Meal Preparation Technique: The Bowl

Post by Olivia Martino, Registered Dietitian and Co-owner, Nourish Northwest

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One of the many things we do as Registered Dietitians is meal planning. So many of our clients come to us with the same barrier to healthy eating: not enough time.  At an initial nutrition assessment we spend a lot of time with our clients, learning about their schedule and lifestyle, nutrient needs and food preferences.  With that information in hand, we can develop weekly meals plans, quick recipes and grocery lists, so the only tasks they are left with is grocery shopping and food preparation.  Having us take care of all of the planning cuts a significant amount of time out of that major barrier and ensures a heathy, dietitian approved diet.

When I first started doing meal planning for clients, my mistake was providing recipes that were still a little time consuming.  I have come to realize that when a client wants a quick recipe, they mean QUICK.  Many people really need a recipe that can be prepared in 15 minutes or less, which has led me to start introducing my clients to the concept of the bowl.

 

Ginger-Tamari Soy curl bowl with sauteed kale and soba noodles
Ginger-Tamari Soy curl bowl with sauteed kale and soba noodles

 

I have always personally loved the idea of a one dish meal.  It seems as though restaurants are embracing this concept and it is now a growing trend.  We are located right across the street from The Whole Bowl, whose extremely simple model of serving only one menu option leads to a daily lunchtime line out the door and down the street.  Their menu: a rice and bean bowl with avocado, salsa, olive, sour cream, cheese, cilantro and their very own Tali Sauce.  It’s tasty, it’s balanced and it’s quick.  Other restaurants that provide more bowl options are Harlow , The Bye and Bye , Canteen, and the Sweet Hereafter.

 

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Sunny side up egg bowl over tomatoes, parmesan, basil and farro.

 

While we love all of these places and feel extremely blessed that we can eat so healthfully when eating out, there are some major problems relying on them for your meals: accessibility and cost.  There’s a good chance that you may not live in close proximity to one of these restaurants and if you do, you would burn a hole in your wallet by relying on them for every meal.  Again, we love these restaurants, but you could spend $6-$11 on one bowl, whereas if you made it at home, it would cost about that much for an entire week.

So take the bowl idea to your own kitchen.  The catch? You need to set aside about an hour one night for food prep but then you have your dinners for a week ready to go.  Sundays are my personal day of choice, because if you get into the busy work week without doing it, you may miss your chance.

Rice and Beans bowl with Steamed Cabbage and Tali Sauce
Rice and Beans bowl with Steamed Cabbage, Seaweed and Tali Sauce

 

The idea is simple.  You pick a grain, a protein, a vegetable (or vegetables) and a sauce.  Prepare them all and store in separate containers.  When you get home from work, all you do is assemble.  Below is a list to get you started, but it is certainly not limited to those choices.

 

THE BASIC BOWL

 

Grain

Quinoa

Brown Rice

Polenta

Soba Noodles        

 

Protein Source

Chickpeas

Hummus

Nuts/Seeds

Lentils

Black Beans

Chicken

Soy Curls

Egg

Tuna  

 

Veggie

Raw Spinach

Steamed Kale

Baked Sweet Potato

Roasted Broccoli/Cauliflower

Roasted Brussels

Shredded Carrots/Cabbage

Shredded/Roasted Beets

 

Sauce

Tahini

Vinaigrette

Salsa

Guacamole

BBQ Sauce

Cashew Cream

Romesco Sauce

Curry Sauce

Tamari

 

 

Still a little stumped?  Below I created 2 bowls using the chart above.  Both are yummy and healthy! Enjoy!  We are considering having an upcoming cooking class on bowls, let us know if you are interested: info@nourishnorthwest.com.

 

 

The Mexican Bowl

 

Ingredients

4 slices prepared polenta

1/3 can black beans

1 cup spinach

Salsa

Slices of Avocado

 

Preparation

Bake polenta according to package directions.  While polenta is cooking, warm black beans in a small saucepan.  Once beans are warmed through, stir in spinach until wilted (1-2 minutes).

 

In a bowl, layer polenta rounds, black bean spinach mixture, salsa and avocado.

 

The BBQ soy curl bowl

 

Ingredients

1 cup soy curls

1 cup quinoa

½ cup prepared bbq sauce (I like Annie’s brand)

½ cup shredded cabbage

½ cup shredded carrots

 

Dressing:

½ cup veganaise

2 Tbsp soy milk

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

 

 

Preparation

Bring 2 cups water and 1 cup quinoa to a boil.  Cover and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Soak soy curls in warm water for 15 minutes to reconstitute them.  Meanwhile, mix together dressing ingredients.  Toss cabbage and carrots with dressing.

Heat bbq sauce in a small skillet.  Drain soy curls and add to bbq sauce.

In a bowl, layer quinoa, soy curls and cabbage/carrot mixture.

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