As it typically happens by end of January, I start losing steam with winter cooking.The weather, where I live, throws the tiniest hints of spring every once in a while and I can’t help but get my hopes up. Could winter finally be over? Enough of butternut squash soup and winter greens!

So, as I am feeling in this food rut, so to speak, I have to remember to keep things simple. Keep one foot in winter, while allowing myself the indulgence of a warmer season.That is why grain bowls are so good.

Grain bowls allow me to mix and match, go more exotic or more traditional, thrown in a little spring with winter. They make sure I still have a perfect balance of the nutrients I need – a whole grain, lean protein and an abundance of plants.The other night I created this Thai Tofu Brown Rice Bowl. It was quick, easy and I used ingredients that I already had in my pantry.

So simple. As I cooked the brown rice, I prepped the rest of the ingredients – immune boosting garlic, ginger, onion and scallions, red peppers to make me feel like I’m not drowning in winter; and tofu, one of my favorite vegan proteins. It is so versatile, but it works particularly well with Asian dishes because it can handle the strong flavors.

The whole dish took me 45 minutes to make, and that was because I was waiting on the rice. Be easy with yourself and go simple with this flavorful dish.

Thai Tofu Brown Rice Bowl

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup of long grain brown rice
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola
2 red peppers, sliced thin
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
3 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 2-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 14-ounce block extra firm tofu, cubed
1 small bunch scallions, chopped
1 large bunch baby spinach
1/2 cup salted, roasted peanuts (totally option but adds good texture and fats)
1 small bunch basil, sliced thin
1 large lime, juiced
1 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan bring two cups of water to a boil with a dash of salt. Add the brown rice, cover and bring down to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes then turn off the heat and let sit for another 15.

2. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and peppers. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the peppers and soft and beginning to brown.

3. Add the garlic and ginger to the pan and saute for another minute. Add the tofu and continue sauteeing for another 5 minutes.

4. Stir in the spinach and allow it to wilt in the pan. Turn off the heat and add in the soy sauce, fish sauce, and lime juice. Sprinkle the basil and peanuts on top.

5. When the rice is done, add some to a bowl and top with the tofu. Serve hot.

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