Spicy Mango Rice Bowl with Tofu [or chicken]

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on May 6, 2011

I’ve been enjoying these rice bowls in my lunch all week, but haven’t had the chance to share the recipe with you.

I blame homemade yogurt, preparing for my race, and berries n’ cream parfaits.

Do you forgive me?

My eats this week have been marvelous. No complaints are coming from this stomach, that’s for sure.

My knee on the other hand, now that’s a different story.

Come Thursday morning, my right knee was so tight, I could barely get up the stairs.

Before a race? ‘Common now?!

I retraced my steps: what had made it get this bad? I hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary.

Then, a conversation with my ART Specialist came to me. He said, “It’s amazing, how many people don’t understand the impact their diet can have on their performance

:|

Then, Monday nights dinner rushed into my head…

8 strips of beef bacon, 3 eggs + ketchup.

And Tuesday nights dinner…

6 strips of beef bacon, 2 eggs + salad.

And Wednesday

Kale chips, 4 strips of beef bacon, quinoa, and a pile of roasted potatoes.

I swear I eat more than just bacon, I’ve just been dying for animal protein lately.

Anyways, it wasn’t long until I connected the dots. How could I have seriously had 18 strips of beef bacon in the last 3 days?

Beef and inflammation

If you follow me on Facebook, you were part of this conversation yesterday morning.

Beef is a pro-inflammatory food due to it’s high arachidonic acid content which is part of the PGE2 series [aka prostaglandin 2 which is a form of essential fatty acid].

You know how there are omega-3 and 6′s? Arachidonic acid; contained in beef, is an omega-6, but actually increases inflammation, as opposed to it’s other omega-6 counterpart, gamma-linolenic acid – found in hemp and walnuts to name a few.

Since I wasn’t eating any beef and then increased it to a superman portions in just 3 days, my body showed huge signs of inflammation!

Problem solved, culprit caught!?

I feel like a modern day Inspector Clueso [minus the mustache, of course]

So, out with the beef and in with the bean salad, hemp protein + another batch of tofu rice bowls, just until Sunday.

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Spicy Mango Rice Bowl with Tofu [or chicken]

Vegan, Gluten free, Dairy free, Refined sugar free, Yeast free, Corn free

Thick, sweet, and spicy mango sauce, surrounded with baked tofu, snow peas and coconut rice.

Ingredients

Spicy mango sauce

  • 3/4 cup organic apple juice
  • 1 mango, pit removed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut water vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar free ketchup
  • 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice *see note
  • 2 tbsp braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 1-2 jalapenos – depends how spicy you want it!
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tbsp filtered water
  • 1.5 tbsp arrowroot powder or 1 tbsp corn starch

Veggies + protein

  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken, sliced into 1/2-inch thick strips or 2 blocks of GMO free firm tofu, pressed and cut into slices
  • 4 medium onions , diced
  • 3 cups snow peas
  • 2 red peppers, diced small
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

High protein rice mix

  • 4.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups brown basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup red/white quinoa
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

Directions

To make the sauce: add all ingredients but cilantro, water, and arrowroot in a blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 20minutes. Meanwhile, combine water and arrowroot in a small bowl. Once simmering is complete, add arrowroot mixture and whisk. Cook for 1 minute. Add chopped cilantro and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make protein: preheat oven to 375F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper for chicken, or oil for tofu. If you’re cooking a bit of both, you can separate the sheet with a foil wall. Coat the tofu pieces in the mango sauce and bake chicken/tofu for 30-40 minutes until tofu is browning at the corners and/or chicken is cooked through with no pink.

To make veggies: Add coconut oil and onions to a large frying pan [I used cast iron]. Allow to cook for 3 minutes before adding remaining ingredients + 1/3 cup mango sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

For the rice mix: Add all ingredients to a rice cooker or large saucepan and cook until soft [about 30 minutes]

Throw it all together, pour some mango sauce on top, and you have yourself a delicious dinner!

Makes 6 rice bowls and ~3 cups of sauce.

note: I just used half a grapefruit and squeezed the juice out of it like you would a lemon. I couldn’t find any store bought juice that didn’t have glucose in it, and I was too lazy to take out my juicer.

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The foil wall is genius [thanks for the awesome idea, Ashley]

I could have may have eaten a bunch of veggies right out of frying pan.

Inflammation Q+A

Is all protein inflammatory?

