<p>If you're ready to transcend mundane lunches and get hip about eating healthy, grab a bowl, a sampling of ingredients probably already in your fridge or pantry, and build a Buddha Bowl.</p>
A Buddha Bowl is a versatile collection of healthy ingredients that come together to make a complete, nutritious meal -- all in a bowl, of course. Bowls are typically piled high with food, resembling Buddha's rounded belly.
The best part about building your own Buddha Bowl is that there really are no rules. Add what you like, and get as creative as possible. To keep your bowl nutritionally balanced, keep in mind your key macronutrients -- lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats -- and include some of each for a bowl that will satisfy and keep you feeling full for hours.
Here's your opportunity to get creative in the kitchen! Even if you don't fancy yourself a cook, you can build an eye-catching bowl of goodness with a little of this and a bit of that.
Most Buddha Bowls contain some type of whole grain. Choose from (cooked) whole grains like quinoa, amaranth, teff, brown or white rice, and millet. Quinoa and amaranth make excellent additions since they are both complete plant-based proteins.
Legumes are also in fashion in the Buddha Bowl. If you're a fan, add a serving of your favorite beans (adzuki, black, anasazi, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, edamame, favas, lentils, lima, or kidney). If you're not a bean fan, consider adding a dollop of hummus to your bowl.
Pile on the fruits and veggies, whether you prefer them raw for some added texture (carrot sticks, shredded cabbage, pepper strips) or sweetness (tomato wedges), or warm and roasted (butternut squash, eggplant, sweet potatoes).
Avocado is everyone's favorite healthy fat, so add a few slices or a spoonful of guacamole for creamy richness.
And don't forget those other greens! Building a Buddha Bowl on a bed of tender baby kale, peppery arugula, or sweet baby beet greens is always a fresh idea.
Try incorporating as many different colors as possible in your bowl for a terrific balance of phytonutrients.
Add texture, flavor, and nutrition with toppings like nuts, seeds, and fresh herbs and spices.
If you like, drizzle on your favorite salad dressing or dip for added zing!
Try these recipes to get you started, or let your own creativity carry you down the healthy path of Buddha Bowl perfection!
Chicken and Chickpea Buddha Bowls: With a zesty sesame Dijon dressing and crunchy chickpea topping, this bowl makes the perfect weeknight dinner. Use leftover or rotisserie chicken to streamline the process.
Quinoa and Butternut Bowl: Quinoa pairs with butternut squash and other nutritious ingredients to create this sweet-savory bowl that's perfect for a weekend breakfast -- and will have you looking forward to weekday leftovers for lunch.
Spicy Beef and Broccoli Noodle Bowl: Spice things up with this simple bowl requiring just a few ingredients you probably have on hand. To make this bowl gluten free, simply substitute your favorite gluten free noodles for the egg noodles.
The Big Vegan Bowl from Oh She Glows: The best part about making a Buddha Bowl is that you can customize your bowl to suit your specific dietary needs and your tastes. Whether you're gluten free, paleo, trying to lose weight, or whatever your special situation, there are an endless number of Buddha Bowl combinations for you! To get more veggies (and lots of flavor and color!), try the Big Vegan Bowl from Oh She Glows.
Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl from Minimalist Baker: With a 3-ingredient tahini sauce for topping and only 30 minutes to make, this bowl of vegetarian goodness deserves a spot at the top of your menu-planning list. Get the recipe and nutrition facts from Minimalist Baker.