If you follow me on Instagram, or know me in real life, then it wont come as a surprise to you that I love food that is colourful and/or comes in a ‘bowl’. It’s also recently become my mum’s not so secret ambition to count how many different foods I can pile into one meal, mocking me as I add the 17th form of vegetable to my plate.
The whole idea of ‘burrito bowls, veggie bowls, rainbow bowls’, has become pretty popular on the social media health buzz lately. But let’s be real here, things do become popular for a reason. For those of you who aren’t aware, bowl meals are essentially an easy way to create a meal that’s varied, nice to look at, and affordable. Meanwhile, they are also incredibly balanced and nutritious.
One of the many bonuses to creating your favourite bowl, is the beauty of constructing them. Not only are you probably thinking about what it’s going to look like, and whats appealing, but also what is going to give you beneficial nutrients and balance within your meal. In short, it’s vital that you get protein, fat and carbs within your meal times, and below are my essential tips to creating your perfect bowl.
Step one is to start by selecting your veggies.
Most of my bowls generally develop on some form of leafy greens, but that’s not to say that your veggies can’t be steamed or baked either. It’s really easy to batch prepare steamed or roasted veggies, meaning that throughout the week, you can use them in pretty much any meal. Some of my faves are below.
V: Broccoli, Zucchini, Beans, Carrots, Tomato, Celery Sticks, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Beetroot
LV: Spinach, Lettuce, Kale, Bean Sprouts
Next select your form of carbohydrate. DON’T AVOID CARBOHYDRATES.
Avoiding carbohydrates will get you no where. Sometimes i think it helps to think of carbs as the powerhouse food of your meal, (yes I am bringing back the year nine science terms). As a personal preference, I always include sweet potato as an add-in, but aside from that, some options of both complex and non-complex carbohydrates are listed below.
CC: Quinoa, Brown Rice, Millet, Amaranth, Sweet Potato, Beans or Lentils.
C: Potatoes, White Rice, Noodles (Soya/Vermicelli/Udon), Toasted Bread (cut into croutons).
Step three of your bowl creation comes in selecting your protein source.
A great bowl has to have protein, which is beneficial for tissue repair within our muscles, healthy hair and nails, maintaining your hunger cues, and countless other processes in your wonderful body. Generally your protein source will be dependent on your diet type, but some options for protein are listed below to choose from.
Non Meat P: Kidney Beans, Lentils, Quinoa, Tofu, Chickpeas, Hummus, Veggie Fritters
P: Chicken Strips, Mince, Pork, Beef, Fish, Seafood (such as prawns or mussels).
Step four is the addition of healthy fats.
Like carbohydrates, healthy fats should not be avoided. Just like any other macronutrients in our body, fat keeps our energy sustained. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats regulate insulin levels in the body, lower cholesterol, and ensure we have healthy skin, hair and nails. Don’t think of this as eating ‘fat’, but rather adding vital nutrients to your meal. Some of my favourite ways to do so are below.
F: Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Sesame Seeds, Hummus, Avocado, Tahini, Feta, Pine nuts, Brazil Nuts, Cashew or Almond Butter.
The final step of your bowl creation is finding a nice dressing or sauce, and adding crunch.
This literally makes your meal ten times better, and the addition of crunch or some funky seeds will add some much-needed texture. Experiment with what you personally love and create yummy combos, but or those with lack of inspiration, some of my favourite sauces and crunchy bits are below.
S: Tahini Paste, Miso Dressing, Balsamic Vinegar, Pumpkin Seed Almond Butter, Dijon, Chunky Tomato Sauce, Sriracha, Soy or Tamari.
C: Sunflower Seeds, Raw Quinoa, Cashews, Pistachios, Homemade Dukkha, Fresh Coriander, Mint, Basil, Roasted Chickpeas, Raw Ginger.
Most important step: INCLUDE ALL YOUR PERSONAL FAVOURITES.
Individualise your lunch/dinner bowl and make it your own!! Utilise any leftovers in your fridge from last nights dinner, and if you know you love roasted pumpkin in your bowl, then make a large batch and store it for weekly use. Roast veggies, buy bulk veggies and freeze them, even prepare you meat into portions to reduce your time spent cooking. The opportunities are endless with a meal like this, but take a your time and trial and error some combos.
Enjoy and be playful,