Harvest bowl. Acai bowl. Buddha bowl. Nourish bowl. Our Instagram feeds are full of colorful and trendy meals in bowls. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners in bowl form seem to have taken the plant-based culinary world by storm. These eye-catching and intricate-looking meals present an aspirational picture, but how nutritious is this trend?
For example, many beautiful smoothie bowls contain a lot of added sugar, making them more of a treat than a staple food. This article will focus on the savory side. We’ll answer the question “what is a buddha bowl”, and suggest how to build nutritious and appealing meals to enjoy daily.
What Is a Buddha Bowl?
A buddha bowl is a balanced and delicious plant-based meal with almost endless varieties.
It’s unclear where the name first came from. However, there are a few theories that attempt to explain the connection between your lunch and “the enlightened one.”
Some theorize that the name “buddha bowl” goes way back to the diet of ancient monks in Southeast Asia. Monks were encouraged to eat whatever was offered to them and often collected food in large bowls. Offerings were given by neighbours, and monks ate the resulting hodgepodge of donations out of their bowls.
Our insta-worthy buddha bowls tend to resemble these hodgepodges. They often start with a simple grain base and are topped with everything from leafy greens to purple sweet potato to pumpkin seeds.
Or, perhaps it is named this way because a good buddha bowl is balanced, and maintaining balance is a core principle of Buddhism.
Regardless of where the name came “buddha bowl” comes from, the concept of balance is important in building your healthy bowl. In order to nourish your body and feel satisfied, aim to balance your bowl with sources of fiber, protein, fat, and flavor.
Base: High Fiber Starch
Fill the base of your bowl with your favorite high fiber grains or starchy vegetables. This step is important to keep you feeling satisfied until your next meal or snack.
Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and barley contain carbohydrates, a source of energy to fuel your body. The fiber in these foods slows their digestion, giving you a steady stream of energy rather than a blood sugar spike and crash. This slow digestion will also help you to physically feel more full and satisfied.
Not interested in grains as a base? Try diced and roasted white, red or sweet potatoes with the skin on. This will give your bowl a boost of color and texture as well as satisfying fiber and carbohydrates.
There is a wealth of nutritious plant-based protein options for your buddha bowl. Try something from the soy family for a high protein choice. Tempeh, tofu, and edamame are all high protein and high iron plant-based options.
Tofu and tempeh can be marinated and then grilled, baked, sauteed or crumbled into your bowl. Enjoy fresh, steamed edamame or simply thaw frozen edamame beans for a convenient buddha bowl ingredient.
For an extra fiber boost as well as protein, add some legumes to your buddha bowl. Choose from a variety of colors, textures, and flavors with anything from red lentils and black beans to white beans and chickpeas. For convenience, try any of the above legumes from a can. Simply rinse and add to the bowl. Canned legumes will provide an earthy, yet otherwise fairly neutral taste for your buddha bowl. For extra flavor and crunch, try seasoned and oven-roasted chickpeas as a topper.
A healthy dose of fat in your buddha bowl is necessary for absorbing vitamins and boosting flavor and satiety. For heart-healthy fats and a satisfying crunch, top your buddha bowl with a handful of chopped nuts or seeds. Try raw or toasted walnuts, almonds or pumpkin seeds.
Avocado is also a great source of healthy fat, B vitamins and vitamins C and E. Add half of a diced or mashed avocado to your bowl.
You can also make a salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil and your favorite vinegar or citrus juice. Olive oil adds a rich flavor and antioxidants along with heart-healthy fats.
Keep in mind that healthy fats are a delicious and valuable part of our diet. Look to include one to two tablespoons or so of healthy fats in your buddha bowl to carry flavor and keep you feeling full.
You can really customize your buddha bowl with any flavor you like. Try sliced jalapenos, lime and cilantro for a green and spicy Mexican inspired dish.
Go with kimchi or pickled vegetables for a sour and acidic hit.
Drizzle tahini sauce, za’atar seasoning and chopped parsley for a Middle Eastern vibe.
Craving Italian flavors? Top your bowl with fresh basil, balsamic vinegar and diced or sun-dried tomatoes.
Julienned or ribboned vegetables add beautiful color to your buddha bowl. Try thinly sliced purple cabbage or radishes, or ribboned carrots, cucumber or zucchini to add a rainbow of color. Get in your leafy greens with some fresh spinach, kale or arugula. Black or white sesame seeds also provide a hit of contrasting color and crunch.
See the table below for all of our ingredient suggestions in one place!
|BUILD YOUR BUDDHA BOWL|
|Base: choose from|
rice, quinoa, barley, bulgur, potato, sweet potato
|Protein: choose 1-3|
Tofu, tempeh, edamame, textured vegetable protein, seitan
Chickpeas, lentils, black beans, white beans, kidney beans
|Fat: choose 1-2|
Walnuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews
Olive oil, avocado oil, hemp oil
|Flavor: choose a combo|
Tahini, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, zaatar
Hummus, olives, sun-dried tomatoes
Jalapenos, lime, cilantro
Pickled vegetables or kimchi
Basil, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, garlic
Teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, pickled ginger
|Color: choose unlimited|
Julienned or ribboned: carrots, cabbage, cucumber, zucchini
Greens: spinach, kale, arugula, spring mix, lettuce
Which combo is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
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