Build a Better Grain Bowl

Grain bowls are our go-to solution for a quick, healthy and satisfying vegetarian meal on busy weeknights. Depending on what you have on hand (and how much you planned ahead), you can throw in just a handful of ingredients or the whole, ahem, kitchen sink.

photo credit: dailyburn.com

photo credit: dailyburn.com

Not only is this one-dish meal an easy way to incorporate more whole grains and veggies into your diet, it’s also a great way to use up all those greens you bought at the farmer’s market before they go bad. Follow our flexible template for building a better grain bowl that’s irresistibly good.

Ingredients: Grain + Vegetables + Protein + Boosters + Sauce

Grain

Whole grains are a filling, chewy and delicious complement to vegetables. And because they’re a healthy source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, you’ll feel full longer. We like to cook a big batch of grains ahead of time and store in the fridge -- they’ll keep for up to a week. Try one of these grains:

  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Spelt
  • Brown Rice
  • Bulgur
  • Barley
  • Wheat Berries
  • Farro

Vegetables

Don’t be shy: pile on the vegetables and let these superstars be the bulk of your bowl. You can use a single vegetable or a colorful variety -- whatever you have in the fridge. Let the season guide your choices in the produce aisle. Here are few ideas:

  • Greens (kale, spinach, arugula, romaine, watercress, etc.)

  • Root vegetables (sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, etc.)

  • Broccoli and/or cauliflower

  • Onions and/or scallions

  • Summer squash and/or zucchini

  • Cabbage

  • Sweet Peppers

  • Onion

Protein

The combination of a whole grain and legumes, nuts or seeds creates a complete vegetarian source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids your body needs all in one meal. (Soy, such as tofu or tempeh, is the one plant protein that contains all the essential amino acids.) So get to know your plant-protein options -- they’re more plentiful than you think:

  • Tofu or Tempeh (marinated, baked, grilled or steamed)

  • Legumes (peanuts, peas, beans and lentils)

  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc.)

  • Seeds (flax, hemp, chia, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds)

  • Hummus

Boosters

These extra garnishes add a boost of color, texture and flavor along with their own healthful benefits. Try a combination that suits your palate:  

  • Fresh herbs (cilantro or basil)

  • Dried fruit (raisins, currants and cranberries)

  • Seeds (seeds get double billing as a protein and a healthy fat booster)

  • Avocado

  • Grated carrot

  • Celery

  • Cucumber

  • Scallions

  • Sprouts

Sauce

A grain bowl just isn’t complete without a hearty sauce to drizzle on top. You can make it ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator all week to use as a salad dressing or dip. Here are a few recipes worth trying:

Instructions

Now that you’ve got the essentials down, you’re ready to go. Prepare your grains, whip up the sauce and cut up your vegetables into uniform sizes. If you’re using tofu or tempeh, toss it together with the vegetables and lightly saute or steam until everything is just cooked. Assemble in layers and serve. Enjoy!   

 

Posted on July 22, 2014 .