This January, as part of Well+Good’s (Re)New Year, famed plant-based and classically trained chef Candice Kumai is providing five weeks of healthy recipes to help not only transform your eating habits, but set you up for year-long success. For the fifth and last week, the former model is sharing her top recipes to enhance your beauty *and* brains.
Sometimes, it can seem like the amount of work dumped on your plate never ends. Between everything going on at home, work, and with side projects, at this point, you could probably multi-task in your sleep. Wellness Council member Candice Kumai feels you. She is constantly juggling multiple projects. But she also knows the importance of a good, nourishing lunch. Yes, even boss babes take lunch breaks. In fact, they especially do.
The five lunch recipes she shares here aren’t just yummy—making them for yourself is a form of self-care. Brain foods like fibrous grains, omega-3 fatty-acid rich avocados, and potassium-filled sweet potatoes will give you the cognitive boost to conquer your inbox or stay alert during a long work meeting. And ingredients like miso—the best kept beauty secret in Japan, thanks to its skin-nourishing linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid—will help bring out an inner glow.
Ready to get cooking? Scroll down for Candice Kumai’s weekday lunch recipes that deliver on brain health and beauty boosting.
Monday: Turmeric sweet potato and kale bowl
For the salad:
1 bunch kale, finely chopped
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 small Persian cucumber or Japanese kyūri, cut into thin half moons
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, cook the quinoa until just undercooked slightly. Turn off heat, set aside.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut your sweet potatoes into one-inch cubes. Be sure not to cube your sweet potatoes too small because they will shrink during roasting!
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Add your cubed sweet potato, miso paste, mirin and two tablespoons unrefined coconut oil and turmeric. Toss to coat.
4. Roast sweet potatoes for approximately 40 minutes, tossing halfway through to ensure even cooking.
5. In a large bowl, add your dressing ingredients, whisk well to combine. Add in your quinoa, chopped kale and cucumbers. Toss to coat well in dressing.
6. In your serving bowls or platter of choice, add your quinoa and kale salad and top with your roasted sweet potatoes and crushed sesame seeds.
Tuesday: Spicy broccoli rabe with garlic and chili flakes
1 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped into 1 1/2-inch pieces on the diagonal
1 six-oz. package savory baked firm organic tofu (firm or extra firm) cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes, more or less to your desired preference
1/2 cup cooked freekeh, farro, or any grains you have on hand
1/2 tsp reduced-sodium tamari soy sauce
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1. In a large sauté pan, warm one tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until just fragrant, about five minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, increase the heat to medium, and cook for about two minutes.
2. Add the tofu to the pan and cook for two more minutes. Add the chili flakes and the cooked freekeh or farro and toss to coat. Cook for another three minutes to warm all through.
3. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the remaining extra-virgin olive oil, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Serve hot and make it a full meal by adding more tofu, or serving alongside grilled salmon.
Wednesday: Hijiki and avocado greens salad
For the salad:
1 cup soaked/reconstituted hijiki seaweed, drained (Combine: 5 Tbsp dried hijiki seaweed with 3/4 cup water)
3 cups cooked quinoa
2 ripe avocados, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 15 oz. can adzuki beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups packed arugula or finely chopped kale
1. In a medium bowl, soak and reconstitute one-fourth cup plus one tablespoon dried hijiki in three-fourths cup water for about 15 minutes. Drain all excess liquid.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together reduced-sodium tamari soy sauce, rice or raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. Add the reconstituted hijiki, quinoa, adzuki beans, and arugula to the dressing and toss to coat. Top with avocado cubes and serve immediately.
Thursday: Tofu curry and greens bowl
For the salad:
3 oz. baked savory organic tofu (firm or extra firm), cubed
1 1/2 celery stalks with leaves, leaves reserved, stalks finely diced
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 1/4 cups lacinato kale leaves, finely shredded
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raw walnuts, crushed
1/4 tesp sea salt (optional)
1. First, make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and curry powder until well combined.
2. Add the cubed tofu and toss in dressing to coat.
3. Fold diced celery, red onion, and kale into the curry tofu mixture. Add in the dried cranberries, walnuts, and sea salt (if using). Top with the reserved celery leaves and serve.
Friday: Miso kale Caesar salad
For the salad:
1 large bunch Lacinato or curly kale finely chopped, kale massaged well
1 ear raw white corn, shaved off the cobb (approximately 1/2 cup)
1/2 daikon radish, peeled, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons
2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 Tbsp gomashio, (crushed toasted sesame seeds) or hemp seeds
1. In a medium mixing bowl, add the ingredients for the dressing, whisk well to combine.
2. Add the finely chopped lacinato kale, raw white corn, and daikon radish and toss well to combine in dressing.
3. To serve, plate up your salad into serving bowls and top with cubed avocado and toasted sesame seed or hemp seeds.