I am always looking for ways to make easy, fast, healthy meals that I can eat throughout the week. The best is when I can make enough to have for a few days, as I usually bring my lunches to work and save a lot of money by cooking at home. So when I discovered the “grain bowl” I was instantly hooked. Grain bowls combine a balance of essential food groups in an easy all-in-one meal. The basis of each grain bowl is made up of five ingredients: grains, vegetables, protein, dressing and garnishes. It is up to you to mix and match as you want.
Some Ideas for each component:
Grains: quinoa, brown rice, farro, couscous, oatmeal
Vegetables: can be cooked or uncooked, try to keep to what is in season. For July that would be: squash, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, green beans, corn. You can also add any frozen veggies as they are usually frozen when they are picked at their peak ripeness
Protein: consider what would compliment your two prior ingredients. Try to keep to lean meats such as fish and poultry or even eggs. For vegetarian options try tofu or beans.
Dressing: this is one component you have to be careful with as most pre-made dressings and sauces have high sodium, sugar and fat contents. Consider mixing olive oil, herbs, spices or some citrus juices to add a little flavor to your bowl.
Garnishes: this is your chance to add some crunch or an extra kick to your bowl. Just make sure your garnishes still add some nutritional value to your meal. Some of my favorite are nuts, seeds, herbs and even fruit (avocado is a favorite of mine).
An Option Any Time of the Day
A benefit to thinking of your meal in this way is that it helps you consider balance and portion control. You will be less likely to fill your plate with rice and meat and just a small side salad if it is incorporated into one all-encompassing meal. The more colorful you make it the more appetizing it is as well which means you don’t want to skimp on those vegetables. Grain bowls can be implemented into any part of your diet. You can take your oatmeal to the next level by adding some fruit, nuts, and even egg. There is a great post on BodyBuilding.com featuring sweet and savory oatmeal recipes that you can find here. You can find a few of my favorite recipes below.
- Oatmeal with spinach, kale, tomatoes, egg, goat cheese and fresh herbs. This will keep you full all morning with 17 grams of protein!
- Fajita Veggie Burger bowl with black rice veggie burgers, grilled vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, summer squash), lime and cilantro dressing.
- Carrot Cake Oatmeal with oatmeal, carrots, almond milk, raisins, coconut shavings and spices.