#Bowls, #Buddhabowls, #nourishbowls, #brekkiebowls. If you check out any of these hashtags on instagram you'll find thousands upon thousands of perfect looking spheres filled with healthy ingredients. The trend has become a huge part of the health and fitness circle as well as on vegan pages. But what's the hype and how do you get involved?
Carefully arranged, full of colour and topped with exotic looking ingredients these bowls (full of buddha? made from buddha?) look like a lot of effort, but there's a reason why they're a staple in our house. They're a great way to get all of your nutrient varieties in one go. Usually starting with some sort of grainy base and topped with cooked and raw veggies, pulses and sauces you can pack a lot into a buddha bowl. Taking your lunch from zero to hero pretty quickly and topping your vitamin levels up for a hectic afternoon. Including raw veggies means they take very little time to put together and you can usually make them the night before.
Another reason I'm a huge fan of a buddha bowl is because you can use up a lot of leftover ingredients that might otherwise be thrown away. Only got 2 mushrooms left after last nights risotto? Bag of spinach not got quite enough to make a salad? Sad looking cucumber in the corner of the fridge? These are all perfect ingredients for your bowl because you don't need huge quantities of each item. I'm all for finding any way to cut down on food waste as wasted food can cost around £250–£400 per household in the uk and 19million tonnes of greenhouse gases. So your little bowl can do a lot for your pocket and the environment.
Ok, so you're sold on the idea of these bowls but where on earth do you start? That girl on instagram's bowls always look so cool, emulating them is going to take a lot right? Wrong. Well, maybe. If she's crafting her bowls from the jungles of costa rica using her home grown exotic produce and the closest you can get is the well travelled veggies in tescos... you mightn't have exactly the same look. But that my friend, is far from the point. You can create nourishing bowls of beauty so easily and only using your leftover veggies, herbs and spices.
Start with the base. Grains, lentils and rice all work here. You can even have a mix of a few. Cook them how you like and load them up.
Greens. Spinach, kale, rocket, crunchy and satisfying with lots of micronutrients.
Pulses. Chickpeas, kidney beans or lentils are all good options. You can roast the chickpeas for a crunchy texture but make sure to season to add some flavour to the bowl, I'll leave a few ideas below.
Raw Veggies. Any left over salad ingredients are great, cut up smallish so they mix with everything else and use as many as you'd like.
Cooked veggies. Here's where you can really add some flavour. I like to use mushrooms, sweet potatoes, broccoli aubergines or peppers (or you can use multiple)
Dressings. focus on one flavour type (see below) and craft your dressing from this, it can be as thin as a vinaigrette or as thick as some hummus. You can leave it on one side or drizzle it all over. Be mindful with this if you're planning on taking it to go, take the dressing on the side so you don't end up with a soggy bowl. Been there, done that, not great.
Extras. Add a bit of flair to your bowl with toppings, you can use your favourite type of protein here, tofu, tempeh or chick'n pieces. Throw on some seeds for a little crunch. Sprouts are great here and fresh herbs make a great addition. Add pickled items for a gut focused bowl. Or, olives or sun-dried tomatoes can add some delicious flavour. Experiment with what you like and what suits the flavour profile.
Flavour inspiration. Here are a few examples of flavour profiles you can craft your buddha bowl around. This can also help in deciding what veggies to add.
Japanese: soy sauce and mirin dressing, white rice, edamame beans and pickled ginger.
Mexican: Lots of beans, cumin and avocado.
Indian: mango chutney, spices and some naan on the side.
Gut Bowl: pickles, sauerkraut and whole grains.
Italian: sun-dried tomatoes, vinaigrette and garlic mushrooms.
Med Bowl: falafels, hummus and crunchy veg.
So whatever you've got in the house, whatever flavour you prefer, fill your bowl high and enjoy. Oh and don't forget to snap a quick pic for the 'gram.