Where the Rice Grows & Daily Spring Fare

About This Dish:

This is a wonderful dish to create for yourself, and a group of friends. The budget friendly ingredients go a long way to satiate and deliver on a variety of flavors, while being incredibly antioxidant & nutrient dense.

This is also a “broadening your horizons in the kitchen” sort of a dish for 20 somethings and first time home cooks. You’ll never forget the first time you sautéed vegetables in a peanut butter sauce you made from scratch. Before long you’ll be making your own miso ketchup and cashew hummus. Believe that!


1 cup brown rice

1 brick of tofu cut in half to make two squares

2-3 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil

1/2 a head of red cabbage

1 bundle of kale

4 carrots, shredded + carrot tops

Dash of apple cider vinegar

Pinch of sea salt

Sprinkle of sesame seeds

6-8 Thai basil leaves

1/2 a sheet of nori (what is nori? Follow this link to learn )

Peanut Sauce ingredients:

1/3 cup of peanut butter – substitution suggestion! For those who live with a tree nut allergy, try soaked pumpkin seeds instead. Purée in a food processor for peanut butter style consistency. Pumpkin seed allergies are extremely rare, and unless you have been informed otherwise by your doctor,  you should be safe- ALWAYS confirm with your doctor through a simple food allergy test before experimenting when it comes to food allergies. Another safe alternative may be to purée zucchini in place of peanut butter. Peanut allergies are incredibly serious. *This is important to keep in mind when you’re cooking for others, make sure to ask & confirm with your guests whether or not they have any food allergies- typically somebody will let you know if it’s serious, but it’s always a good policy to check when preparing food for a group.

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced & pressed (as in a garlic press)

1 tablespoon of ginger, minced & pressed (as in a garlic press)

2 tablespoons of tamari – substitution suggestion! tamari is gluten-free, if celiac is not a concern & gluten doesn’t bother you, you could use either soy sauce or shoyu. They all have a similar style flavor.

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup of filtered water to thin out sauce

Two pinches of smoked paprika 

One pinch of Turmeric 


1.) Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add 1 cup of brown rice

2.) Bring rice and water to a rolling boil for five minutes, lower heat to establish a nice simmer, cover the pan and let the rice simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.

3.) Bring a cast-iron skillet to a medium high heat and then add 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil

4.) Open tofu and drain liquid from package. Cut the tofu in half and dab dry with a napkin.

5.) Place tofu in cast iron with sesame oil, and begin to cook evenly each side of the tofu until a golden brown color is achieved. A spatula and tongs makes it easy to lift up the tofu and flip it. It’s best to cook the tofu with the lid removed, so moisture does not drip from the inside of the lid into the hot oil, causing hot oil to spit and pop, running you the risk of a burn. This is a job best done by an adult and not recommend for small children learning their way around the kitchen just yet. 

6.) When the tofu is evenly browned on all sides, turn off the heat, remove the tofu and set on a cooling rack.

7.) Once the carrots are shredded, remove the carrot tops the same way you would with herbs off the stem ( Watch this video from living better together Hawaii to see the technique)

8.) Place shredded carrots and carrot tops into a large bowl and add a dash of sesame oil, a dash of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of sea salt, and sprinkle with about a teaspoon of sesame seeds. Set to the side and continue to prepare the other ingredients

9.) Chop the cabbage the long way to make long, thin pieces. Place in a bowl and set aside to prepare the remaining ingredients

10.) Rinse the kale well and remove from leaves from the stem. Tear the leaves into large pieces and place in the cast-iron skillet to lightly steam. Add a dash of sesame oil, and a pinch of sea salt

11.) Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce until it becomes a nice saucy texture. Not too runny.

12.) Serve in a bowl, place the brown rice in the bottom, top with the carrot slaw, shredded cabbage and tofu. Add the kale to the side, and then drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of the sauce over the top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and then use a culinary scissor to trim toothpick size pieces of the nori sheet onto the top of the dish for a garnish. Place several Thai basil leaves over the top. A lime wedge goes nicely with the final touches of this dish and adds a zing of sour citrus to balance the sweet and saltiness.

