Everything You Need To Know About Buddha Bowls
If you haven't already heard of Buddha Bowls, they are healthy, trendy and delicious heaps of greens, grains, nuts, beans and proteins, packed so full in a giant bowl it begins to resemble the belly of a buddha. Well, at least that's the definition you'll find on UrbanDictionary.com, and strangely the only official definition out there right now.
Above and beyond that, there are no guidelines on what exactly are in them - each are unique and different - and that's the beauty of a Buddha Bowl. The infinite mix of cooked grains, fresh greens, roasted vegetables and nuts are what makes these bowls so good for you; and for your tastebuds. In fact, some of you might already be making buddha bowls of your own, you just didn't know it.
So, if there's one food trend to get on board in 2017, it's this one; and here's my guide to making your own delicious Buddha Bowl.
Step 1 : Cook your grains
Grains are high in fibre, provide healthy carbohydrates, proteins and a host of vitamins and minerals including iron, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. And if you're Asian like me, you would have spent the most part of your young adulthood eating rice at least twice a day (that's more than 15,000 bowls of rice by age 21) until your metabolism just couldn't keep up with all that carbs. What I do to get my daily rice fix is to add a scoop of grains into my Buddha Bowl; whether it's a scoop of brown rice, barley, quinoa or even leftover briyani rice, it's a great way to trick your brain into satisfaction, without actually eating all that carbs - works every time!
The first step in building your hearty Buddha Bowl is to cook your grains. Let's begin with choosing your grains, you've got a host of options here - you could use any number and combination of quinoa, rice, barley, millet, farro, corn, wheat berries and the list goes on! You will only need a scoop per Buddha Bowl so you can cook up a batch and leave it in the fridge for the entire week. And if you have grains leftover from another meal, get creative and by all means use them here - I've used leftover fried rice, briyani rice, and even sushi rice before.
Follow the instructions in the packaging and move over to step 2 while it's cooking.
Step 2 : Roast your roots & cook your vegetables
Roasting and cooking vegetables brings out the natural sweetness of certain vegetables and adds a textural boost to your Buddha Bowl. They work particularly well with root vegetables like pumpkin, potatoes, onions and carrots however mushrooms, capsicum, chilis, tomatoes and cucumbers work well roasted too.
To add flavor to your roasted vegetables, coat with olive oil and add spices like cumin, ground coriander, paprika, cinnamon and turmeric when cooking. I also like to roast whole gloves of garlic and fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary and basil right in the pan or cooking sheet - just remember to first coat your vegetables with butter or olive oil to help in soaking up the flavors!
Roast your vegetables at the same time your grains are cooking so they'll be hot and ready at the same time.
Step 3 : Fire up your proteins
Adding protein is a delicious and nutritious way to add macronutrients into your diet; it supplies energy and keep you healthy and allows you to function at your highest level throughout the day. Protein is essential to nearly every cell in the body, and should be incorporated into our daily diets.
To begin, I have categorized 3 main sources of protein, each with many options based on your needs and likes:
1. Animal Protein
Seafood - High in protein and low in fat, seafood also contains essential amino acids.
Lean Meats - Lean meats are the most common and well-known sources of proteins. Opt for high-quality sources that are grass-fed and free of antibiotics and growth hormones - say no to GMOs!
Eggs - The bulk of protein is found in the whites of the egg, with almost double the protein content as the yolk.
2. Vegetarian Protein
Meat Substitute - Tofu and tempeh are made from soymilk and soybeans, and are a great nutritious meat alternative.
Chickpeas - Fried or boiled, chickpeas are low in calories, high in fiber, and a great source of protein. 1 cup of chickpeas contain approximately 14.6 grams of protein.
Nuts & Seeds - Nuts and seed are high and protein and add a nice crunch and texture to your Buddha Bowl.
Beans - Black, white and kidney beans add a heartier texture to your Buddha Bowl - what's great is that they also fill you up!
3. Leafy Greens
Spinach - A good source of vitamins A and E, spinach adds 0.86 grams of protein per cup.
Kale - This power vegetable is a great source of vitamins A, K and C, and is championed as one of the healthiest vegetables out there. Kale contains 4 grams of protein per cup, the highest amount of protein among vegetables.
Cabbage - With 1 gram of protein per cup, cabbage is also a great source of vitamin C.
Lettuce - There's a reason lettuce is the most common base for salads; they're crunchy, packed with nutrients like folate and vitamin A, and contains 0.37 grams of protein per cup.
Oven bake your chosen protein together with your roots and vegetables in Step 2 or sauté/stir-fry it separately. It is important to add loads of flavor in your protein as this will be the star of the Buddha Bowl; let the flavors shine by cooking the protein with your favorite herbs and spices.
Gideon via Flickr
Step 4 : Prep, Assemble & Dress!
Build up each Buddha Bowl with fresh leafy greens, add the cooked protein and vegetables and top it off with nuts and beans. For maximum freshness and extra goodness, chop up fresh vegetables like avocado, tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, beets and even fruits like grapes and apples.
Buddha bowls are layered with flavors from all the different components and do not necessarily require any dressing. But if you'd like some, here's a couple of my favorites:
Keep it simple - olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper
Something creamy - tahini sesame seed paste, freshly squeezed lemon juice, water, chopped raw garlic, chopped parsley, salt and pepper
Sweet & tangy - dijon mustard, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt
Fresh & zesty - olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, grated lemon peel, rice vinegar, chopped scallions, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper
The key is to be creative - the more colorful your Buddha Bowl, the more you are sure it is jam packed with nutrients (and flavor). Fork up and enjoy!