Everything tastes better in a bowl — or so it seems. Gone are the days where bowls are solely reserved for morning cereal or late-night ice cream. Presently, it is all about BYOB. Where this acronym once insinuated the ability to tote your own beverages, it now suggests a whole new meaning that seems to be featured on every “healthy” menu — the “Build Your Own Bowl” feature.
In a social media culture, where instant gratification and aesthetically pleasing dishes seem to rule the foodie world, it’s no wonder this trend of “Bowl Food” (the name Instagram has deemed the craze) has been on the rise. But why?
Well for starters, they are incredibly beautiful to look at, both in person and on Instagram. Bowls have become a bit of a creative culinary outlet for restaurant patrons, home cooks, and chefs alike. The goal is to allow the combination of different colors, textures, and tastes to complement one dish.
From a more nutritious standpoint, bowls are a healthy way for people to get all of their vegetables, grains, and protein packed into one meal and one dish. Bowls also lend themselves to any type of cuisine, making them a comfort food option for just about anyone. This trend far extends past America’s borders; in fact, it seems we are the last to jump on board. From Hawaiian poke bowls to Brazilian acai bowls to Chinese ramen bowls, this multicultural “style” of eating continues to make waves all over the world.
Ready to dive into the bowl world but not sure where to start? Use any of the Tasty as Fit recipes below to create a distinct cultural foodie experience! Additionally, they are surprisingly perfect sides for Thanksgiving. Every single dish is plant-based, gluten-free, and chock full of heart-healthy vegetables, grains, and greens. An added bonus? One bowl = easy cleanup!
Grecian Goddess Bowl
A few words accurately sum up the Mediterranean diet: fresh, simple, and delicious. Thankfully, this bowl hits all three, but that’s not all it achieves. On a lazy Sunday, when your body is craving some TLC but also can’t be bothered with any hassle, this bowl will be sure to hit the spot. And don’t worry if you don’t have time for everything in the bowl — this tabbouleh is an absolute star on its own!
1 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 large bunch fresh parsley, finely diced (about 1.5 cups)
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 large red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved or diced
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Bowl Additions: sliced cucumber, Kalamata olives
Mediterranean Roasted Chickpeas
(Half this recipe, if desired.)
2 cans organic chickpeas
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
A few shakes cayenne pepper
1.5 cup cashews, soaked overnight (should be about 2 cups once
3/4 cup water (plus more to thin)
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cucumber, grated skin on (see instructions below)
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, (plus more to taste)
Toppers: extra grated lemon zest and dash olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain, rinse, and pat dry chickpeas. In a large bowl, drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil plus all your spices. Mix well. Add to baking sheet, spreading out to allow them to get crispy. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring about halfway through. Once they turn golden brown and are hard to the touch, remove chickpeas from oven and let cool. They will continue to crisp.
While the chickpeas are cooking, prepare the tabbouleh. Add your diced parsley, onion, tomatoes, red pepper, and cooked quinoa into a large mixing bowl. Mix well. In a small dressing jar or container, mix olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt. Whisk dressing, taste, and then adjust seasonings if necessary. Add dressing to tabbouleh and massage into salad for a few minutes. Place in the fridge to marinate while preparing the tzatziki.
Drain your cashews and add to blender. Add lemon juice, water, garlic, olive oil, and sea salt. Blend until completely creamy and thick. If more water is necessary, add 1 tablespoon at a time until you achieve a thick but creamy consistency. Avoid making it overly thin.
Grate cucumber into a fine strain mesh bag or into a cotton dish rag. Squeeze out all excess water, which should yield about 1/3 cup.
Pour the sauce into a large mixing bowl. Stir in chopped dill and cucumber. After well mixed, taste and adjust. I usually add a tad more salt and lemon. Grate a little lemon zest and drizzle of olive oil to top.
To assemble your bowl, add 1 cup tabbouleh, 1/4 cup chickpeas, sliced cucumber, and 1/4 cup olives. Scoop a dollop of tzatziki on top and enjoy!
Thai Fried Rice Bowl
Using rice that has already been cooked, cooled, and chilled in the refrigerator helps to give that fluffy and crispy factor to the rice and not a sticky/mushy factor that sometimes “just cooked” rice can have; however, it is not essential to the flavor. Also, liquid aminos has a more unami flavor than tamari, and it helps to give the fried rice a traditional flavor. However, tamari is fine, too.