All animal proteins will have the same affect, but I find beef and pork are a bit worse than chicken/eggs/dairy. Fish is somewhat exempt from the rule because of it’s high content of omega 3′s. Of course the best source of fish [for omega-3 intake] is Salmon!

So does that mean that someone who has rhumatoid arthritis or lupus should limit their intake of beef?

Generally speaking, yes. People with any type of inflammatory condition shouldn’t only reduce their intake of beef, but also limit their intake of inflammatory foods.

What other foods are inflammatory?

In addition to all animal proteins, refined grains, sugar, potatoes, tomatoes, and other nightshade foods, will also promote inflammation. As will overcooked foods because they create advanced glycation end products [AGES], something our bodies treat as an invader. As a simple explanation, these “AGES” are produced when a protein molecule binds with a glucose molecule, resulting in damage to the protein.

Do you have a question for me about inflammation? Ask away! If not, do you enjoy sauces on your rice bowls? What’s your favorite sauce recipe?

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Cait @ Beyond Bananas

I am diggin the combo of mango and spices.. mango is an AWESOME addition to so many dishes!

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Jess@HealthyExposures

This is too funny…well, not funny, more ironic…but my boss and I were just recently talking about food and inflammation, as he swore something he ate affected his joints. At the time I thought it was odd; something you ATE affected how your joints felt? But thinking about it more, I started believing it. I forget what he said really got to him, but I know we were talking about ginger being an anti-inflammatory. This is the same boss I got hooked on candied ginger :P Now go eat a bunch of ginger and see if that helps ;)
The rice bowl looks awesome; especially that mango sauce!!
Fingers crossed your knee gets better fast!

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Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free

I’m glad you found out what the culprit is….I hope it helps :) D you take cod liver oil? It works wonders for anti-inflammatory and healthy joints!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I used to, but I stopped about a year ago. Maybe I need to get back on the cod liver oil train. Thanks for the suggestion, Alex!

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)

I have so much to say about inflammatory foods and medical challenges. It deserves it’s own email! thanks for addressing this topic and I love the chatter about it!

Seriously this meal, Leanne, just looks amazing!!! Wanna make it for me? haha!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

If you EVER come to Canada, you be sure to tell me. I’ll make this for you in a heart beat and even give you the leftovers to take home with you! I’d love to hear your thoughts on inflammation, have you written and posts about it?

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey

I never knew meat caused inflammation! I love being able to figure out why soething is wrong and linking it back to food. People think I’m crazy, but I swear you are what you eat. Plain and simple.

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Gina

This sounds great!! Perfect for summer :)

Glad you found the culprit, too! Thanks for the rundown!

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Jenny

somehow I was cursed with mango-hating taste buds (I know, crazy), but I bet pineapple would make an awesome substitution. This is the perfect summer meal!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Pineapple would be fantastic! I also played around with the thought of adding coconut milk, but refrained myself.

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

As much as I love asian-inspired, spicy food… I can’t believe I’ve never made my own rice bowl! LOVE this recipe with the mango – adding to the “to-do” list immediately! :)

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Lauren (Diary of a Vegan Girl)

So glad you were able to figure out what was bothering your knee!

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Parsley Sage

Oh dear. Gotta say I’m kind of sad to read about this beef = inflammation thing. My arthritis is pretty bad but I’m a super hardcore carnivore…

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Doesn’t mean you have to give it up entirely, but it’d be interesting to see if you notice changes from changing things around slightly!

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Chad @ thebreakupnote

That just looks so good and inventive! That mango sauce looks incredible!

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Jenny

Nice job catching the culprit! :P I always paid attention to what was anti-inflammatory (e.g. things like turmeric, kale, carrots, and other colourful and pretty veggies) but never gave much thought to what was INflammatory. Crazy! Thanks for the note about beef.

I enjoy sauces on my rice bowls… but I have to confess, rather than a “sauce”, per sé, I really love salsa as a topping!

