High Protein Vegan Buddha Bowl & UNLTD Lager

For this recipe, I decided to try making a Buddha bowl for the first time. It’s not something I’d planned to make, but then I stumbled across a couple of pictures of Buddha bowls and I loved the bright colours and variety of ingredients.  They really intrigued me so I decided to find something that took my fancy. After looking around I found the Vegan High Protein Buddha Bowl from Vitally Vegan *.

Choosing what alcohol-free drink to go with my first Buddha bowl was a surprisingly easy choice. As this meal was super healthy and vegan, it only seemed right to choose a drink that was low calorie and vegan too. At only 23 calories and vegan, the UNLTD Lager seemed like a perfect choice. Only time would tell whether this food pairing would work in practise as opposed to theory.

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Recipe:  Vegan High Protein Buddha Bowl

As I’m no Buddha bowl expert, I just wanted something that looked tasty and had vibrant colour which is how I ended up with this Buddha bowl.  I know they say that that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the photo looked so enticing.  Packed full of healthy looking ingredients look so appetising I had to give this one a try.

One thing that did make me a little sceptical and nervous about going for this recipe was the uses tofu. I’ve heard very mixed reviews on tofu and I’ve become a little bit sceptical about it as an ingredient, but I’ve never actually tried it.  I realise having a closed mind isn’t a great attitude to have if I’m going to find new and exciting meals so I stepped outside of my comfort zone and decided to go for it. 

As this was going to be a new first time of cooking tofu, I was little bit nervous. I had no idea how or what it’s like to cook .  I had visions of little cremated slices of tofu being hidden by the veg in my soon-to-be-tried Buddha bowl, but I was hopeful it wouldn’t be a complete disaster.

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Preparation: A Beginners Time Pressures

Looking through the recipe I could see that the sweet potatoes we’re going to take the longest thing to cook, so I prepared those first threw them in the oven. This is one of the points so did find a bit frustrating when making this recipe.  The recipe only suggests you to put a “sprinkling” of the spices on the sweet potatoes. One of my pet peeves in recipes is when they give vague quantities like this.  How much turmeric and paprika is a sprinkle?  I would have preferred a bit more guidance – especially as I think my final sweet potatoes ended up a little under seasoned.

My first attempt with sweet potatoes, I placed them on the tray and then sprinkled them in the oil and seasoning.  My sprinkling let me down and I ended up with a few very well sweet seasoned sweet potatoes and others completely naked. To fix this I threw everything in a large bowl and mixed them together. This gave a more even covering up the seasoning before going back onto the tray again.

With those in the oven, I prepared the other ingredients. If this hadn’t been my first time making this meal, I’m sure that I have comfortably been able to prepare and cook everything else in the time it took for the sweet potatoes to cook. However, as I kept referring back to the recipe, I did find that I was running out of time which made it more stressful.  Next time I’ll prepare the ingredients first to make the cooking experience more enjoyable. That said, I do think this could all be done within the 20 minutes (it takes to cook sweet potatoes) once I’ve had some practise.

In my hurry to try and get everything done as the sweet potatoes cooked, one of the potential victims of my stress could have been the dressing. In all my rushing around, I completely forgot to add the lemon juice.  Luckily my first attempt curdled badly so I knew something was wrong and went back to check on the recipe. The second dressing was much better – it looked great and tasted far better.

Cooking the tofu was the part that was most nervous about. With no experience, I had no idea how quickly it cooked or if it would burn super easily. As a result, I didn’t put my full faith in the recipe when it said to cook the tofu on a high heat choosing a lower heat instead.  My tofu didn’t really brown off in the same way as it looked in the recipe photos. I’ll trust the recipe more next time. 

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Meal: A New Taste Sensation Every Mouthful

My initial scepticism of tofu was completely unfounded.  Rather than being dull or tasteless (as I’d heard) I found myself nibbling on a couple of bits as I was getting ready to dish up. I don’t know if it was the tofu or the seasoning that made it surprisingly moreish, but I forced myself to resist taking more so there was some left for everyone. 

Pulling everything together, I chose to set everything up in a bowl – it is a Buddha bowl after all – and this was probably a bit of a mistake. With so much packed in it ended up pretty squashed.  Add in our high sided bowls and manoeuvring knives and forks became difficult. I should have copied the recipe photos and used a plate.

