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How to Create Food Bowls


How to Create Food Bowls

Brielle Merchant

Do you love food bowls?

Eating them requires very little effort and they are so yummy.

Bowls are an easy way to combine delicious flavors and pack your meals full of healthy vegetables.

Keep reading if you want to know more about bowls!

Here is the 411 on food bowls:

It seems like there are a variety of creative names for bowls, but the bottom line is that a food bowl is a food bowl. Despite the differing names for bowls, they all include a variety of vegetables! YUM!

Let's cover a few names for food bowls then discuss how to create your own!

Buddha Bowl

Buddha bowls are known for being plant-based and are typically very filling. Think 'hearty'. Common Ingredients include leafy greens, raw or roasted veggies, beans, quinoa or brown rice, nuts, and seeds.

buddha-bowl-chickpeas-white sauce.jpg

Macro Bowls

Macro bowls include all your macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fat. This means healthy proteins like quinoa, lean chicken, or beans, and healthy fats like avocados, or extra virgin olive oil.

Protein Bowls

Protein is clearly the focus of this bowl. You'll want to choose a healthy protein and add vegetables or a healthy grain. If you're vegan or vegetarian this means, tofu, beans, vegetables and other non-animal options. Did you know that quinoa is actually a great source of protein? It is! Meat lovers should select lean meats like chicken or turkey.

Nourish Bowls

A leafy green salad base is a must for this bowl. You then want to layer with healthy fats, proteins, and other vegetables. Nutrients are the main focus of this bowl!

Are you interested in creating your own bowl at home?

Step 1: Choose a filling base

This is the first ingredient that you layer your bowl with. Here are 3 options for your bowl's base:

  1. Skip to step 2, and select leafy greens as your base. One might argue that makes your food bowl just a salad, but stay with me!
  2. Divide your bowl up so that all ingredients take up a portion of your bowl. You can make the portions equal or unequal depending on your preference. I recommend thinking about the flavors and how they will impact each other. Also, if your bowl includes meat, cheese, or other non-plant products, then you may want to consider limiting your portions.
  3. Read below for additional base suggestions.

Examples: Quinoa, brown rice, 100% whole wheat pasta, a toasted & shapely tortilla, or beans (chickpeas, pinto, etc.) are all great bases! I usually like to include both quinoa and beans for a more filling meal. Both are great sources of protein!

fresh leafy greens.jpg

Step 2: Select leafy greens

My top choices are usually spinach or kale. Both are great, but there are also other options. Consider using a different leafy green vegetable or adding tasty plants like cilantro or arugula. Cabbage is also a great choice!

Examples: Basil, Chard, Cabbage, Arugula, Romaine lettuce, Spinach, Mustard Greens, Kale, Cilantro, Cabbage, etc.

Step 3: Hot or cold

Will your bowl be cooked or mostly raw? Sometimes I do a combination of both. This is especially true if there are a lot of beans included.

Thinking about when and where you will eat your bowl may also be helpful. If you're looking for delicious, easy meal ideas for school or work then a bowl that requires complex layering of hot and cold ingredients may not be ideal.

Examples: Roasted, pan-fried, grilled, raw, blended, etc.

Step 4: Load with vegetables

Choose a variety of vegetables that will compliment the taste you desire and the method of preparation. Can those vegetables be eaten raw or do you need to save them for your next cooked recipe? Again, I occasionally do a combination of both. I might layer a cooked meal with raw tomatoes and bell peppers. This gives warm foods like beans a more refreshing taste. Be sure to switch up the vegetables you use and leverage their flavors to create a delicious bowl!

Examples: Brussel sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, beets, eggplant, green beans, avocado, broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, artichoke, sweet potatoes, onions, asparagus, leeks, zucchini, celery, squash, etc.

Step 5: Use flavor

Almost everything you eat should be seasoned! Seasonings and herbs will add flavor to your food and keep it interesting. The same main food items may taste totally different once you switch up the seasonings you use. Practice pairing certain seasonings together to create new flavors. The Meal Prep freebie includes some ideas of what vegetables to pair and seasonings to include. 


Seasonings can also be great for your health.  Many seasonings have incredible health benefits in addition to their flavor.

Examples: Cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, Italian seasoning, cumin, etc. 

Step 6: Meats, seafood, and dairy

It's okay to add meat or dairy, but be mindful of your choices. Watch your portion sizes and try to stick with lean meats and low-fat dairy items. Also, seafood and eggs are among the healthier options when it comes to dairy and meats.

Examples: Greek yogurt, shrimp, cheese, salmon, etc. 

How I Use Bowls

Bowls can be great for combining leftover meal prep components. This is probably my most popular use of bowls.  I'll give you an example.

  • Monday and  Wednesday I enjoyed a meal prep that included salmon cakes, roasted sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant. Each vegetable was roasted separately with its own seasoning. The salmon cakes were also prepped in batches.

  • Tuesday and Thursday I enjoyed kale chips, diced avocado, and zoodles (zucchini and squash noodles). I ate more of course, but these are the components of my meal prep that are left over.

  • Friday I could then create a bowl! I might layer my bowl starting with quinoa, and then add a leafy green to it. Next, I'd round up the leftover roasted vegetables and uncooked vegetables to layer. You don't want to include everything that is left over, but chooses creative ingredients that will taste great together!

Bowls have been a fun and creative way to enjoy meals. Use them to create delicious meals that are easy to pack for work or school!

Let me know if you try any new bowl recipes!

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