Every time I make this noodle bowl I wonder why I don't make it more often. It's umami-rich, it's warming, slurp-y, crunchy, and noodle-y. What's missing? Nothing. But the truth is, even dishes I love like this one, I don't repeat within a span of a few months. It's not a rule I impose on myself (I don't like rigid food rules - more on that in another post). It's just my nature. Of course there are always exceptions (like when I'm testing recipes for you!), but the closest I usually come to repeating a dish is through my weekly kitchen rituals such as steaming veggies or making stews, soaking and pressure cooking beans, or whipping up fridge and pantry staples like a vinaigrette, tahini sauce, or nut butter.
I also want to stay excited and entertained in the kitchen. And the best way to do this, in my experience, is to continue creating and trying new flavor combinations. Yes, we're creatures of habit, but eating the same meals each week does nothing for our taste buds nor our body's need for balance. Cravings stem from an imbalance of sorts. Eating a limited range of flavors contributes to imbalance, not only because our taste buds get bored but also because the limited flavors likely represent a limited range of foods and therefore nutrients. If your tendency is to repeat the same 3-4 meals each week and you're feeling a little bored with your diet, try this:
1) Get to know the six tastes naturally found in food (see below)
2) Gradually start incorporating them into each meal
When we prioritize variety in our diet and establish a well-rounded flavor profile at each meal, our taste buds are more satisfied and cravings diminish.
The Six Tastes
Sweet (pumpkin, root veggies, coconut, toasted nuts)
Salty (salt, soy sauce, sea vegetables)
Sour (citrus, vinegar, mustard)
Pungent (black pepper, ginger, sauerkraut, kimchi)
Astringent + bitter (dark leafy greens, turmeric)
One of my intentions for Whole Nourishment is to share recipes that motivate you to continue creating new dishes in your own kitchen. I hope this noodle bowl does just that. You take the first few spoon and forkfuls of broth, squash, and noodles and realize the bowl is so much greater than the sum of its ingredients. It's an unassuming meal. The best kind. And I hope you'll agree.
Ginger and Lime Sweet Potato Noodle Bowl
Notes: There are lots of swaps you can make in this noodle bowl. Use another green such as bok choy, spinach, or tatsoi in place of broccoli. Replace sweet potato with butternut squash, pumpkin, or another winter squash. Sweet white miso is widely available most places now, but almond or peanut butter also work well in its place.
10 cups (2.4 liters) water
1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar (or Muscovado - unrefined cane sugar)
2 tsp. tamari
1 vegetable bouillon cube (or salt, to taste)
2 medium (375 gr) sweet potatoes, peeled (~ 3 cups, chopped)
3 cups (2 cans or 425 gr) cooked butter beans
1 medium head of broccoli
For the bottom:
White miso (or almond/peanut butter)*
Fresh ginger, peeled
For the top:
1 package black or brown rice noodles (or soba noodles)
Add first five broth ingredients to a large soup pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Cover and bring to a boil.
Chop sweet potato into bite-size pieces while broth is coming to a boil. Add to broth along with beans. Reduce heat to a strong simmer and cook for 10 minutes, covered, or until sweet potato is almost tender. Time will vary depending on how large your sweet potato pieces are.
While sweet potato cooks, boil water in a separate pot for noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain, rinse well - swishing around noodles under the running water - so they're not sticky, and set aside. Chop broccoli (stem + head) in similar size as sweet potato and add to soup pot. Cover and cook 2-3 minutes, until broccoli is bright green and just tender.
Remove soup from heat and plate up: At the bottom of individual bowls, add a small spoonful (~1 tsp.) of miso, generous grating of ginger (use a microplane to grate) and squeeze of lime. Add a splash of broth and stir to dissolve miso. Fill bowl with more broth and vegetables and stir to distribute miso, ginger, and lime. Top with noodles, cashews, and avocado.
*Miso is salty and helps flavor the soup. If you use a nut butter instead, taste the broth after stirring it in. It may need another splash of tamari.