The Mother of all Buddha Bowls
This post isn’t so much a recipe but a guide to what a Buddha Bowl can be and how to make it easier for you to eat healthy. If you are like me you really want to eat healthy not just to get healthy but also because you feel your body craves it. The problem is that life keeps getting in the way. I frequently have to travel for work and even though I usually land at home at the end of the day, I am exhausted after a 12 hour day. I sit there craving a big plate of something healthy but usually you can’t just get that delivered so I end up eating something not so healthy.
This is where Buddha Bowls can be a life saver. With just a little prep and planning you can have healthy meals all week that take very little prep and can be varied enough you never get tired of them.
What is a Buddha Bowl?
Buddha bowls are named for their big, round belly shape. A “Buddha bowl” can mean different things to different people, but let’s define it here as a one-dish meal consisting of rice or whole grains, vegetables, a dressing and protein (by way of beans, tofu, lentils, or in some cases meat or fish). It’s considered clean eating and it incorporates principles of Chinese and Japanese medicine. Popular among vegans, the Buddha bowl is considered an ideal way to eat and is credited with the potential for lowering the risk of chronic diseases. Done properly these bowls are full of whole grains, legumes and chock full of vegetables for a healthier you.
What makes up a Buddha bowl?
Buddha bowls are made of 4 basic things. A grain, whether it be a type of rice or whole grains like quinoa, bulgur, farro or barley. Vegetables make up a big part of the bowl and can be raw or cooked depending on the flavor and texture desired. A protein is another key component but can vary greatly from meat and fish to beans and tofu. What ties the rest together is a sauce which usually is a homemade salad dressing made with with healthy fats and packed with flavor. You can add extra nutritional punch to your bowls by adding seeds and nuts which also add crunch and extras like soft boiled eggs or avocado are also common.
Prepping for your Buddha bowls
You can eat a Buddha bowl for every meal of the day and never eat the same one twice. The flexibility in ingredients and ease of preparation make them the perfect simple meal. You can pick through the list of our suggested ingredients just making sure that you have your 4 key ingredients and then mix and match them to make the meal you are craving at the moment. I suggest prepping all your vegetables, grains and proteins ahead of time so your actual time in the kitchen each day is just a matter of minutes. I can usually take an hour or two out of my weekend and have everything ready for my busy week. This means you roast those carrots and salmon and have them ready to just toss them together when it is time to eat.
Picking a Grain
Your grain and protein selections tends to guide the theme of your bowl. Say you are feeling mediterranean you might want to start with some Basmati rice and add gyro meat or falafels for your protein. Feeling like some Japanese? I suggest some short grain brown rice for your grain and crispy baked teriyaki tofu and edamame for your proteins. The combinations are endless. Here is a list of my suggested grains and themes they match best with.
Picking your Proteins
Your protein choices in a Buddha bowl are what really customize the final product to your tastes. If you are a meat eater you can use any meat, poultry or fish as your protein of choice. If you are a vegetarian or vegan you can choose from a myriad of meatless protein options like beans/legumes, grains like amaranth & quinoa, tofu and meat replacements. I am not vegan but I have never added meat to my bowls just because they just don’t need it to be delicious.
Meat Alternative Proteins –
Textured Vegetable Protein or TVP
Tofu – Crispy Baked Teriyaki Tofu
Pick Your Vegetables
For me the vegetables are the highlight of a Buddha bowl. I love a combination of cooked and raw vegetables for a mix of textures and flavors. I like to roast a sheet pan of vegetables on the weekend so I have selection ready for the beginning of my week. Keep it simple and your stress levels will love you. Since you can use every vegetable and fruit for that matter, I am going to organize them by my suggestions of cooked or raw.
Sugar Snap Peas
Winter Squash – Butternut, Acorn etc.
Cabbage – Red
Cabbage – Green
Cabbage – Nappa
Sprouts – of any type
Sauces to tie your bowl together
Creamy Garlic Salad Dressing
Creamy Sesame Miso Dressing
Ginger Carrot Dressing
Ginger Wasabi Dressing
Greek Salad Dressing
Green Goddess Salad Dressing
House Italian Salad Dressing
Original Green Goddess Salad Dressing
Thai Peanut Salad Dressing
The possibilities are endless and the combinations are not set in stone because we all of different tastes and preferences. Don’t feel like anyone bowl has to be made exactly as in the recipe, instead use it as a suggestion and build it to your tastes and make it your own.
Another Tool in the Healthy you Tool Box
I hope that you find the confidence to try incorporating bowls into your weekday rotation. It doesn’t take talent or experience it just takes you not being afraid of failure. Even trained chefs sometimes burn their vegetables but these recipes are super simple and are a great start for beginners. The new year is about learning new things and it is a perfect time to bring buddha bowl eating into your life!