it’s a special occasion food and should be eaten in moderation. Brown rice, on the other hand, is a whole food with a myriad of health benefits from colon health to cholesterol lowering!
Two years ago: Single Serving Chocolate Cake
Three years ago: Heather’s Hallelujah Bowl
Four years ago: Tomato Spinach Lentil Soup
Five years ago: Tom Yam Soup and Homemade Bagels
Six years ago: Savoy Slaw
- 2 cups of cooked brown rice
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar (optional)
- ½ bunch lacinato kale, destemmed and cut into thin ribbons
- 100g (1/2 block) block firm tofu, cut into cubes
- 1 large carrot, peeled into ribbons
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- ½ sheet of nori cut into thin strips
- 2½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 tsp honey, or other liquid sweetener
- 2 tsp soy sauce or liquid aminos
- First, prepare the rice. Sprinkle the cooked brown rice with rice vinegar and toss with a fork. Set aside while you're preparing the rest of the ingredients.
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the ponzu sauce and whisk well. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
- Place the shredded lacinato kale into a small bowl and spoon a bit of the ponzu dressing over top. Use clean hands to massage the dressing into the kale, and then set aside while you're prepping the rest of the ingredients.
- Place the cubed tofu into the bowl with the remaining ponzu dressing and let stand for 5 minutes, or as long as overnight.
- To assemble, first place the rice into two serving bowls. Arrange the marinated kale and tofu over top, followed by the remaining ingredients. Garnish with strops of nori.
- To serve, drizzle a bit of extra ponzu sauce over top, and toss to mix well. Enjoy!
-Ponzu dressing and marinated kale and tofu can be made up to a day in advance.
-If you're making this for packed lunches, leave the avocado off until ready to serve. Everything else can get packed into a container up to 2 days ahead of time.