Living the veg life, one meal at a time
VVP: Sesame-Mandarin Zoodle Bowl with Chili Lime Tofu
Sprouts & Chocolate: Sesame-Citrus Zoodle Bowl with Chili-Lime Tofu. Vegan and gluten free

Happy December and welcome to another Virtual Vegan Potluck!

I remember participating last year, my first ever vegan community contribution, with much anxiety but what a difference a year can make. Once I received the email from the talented (and wildly patient) host Annie from An Unrefined Vegan about this year’s winter VVP I instantly signed up, loving this round’s feature ingredient: citrus.

Sprouts & Chocolate: Sesame-Citrus Zoodle Bowl with Chili-Lime Tofu. Vegan and gluten free

 Last year for VVP, I lived in a super cramped basement apartment so my photography was almost awful (don’t look really!) unless I wanted to strap on my boots and take everything outside in -30 degrees. Cooking for my site consumed all of my countertop surface every single time. Thankfully Mark and I have moved up and out of the basement into a super cramped above ground apartment but thankfully with a lot of natural light pouring in. The kitchen (almost) always remains covered with post-it notes with recipe ideas, legal paper with ingredients lists and of course, dirty dishes. There are plenty of things to hate about blogging, especially a recipe blog: the recipes that don’t work out that you REALLY wanted them to (my first idea of this year’s VVP was a total bust), the loads of dirty dishes from an unsuccessful recipe and plenty of ho-hum dinners.

Sprouts & Chocolate: Sesame-Citrus Zoodle Bowl with Chili-Lime Tofu. Vegan and gluten free.

Sprouts & Chocolate: Sesame-Citrus Zoodle Bowl with Chili-Lime Tofu. Vegan and gluten free

 This recipe is inspired by a particular ho-hum takeout dinner that I bought a few weeks ago. I was Christmas shopping, sweating profusely in my thick winter coat (I firmly believe malls should have a coat check around the holidays), carrying around heavy bags and insanely hungry. What is it about malls that make me so hungry?? I stopped by a “healthier” food court place, wishing I had packed something in my purse. The description of the order (A vegan citrus-sesame tofu noodle bowl) sounded pretty good, it was gluten-free and my hunger was screaming at me. When I got it however it was not nearly as good as it sounded: a generous amount of overcooked rice noodles, spongy tofu, a few shreds of carrots dressed with a greasy sauce. How did I just pay $9 for this? I am not one to send food back since it is exactly what I ordered but it did take a lot of Sriracha to make this dish remotely edible. This is my vow to never again purchase such crappy takeout.

Sprouts & Chocolate: Sesame-Citrus Zoodle Bowl with Chili-Lime Tofu. Vegan and gluten free

Sprouts & Chocolate: Sesame-Citrus Zoodle Bowl with Chili-Lime Tofu. Vegan and gluten free

 Making food at home does take longer but it is almost crazy how inexpensive it is compared to eating out and I think we could all save a little moolah around this time of year. This bowl is the dish I wish I had on that shopping day: plenty of wholesome raw veggies with a flavourful sesame-citrus sauce. All you need to eat a large bowl of veggies in the winter is a really good sauce. This one is nutty, citrusy and a teeny bit spicy. If you aren’t a fan of spice, feel free to omit the pinch of chili flakes and go easy on the spice for the tofu.

 Citrus being in season adds some vibrancy to these otherwise grey snowy days and I am so glad it was chosen as the feature ingredient. This dish features two citrus fruits: lime and mandarin orange. If you can’t find mandarin oranges, regular oranges work just fine. The vegetables chosen for the bowl can be substituted for whatever you like as well as the zucchini noodles- if you are feeling chilly, you can get them a light steam or replace them with buckwheat noodles (not all buckwheat noodles are gluten-free so check the label).

Sprouts & Chocolate: Sesame-Citrus Zoodle Bowl with Chili-Lime Tofu. Vegan and gluten free

 Now I am going to make myself a huge mug of tea to sit down and read all of the blog posts and citrus recipes for this year’s VVP. A big thanks to Annie for hosting as well as the mentors for this event: Poppy, Keely, Angela and Sarah. When I first starting blogging, I thought it was mostly competitive but I quickly realized it is about community, support and events like these to bring bloggers together and be inspired by one another.

