Healthy Grain Bowls are an easy, and delicious complete meal. Simply mix and match your favorite components… in 5 steps.
Akin to smoothie bowls, grain bowls are simply dinner in a bowl. And it’s as easy as a simple 5-step process, beginning with a grain, adding protein and veggies, making a sauce and garnishing with a few more goodies.
Williams and Sonoma test kitchen created a list of ideas of what to include in your healthy grain bowls.
Start with a base.
The base, while traditionally a carbohydrate like rice, could really be any type of grain or fiber-rich food. Choose one of the following:
- White rice
- Brown rice
- Soba or rice noodles
- Cauliflower rice
Choose a protein.
Protein is arguably the star of a grain bowl, so use top-quality ingredients. Choose one of the following:
- Seared steak
- Grilled chicken breast
- Steamed Shrimp
- Flaked fish
- Smoked duck
- Glazed salmon
- Lox or gravlax
- Roast pork belly
- Marinated tofu
- Sliced Tempeh
- Fried, poached or soft-boiled eggs
Next, make a sauce.
Sauce is key to a grain bowl, since it adds a blast of flavor and helps tie all the ingredients together. For instance, you might use a soy-based sauce to build an Asian-inspired bowl, or a pesto if the meal is based on Italian ingredients. Choose one of the following, or create your own sauce!
- Green Goddess dressing
- Yogurt sauce
- Homemade or store-bought spicy peanut sauce
Don’t forget the vegetables.
Grain bowls are a definite part of the current wellness trend, so to stay along those healthy lines, be sure to fill up on vegetables. The test kitchen even likes to add spiralized vegetables, which are a pretty way to add extra servings of veg with minimal prep time. Pick as many of the following as you’d like:
- Sliced avocado
- Halved cherry tomatoes
- Roasted, steamed or sautéed kale
- Cooked spinach
- Charred eggplant
- Grilled corn
- Blanched green beans
- Diced red onions
- Roasted chicories or root vegetables
- Shredded carrots, cabbage or broccoli
- Pickled cucumbers, onions or cauliflower
- Pico de Gallo
- Cabbage or daikon kimchi
- Spiralized carrots, beets or zucchini
Top it all off!
Toppings serve multiple purposes: In many cases, they add a punch of flavor or texture (or both), plus they make for an aesthetically pleasing garnish. When selecting your toppings, aim for a balance of crunchy toppings and soft toppings. Choose a couple of the following:
- Black or white sesame seeds
- Thinly-sliced scallions
- Chopped fresh herbs like mint or cilantro
- Fried shallots
- Crumbled feta, shaved parmesan, or goat cheese chunks
- Chopped pistachios or walnuts
- Shredded nori (dried seaweed)
- Crispy chickpeas
- Hot sauce
Before you get started, here are two more things to keep in mind:
Make Ahead Tips
Prepping ahead will make your life so much easier. One-bowl meals are meal prep-friendly options. At the beginning of the week, make a big batch of grains to use all week, grill meat, and make sauces, mixing them separately so they’re easily packable and portable for lunch. Many of these can be used for a variety of dishes (and also happen to last as long as up to a week in the fridge.)
Remember that you eat with your eyes first. Grain bowls, above all else, are visually appealing; take the time to arrange your selection artfully. Color is key; don’t be shy about adding lots of colorful fruits and vegetables when they are fresh and in season. (It also happens to be an easy way to make sure you eat the rainbow.)
Healthy Grain Bowl Ideas
Taco Grain Bowl with Crispy Chipotle Chickpeas
Bowl meals are kind of the best. You simply pile a bunch of ingredients that play well together into a bowl, curl up, hide under a blanket and mow down with ease without the worry of dropping food between your couch cushions.
Spicy Tofu, Rice and Broccolini Salad
Bright Asian seasonings such as ginger, lime, chile sauce and fresh herbs help tofu and brown rice shine in this satisfying vegetarian meal. Peanuts add richness and crunch and sautéed shiitake mushrooms make delicious, meaty additions. The tofu can be marinated overnight for a bolder flavor.
Healing Bowls with Turmeric Sweet Potatoes, Poached Eggs, and Lemon Dressing
Brown rice, red quinoa, turmeric sweet potatoes, lightly dressed arugula, a poached egg, pistachios, and lemon herb dressing.
Fresh, light and satisfying are the first words that come to mind for this inspired salad. The salad has a base of farro for a nutty flavor and hearty texture. Plus, it’s easy to make ahead: store cooked farro, hard-boiled eggs and chopped vegetables separately for making salads during the week.
Charred Broccoli Salad with Farro, Chickpeas, and Almonds
A salad with plenty of texture and flavor, one of my new salad loves is this healthy Charred Broccoli Salad with Farro, Chickpeas, and Almonds. We all know the tune Julie Andrews made famous, “My Favorite Things.” This salad is that for me… food speaking, of course.
Wheat Berry Salad with Snow Peas and Carrots
This simple salad is very healthful and high in fiber. Wheat berries are whole kernels of wheat, and their mild flavor lets this savory Asian-inspired dressing shine. Carrots and snow peas mark this as a springtime dish. Look for interesting varieties of carrots in different colors, and use a mandoline to slice them paper-thin.
Favorite Takeout Beef and Broccoli
A grain bowl favorite classic, Takeout Beef and Broccoli, can be quickly and easily made at home.