Sweet & Sour Kale and Chickpea Bowl | Oil-Free

Embarking on a plant-based journey or searching for a delightful recipe that the whole family will savor? Look no further! Today, I’m thrilled to share a scrumptious Sweet and Sour Kale and Chickpea Bowl recipe that not only bursts with flavor but is also rooted in the wholesome principles of whole food plant-based eating.

Introduction to Whole Food Plant-Based Eating

Whole food plant-based (WFPB) eating focuses on natural, minimally processed foods and emphasizes plants as the core ingredients. This approach to eating is not just a diet; it’s a sustainable lifestyle that benefits your health, animal welfare, and the environment. For those new to plant-based or looking to integrate more plant-based recipes into their lives, this recipe is an excellent starting point.

Why a Sweet and Sour Kale and Chickpea Bowl?

This dish is a perfect example of how plant-based recipes can be easy to prepare, nutritious, and enjoyed by the entire family. The combination of kale, chickpeas, and brown rice provides a balanced meal rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, showcasing that healthful eating can also be flavorful and satisfying.

Health Benefits Galore

  • Chickpeas: A fantastic source of plant-based protein and fiber, chickpeas support digestive health and can help in maintaining a healthy weight. They’re also packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, phosphate, and B vitamins.
  • Kale: Known as a superfood, kale is loaded with antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol, which have powerful heart-protective, blood pressure-lowering effects.
  • Brown Rice: A whole grain that’s naturally rich in fiber, brown rice can help in blood sugar regulation and promotes a feeling of fullness. It’s also a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and selenium.
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The Magic of Making a Slurry

One unique aspect of this recipe is creating a slurry with arrowroot powder and water. Arrowroot is a starch extracted from the roots of the arrowroot plant and is an excellent thickener for sauces and soups. The slurry technique helps to evenly distribute the arrowroot powder, preventing clumps and ensuring your sweet and sour sauce reaches the perfect consistency.


Sweet and Sour Kale and Chickpea Bowl | Oil-Free

Sweet and Sour Kale and Chickpea Bowl | Oil-Free

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A vibrant, whole food plant-based dish combining tangy sweet and sour kale and chickpeas over nourishing brown rice, perfect for a family-friendly meal.


  • 4 cups brown rice, cooked (to yield about 4 cups, start with approximately 1⅓ cups of uncooked rice)
  • 4 cups kale leaves, stems removed and torn into pieces
  • 5 fl ozs (about 150 ml) pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water (warm)
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (if using canned, drain and rinse)


Prepare the Brown Rice:

If you haven't already, cook the brown rice according to package instructions to yield about 4 cups of cooked rice. Set aside and keep warm.

Make the Sweet and Sour Sauce:

In a small bowl, whisk together the pineapple juice, maple syrup, rice vinegar, tomato paste, and coconut aminos.

In another small bowl, dissolve the arrowroot powder in 1 1/2 tablespoons of warm water to make a slurry.

Combine the arrowroot slurry with the pineapple juice mixture, whisking until smooth. Set aside.

Cook the Kale and Chickpeas:

In a large skillet or wok, add a splash of water over medium heat. Add the kale and sauté until just wilted, about 2-3 minutes. You may need to add a little more water to prevent sticking.

Add the cooked chickpeas to the skillet with the kale and toss to combine.

Add the Sweet and Sour Sauce:

Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the kale and chickpeas in the skillet. Stir well to ensure the vegetables and chickpeas are evenly coated.

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens, about 5-7 minutes.


Divide the cooked brown rice among bowls. Top each bowl with the sweet and sour kale and chickpea mixture.

Optionally, garnish with additional torn kale, sesame seeds, or a few pineapple chunks for extra sweetness and presentation.


  • Leftovers: Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. This dish tastes even better the next day as the flavors meld together.
  • Serving Suggestion: Each serving is roughly 2 cups, making it a hearty and satisfying meal.
  • Meal Prep Tip: Whip up extra sweet and sour sauce and use it to jazz up meals throughout the week. The sauce can be frozen for up to three months, ready to enliven dishes on demand.
  • Make it Gluten-Free: For a gluten-free option, ensure your tamari is gluten-free, or consider using certified gluten-free brown rice as the base.
  • Boost the Flavor: Enhance the brown rice by cooking it in vegetable broth. Consider adding a pinch of garlic powder or onion powder to the sauce for extra zing.
  • Short on Time? To cut down cooking time, opt for pre-cooked or canned chickpeas and quick-cook brown rice options.
  • Alternative Sweetener: If maple syrup isn’t your thing, try agave nectar or a touch of organic cane sugar to sweeten the sauce.
  • No Coconut Aminos? Tamari or a low-sodium soy sauce makes a great alternative, adding that umami depth to the dish.
  • Thickener Swap: Out of arrowroot powder? Cornstarch or tapioca flour can be used in equal amounts to achieve that perfectly thickened sauce.
  • Substitute for Pineapple Juice: Don't have pineapple juice? Pear juice works wonderfully for a subtly different, yet equally delicious, sweet touch.

These tips ensure that the Sweet & Sour Kale and Chickpea Delight remains a versatile and accessible dish for various dietary needs and preferences, making it a perfect addition to your plant-based recipe collection.

Join Our Rooted Table Meal Planner Membership

If you enjoyed this recipe and are eager to discover more like it, I invite you to check out our Rooted Table Meal Planner Membership. This membership is designed to simplify your plant-based journey, offering a variety of recipes that cater to diverse tastes and dietary needs. From weekly meal plans to grocery lists, the Rooted Table Meal Planner is your companion in making plant-based eating effortless and enjoyable.

Eating whole food plant-based meals is an enriching experience that nourishes your body, mind, and soul. This Sweet and Sour Kale and Chickpea Bowl recipe is just the beginning of what can be a delightful adventure in plant-based cuisine. Whether you’re new to this way of eating or looking for recipes to share with loved ones, remember that every meal is an opportunity to choose health, sustainability, and joy.

Happy cooking, and here’s to many more delicious, plant-based adventures ahead!

Love and greens,

Stephanie Collazo, MS, CHC is the founder of Clean Food Mama, to help you get more plants into your diet. She shed 170 lbs by incorporating a whole foods plant-based diet and loves empowering other women to create healthy habits for themselves and their families.

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