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Following on from my Vegan Meal Prep post, I thought I’d share one of my all-time favourite meals with you – a simple vegan Buddha Bowl!
What is a Buddha Bowl?
A Buddha bowl – also referred to as a Nourish, Grain, Hippie, Macro or Power bowl, is simply a hearty, filling bowl packed with colourful veggies, a serving of protein, a healthy grain like quinoa and toppings like nuts or seeds. The trick with any Buddha bowl is to serve it with a tasty dressing and to spend some time making it look ‘pretty’. It is a really easy, fuss-free way to get a balanced meal.
Why the name Buddha bowl?
It’s thought to be a reference to Buddha himself who would take his bowl with him wherever he travelled and have it filled by local people, then eat whatever he had been given. Others think the name originates from Buddha’s round bowl-like belly!
Main benefits of a Buddha Bowl
- You get all your vegetable servings in one meal
- Bowls are quick and easy to make when you’re in a rush
- They are full of colour and variety
- Appealing to the eye
- Although primarily vegan, you can make adapt your Buddha bowl to suit your own dietary requirements
- They can be made ahead and make a great lunch or dinner
- With the right dressing, they taste absolutely amazing!
How do I make a tasty Buddha Bowl?
Firstly, you don’t have to use a bowl. Let your creativity run wild! Either, you can lay out all the ingredients on a plate, or layer them in a bowl. Part of the fun of making a Buddha Bowl is the preparation that goes into creating your bowl – and making it look as delicious as it tastes. After all, you will have to Instagram it – or show it off on Facebook!
My favourite Buddha Bowl ingredients
- Greens : Kale, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, sugar snap peas, asparagus, courgette, peas, parsley, coriander, basil
- Grains : Quinoa, brown rice, lentils, couscous, wild rice, black rice, spelt noodles
- Proteins : tofu, chickpeas, nutritional yeast, or for the non-vegans in the family – a boiled or poached egg, a chicken or turkey breast,
- Colourful Veg : Beet, red cabbage, onion, carrot, tomato, cauliflower, sweet potato, butternut squash, radish, pepper, sweetcorn
- Fruity : Mango, pomegranate, apple, blueberries, dried fruit
- Healthy Fats: Hummus, avocado
- Toppings: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, toasted pine nuts, almonds, cashews
Start with Leaves
Leaves make the perfect starting point for any Buddha Bowl. Layer some salad leaves or spinach at the bottom of your bowl. If you’re using kale, mix it in with some lettuce or spinach as it can be a little bitter. Crunchy lettuce like Romaine works well, or if you are eating it straight away, lamb’s lettuce or softer lettuce varieties taste delicious too. I always add chopped fresh herbs to the leaves, coriander or basil are my favourites.
Select a Grain
Quinoa is my favourite but you can use any grain you like, from couscous to lentils. (I find green lentils quite hard to digest, so I use red lentils instead.) Rice is ideal in a Buddha Bowl, but opt for a healthier version – wild rice, black rice or spelt noodles are great alternatives.
Choose your Vegetables
I always use a mix of raw and cooked veggies. Raw veg like cucumber, colourful sliced peppers, spiralized carrot and cherry tomatoes are all delicious. You could then add roasted beetroot, cauliflower or carrot to the mix, topped with some steamed broccoli and sugar snap peas to keep your bowl looking fresh and appealing!
Pick your Protein
Next, add some protein. If you eat eggs, a poached or boiled egg is perfect. If not, a spoonful of cottage cheese makes a tasty portion of protein. For vegetarian/vegan options, throw in crispy tofu instead. Edamame beans and chickpeas add some crunch. If you eat meat, a chicken or turkey breast adds a bit of texture, as well as protein.
Be creative and add texture with a helping of vitamins and minerals! Choose either a handful of crunchy toasted pine nuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
Make your Dressing
Finally, it’s so important to have a tasty, decadent dressing, and not just to splash on some oil or vinegar and hope for the best! A dressing will bring your bowl to life and make it even more delicious. This chilli and lime vinaigrette is great if you like a kick – and a bit of spice and citrus. Cookie and Kate do a creamy tahini dressing. Or if you like turmeric, try this one.
A quick healthy meal that suits lunch or dinner
- 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
- 1/4 teasp smoked paprika
- 1 cup quinoa
- 3 cups chopped spinach
- 1 tin chickpeas (or any bean of your choice)
- 1/2 cucumber julienned or sliced finely
- 1 avocado pitted, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup shelled peas blanched
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spread out the sweet potato cubes on the pan and spray with olive oil.
Add the paprika, salt, and pepper and toss to coat.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender and browned, tossing once halfway through to ensure even cooking. Set aside to cool.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, cook the quinoa.
Place 1 cup of quinoa in a small pan, add 2 cups of water.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer and put the lid on
Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, (normally 10 – 15 minutes)
Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork
To serve, fill each bowl with spinach, quinoa, beans, sweet potato, cucumber, and avocado. Drizzle with dressing and top with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Buddha Bowl Ideas
I hope this has given you some vegan buddha bowl ideas, and a couple of ideas for the non-vegans!
Many women including myself have family members eating different meals because of dietary requirements. Buddha bowls are easy to adapt to suit everyone. Chicken Buddha bowls and Thai chicken buddha bowls are my husband’s favourites so I simply add chicken to his. As a result, I don’t have to make 2 separate meals which is a plus!
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|Natalie Shirlaw is passionate about healthy living and writes posts about wellbeing. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to pin it or share it!|