Veganuary is a movement from the UK that encourages people to start a new year on a healthy note. Participants try a vegan lifestyle (to the degree that they are comfortable with) for a month till 31st Jan. If you’re trying it out, or just wish to change your eating habits this year, here’s a method to make a meal that’s incredibly easy without cooking and it’s not salad!
I’ll be posting as a series of 3 recipes this month. My nutritionist friend Krystle will calculate the nutritional breakdown for all 3 recipes in this series.
Making an “instant’ meal
If you have access to boiling water, you can prepare a decent balanced meal. No stove top or oven cooking needed put it together. I make these type of meals in 2 situations:
- At previous workplaces located far from affordable vegetarian stalls.
- When travelling in areas where clean and cheap vegan food is unavailable.
Sounds like cup noodles, but don’t worry, it is way healthier than that. But like everything else, it has pros and cons.
- Fast way to make a hot meal.
- Way more nutritious and filling than convenience meals.
- Portable. Simply keep in a container (must be suitable for holding hot food) and add boiling water when you want to eat.
- Not all ingredients will turn out tasty with this method.
- Still need to wash, cut and pre-cook certain ingredients.
- Boiling water is preferred (ie, water that’s just boiled). Hot water may not have enough heat to soften the carbs and other harder ingredients.
Firstly, my definition of a balanced meal is one that has carbohydrates (preferably complex carbs), vitamins (mainly veggies) and protein (from legumes, tempeh, tofu or wheat).
Secondly, using ingredients that can be cooked thoroughly with boiling water is most important. That means softer items, unless you truly don’t mind eating hard and half raw things.
Here’s a quick list of items that can work, all are available from various supermarkets and wet markets:
- Soft thin noodles (brown rice noodles, certain brands of tung hoon)
- Instant wheat noodles (for healthier option, buy those that have whole grains and are baked not fried)
- Cooked rice
- Cooked starchy plants (sweet potato, potato, pumpkin)
- Instant oats
- Soft leafy greens (spinach, coriander, bak choy, etc. Avoid stems in certain veggies like kai lan)
- Cooked hard veggies (broccoli, cauliflower)
- Plants that are edible raw (tomato, bell peppers, carrots, zucchini)
- Pickled or fermented veggies (kimchi, achar)
- Packaged silken tofu (all packaged tofu are ready to eat)
- Soft dried soy products (Thin beancurd skin, tau pok)
- Cooked legumes (cooked lentils, canned beans, etc)
- Seitan (dried Japanese types or canned ready-to-eat types, those are available from NTUC)
I generally avoid putting the container into the fridge when bringing to office. I’ll always keep it in a thermal bag to keep it as cool as possible. Because it brings down the temperature, which causes the items to not cook fully after filling with boiling water. Thus, I avoid coconut milk based items and fresh market tofu, as they can spoil fast in our room temperature.
Here are the ingredients I used for this recipe, where I purchased and their prices. Most of them (except the noodles) are also common items I use in daily meals.
RECIPE: NO COOK MISO NOODLES
- 1 serving instant wheat noodles, no seasoning packet needed (I used Koka purple wheat as it’s non-fried and partial wholegrain, some NTUCs sell it without seasoning packets.)
- 2-3 bunch (50g) spinach, stems removed (spinach stems are usually too tough to chew.)
- Half block (150g) silken tofu (I used sprouted organic one from NTUC.)
- 10g beancurd skin, rinsed (Rinsing helps to remove sulphates which are used in certain brands.)
- 1 heaping tbsp white miso (Some miso pastes have bonito or fish, always check before buying.)
- Small handful (50g) enoki mushroom (Other mushrooms may not be fully cooked with this method, certain mushrooms cannot be eaten raw.)
- 30g carrot, julienned (Use a julienne peeler to save time.)
- Chopped spring onions, to garnish
- White pepper, to garnish
- 1 tsp sesame oil, to garnish
- Ready-to-eat seaweed, to garnish
Bring water to a boil in a kettle. Combine noodles, spinach, beancurd skin, miso, enoki and carrot in a large heatproof bowl/container. Pour boiling water till all ingredients are covered well. Cover and wait for 5mins. Dissolve the miso. Add garnishes and serve hot.
Krystle is a freelance plant-based nutritionist and group fitness instructor, check her out here.
Here’s Krystle’s nutritional breakdown of the dish (source: myfitnesspal) :
This is a perfect example of a healthy, balanced meal. It has a balanced amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat and other important vitamins, minerals and fiber. It has no trans fat and no cholesterol – both are known to increase risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Vegetables and whole wheat noodles helps to promote good blood sugar control and keeps you full for a longer time.
Tofu and Green Leafy vegetables are contains calcium and iron. Although the bioavailability of iron and calcium in plant based foods is not as high as animal based foods, it can still be a part of a healthy diet without the hormones and saturated fats from animals based foods. You can increase iron absorption by having a fruit high in vitamin C such as oranges as dessert. Limit your tea and coffee intake especially during your meal times as it further prevents the absorption of iron.
Spinach’s calcium is not readily absorbed in our body due to the presence of oxalic acid. However, it should be the least of our worries as we should always eat a varied diet to get enough calcium from many different healthy sources. Other calcium containing foods includes other green leafy vegetables, beans, legumes, chia seeds, fortified soy milk etc. Calcium from legumes are more easily absorbed than those from leafy greens.
Remember to get enough sunlight to boost your vitamin D levels to increase the absorption of calcium. Exercising regularly also strengthen our bones and muscles.
The carrots and spinach is high in Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. It is an antioxidant that is great for your eyes and skin.
Sodium is high in this dish due to the amount of miso used. If you are watching your blood pressure, use low sodium condiments or drink less of the soup. You may use more spices and herbs like nutritional yeast, black pepper, spring onion, parsley, basil, mint which helps to add flavour without needing additional sodium.
This dish roughly provides the following recommended daily amounts (RDA) for healthy adults aged 18-60 years old. Note that percentages will differ among individuals. (Source: Health Hub SG)
- 36% of protein for males, 42% of protein for females
- 85% of iron for males, 28% of iron for females
- 33% – 40% of fiber
- 115% of calcium
- 114% of Vitamin A
Next in the series will feature a Tom Yum rice noodles recipe made with the same method together with Krystle’s nutritional analysis, stay tuned!