I have talked about meal planning and bulk meal prep on the blog before (here). Today, I wanted to bring the concept to life in one of my go-to recipes that can be 100% made ahead of time and enjoyed for dinner with enough leftovers for lunch. It is that perfect make-you-feel-light-and-yet-full meal.
These colorful and flavorful bowls offer plant-based protein from the quinoa, chickpeas and tahini sauce. The starchy sweet potatoes help make it even more filling. Roasting vegetables is one of my favorite ways to reach my daily intake. This recipe really emphasizes a variety of colorful vegetables of different textures to keep each bite satisfying.
Whenever I make this simple meal on Instagram stories I get lots of questions about how I make the chickpeas, roast the veggies, make the sauce and layer the tasks in the most efficient way. I make this so many times and have it down to a science now. I'm excited to share my simple methods with you in the recipe below.
Here is the broad overview: Prep and roast your veggies and chickpeas in the oven (max cook time is 35 minutes - I use my countertop oven for the chickpeas since they cook at a different temperature). Make a batch of quinoa on the stovetop (start this after the veggies go in - takes about 30 minutes but requires almost no hands-on time). Whisk together the tahini sauce (takes 2-3 minutes). Assemble your bowl and enjoy!
You certainly don't have to do this all at once if you don't have time. All of this can be made 3-5 days in advance if you prefer to spread out the tasks. I would say the chickpeas are best when fresh if possible so if you can do one thing last minute I would choose that. But, they are just fine if you cannot manage that.
I typically double or triple the crispy chickpeas while I'm making them so I have more to snack on and use in meals throughout the week. You can also use hummus in place of the crispy chickpeas and tahini sauce if you want to simplify this dish even further.
Having these basics on hand (cooked quinoa, a good sauce, roasted veggies & crispy chickpeas) makes pulling together easy salads, bowls and meals a breeze on busy weeknights.
Many of you have asked me if my kids will eat this recipe. The short answer is, yes, sort of! I deconstruct it for them and they eat parts of it, which I feel is better than becoming a short order cook and making completely separate meals. This one is full of good-for-you nutrients that they need so I'm happy if they each get in one veggie from this meal.
Here is how it usually goes down in our household: I put everything out buffet style and my kids select which vegetables they want to use to build their bowl. They typically dip the vegetables in the tahini sauce and eat handfuls of the crispy chickpeas on the side.
My five-year-old loves quinoa and can eat a boatload of that, but my three-year-old doesn't go for it yet. My 18-month-old eats just about anything these days so he is a happy camper when I put elements of this bowl in front of him.
With the kids, I've learned sometimes all the components of a meal together are not appealing but if I deconstruct them and allow them to select what they want on their plate from what I have prepared they will feel more in control and actually want to eat it. I try to choose a variety of colors with the vegetables.
I selected my favorite combination here (sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli and cauliflower) but you can use any vegetables you want (or that you know your kids like). To keep it extra kid-friendly (and also simple) I toss the vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper. If I'm making an extra batch just for me and my husband I might add curry powder to the cauliflower (pictured that way in this blog post) or other seasonings such as smoked paprika, turmeric powder, garlic powder or chili powder.
Sometimes my kids surprise me though and go for the spiced version. You just never know sometimes and things can change quickly with their eating habits.
I have found that sitting down together as a family and leading by example has helped our kids to establish healthy eating habits. If you are looking to improve in this department with your kids, while it isn't something that will happen overnight I find the more they see us eating something the more curious they are about it.
Instead of pressuring them to eat vegetables I repetitively expose them to it, offer them choices (which color vegetable they want that night) and show them how much I enjoy it myself.
I know every child is different and what works for one might not work for another. For example, with my 18-month-old, he totally takes the bait of eating what he sees us eat.
With my three-year-old, she goes for color over everything (I wish there were more red vegetables, her favorite color!).
And my five-year-old is vocal about what she likes and doesn't like so exposing her to consider more options and expand her horizons has helped. Once I discovered she likes vegetables roasted instead of sautéed or steamed I kept going with that. I think it makes them slightly sweet and crispy and she really loves that.
And this "magic" tahini sauce has really helped them to enjoy their vegetables more - kids just love a good dip!
I hope this tangent on kids and healthy eating is helpful to the parents out there reading this post. I'm constantly learning and trying new things and I know it can be tricky with little ones. Now, back to the recipe!
The sauce! This sauce makes this bowl. It is literally to die for and couldn't be easier to quickly whisk together. It is creamy, nutty, slightly sweet and slightly garlicky (but not overpowering). My kids love to dip their veggies in it. I have actually caught them eating spoonfuls of it on its own. No lie!
It is versatile and can also be used throughout the week on salads or other entrees. The recipe below makes a good bit and depending on how many people you are serving you might have leftovers. You can always double or triple the sauce if you think you will use all week long.
