Plus my three steps to recover from a food coma.
Thanksgiving has come and gone. We ate. We unbuttoned our pants. We groaned. Allow me to help you recover from your food coma in three steps – step one being a brothy soup – a Vietnamese Pho Noodle Bowl!
Now, during the tweener time- that short few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate)- we're ready to recover in comfort.
Three Steps to Recover from a Food Coma
Step 1: Lot's of warm, comforting, soup with fresh produce, rich broth, and seasonings
My official Facebook “comfort food” poll was unanimous! 100% of voters chose soup! Lucky for us, it’s healthy, and for those of us battling sugar cravings, sugar-free. I wracked my brain for the best soup recipe to share with you and this Vietnamese pho noodle bowl came to mind!
Pho is common street food in Vietnam and typically consists of a flavorful broth with fresh herbs and chicken or beef. Refugees from the Vietnam war brought this dish around the world, passed the recipe down through generations and now it’s made its way to you! In our case, we’re forgoing meat for some pressed tofu cubes – sheer perfection when they absorb the broth.
Tip: According to Kimberly Snyder, it’s not pronounced “FO”, it’s actually pronounced “feh”. We must be sure to pronounce it properly so we don’t get laughed at while ordering this dish in Vietnam.
Step 2: Salads with dressings made from scratch
We all know salad is a great recovery food but can be uninspiring, so I’ll entice you by giving you a different perspective! How does a hearty winter salad and simple, from-scratch dressing sound? So much better, right? There are so many incredible winter salads out here, but since we’re mainly talking dressing….
Here are some of my favorites I highly recommend:
1. Thai Lemon Coconut (sub maple syrup for honey)
4. Vegan Caesar Dressing (dressing recipe at the bottom of the page)
5. 16 Vegan Dressings with photos and nutrition content!
6. Want oil-free options? Try one of these 5 Oil-Free, Dairy Free Salad Dressings
Step 3: Get Outside
There’s a big initiative by REI to boycott Black Friday and get outside – called #OptOutside. What an awesome idea! This is a great opportunity to, once again, shift perspective. Instead of telling you to eat better and exercise more, I want you to think about it a little differently and have FUN. Go for a walk, start a permaculture garden, go paddle boarding or kayaking, do some yard work – it all counts.
This vegan Vietnamese Pho noodle bowl was inspired by a recent trip to the Flying Monk Noodle Bar in Savannah, Georgia.
It was there that I ordered a plant-based version of their specialty dish and fell in love! The pho broth was rich and filling. I got less than half of it down before packing the rest up in a to-go container. I loved the chunks of tofu, freshness of the herbs and warm broth – it was chilly out!
Here’s a shot I took of the dish from Flying Monk. Using this as inspiration, I made a few tweaks….
Now for My Take
I opted for tofu, not beef or chicken.
Also, I didn’t fry or even sauté my tofu, I simply pressed it, chunked it up and added the chunks to absorb the broth. If you like a crispier outside you can certainly fry, bake, grill or sauté, but this will add an additional step.
Second, I used Chinese Five Spice instead of star anise.
Lots of Americans aren’t keen on the flavor of star anise. It’s distinct, faintly like fennel. Instead of adding the stronger star anise, cinnamon and whole cloves, I opted for Chinese Five Spice powder that contains star anise but is milder and has a great balance of other flavors. I love the Frontier Organic brand, but feel free to use any you like!
Next, I utilized the fresh vegetables and herbs I had available in my permaculture garden.
I encourage you to use what you’ve got on hand or that you can purchase seasonally at your local farm or farmers market. You probably won’t have Okinowan spinach or sweet potato leaves, but you can use cabbage, bok choy or any other greens. I didn’t have mushrooms or bok choy, but those are delicious additions.
Finally, I used brown rice noodles.
White rice noodles, angel hair rice noodles and flat rice noodles are also delicious options.
This recipe is really forgiving so I encourage you to play around with it!
Vietnamese Pho- Gluten-Free and Plant-Based
4 cups water
8 cups vegetable broth
1 onion, peeled and cut into chunks
4 carrots, chopped
3 small bell peppers/yum yum peppers, seeded and chopped into chunks
1 one-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ Tsp Chinese Five Spice
2-3 Tbsp liquid aminos, to taste
Handful of Okinowan spinach (or dinosaur kale/any other hearty green), chopped
Handful of sweet potato leaves (or bok choy/cabbage), chopped
Handful of fresh Thai/regular basil, chopped
Handful of fresh cilantro and mint, chopped
Handful of fresh green onions/scallions, chopped
5 oz bamboo shoots (or sautéed shitake mushrooms) (optional)
1 package extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
1 Tsp sesame oil
1 package brown rice noodles
2 limes, cut into wedges
Hot sauce, to taste (optional)
Heat the water and vegetables in a large stock pot. Add the onion, carrots, bell peppers, ginger, garlic, Chinese 5 spice and soy sauce. Cover and reduce heat to a summer. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and stir the spinach and other greens along with the bamboo shoots, tofu, and sesame oil.
Meanwhile, cook the brown rice noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
In each bowl, add some noodles and a cup and a half of the hearty broth. Top with fresh basil, herbs, and green onions. Squeeze lime over each serving and add hot sauce, if desired.
By: Dawn Hutchins
Vietnamese Pho Noodle Bowl
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 2.2 g
Saturated Fat 0.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 19.2 mg
Sodium 1,238.9 mg
Potassium 388.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 30.8 g
Dietary Fiber 3.2 g
Sugars 4.8 g
Protein 6.7 g
Vitamin A 118.0 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 6.1 %
Vitamin C 51.3 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.2 %
Calcium 4.8 %
Copper 7.7 %
Folate 6.6 %
Iron 10.0 %
Magnesium 6.7 %
Manganese 10.6 %
Niacin 3.2 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.8 %
Phosphorus 7.1 %
Riboflavin 3.9 %
Selenium 0.7 %
Thiamin 5.2 %
Zinc 3.6 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
You’re eyeing the phone for takeout after work because you’re too tired to think of what to make for dinner.
Put the phone down and pick up my 6 Ingredient or Less Cookbook.
Home-cooked. Simple. Fast.
Dawn Hutchins is a plant-based lifestyle educator, author, and self-taught chef. She holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition through Cornell University and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation and is a certified Nutritional Therapist with a focus on epigenetics. Discover the benefits that over 35,000 people have experienced through her recipes, cookbooks, and revolutionary programs, learning how to eat more whole, plant foods – and loving it!