Despite its rather cramped appearance, the bowl still looked very appetising with so many different foods packed together. You could tell from just looking back there was going to be a flavour explosion, but for me it was this dressing that really topped it off with an added zest.

Every mouthful was a different combination of ingredients making each a new taste sensation, but there was definitely room for improvement.  That was down to me.  Both the tofu and chickpeas were sprinkled in seasoning, but I’d played it safe and left them a little under seasoned.  I’m sure these were supposed to have more of a paprika kick, but were left tasting a little flat amongst the other ingredients.  Next time, I’ll be seasoning more generously than just a sprinkle.

The baking tray was seasoned as well as the sweet potatoes

For me the real star of the show was the dressing. It gave a shot of flavour to the whole thing without being overpowering.  Added to that, it was ridiculously easy to make and I’ve always got all the ingredients at home so I’ll be making this again in the future. 

The eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted my mistake in the photos.  I forgot to buy the lettuce.  Whilst the meal was full of flavour, it was a little heavy and really missed the light, crispness the lettuce would have given.  Something I could have down was to not cook the spinach and use that instead of the lettuce. I’m a fresh spinach fan and I think this will give him the light and crispness that I was looking for, plus I prefer uncooked to cooked spinach.

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Alcohol-Free Drink: UNLTD Lager 

With such a good looking and healthy vegan meal, it was only right that to pair it with something that was equally good looking, healthy and vegan.  With its award-winning design and only 23 calories a bottle, the vegan UNLTD Lager fit the bill. 

This is a beer with more than good looks and a slim waistline. Hiding in that sexy bottle is a crisp and refreshing lager.  Even better, it went perfectly with this Buddha bowl.  

The first thing to hit me is the wonderful aroma. Straight away, the floral bitterness of the hops with their citrusy edge means there’s no mistaking the classic lager aroma.  These are then carried across into the flavours.  Again the hoops deliver a floral bitterness that fades into an aftertaste that hints at citrus flavours. All of these are delivered in such a light and refreshing way that it kept me reaching for the bottle time and again.

Paired with the buddha bowl, the two went perfectly together. I’ve already mentioned the Buddha bowl lacked a lightness (the missing lettuce), but the UNLTD Lager beautifully offset the bowls heaviness with its own crisp lightness. 

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If you’re thinking of trying the Buddha bowl, I would recommend give it a go with the UNLTD Lager. It really does compliment the meal perfectly and the citrus edge of the beer mirrors the subtle lemon flavours that come through from the dressing ensuring there’s no clash of flavours.

You can grab the case of the unlimited lager or try it in one of a number of our variety packs, including quite a few low sugar beers from Wise Bartender.

Just click on the links and use the code GOODSTUFF to get 5% off.

Lessons Learned

As much as I enjoyed my first attempt at making a Buddha bowl, there were definitely a number of things I would do differently next time round.  I should point out, none of these are problems with the recipe, but a few minor changes I would make next time to improve the whole cooking and eating experience more enjoyable.

  • Mix the sweet potatoes with the oil and seasoning in a bowl – don’t rely on sprinkling to give an even seasoning.
  • Don’t forget to include the lemon juice in the dressing
  • Prepare all the ingredients in advance to make the cooking experience more relaxed
  • Use a plate not a bowl to serve
  • Be generous with the seasoning – make those sweet potatoes come alive!
  • Use uncooked spinach instead of the lettuce
The first dressing curdled without the lemon juice

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed this meal. There are areas I can improve and would do differently next time, but those were down to my inexperience rather than problems with the recipe. I think with a couple more attempts and a little fine tuning (e.g. my sprinkle of seasoning) I’ll have a fast, tasty and healthy mean I can make time and again. 

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There’s also the superb dressing, which I will be keeping as a separate recipe to pour over other salads that make in the future. It’s so simple and quick to make and delivers a real kick of flavour without being overpowering.

If you’re looking for a perfect pairing when you attempt your own Buddha bowl, look no further than the UNLTD Lager. It’s crisp, refreshing and has a lightness that really compliments this recipe.  Added to that, it’s only 23 calories bottle, vegan and you’ve got the benefits vitamins B6 & B12.   What a great beer!

* This meal was chosen purely on the look of the recipe and is not an endorsement of any Vitally Vegan products by myself or Good Stuff Drinks Ltd.

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