This straight forward combination of black beans, sweet potato and spinach with tahini dressing creates a nutrient dense and well balanced protein bowl.
I do love a good bowl meal. Vegetables, beans, quinoa or rice, seeds, nuts, hummus, salsa, random leftovers… Add a tasty dressing or sauce and simple ingredients are instantly elevated to become a tasty and well balanced meal.
Today it was black beans, orange kumara (sweet potato), lots of spinach, pumpkin seeds and a tangy little tahini dressing. The dressing gives it punch, the seeds give it crunch, and its serious serve of protein keeps me feeling satisfied for hours. This protein bowl combo totally hits the spot for lunch or dinner, and because it’s good either hot or cold, it travels well for a work lunch too.
Where do you get your protein?
That whole ‘where do you get your protein?’ question that vegetarians and vegans get all the time, well, THIS. Meals like this. This protein bowl packs a serious 21g of plant protein. For reference, that’s 42 per cent of the typical recommended daily intake (RDI). In just one very easy meal. Rad.
Sure, it’s not quite as much as there’d be in a standard steak or chicken breast, but it’s a good effort from the plant kingdom. Most of the protein here comes from the black beans (7.6g), there’s nearly 5g from the kumara, and a few grams each for the spinach, tahini and pumpkin seeds. It all adds up, and every little bit counts. Check out this handy little chart that tells you how much protein you should be getting, depending on your age and gender.
And hey let’s not stop at protein. This bowl also delivers 43 per cent RDI for iron, 40 per cent for vitamin C and 24 per cent for calcium (oh yeah, and a ludicrous 268% for vitamin A). Told you it was balanced.
Everything’s better with tahini
Ain’t that the truth. Tahini is sesame paste. It comes in two versions: hulled or unhulled (whole). I prefer unhulled as it’s stronger in flavour and more nutrient dense. It’s sort of like sticky, sesame flavoured peanut butter and I adore it.
Tahini is a key ingredient in home made hummus, and it’s also brilliant in dressings as you don’t need to add any additional oil. If you’re worried you’ll end up with a mostly full jar lurking in the back of your fridge, check out these cool unexpected ways to use tahini from Food 52. I’ve also been known to stir it through baby food.
Tahini is high in calcium, so including it in your diet more often is always a good thing.
Black bean protein bowl
- 1 medium sized orange kumara, (sweet potato) approx. 300g
- 2 cups raw spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup cooked black beans, (I used canned)
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp tahini, or peanut or almond butter
- 1 tbsp tamari, (or soy sauce, unless gluten free)
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp maple syrup, optional
- Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil.
- Peel and cut kumara into thick slices, add to the pan and turn heat down to a steady simmer. Put the timer on for six minutes.
- While the kumara is cooking, mix your dressing ingredients in a small jar. Seal it and shake until smooth and well combined.
- When the timer goes off (the kumara should be just cooked), add the chopped spinach to the pan for 30 seconds to a minute, then drain everything in a colander.
- Assemble kumara, spinach and black beans in a bowl. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds over the top, pour over the dressing and devour.
- If you're making this for a packed lunch, keep the dressing on the side in a little jar until you're ready to eat.