These make-ahead bowls are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals to nourish your body. This is a meal you can really feel excellent about.
This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free and refined sugar-free. It is also Heal Your Headache diet complaint (for those who suffer from migraines). If you give this recipe a try, please snap a pic and tag #eatingbyelaine and @eatingbyelaine on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook so I can see your creations.
This recipe makes four bowls. You can double or triple the recipe if you have a large family and want to have enough for leftovers throughout the week.
The seasonings below are basic but feel free to add your own flare with smoked paprika, curry powder, turmeric, chili powder or garlic powder. You can also use different vegetables depending on what you have on hand. Brown rice is also a fine replacement for quinoa.
The recipe instructions below may need to be modified depending on the size of your vegetables, your oven and your personal preference. Once you get comfortable with this recipe you can adjust everything to your liking. For example, my daughter likes when I slightly undercook the sweet potatoes and make them extra salty. I personally like the beets to cook extra long so they are super soft and sweeter.
All of this can be made 3-5 days ahead of time if desired. If you choose to do this, allow everything to cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container in your refrigerator. Before serving just reheat the quinoa, vegetables and chickpeas. The tahini sauce can be served cold or at room temperature.
Substitution Idea: You can replace the tahini sauce and crispy chickpeas with homemade hummus to simplify the meal.
- 3 small beets, peeled, chopped into ½ inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt (or up to ½ teaspoon)
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
Roasted Sweet Potato
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1.5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder (optional but makes it crispy)
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 large head of broccoli, cut into small florets (leaving some stem attached to the floret)
- 2.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets (leaving some stem attached to the floret)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon curry powder (optional)
- 1, 15 ounce can garbanzo beans (or 1.5 cups cooked), drained, rinsed, dried well with a kitchen towel and skins peeled/removed
- 1.5 tablespoons avocado oil (I like to use a neutral tasting oil here for best results)
- ¼-½ teaspoon fine salt (depending on how salty you like them)
Garlic Maple Tahini Sauce
- 3 tablespoons runny tahini**
- 3 tablespoons filtered water
- 1.5 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for the roasted vegetables. Line two to three large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Toss the vegetables separately with oil, salt, pepper and any additional seasonings you plan to use such as curry powder, smoked paprika, chili powder or garlic powder. Do not mix the vegetables together. Place the beets and sweet potatoes on separate baking sheets. You can combine the broccoli and cauliflower on one baking sheet but keep them separated. Vegetables should be placed in one even layer on your baking sheets. Do not over crowd the baking sheet. The vegetables should ideally not be touching each other.
- Cook the beets for 35-40 minutes, the sweet potato for 30-35 minutes, the broccoli for 20 minutes and the cauliflower for 25 minutes. Toss halfway through cooking time. Check them all closely as they near the end of their baking times. Your vegetables should be golden brown and look crispy. To check for doneness remove the baking sheet from the oven and pierce the thickest piece of vegetable with a fork. It should easily slide through. If not, return to the oven for another couple minutes and check again.
- Once your vegetables are finished cooking, lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Add dried and peeled chickpeas to a 12-inch cast iron skillet and toss with avocado oil. Place in one even layer on your skillet. Chickpeas should not touch. Bake for 35 minutes tossing halfway through. They are done cooking when they are golden brown and crispy. Toss with salt. Set aside.
- While the chickpeas cook, start your quinoa. Follow this method for perfectly cooked quinoa on the stovetop. Follow this method for perfectly cooked quinoa in the Instant Pot. This step can also be done ahead of time if desired.
- While everything finishes cooking, make your tahini sauce. Whisk together the tahini, water, maple syrup, garlic powder and salt until well combined. See tips in the notes section. This can be made ahead of time if desired.
- To assemble your bowl, fill it with the cooked quinoa first then top with a couple spoonfuls of each vegetable. Sprinkle crispy chickpeas on top and drizzle the entire bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of tahini sauce. Enjoy!
- Store leftovers separately in airtight containers in your refrigerator for up to five days.
* I make a large batch of quinoa as part of my meal prep and typically use two cups of cooked quinoa per bowl/serving. Follow my method for perfectly cooked quinoa - it is mostly hands off and takes about 30 minutes to prepare in advance.
** If you are using a new jar of tahini be sure to stir well so the oil is well incorporated. I do not recommend using an old, hardened jar of tahini. You want the tahini to be smooth, creamy and runny. When making the sauce, once you add the water to the tahini it will thin out more. But, as the tahini sauce sits it will continue to thicken up. You may need to add an additional tablespoon of water before using after storage if it has become too thick. But, you don't want to dilute the flavor too much. If you end up adding more than one tablespoon of water you might want to add a bit more maple syrup, garlic powder or salt to keep the flavor profile. Sometimes simply leaving the pre-made tahini sauce out at room temperature can help get it back to a nice consistency that allows you to drizzle it over your bowl with ease.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Category: Entree