About 4 cups brown rice (yielded from 1 cup dried brown rice that has been made and chilled in refrigerator)
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled, large diced
1 large red pepper, large diced
2 cups shitake mushrooms, rough chopped
3 inches of knob fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more to accommodate preferred spice
2 tablespoons liquid aminos (or more tamari )
1.5 tablespoons low sodium tamari
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
3 cups broccoli florets
1 cup frozen peas
Handful fresh basil, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt (to preference)
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
In a large Dutch oven or deep pan/wok, add toasted sesame oil and warm to medium heat. When the oil is simmering, add the onion. Stir for a minute and add carrots and peppers. Saute another 3 to 4 minutes and add the mushrooms, sauteing another few minutes.
Add your garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and stir. Continue sauteing a few minutes more. As you continue stirring, add in 2 tablespoons liquid aminos (or tamari) and coconut sugar.
Once all is stirred thoroughly, add the rice. I used a non-stick pan, but if you have trouble with sticking, add a dash of water.
Add in your broccoli and peas, stirring to incorporate into the mixture. After 3 to 4 minutes, add remaining tamari and sea salt. Stir in. I like to turn up the heat for only a few minutes and let the rice crisp up a bit. When desired texture is achieved, turn off heat.
Squeeze 1/2 lime, top with chopped basil, and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings. To each bowl add sesame seeds, spring onion, toasted cashews, drizzle of Sriracha, and extra lime. Makes 3 to 4 bowls.
Protein Power Bowl
1 cup dry green lentils
1 cup dry short grain brown rice or quinoa
1 cucumber, chopped
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can organic chickpeas, rinsed and pat dried
1 cup alfalfa sprouts
1/2 cup green onions, diced
6 to 8 cups romaine, finely chopped
1/4 cup hemp seeds (for sprinkling)
Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (recipe below)
Optional: 1 avocado, sliced
Use desired amount of greens as base. Section out the following ingredients over the top of your lettuce: 1/3 cup of cooked lentils, 1/4 cup of chickpeas, 1/3 cup tomatoes, 1/3 cup cucumbers, and 1/4 to 1/3 cup chickpeas. Scoop 1/3 cup brown rice into the middle of the salad and sprinkle with desired amount of hemp seeds and green onions. Repeat for remaining Power Bowls. When ready to eat, drizzle with desired amount of dressing. Makes 3 to 4 individual salads or one large serving salad.
Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon raw honey, optional
1/4 teaspoon sea salt to start, add more to taste
A pinch of pepper
Whisk vinegar, Dijon mustard, and honey together in a large jar or bowl. Slowly stir in your oil. Season with salt and pepper, taste, and then adjust. Store at room temperature for up to a week in a sealed container.
Curry Noodles Bowl
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
1/2 large sweet onion, diced (use other half in the sauce recipe below)
1 tablespoon grated ginger (grated from fresh peeled ginger root)
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 cup cremini or shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 broccoli crown, chopped into florets
1/2 cup frozen peas or edamame
1/2 cup green onion, sliced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced (preference)
1 can full-fat coconut milk
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
2-3 large zucchinis, spiralized
1 pack brown rice spaghetti noodles
I use 1/2 pack brown rice spaghetti and 1 spiralized zucchini for a combo.
1- 2 teaspoons Sriracha
1/2 to 1 small lime, juiced
Sea salt to taste
If you are using brown rice noodles, go ahead and boil your water. If using zucchini noodles, get them ready so they are easy to add in.
In a small sauce pot, add toasted sesame oil over low-medium heat. Once oil warms, add in half of diced onion. Saute onion 4 to 5 minutes or until translucent. Add in minced garlic and saute another 2 minutes. Add in the rest of the sauce ingredients, and stir until well combined. Stir occasionally while bringing sauce to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer. Keep heat on low until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.
If cooking pasta, go ahead and add to the boiling water. Drain the pasta when noodles are slightly al dente. Set aside.
In a large, deep saute pan add a dash olive oil or toasted sesame oil. Add the other half of the diced sweet onion. After two minutes, add in ginger and saute a minute more. Add the rest of the vegetables into the saute pan (except green onion) and continue to saute until fork tender.
Now pour roughly two cups of the sauce into the saute pan over the veggies. Stir in peas/ edamame and allow the vegetables to simmer in the sauce for a minute or two. Stir in your Sriracha, if using.
Add in noodles (zucchini noodles, kelp noodles, or brown rice noodles.) Using tongs or a large fork, work the noodles into the mixture. Add in extra sauce based on preference. Allow the noodles to simmer in the sauce for a few minutes.
Add in salt based on preference, and stir through. I like adding a few pinches of pink Himalayan sea salt. Turn off burner; stir in 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Top with green onions.
Additional toppers: sesame seeds, extra lime wedges, and/or Sriracha when serving.
Enjoy immediately! Makes 3 to 4 large bowls. Leftovers will save for two to three days in a sealed tight container.