as some of you may know, i’ve been attempting to shift to a more plant-based diet. i’m not ready to commit to being vegan (and not sure if i ever will be!), but i had already pretty much limited my animal-based food intake to fish and dairy, and have now found that further reducing the amount of dairy in my diet gives me less digestive issues and higher energy. exploring vegan pantry staples has been a fun exercise for me — for example, nutritional yeast (nicknamed “nooch”) is a go-to product, but was totally new to me. this simple dinner satisfied my craving for earthy, umami flavors and hearty (almost “meaty”) textures, but was entirely plant-based… filling, but surprisingly light. cooking method after the jump.
so, i had seen the word “nooch” thrown around on twitter, and after doing some digging on tofu swag and for the love of kale, the new-to-me blogs of two fabulous girls i’ve met through tweeting, i learned that “nooch” is just short for nutritional yeast, a rare plant-based source of B-12, folic acid, protein, fiber, and amino acids. it has a nutty, almost cheese-y taste to it — which is great if you are a cheese-lover like me, looking to satisfy that flavor crave without adding dairy to your meal.
for my first attempt at incorporating nooch, i wanted to go with an italian-ish flavor profile — hoping the nooch would stand-in for a sprinkle of parmesan. this eggplant and kale bowl really hit the mark, and the nutritional stats are amazing!
eggplant and kale nooch bowl
- 1/2 a large eggplant
- 1/2 cup jarred tomato sauce (i like cucina antica because their sauces have very few ingredients and a strong tomato flavor that provides a great base for layering)
- 2 cups chopped kale (i like the pre-bagged version by glory)
- 1 tsp. each of mrs. dash/spike and regular garlic powder
- 1 cup baby arugula
- 1 original boca meatless vegan patty (or another veggie burger of your choice — stick with something “beef”-y, not bean-y!)
- 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast (mine is red star brand)
- cooking spray; 1 tsp. coconut oil (you don’t really want a coconut flavor here, so refined is best for this dish)
- about 2 tbsp. chopped scallion; juice of a lemon wedge
- preheat your oven to 375 and line a baking/cookie sheet with foil. lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray.
- cut your eggplant into cubes, 1″ or smaller.
- spread your eggplant cubes out on the baking sheet, lightly spray with cooking spray, and sprinkle with mrs. dash, spike, or another salt-free seasoning blend.
- bake the eggplant cubes for 20 minutes, then use a spatula to flip them around a bit so different sides can brown. bake for another 20 minutes or longer, until the cubes have “withered” a bit (as the water evaporates, they lose some volume and become “meatier”) and look nice and dry and golden on some sides. NOTE: this can be done in advance (i usually cube and bake two large eggplants on sundays so that i have add-ins for salads and other dishes for the week); if you prep your roasted eggplant in advance, the rest of this dish takes less than 5 minutes to prepare!
- lightly spray a large sautée pan or wok with cooking spray. add the kale and arugula, sprinkle with garlic powder, and move the greens around in the pan until they are wilted but still retain their bright color. set aside.
- in the same pan that the greens just came out of, add the 1 tsp. of coconut oil. chop your veggie burger (if it was frozen, nuke for 45 seconds or until thawed) into small cubes. brown the veggie burger cubes slightly, and then add the nutritional yeast — shake the cubes around so that they get coated in this umami goodness.
- heat the tomato sauce in a ramekin or small saucepan.
- add the eggplant, greens, nooch-covered burger bits, and tomato sauce to a bowl. squeeze lemon over the greens, and garnish with chopped scallions. so simple… but sooooooo tasty!
and here are the impressive stats… one bowl of this savory, substantial creation gives you:
- 285 calories
- 8.6 g. fat [3.9 g. sat., 1.o g. mono]
- 581 mg. sodium (more than half of this is coming from the boca burger, so you could easily reduce sodium in this dish by using a different, lower-sodium meat-substitute product)
- 624 mg. potassium
- 34.4 g. carbs [15.5 g. fiber, 7.4 g. sugar]
- 25.2 g. protein
- 285% daily value of vitamin A, 231% daily value of vitamin C, 24.7% daily value of calcium, and 30% daily value of iron!!
if you are as impressed by the benefits of nooch as i am, why not give it a try and see if you like its unique taste? here are a couple of great recipes that are on my “to-do” list:
- for the love of kale’s baked tofu & sweet potatoes with curried hummus-nooch sauce
- tofu swag’s roasted chickpea salad