How to Build a Perfect Bowl

I'll get the occasional question about how to add more plant-based foods into the diet. My answer is always this: keep it simple! For breakfast I have fruit, porridge or a smoothie and for lunch or dinner I'll have some variation of a bowl built the way I describe in this post. The real trick to getting in those healthy, plant-based foods into your diet is to keep the foods that serve your body and that you enjoy on hand and prepped how you like them.   When I am truly on top of my game, I will meal prep several of these bowls at once so that I can easily grab a colorful, nutritionally dense, and super satisfying meal whenever I need it throughout the week.   

Call it a buddha bowl, a nourish bowl or the holy grail of beyonce bowl... whatever you want to call it, bowls like this are the shit.  Thinking of your meals and nutrition in terms of building a bowl is fun, easy, efficient, and comforting.  It's fun because you can mix and match and play with ingredients while following an easy checklist.  It's easy because you have the foundation written here for what you should put in your bowl, all you have to do is choose what type of each component you want to make each week to put in your bowl.  It's efficient because you can take an hour to make large batches of each component (I like to do this on a Sunday!) and then either portion it out into containers for each day, or keep them in larger separate containers and spoon out how much you want when you need it. It's comforting because you get a variety of colors, textures, macronutrients, micronutrients, and flavors every time you build a bowl  - leaving you feeling happy, full, and nourished :) You can even choose themes when you're preparing your bowl, choosing flavors inspired by Mexican cuisine, Indian cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisine, etc.! 


Without further ado, here's how you can build a perfect bowl:

>> Whole Grains: I prefer pseudo-grains like wild rice, amaranth, quinoa, millet, or buckwheat, but you could also do rice noodles, sorghum, brown or red rice, faro, etc.   Google the grain:water ratio for what you choose and cook up a big batch.  The dietary fiber aids in keeping things moving and when certain grains like rice are combined with legumes it can be a perfect plant-based source of essential amino acids. Rice cookers that keep grains warm for a few days are revolutionary because you will always have exactly what you need cooked and on hand.

>> Legumes: Beans & lentils! I prefer dried to canned for digestive and environmental reasons. Always soak dried beans prior to cooking. Cook them down with your favorite herbs and spices.  Blend them up sometimes like refried beans to switch up texture.  Tofu or tempeh are also great ways to get in legume-based protein and to add variety to your bowl, but make sure you always buy organic or non-gmo soy products!

>> Leafy Greens: spinach, kale, arugula, salad greens. Eat them abundantly. Such a good source of vitamin c, magnesium,  potassium, and the darker ones can give you a boost of iron. Cook them or add them raw. 

>> Something Fermented: I am a fiend for purple sauerkraut and it's so easy to make. Adding living foods to your bowl will aid in digestion and help build healthy gut flora.  Kimchi or fermented veggies are some other options.

>> Something Raw:  to add color, texture, and special digestive enzymes.  My favorite options are multi-colored bell peppers, avocado, and cucumbers. 

>> Your Favorite Veg: I like broccoli, sweet potatoes, green beans, or mushrooms.  Sautee them in a quality oil, steam them,  roast them, or lightly blanch them.

>> Sauce: great sauces can help in delivering some healthy fats and adding flavor! My favorite is a bit of tahini with miso, lemon juice, and water.  I ad alls of this in a jar and shake it, then adjust each ingredient until it's to my liking. I think blending up a few sauces (or dips like hummus!) to keep in your fridge is v helpful. Experiment with ingredients like nuts, seeds, avocado,  sundried tomatoes, maple syrup... the possibilities are endless. Opt out of store bought ones which can be loaded with salt,  sugar,  poor quality fats, and preservatives.

>> Roasted seaweed: like nori or those super yummy seaweed snacks. You can use it to scoop up the ingredients  and it'll give you iodine which can help your thyroid and even reduce your risk of breast cancer.

>> Toppings: I always top with hemp, pumpkin, or sesame seeds, nutritional yeast that's fortified with b12, and micros or sprouts.

So there you have it!   An extremely customizable,  nutrient dense, whole-food, plant-based meal that you can prep up each week, eat regularly, and feel nourished every time.   

Karley RayComment