This is the sixth dish in my week-long series of WFPB recipes. My goal has been to stretch the limits of what “A Grain, a Bean, a Veggie, a Green, and a Seed” can mean. This Better-Than-Instant Plant-Based Peanut Butter Miso Ramen with Almost Too Much Tofu is a perfect example of just how far this checklist can go. Brown rice ramen serves as my grain, while cubes of tofu serve as my bean. And don’t get me started on the Peanut Butter Miso broth! It’s so rich and creamy and satisfying, you won’t believe it’s made with only 4 pantry-staple ingredients.
As you know, I’ve been on a weight loss journey, and instead of telling myself what I can’t eat, I’ve made a list of items that I want to make sure that I get in every meal: whole grains, legumes, vegetables, greens, and whole-plant fats. I’ve “abbreviated” or short-handed this paradigm or checklist to “A Grain, A Bean, A Veggie, A Green, and A Seed”. It’s not perfect, but It’s helping me crowd out the foods I don’t want to eat with the foods that I do want to eat.
“A Grain, A Bean, A Veggie, A Green, and A Seed”
I came up with a paradigm, or a checklist to help me plan my WFPB meals. The not-so-catchy name of which is “A Grain, A Bean, A Veggie, A Green, and A Seed”. Admittedly, the name needs work, but the practice of using it has been working great.
My goal is to plan meals that have each of these components:
- A “Grain” can be any type of whole grain or starchy vegetable that adds fiber and substance to your meals. For my purposes, a “grain” can be anything from whole wheat used to make bread, to brown rice, to even quinoa, and sweet potato.
- A “Bean” can be any type of bean, legume, or pulse. Although most plant-based foods do contain some amount of protein, a “bean” represents an overt source that is both fiber and protein dense. Ideally the “bean” is in its whole form, but tofu and bean pastas check this box as well.
- A “Veggie” can be any non-starchy vegetable that adds bulk, flavor, and nutrition to the dish. Think broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, and peppers. Although starchy veggies are great, in terms of their function in the meal, they tend to fit better into the “grain” box. Mushrooms are also a great addition to meals, and for what I’m trying to accomplish, mushrooms fit into the “veggie” box as well.
- A “Green” can be any type of leafy green, added to the dish either during or after cooking, or left raw. Not only are greens great for adding nutrition to the dish, they are also great for flavor and texture. Greens can be the bulk of a meal like in the case of kale salads, or an accent to the dish in the case of spinach or arugula added to soups and curries just before serving.
- A “Seed” represents a whole-food source of overt fat. Avocados, smashed, sliced, or guac’d are great. As are various types of nuts, seeds, and their derived butters. Coconut products like milk, flakes, and butter also add a ton of flavor and body to various dishes
Now that you know the system, let’s look at what foods in this dish check which boxes:
- The “Grain” – I love Lotus Foods’ ramen noodles. For this dish, I use their Millet & Brown Rice Noodles. They make a few other varieties, and they even make pad thai style noodles which would work great as well. In a pinch, I might even use a brown rice spaghetti or even a whole wheat pasta. Just make sure to cook the noodles separately from the broth.
- The “Bean” – For all intents and purposes, the function of the “bean” is that it’s an overt protein source. I normally prefer to use beans in their whole form because of the fiber content, but in the case of this ramen, tofu does the job perfectly. If you don’t want to use tofu, you could just use about 1 cup of shelled edamame instead.
- The “Veggie” – The brilliance of this dish is that the rich broth seasons whatever you add to it. I love using vegetables like broccoli or broccolini, but you could use whatever veggies you have on hand. The trick is to blanche them briefly in lightly salted water so that they get slightly tender, and they absorb a bit of seasoning.
- The “Green” – I love using bitter greens in my ramen. On the day we shot the video I had kale on hand, so that’s what I used. Truly any green will work here. Spinach would be great. You could even use frozen and thawed greens if that’s what you have.
- The “Seed” – In the original tests of this recipe, I used sunflower seeds as the creamy base of the soup. However, when it came time to shoot the video, I was out of them. Instead of going to the store, I decided to wing it with peanut butter. The sunflower seed version was amazing. The peanut butter version was even better. Pretty much any seed or nut butter will work here, so get creative!
Peanut Butter Miso Ramen
Quick and easy plant-based ramen with a rich and creamy peanut butter broth.
- 2 cups water
- 1 heaping tablespoon natural peanut butter*
- 2 teaspoons miso paste, or more to taste
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce, or more to taste
- 1 cake brown rice ramen noodles
- ½ to 1 cup kale, loosely packed, cut into thin strips
- 2 to 3 stalks broccolini or ½ cup broccoli florets
- 6 ounces firm or extra firm silken tofu, broken or cut into bite-sized pieces.
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- hot sauce, chili oil, or sambal to taste
- In your blender, combine water, sunflower seeds, and miso. Blend for about 45 seconds, making sure that there are no bits of sunflower seeds remaining. Pour the blended mixture into a saucepan, and turn it up to medium heat. Add Liquid Aminos, and bring the broth to a light simmer, stirring often. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Taste for seasoning.
- Fill another saucepan with water, and bring it to a boil. Add a pinch of salt to taste. Blanch the broccolini or broccoli for 1 minute in the simmering water, and then transfer them to a serving bowl. Do the same with the kale, and the tofu (separately). Cook noodles according to package directions, and then transfer the cooked noodles to the serving bowl along with the blanched broccolini, kale, and tofu.
- Pour the hot broth over the broccolini, kale, tofu, and noodles. Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds, green onion, and chili sauce. Serve immediately.
*To make this dish nut-free, use 2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds instead of the peanut butter