DIY Soul Bowl by Vegan Chow Down

Native Foods is one of my favorite vegan restaurants!  My boyfriend Justin and I dine there quite often and it’s one of my go-to places when I don’t feel like cooking. Justin’s favorite dish at Native Foods is the Soul Bowl.  One night I examined what all was in this bowl and realized this was something I could totally try to make at home! Which is exactly what I have done and it got a 2 thumbs up from Justin.  I make it pretty often now since it’s a great way to get all those veggies into our diets!  It’s an extra plus that I am able to re-create the Soul Bowl at home because they remove it from the menu at certain locations throughout the year.

DIY Soul Bowl by Vegan Chow Down

The major pro of getting this dish from Native Foods is that it is fast and you have to do zero prep work!  This dish involve a lot of veggies which means a decent amount of time needed to wash, cut, and cook it all.  Sometimes it can also be hard to get the right amount of each ingredient depending on what you can find at the grocery store or farmer’s market; I am sure when Native Foods makes it they don’t end up with a bunch of leftover cabbage or something :).

The major pro of making this dish at home is you can customize it how you want and make it with your favorite veggies and beans / legumes as well as use different seasonal produce.  The other pro to me is that I always feel like I accomplished a lot when I make this– maybe I feel this way because  I am able to replicate a restaurant dish or that I cooked up ALL these veggies!  Even though I mentioned the amount of prep work, the technique (steaming) can easily be done at home.

DIY Soul Bowl by Vegan Chow Down

Whether you want to try it at the restaurant or try it at home, either way this is a great dish packed with all kinds of good stuff — leafy greens and a variety of fresh veggies, beans for protein, and “chicken” fingers for some crunch.

A note about steamers:
It is super easy to steam vegetables at home!  I personally love and use this Happycall Double Sided Pressure Pan or you can use a regular pot with one of these collapsible steamers or invest in a pot that is designed for steaming.  It’s a healthy and quick way to cook your vegetables so it’s definitely worth investing of these items if you have not already.  Another really simple way to create a steamer is to use a pan with a lid- just fill the pot about 1/4 way with water, put your veggies in, and cover to cook.

A note about ingredients: 
Feel free to use your favorite vegetables, grains, and beans and change it up!  Try this dish with different vegetables that are in season, use couscous or quinoa instead of rice, and try black beans, butter beans, or navy beans.

You can also make everything from scratch- the grains and the beans.  I like using the ready made rice and canned beans just to help save time.  (I used to think there is no way this packaged cooked brown rice can be good, but after you heat it up and add water to refresh it, it is totally good and so easy to use!)

A note about the directions for cooking:
Depending on how you like to cook and what type of steamer you are using / how much it will fit, you can approach this recipe two ways: prep all ingredients first and have everything be ready to cook or prep and cook along the way.  Because my steamer is smaller and I like to steam certain items together and others separate from keeping them from getting too soggy or too raw, I usually start some things and while prepping other items at the same time.  I also do this to make sure everything gets finished at about the right time and is warm and ready to serve.

To make these directions more concise and easier to read, it will be based off the first method of prepping all ingredients then cooking.  Take a look then adjust the process to what fits best for you and your kitchen! :)


Total Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: 2 generous portions or 4 small portions



  • 1 package of Trader Joe's cooked brown rice (or about 3 cups of cooked brown rice)
  • 1 can of kidney beans (I only use about 2/3 of a can, save the rest for a salad the next day)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (I only use about 2/3 of a can, you can save this for a salad too!)
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 of a medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 a package of cut and washed kale
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 of a small head of green cabbage, washed and roughly cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 of a medium head of cauliflower, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, washed and cut into half round pieces
  • 1 package of Trader Joe's Vegan Chicken Tenders (I use about 1 package for every 2 people so if you are making this for four I'd pick up an extra bag)
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil for cooking
  • Your choice of BBQ sauce or vegan ranch dressing (I prefer the BBQ sauce)


  1. I like to prepare the rice and chicken tenders first and let those cook/bake while I steam the veggies and cook the kale. Below you will find the instructions for each element. Feel free to cook in the order that works best for you!
  2. Rice & Beans: Place the rice in a pot. Use a wooden spoon to break up the large clumps of rice. Add the kidney beans and chickpeas along with 1/3 - 1/2 cup of water. Give it a quick stir and cover. Cook over low heat making sure to stir once in awhile to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. It is done after the rice has absorbed the water and is soft and the beans are heated through. If the rice finishes before the other items are done, turn off the heat but keep the pot covered to keep the rice warm.
  3. Chicken Tenders: prepare as directed on the bag. Once your chicken fingers have finished cooking, I usually leave them in the oven to keep warm UNLESS they are already super crisp / browned. Then I would remove them from the oven to keep them from overcooking.
  4. Steamed Vegetables: Place veggies in your steamer and cook until desired consistency. I like to group the veggies together that I want to cook to the same done-ness- ie: I like the zucchini and carrots more on the softer side so I put those together and steam the cauliflower separately since I like that crunchier.
  5. Sauteed Kale: Warm a medium pan over low/medium heat. Add a bit of oil, just enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and garlic. Let it cook until the onions begin to turn translucent and the garlic is starting to get a little color. Add the kale and stir. Turn the heat up to medium, add a few TBS of water to make it sizzle, cover with a lid and let it cook for a few minutes. Stir, then let it cook for another minute covered. The kale should be a beautiful bright green.
  6. Plating: Place all your veggies in a large bowl and stir to mix. Plate the rice and beans, followed by a layer of vegetables, and top with the chicken fingers. Serve with the sauce of your choice on the side for dipping.

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