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Heidi @ Food Doodles

Love all the info in this post! That is the reason(among others) why I would love to take the holistic nutritionist course. I find that stuff so interesting especially when I see it in my own body.
Love rice bowls :D With sauce, without, doesn’t matter. I think I love rice, haha. My favorite lunch is a little bit of rice topped with roasted veggies and then some kind of sauce or hot sauce or whatever. Mmmm…

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I had rice and roasted veggies for lunch! Couldn’t agree with you more :D

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Alaina Rose @ Sweetness of Life

That’s super interesting! I’m glad you were able to connect the cause of your inflammation to your recent consumption of beef. Luckily you’re a smart gal! It makes me feel sad for people who feel like crap because of their dietary habits but don’t know why they feel shitty and don’t know what to do about it. I’m glad that us food bloggers tend to take good care of ourselves and eat healthfully (most of the time!) My favorite sauce right now is what I get when I combine hummus, nutritional yeast, mustard, water and spices. And I recently made Mama Pea’s Mmmm sauce which is pretty fricken off the hook!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I work with those people on a daily basis! I <3 being a Nutritionist because once people make the connection between the foods they eat and the pain/problems they've been struggling with, it's truly the most beautiful thing!
That sauce sounds AMAZING.

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Stefanie @TheNewHealthy

You’re so wise – you have an amazing knack for getting to the bottom of things! And of course, spicy mango sauce sounds to die for!! :)

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Natalia - a side of simple

Hope your knee gets better soon! Thanks for sharing the info. on inflammation. I honestly had no idea foods could be the culprit for flare-ups.

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kate

I loveee mangoes and I love spicy foods so this dish sounds amazing… I would definitely go for the tofu with it there is just something I love about tofu and sauce its soo comforting and delish!

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Sarah@TheJoyOfCleanEating.com

This looks absolutely AMAZING!!!! I can’t wait to try this!

~Sarah@TheJoyOfCleanEating.com

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Lindsey@Lindselicious

This sauce looks amazing! Your blog always has the most interesting and informative nutrition information too!

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torviewtoronto

delicious combination looks wonderful and colourful

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Julia @ George and Julia Eat Manhattan

That looks amazing. I’ve been looking for a tasty and easy mango sauce for a light summer meal, and this looks perfect! I love your blog and recipes.

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Lauren

That tofu glaze sounds AWESOME and reminds me that I need to get more creative with my tofu seasonings. It’s usually just olive oil, salt and pepper and some cumin if I’m feeling wild :P I had no idea beef was linked to inflammation! That’s so interesting.

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Ashley

Is this the same kind of inflammatory as inflammatory acne? I have such problems with it and nothing seems to work. So annoying cause I never had acne as a teen.

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

inflammatory acne is a bit different. How is your digestion? Generally those with inflammatory have issues with constipation, or there is a food trigger in their life that is causing allergy symptoms in their body, or there is a hormonal imbalance. Those are the 3 most common causes for inflammatory acne that I see most often.

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Heather

I was recently diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome and am now wondering if it is a pro-inflammatory condition? Do you have any tips for women with PCOS?

Also, this recipe looks delish!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Hi Heather, does your Mom suffer from the same condition? I find mothers and daughters usually struggle with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) together. In any case, researchers believed that PCOS was a purely genetic issue, research is now indicating that PCOS is associated with hyperinsulinemia (the production of too much of the insulin hormone) as well as impaired glucose metabolism. Does your doctor have you on a low sugar, cardiovascular support diet? Also, weight loss is essential for PCOS as it often leads to type II diabetes if not taken care of with proper nutrition.
My advice to you would be [if you're not already], meet with a nutritionist. If that’s not an option for you, try supporting an overall whole foods diet, full of green leafy veggies, fruits, and whole grains. All of the foods on my blog will support you in your journey and are low in sugar [minus the older recipes with agave nectar].
Some nutrients to help are: evening primrose oil and turmeric.
Good luck!

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Heather

My Mom doesn’t have PCOS, but my sister does so there is definitely a family connection. I have been overweight/obese for almost a decade and have never been successful while dieting. Looking back I imagine this was because despite cutting calories I wasn’t eating the healthy whole foods that I should have been. I’m slowly trying to change my eating habits and incorporate the foods you mentioned, and I’ve also recently joined a gym so hopefully I’m on the right track. Thanks for the suggestions about evening primrose oil (never heard of it so I’ll have to look it up!) and turmeric.

I stumbled upon your site just a couple weeks ago and have loved every recipe I’ve seen! I’m excited to start incorporating some of them into my life :)

Thanks again Leanne! Much appreciated!

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Sarah@The Flying ONION

Mmm…this sounds fabulous! I absolutely love stir fries. Especially when they revolve around snap peas. So yummy. :D

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Happy When Not Hungry

This looks so delicious and healthy! Love how tasty that tofu looks too. Yum!

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Jill

Delish

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