Vegan Chipotle Bowls with black beans, sautéed peppers and onions, and chipotle cashew cream. These healthy, gluten free bowls are perfect for make-ahead lunches or easy weeknight dinner.
Meal Prep Vegan Bowls
Firstly, I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year! I hope this year is full of beautiful blessings, deep belly laughs, and memorable experiences. I have lots of fun plans for the blog this year, which I’m so excited to share with you. Though for now, we are kicking things off with a meal prep MUST.
These Vegan Chipotle Bowls boast all the flavor of your local takeout joint. They’re also full of fiber and plant protein, yet will only coast you a fraction of the price. And, since they’re totally plant-based, they will last up 4 to 5 days refrigerated. So, you can consider weekday lunch officially conquered.
These bowls start with a bed of cilantro-lime quinoa, which is an excellent source of plant protein. Also in the mix is cumin-scented black beans, sautéed peppers and onions, and a dynamite chipotle cashew cream. Start to finish, this recipe only takes 45 minutes, which is less time than a mid-day Chipotle run would likely take. And, you can switch these bowls up to your liking every day. For example, add a scoop of guac for extra satiating fat, or wrap in a tortilla to enjoy burrito-style. The options are endless, and I guarantee they’ll become a regular in your weekday rotation.
How to Make Chipotle Bowls
The beauty of these bowls is that they are endlessly riffable. However I do recommend sticking to somewhat of a burrito bowl blueprint. For example, a grain, protein, veggie, satiating fat, and delicious sauce to tie it all together. This combo ensures you are satisfied and satiated, and not reaching in the snack drawer an hour later. Here’s the (un)official breakdown of what to include:
- Grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, or farro. I like using quinoa for these veggie bowls because it packs an extra dose of protein. Quinoa is actually one of the only plant-based sources of complete protein. (Meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.) Whichever grain you decide on, I suggest cooking it in vegetable broth for extra flavor. After, stir in some lime juice and cilantro for a pop of freshness.
- Beans, such as black beans, pinto beans, or refried beans. Beans are an excellent source of both fiber and protein, making these bowls extra filling. Plus, they are blank canvases to jazz up with flavoring agents. For example, I love adding a dash of cumin, garlic, and lime juice to my black beans. You can also add adobe sauce from the can of chipotle chiles for extra heat.
- Veggies, such as sautéed peppers and onions, fresh tomatoes, or chopped romaine lettuce. I like adding a mix of cooked and raw veggies for textural contrast. Just make sure whichever veggie you choose won’t go soggy when made in advance. For example, if adding chopped romaine, wait to mix it in until right before eating. This helps the bowls maintain maximum freshness.
- Sauce, such as this dynamite chipotle cashew sauce. I’m seriously SO in love with this simple, 3 ingredient sauce. It’s smoky and spicy with crave-worthy creaminess. Alternatively, you can also make a batch of my Green Tahini Sauce or Jalapeño Ranch, which both taste incredible with Mexican food. Or, if you prefer a pre-made sauce, use a scoop of your favorite salsa or salad dressing.
And then, of course, there is the toppings/garnishes. My go-to’s are fresh cilantro, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and a spritz of fresh lime juice. Just keep in mind the avocado will brown if sliced in advance. I suggest packing it separately and slicing it overtop right before eating.
Meal Prep Quinoa
Quinoa is one of my go-to grains for its standout nutrition profile and quick cooking time. It’s also incredibly versatile and can take on any flavor profile you throw its way. Though to really reap the most out of this pseudo-grain, it’s important to nail down the cooking method. Yes, it’s extremely simple and straight-forward, but there are a couple tricks to amplify its awesomeness:
First, make sure to rinse the quinoa prior to cooking. Rinsing removes the pseudo-grain’s natural coating, called saponin, which can make it taste bitter. Most packaged quinoa is pre-rinsed, however if you purchase it from the bulk bin section like myself, it’s best to rinse.
Second, cook it in broth (as opposed to water) for extra flavor. Or, cook it in a mix of broth and water! This helps infuse the grain with flavor while it’s cooking, rather than seasoning it after the fact.
Lastly, allow the quinoa to steam in the pan after it’s cooked to help absorb any remaining traces of liquid and plump up. I usually let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes before fluffing it with a fork and serving.
This sauce is wildly flavorful and only calls for THREE ingredients: cashews, fresh orange juice, and one chipotle pepper.
To start, you need to briefly soak the cashews. This helps them soften up so they blend into a super creamy sauce. If you soak the cashews in HOT water (like, as hot as your faucet will produce), they will soften quickly. It’s also important to use a high power blender to ensure the heavy lifting is done for you. Once the cashews appear “swollen” (a good sign of optimal softness), you’ll place them in the blender with the soaking liquid. Next, add one small chipotle pepper, salt, and fresh orange juice.
I use canned chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. You can typically find these in the international or ethnic aisle of most grocery stores. Though fair warning, these are HOT. I’m talking spicy, smoky, and sinus-clearing kind of hot. That’s why this recipe just calls for one small pepper (try and find the smallest in the can). We basically just want to infuse the sauce with some smoky heat, but not overwhelm the tastebuds.
It’s also important to use fresh orange juice, as opposed to bottled or from concentrate. I typically purchase one naval orange, which amounts to about 4 Tbsp of fresh squeezed juice.
Once you start blending the sauce, you may need to add 1 or 2 extra Tbsp of water to thin it out to your desired consistency. You can also use extra orange juice if your orange is extra juicy!
At this point, the sauce can keep refrigerated for 1 to 2 weeks, so feel free to double the batch! It’s also delicious on tacos, grain bowls, or drizzled over roasted veggies. Give these healthy, flavorful bowls a try for weekday lunches or easy dinners this week. If serving to kids, sub out the spicy chipotle sauce for your condiment of choice, or use salsa instead! Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days for best results, and you’re good-to-go.
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations. And don’t forget to follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates. Happy 2020, friends!
Healthy Meal Prep Ideas:
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, divided
- 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 poblano pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt, divided
- ¾ tsp. ground cumin, divided
- 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ tsp. granulated garlic
- 1 small chipotle pepper (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce)
- 4 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
- Optional: sliced avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh lime juice
- Place cashews in a bowl and add ½ cup hot water. Let stand while you prepare the rest of recipe.
- Combine quinoa and broth in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until liquid is mostly absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and let steam, covered, 10 minutes. Stir in 1 Tbsp lime juice and cilantro.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add bell peppers, onion, and poblano; cook 7 to 8 minutes, or until softened. Season with chili powder, ¼ tsp salt, and ½ tsp cumin.
- Place black beans in a bowl. Stir in remaining ¼ tsp cumin, ¼ tsp salt, 1 Tbsp lime juice, and granulated garlic.
- Place cashews and soaking liquid in a high power blender. Add chipotle pepper, ¼ tsp salt, and orange juice; blend on high until smooth. If needed, add additional water to thin out to desired consistency.
- Prepare bowls by dividing quinoa evenly between each of 4 bowls or Tupperware containers. Divide black beans and pepper and onion mixture between each bowl, and drizzle with chipotle sauce. Add additional garnishes, if desired.