Serves: 4 to 6

Prep time: 20 minutes 

Cook time: 1 hour

Recipe Created by: Kelsey Crawford, Certified Wholistic Nutritionist CN

 Photographs by: Kelsey Crawford

Western nutrition information:

Combining a grain and a legume creates a complete protein (good to note if you’re either vegetarian or vegan). In this case using tofu and brown rice creates that complete protein. By using a strategy called mutual supplementation, allows us to combine partial protein foods to make a complementary protein – proteins that supply adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids. Whole grains such as brown rice are superior to refined grains because the whole product contains protein, fiber, B vitamins, calcium, iron, vitamin E. Whole grains are an incredibly sustaining source of nutritious energy. It is recommended that you rotate grains in your diet. When you eat the same grain every day, you are more likely to develop a sensitivity to it. The brown rice in this dish is what is referred to as a complex carbohydrate. Carbohydrates supply the body with sustainable energy, the type the body needs to function every day. Brown rice is 50 on the glycemic index, with 16.0 on the glycemic load, compared with white jasmine rice (a refined grain) which is 109 on the glycemic index with a 42.5 glycemic load. 

Combine both cooked and raw vegetables in your meals every day. Although cooking vegetables lessen some of their nutritional value, it’s also true that cooking makes most vegetables more digestible and easier to assimilate it’s nutrients. Raw vegetables are rich in nutrients and some enzymes that can’t be found in cooked vegetables, however it’s important to know that cruciferous vegetables (Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts) are very hard for the body to digest when eaten raw. 

This dish combines a variety of vegetables in many colors. It’s important to eat all colors of vegetables. Dark green vegetables (kale & seaweed in this dish) are the most nutrient dense. Although there have been no formal studies done (to my knowledge- due to lack of funding), it is generally thought amongst Wholistic Nutritionists that carrot tops are more nutrient dense than the carrots themselves. When possible, include the carrot tops in your meals. They taste more like carrot than the carrot does! 

Isothiocyanate such as sulforaphane, vegetables in the brassica family (purple cabbage), have shown considerable activity against H. Pylori. Carrots are a food source for Lutein, a carotenoid that is important for eye health. All of the vegetables in this dish contain antioxidants. They inhibit oxidation and thus slow or prevent cell deterioration. 

Traditional Chinese medicine (energetics) nutritional information: 

Brown rice is Neutral in temperature, Sweet in flavor. It routes through the Stomach and the Spleen, and tonifies Qi & Blood. Kale is Warm in temperature, Bitter and Sweet in flavor, routes through the Spleen and Stomach & tonifies Blood. Carrots are Neutral in temperature, Sweet in flavor and route through the Liver, Lungs and Spleen. Carrots tonify Qi and promote Qi circulation, counteract Heat & Damp Heat, and remove Toxins. Cabbage is Neutral in temperature, Pungent and Sweet in flavor, routes through the Large Intestine, Stomach & Lungs. Cabbage also counteracts Heat & promotes Qi circulation. Nori is Cool in temperature, Sweet and Salty in flavor, tonifies Yin, counteracts Heat, drains Water, and resolves Phlegm. Peanut is Neutral in temperature, Sweet in flavor, routes through the Lungs & Spleen, tonifies Blood and Qi, drains Water & resolves Phlegm. Thai basil is Warm in temperature, Bitter, Pungent, and Sweet in flavor. It routes through the Kidneys, Lungs, Spleen, Stomach, and Large Intestines. It tonifies Yang. Thai basil also counteracts Damp, resolves Phlegm, counteracts Cold, promotes Qi circulation, and reduces Wind Cold. Garlic is Hot in temperature, Pungent, Salty & Sweet in flavor. Routes through the Heart, Liver, Lungs, Spleen, and Stomach. It tonifies Yang. Garlic also drains Damp, resolves Phlegm, promotes Qi circulation, reduces Wind Cold and removes Toxins. Fresh ginger is Hot in temperature, Pungent and Sweet in flavor. It routes through the Lungs, Spleen, Stomach, Intestines, Heart, and the Uterus. It tonifies Yang and counteracts Cold, resolves Phlegm, promotes Qi circulation and reduces Wind Cold. Sesame oil is Cool in temperature, Sweet in flavor, it routes through the Stomach and tonifies Yin. It counteracts Heat and removes Toxins. Apple cider vinegar is Warm in temperature, Bitter & Sweet in flavor, routes through the Liver and Stomach and promotes Qi & Blood circulation, counteracts Cold and removes Toxins. Turmeric is Warm in temperature, Pungent and Bitter in flavor, routes through the Spleen and Liver, and promotes Blood & Qi circulation, reduces Wind Damp, and counteracts Cold. 

Additional Nutritional References For This Recipe: 

Wood, Rebecca. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Penguin Group. 2010.

Lair, Cynthia. Feeding the Whole Family. Seattle, WA: Sasquatch Books. 1997.

Leggett, Daverick. Helping Ourselves. Totnes, England: Meridian Press. 2014.

Balch, Phyllis A., CNC. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Fifth Edition. New York, NY: Penguin Group. 2010.


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