I’m so excited to share a little something I’ve been working on recently as a Chef Ambassador for Whole Foods Market: I’m calling it “The Noodle Bowl Formula” and it’s a tool designed to make home-cooked meals easier, more enjoyable and more DELICIOUS, guaranteed.
The idea for The Noodle Bowl Formula came when my Whole Foods Market colleagues and were thinking about how we could share health and wellness in the kitchen with our guests at the Slow Food Nations Festival in Denver this past weekend; an international food festival celebrating local food cultures and traditions.
We’re all becoming multi-tasking over-achievers faster than we care to recognize. We’re uncompromising in our goals, and the pathway to reach them is a fast lane. This festival and Slow Food as an organization stands to remind us to all slow down a little bit and not forget the power and importance of incredible, real foods at the center of the vibrant lives we’re striving for.
In these fast times, there’s a lot of mystery hiding behind a veil of convenience. But no matter how fast the world is spinning, and no matter how many claims are made on the label of that “wellness burrito” you bought the other day, the truth is that the food that is best for our bodies is in its natural, original state – real and whole. And if we truly want to prioritize our health and well-being, we have to embrace cooking all of that beautiful stuff ourselves (at least, sometimes.)
The Noodle Bowl Formula I created with Whole Foods Market is just one great strategy to eliminate these factors. All you need are a well-stocked pantry, consciously-sourced proteins and vegetables and a little bit of magic and a super-powered, super-flavorful meal in less time, with more space to enjoy it is what’s for dinner. We shared the formula at the festival yesterday, and I demonstrated two different ways to rock it. One was a Spicy Rice Noodle Bowl w/Turmeric Halibut + Herbs (reserved for my upcoming cookbook!) The other was a riff that’s been on heavy rotation around here: my Cucumber + Kohlrabi Buckwheat Soba w/Tahini Lime Sauce. It’s too good not to share, so I’ve posted the recipe below!
Without further ado, here it is! The Noodle Bowl Formula!
We have the time, space and skill to whip this up TONIGHT. So, now, all we need are ingredients. Let’s start with that dressing! You’ll need a well-stocked pantry for this one. It doesn’t need to be a big pantry, just one with a few favorite, well-chosen ingredients.
Whenever possible, I aim to use the freshest I can get. When a fresh ingredient isn’t necessary, like spices, or in the rare case that I’m using a packaged product (like noodles!), those labels tell me a lot about what’s inside. Make sure the ingredients are always things you can pronounce and recognize as food. If you can’t leave it on the shelf. (And, if you’re shopping at Whole Foods Market, you can buy confidently because their sourcing standards have eliminated more than 400 ingredients found in other stores to include binders, fillers chemicals and ingredients our bodies don’t recognize as food!)
The emotions behind the foods we eat matter; the passion of the producer, the measures of care that a rancher takes in raising his beef, and the way a farmer tends to his crops before they arrive on your table – all of these feelings find their way into our foods.
The space we create around the meals we cook. Who we eat with, where we eat it, and the quality of time and energy we had to prepare our meals all matter immensely in the way our foods nourish us. But these non-food ingredients are challenging to shop for because they aren’t listed on the label. For these items, we have to do what feels right – to trust our gut instincts and choose stores, farmers, and purveyors that share our values.
When purchasing proteins like meat and fish, the passion that helped bring those ingredients into the world is meaningful and has absolutely made its way into the food. From in-humane animal practices to the use of non-food ingredients like added flavors, colors, and chemicals. I was so proud to use steak, fish, and pantry ingredients from Whole Foods Market at Slow Food Nations because they not only provided the uncompromising products I was looking for but also could answer my questions about what it is, where it’s from and why they’ve chosen to stock it.
Most of the year, 100% of the vegetables I cook at home are from our farmer’s market here in Boulder. When I can’t buy fresh from the farm, I look to buy ingredients from right here in Colorado. Looks for ingredients that are fresh for where you are!
It’s true that we’re all short on time, but the minutes we spend getting to know our food better isn’t time wasted – it’s time invested in our health, well-being, in the ecology of our planet and the security of our communities as well. Buying local, well-raised and mindfully sourced products is good for all of us. And by the way, it’s DELICIOUS. Let’s get back to that buckwheat soba, eh?
The magic is in how you make this formula your own. Whether you use what you have on hand, or you make the recipe below, incorporate the colors, flavors, and textures that get you stoked. Incorporate as many colors as you can! Add crunch and texture with nuts, seeds or crunchy vegetables to keep you satisfied! And incorporate a flavor that’s exciting or new to you – it could be pungent turmeric, bright ginger or a kicky pepper.
The soba recipe I’ve shared here is just one way to work it all but if you’re diving in, here are some details to note: kohlrabi is a super-seasonal crispy vegetable with a texture like jicama and a taste like a radishy-broccoli and it’s glorious. But, maybe you can’t find it or aren’t into that sort of thing. So switch it out for whatever veg you love instead.
So you don’t like buckwheat noodles? Swap those babies out too. Udon, rice noodles or any other kind of sturdy noodle will be great here. The same goes for the protein; feel free to make this whatever fits. I’m making this dish on the regular lately, and chicken, shrimp, and baked tofu have all made a cameo as well.
I can’t recommend this tahini-lime dressing enough and am making a batch big enough to last through noodle bowls for dinner, salads for lunch for the rest of the week and *maybe* even a slather on toast with eggs on the weekends.
Enjoy this little formula, friends, and the recipe below. I hope it inspires you to get out and cook a little bit more than your busy schedule seems to allow these hot, hustle-y summer months!