I know buddha bowls aren't exactly a new thing but I'm sharing some ideas since they are my favourite way to put together my lunches to make them look appealing, have lots of flavour and loads of nutrients :) Winning all round!!
If you still aren't so sure what a buddha bowl is- it is basically just a bowl full of goodness that contains a variety of foods from all the food groups (i.e. lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fats and veggies). When you combine these all into one bowl, you will have a meal that sustains you and helps keep your blood sugar levels stable.
The great thing about a buddha bowl is that there are so many variations to enjoy that lunches (or dinners - if you prefer) will never be boring. If you are home- use a nice size salad bowl, or if you are at work- throw all the components into a lunchbox or layer in a mason jar.
How to build a buddha bowl:
Step 1: Greens as a base
---> Start off by filling the base of your bowl with lettuce/ cabbage/ spinach. You can also add in some fresh herbs to boost the flavour such as basil leaves, watercress, rocket, coriander, dill.
----> These add bulkiness, fibre, nutrients and flavour.
Step 2: Add some complex carbs
----> Add some grains: 1/2 to 1 cup cooked brown rice/ quinoa/ barley/ buckwheat/ freekeh
OR starchy veg: a baked potato/ sweet potato/ boiled baby potatoes/ corn/ butternut
OR legumes: 1/4 - 1/2 cup lentils/ chickpeas/ beans
Note: you can use the tinned ones- just make sure to drain them and rinse in a colander to get rid of most of the sodium
A nice idea is to roast some chickpeas in some cumin, chilli powder and sea salt and add as your carb-y portion of the meal
Prepare the grains or starchy veg the evening before and make extra so that you can use it over a few meals that week or just use leftovers from dinner to add to lunch the next day
----> These foods give you energy to perform work, exercise and provide fuel for your brain so it is really important to add to the meal to get you through a long day at work and to prevent dips in energy later on in the day.
Step 3: Add some lean protein
-----> Choose proteins such as cottage cheese, tinned tuna, boiled eggs, tofu, baked salmon, chicken breast to add to your bowl.
Again, make it easy for yourself and use leftover chicken, fish or tofu from dinner and always keep tins of tuna in the pantry and eggs and cottage cheese in the fridge as a quick go-to.
Tip: make a few boiled eggs for the week and keep them on a separate side of the fridge to the raw ones.
Tip: Always make extra protein at dinner to use for lunches in the week.
----> Proteins are necessary for keeping muscles and red blood cells healthy and should be added to all meals. Depending on your goals and training you will need to adjust the amount of protein that you need per meal/ per day. These should make up about 1/4 of the bowl.
Step 4: Add some healthy fat
----> Choose fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, tahini, hummus, olives, sundried tomato, pesto to add flavour, texture (crunchy or creamy!) and to help with satiety.
Aim for about 1-2 fats per meal (e.g 1/4 avocado and 2 tsp tahini OR 1 tbsp seeds and 2 tbsp hummus)
Step 5: Add lots of veggies!
---> The more the better! These will add colour, texture, bulk, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water content. They help you to feel like you are eating more, without loading up on too many added calories by controlling the portion of carbohydrates and protein in the meal. These should take up at least half the bowl!
Add either fresh or cooked veg or a bit of both- if you have leftover from the night before add those in and chop up some fresh ones to bulk it up too.
Also add pickled veg or fermented vegetables if you like !
Step 6: Enjoy!
Here is a delicious tahini dressing recipe that works well almost always! This should last you for a few meals over the week :)
1⁄4 cup tahini paste
juice of 1⁄2 lime
1⁄2 tsp salt
2-3 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp ground cumin (optional)
1. Whisk tahini with salt and lime juice
2. Add 2-3 tbsp water depending on how you prefer the texture. Start with 2 then add more if needed.
3. Add cumin and whisk again.
4. Adjust if you need more lime juice/ water/ salt.
Some of my buddha lunch bowls to inspire you: