The bowls… they are so trendy these days and for good reason! This is a healthy option that can have beneficial effects on your waistline and wallet. Truth be told, bowls of grain are amazing meals that are easy to eat whether at home during a Netflix marathon viewing session or at the office at dinner time under the admiring gaze of your colleagues.
The bowls can be assembled on site with everyday ingredients or made in advance. When it comes to grain bowl combinations, the possibilities are endless. To get started, get inspired by classic flavor pairings. Bowls are also a fun way to try ingredients that are less familiar to you and unique blends. Browse the international section of the grocery store to find new grains and condiments or switch to the local deli meats to discover new pickled cheeses and vegetables to use as a topping. Also, don’t forget about bulk food stores that offer an infinite or almost infinite variety of nuts and seeds at a good price.
How can grain bowls become a healthy meal on their own?
Grain bowls are, at their essence, healthy meals. They are basically the same concept as a TV Dinner, but in a bowl, and with the current standards of a healthy diet in mind. They contain all the components — healthy carbs, protein, and vegetables.
must-have ingredients if you want to whip up one of your whole-grains bowls
Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, and farro make a good grain bowl starter kit, but millet has also won me over most recently.
Vegetables: Whatever you like, and ideally whatever’s in season. You’ll find a bowl in my book to use them in.
Eggs: Farm-fresh eggs are worth their weight for the golden color of the yolks alone. And then there’s how they taste.
Frozen shrimp: I keep a bag of frozen shrimp on hand when I want to make a quick, flavorful meal. I use them all the time to make the Baja BBQ Shrimp Bowl, one of my all-time favorite quick-and-easy grain bowls.
Nuts and seeds: Roasted and salted cashews, sunflower seeds, and peanuts can add just the salt and crunch and richness you need to take a bowl next level.
Leftovers: That little bit of salmon or steak that you were almost too embarrassed to ask for a to-go-bag, can be the start of a beautiful, last-minute burrito bowl.
Delicious grain bowl combos
If you’re looking for some culinary inspiration, these ideas are a tasty starting point.
Simple and tasty bowl for breakfast: Brown rice + poached egg + steamed leafy vegetables + sesame + soy sauce
Coconut bowl with sweet berries: Amaranth + Greek yogurt + blueberries + sunflower seeds and grated and toasted coconut + honey
Bowl with hot sauce: Quinoa + cooked black beans + roasted zucchini and red pepper in slices + sliced avocado and grated cheddar cheese + sauce
Mediterranean chickpea bowl: Whole wheat couscous + cooked chickpeas + sliced cherry tomato and cucumber + chopped olives and pickles + tahini sauce
Farm bowl: Wheat grains + shredded chicken + roasted broccoli and sweet potato wedges + chopped nuts and dried blueberries + apple cider vinaigrette
To create a bowl of grains that leaves you satisfied, the important thing is to mix the ingredients you love. Whether you try one of the suggested combinations or design your own, there’s no right or wrong way to prepare a delicious grain-based meal that makes you feel full during the winter months.
Do not pre-build bowls
Outside of preparing meals with vegetables and protein, don’t pre-build bowls before dinner starts. Instead, you’ll want to place empty containers (or place the cooked grains in the container) and let each person take their own portions.
You may need to guide younger children to balance their selections with a little more variety, but we’ve noticed that choice presentation encourages older ones to eat more balanced meals.
Also, when the flavor resides in the dressing, it’s much easier to integrate (and hide) everything and anything.
Mediterranean Grain Bowl Ideas
Ancient grains, roasted salmon, avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and fresh mozzarella with a light lemon dressing.
Prepare quinoa (or other ancient grain) according to package directions. Allow it to cool.
Preheat the oven to a low broil.
Place salmon on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Place under the broiler and cook 5-7 minutes, until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To assemble bowls, spoon Kamut or other ancient grain into 4 bowls. Place salmon and chunks of feta on top of the quinoa. Arrange cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, Kalamata olives, and red onion on top of cheeses.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, zest and juice of a lemon, and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Drizzle dressing over each bowl and top with fresh basil leaves and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and oregano, and an additional pinch of salt and black pepper.