Sesame-Mandarin Zoodle Bowl with Chili Lime Tofu
Serves 2
You will want to eat a large bowl of raw vegetables in the winter with this citrusy dressing. This recipe is vegan, gluten free and mostly raw. Serves 2 large servings.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Citrus Dressing
  1. ¼ cup mandarin orange juice
  2. 2 tablespoons lime juice
  3. 1 tablespoon white miso
  4. 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  5. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  6. 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  7. Pinch of red chili flakes
Chili-Lime Tofu
  1. ½ block of extra firm organic tofu, pressed and dried
  2. 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  3. Juice from ½ of a lime
  4. 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
  5. ½ - 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (depending on how much heat you like)
  1. 1-2 zucchinis, spiraled or cut into thin strips
  2. 1 red, orange, yellow or combination, cut into matchsticks
  3. ½ small head of red cabbage, shredded or cut fine
  4. 1 head of broccoli, florets cut off the stem
  5. 1 teaspoons white or black sesame seeds (or a combination of both)
  6. 1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onions
  7. Parsley or cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
For the Dressing
  1. Add all the dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until the oil is fully emulsified and incorporated.
For the Chile-Lime Tofu
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line the sheet with parchment paper. Cube the tofu into a large dice. Whisk the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl and toss the tofu to coat. Transfer to the lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time.
For the Bowl
  1. In the meantime, prep your vegetables and give the broccoli a light steam or keep it raw if you prefer. Divide the zoodles between two bowls and add the rest of the veggies to the bowls. Top with baked tofu and drizzle on the dressing. Top with sesame seeds, green onions and parsley or cilantro if you like. Serve!
Sprouts and Chocolate

 To check out the next blog, click on the icon below. Girl Eats Greens is next up on the VVP blog trail! Happy eating :)


 To go back to the previous blog, click on the icon below. Art, Health, & Happiness is showing the citrus some love!

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21 Thoughts on VVP: Sesame-Mandarin Zoodle Bowl with Chili Lime Tofu
  1. This looks so yummy, love those colours! Thanks for bringing it to the potluck :)

  2. Willow Moon says:

    Your recipe not only looks beautiful, it sounds tempting as well. I am definitely going to make this recipe!

  3. rika says:

    Nice to see you on VVP, Jessica! Darn this bowl (and chili lime tofu, miam miam) looks gorgeous, including your photography! :)

    ★ HAPPY VVP ★

  4. I agree.. this is the prettiest dish ! looks at those perfectly cubed tofu!

  5. I think this is one of the prettiest dishes so far in the potluck! Looks incredibly delicious too!

  6. Marfigs says:

    Mmmm love the look of this beautiful bowl with the different layers of textures and tastes – yum!

  7. Lovlie says:

    I hear you about living in a basement flat when you are a food blogger. A couple of years ago when I had first arrived in Canada, I went for the cheapest basement flat I could find. Nothing it more discouraging after you’ve made a nice dish and the photos turn out crap. But now I am in a apartment with plenty of light.
    I can never find tasty vegan meals at food courts. Every time I eat in the malls is just because I was starving!
    I love your vegetable bowl here. And mandarin with tofu sounds delicious!

    1. Hahaha right? It was the worst. I have yet to find a truly decent meal in a food court. It may be impossible so I have just given up entirely. Why must my hunger get the best of me??

  8. This looks amazing! I definitely want to pour that dressing over a big bowl of veggies!

  9. This sounds delicious!! Chili lime is one of my favorite flavors!

    1. It is a new favourite for me! I mean, I have had other peppers with lime juice but I never thought red chilli flakes. I always thought they were exclusively used for Italian food. You know the shakers of red chills and salty parm cheese you find at chain restaurants? So naturally I thought they only went on pizza and pasta. Glad I was wrong!

  10. Annie says:

    SHOWSTOPPIN’ photos!! Just luscious. Thanks for sharing at the Potluck.

    But I am chuckling at the idea that I’m patient :-P!

    1. Hahahaha!! Well in emails you are! Thank you so much again for hosting! It is crazy to look back at last years contribution and see how far I have grown as a person and I am glad for it. It is little milestones like these that make me feel I am doing something worth my while. So thank you!

  11. Well this looks tasty! YUM!!

  12. Dianne says:

    This looks gorgeous, and I’m sure it’s delicious too! I love chile and lime together.

  13. Megan says:

    Oooh, I want to dive right into this tofu bowl!! And the dressing – yum!

  14. Kayse says:

    This is so colorful and looks so very delicious!!

  15. Poppy says:

    That looks so colourful and beautiful!

  16. Liz says:

    Wow! These are such beautiful photos! Definitely adding it to my list to try :)

  17. Emma says:

    Those colours! Such a vibrant, healthy and delicious-looking dish. And I feel you on paying for crappy food. It’s crazy how expensive eating out can be. Even when the food’s good it can be a bit much, but when it’s bad it just makes me angry.
    Definitely going to try out this citrus dressing.

  18. Jenn says:

    This just made me so hungry! Looks amazing!