A bowl of goodness

artful meals

A bowl of goodness

Eating a meal out of a bowl is something that can be comforting and nourishing at the same time. When it is made using the freshest produce and has all the colours under the rainbow, why wouldn’t you find it delicious? This is even more so when all the ingredients are artfully placed in a bowl. This has, in fact, been the primary reason as to why many people are intrigued by it.

But what exactly is it? Popular food stylist and writer Anna Jones once wrote that bowl food is something that is “simultaneously soothing, bolstering, undemanding and sustaining.” No wonder then that bowl food is fast picking up the steam. “Another important reason for their popularity, in my opinion, is their simplicity,” says Mitra Shirmohammadi, a registered holistic nutritionist at Nutriholist.

A little bit of everything

“All you need is a variety of vegetables, cooked grains, beans, seeds and a dressing, and you have got yourself a tasty, nutritious meal.” It is also less formal, believes Meera Nalavadi, a food photographer and stylist. “As people prefer eating while watching TV or while working, bowl meals make it convenient,” adds Meera.

With so many varieties, they have also come to be known by different monikers such as protein bowls. But what makes it different from eating out of a plate? “The best part of eating in a bowl is that the flavours get mixed beautifully. In a plate, there is a chance of always leaving out a few ingredients,” opines Uma Raghuraman, a food expert who runs a blog called ‘Masterchef Mom’.

Incidentally, this has kicked off an entire healthy eating movement, which picked up a lot of traction in the past year. This is all thanks to a large community of health food bloggers on social media platforms, believes Mitra. “And with many people choosing to go ‘meatless’, vegan and gluten free, bowl foods are inspiring,” adds Uma.

But how does one go about making a bowl-based meal? The very essence of bowl food is using the ingredients that are available to you locally. And, with a bit of planning, bowl food can be assembled rather quickly. “It can be very easy to plan and make bowl food as there are endless combinations even with limited ingredients,” avers Sheil Shukla, a food blogger at plantbasedartist.com.

To build one, all one needs to do are ensure that the bowl has a combination of foods that is balanced in macronutrients. Put simply, it needs to have complex carbohydrates such as root vegetables, proteins such as legumes, and healthy fats such as nuts. If all these components are present, one can be certain of getting all the essential nutrients. “Another essential component is flavour by the way of sauces, herbs, and spices,” adds Sheil. Adding the right flavours can accentuate the dish’s taste.

While most bowl foods are plant-based, it doesn’t have to be. “For instance, one can add animal-based protein as long as they are high-quality, organic and come from animals that were ethically-raised,” states Mitra. Its versatility is perhaps why it became extremely popular among many. In fact, they are had in sweet or savoury forms at any point during the day.

However, keep in mind that building a bowl is dependent on your personal tastes. For instance, consider adding raw and roasted vegetables, greens, and cultured foods like sauerkraut to the bowl. “This will improve digestion by providing enzymes that predigest the food,” says Mitra. “On the other hand, cooking vegetables can enhance certain nutrients such as antioxidant compounds, and make tougher vegetables easier to break down.” So, it’s a good idea to incorporate all of these in a bowl. To make it more filling, you can add whole grains such as brown rice or pseudo-grains like millets.

Wholesome & delicious

To have a balanced and healthy bowl meal every single time, keep in mind the following:

 Bowl food needs a lot of fresh produce. So, plan ahead and stock all the ingredients you need.

 Go for lots of high-quality, colourful plant-based foods as they have powerful antioxidants and disease-fighting benefits.

 Add different textures by using a combination of raw and cooked vegetables, nuts and seeds.

 Add protein to your bowl to make the meal more filling and satisfying.
Some quick tips

 Leftovers make the best bowl. “So if you have leftover grains or vegetables that you don’t know what to do with, just toss them in a bowl with whatever you can find in the pantry for a quick and nutritious meal,” advises Mitra.

Keep all the ingredients ready ahead of time. Chop all the vegetables, cook the beans, rice, and store them in your fridge or freezer.

If you are looking to stay healthy and have a meal that is colourful and has amazing flavour, look no further than the bowl.

recipe

Nourish Bowl

Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes, cut in half lengthwise or chopped
1 medium eggplant, cut in half lengthwise or sliced
1 tbsp melted coconut or
avocado oil
1 small beet*, thinly sliced
1 avocado, sliced
2 cups of mixed greens
1 and 1/2 cups cooked or canned (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp sauerkraut (optional)
4 tbsp hemp seeds
Unrefined sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Golden Tahini Dressing

Ingredients

 2 tbsp tahini
 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
 Juice from half a lemon
 1 garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Unrefined sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking dish with parchment paper.
2. Lay the sweet potato and eggplants slices on the baking sheet, drizzle with oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper, and cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes until soft and browned around the edges. Let them cool for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the dressing by mixing all dressing ingredients together in a small cup until fully combined. Set aside.
4. Divide the vegetables and chickpeas between the two bowls. Season avocado with sea salt and pepper.
5. Sprinkle hemp seeds and pour the dressing on top. Toss together and enjoy!
*You can roast the beet in the oven along with other vegetables if you prefer

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