If you walked up to me and said, “Hey Andrew, I want to eat just one meal for the rest of my life – give me something that tastes good enough to eat every day and has all the nutrients I need.” I would have to hand you the Quinoa Power Bowl. It’s pretty much the most complete meal ever. It has perfect amounts of everything you need: protein, carbs, healthy fat, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.

I know quinoa bowls are a dime a dozen on the interwebs, but this one is different! Parts of it are shamelessly inspired by a menu item from Cafe Gratitude, one of my favorite plant-based restaurants in LA. Ever since I tried their bowl (called “I am whole”) I wanted to create something similar at home, and this is my version. Everything about this dish is so balanced… the deep umami flavors of adzuki beans, the nutty quinoa, the smooth sweetness of butternut squash, the freshness of sautéed greens, the creamy sunflower sauce, and the crunchy garnish of toasted almonds. Every bite is perfect.

There are quite a few components to this recipe, but they are all easy to make and they keep extremely well. This means you can make a big batch on the weekend for quick lunches throughout the week. Trust me, that “afternoon slump” thing doesn’t happen when you eat the Quinoa Power Bowl for lunch…

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Makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 4 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 15 oz cans Adzuki beans
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 4-5 handfuls leafy greens
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dill
  • 1 lemon (juice)
  • 1/4 cup almonds (toasted)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

PREP: soak 1/2 cup of cashews and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds for at least 30 minutes, to be blended into a sauce shortly.

Step One

Preheat the oven to 375º F. Slice the butternut squash in half, lengthwise, and place face down in a large baking dish with 1/2 inch of water. Bake for about 1 hour, until the middle is tender and the skin can be easily pulled away from the flesh.

Step Two

Meanwhile, begin cooking the quinoa according to package instructions. Again, using leftovers works well here.

Step Three

Adzukis sound all exotic and hard to find, but these nutritious beans are quite easy to source. I found an entire row of BPA-free canned adzuki beans from Eden Organic in my local grocery store and they’re fantastic. Simply pour the cans into a saucepan along with a tablespoon of soy sauce/tamari, and a dash of garlic and onion powder to give them extra flavor.

Step Four

Sauté some greens. In a skillet, heat a splash of water and several huge handfuls of greens. Nothing fancy here, just cook them until wilted and reduced in size.

Step Five

To make the amazing cream sauce, drain the soaking cashews & sunflower seeds and combine them in a blender with 2/3 cup of water, salt, 1 clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons fresh or dried dill, and the juice of 1 lemon. Blend until smooth.

Step Six

With the squash fully baked, allow to cool and then spoon the flesh into a bowl. Use a fork to mash with some salt and pepper. Done.

Also at this point, grab some toasted almond pieces. You can use pre-roasted nuts, or do it yourself by tossing the almonds with soy sauce and maple syrup and then baking for 5 minutes.

Step Seven

To plate, grab a serving bowl and spoon the 4 primary ingredients (quinoa, beans, steamed greens, and butternut squash) into piles, roughly even in size, as pictured. Then add a drizzle of the sunflower cream sauce to the middle of the plate and top with toasted almonds.

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