Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local newsletter, 9/20/2017
Pinterest reports that searches for Grain Bowls or Buddha Bowls are up over 200% in 2017, and there’s a very good reason for that! We’re paying more attention to health, and these bowls are an easy, creative and delicious way to do that.
The name “Buddha Bowl” is a contemporary creation, but it evokes the simple feasts of Buddhist monks, who historically began their days walking into town with begging bowls where householders would add to them what they had on hand and could afford. Coming before the days of processed foods, these bowls were likely both simple and healthy … and with the variety of foods provided by householders eager to fulfill their own spiritual responsibility, colorful.
Like smoothies packed with greens and seeds and nuts and fruits, frequent Buddha Bowls are another great way to ensure vibrantly good nutrition. People use a variety of schemes to build their bowls: one idea is starch-protein-veggies, another is grains’n’beans-veggies-nuts’n’seeds. Sometimes there is fruit in the mix. Bowls inevitably change color and texture with the season as available produce suggests new combinations. The main idea is to keep it simple, use what you have on hand, and make a great sauce to top it off.
Now about that protein: The average sedentary man requires 56 grams of protein per day and the average sedentary woman, 46 grams per day — 15-25% of the calories you eat depending on your activity level. If you’re eating a healthy, varied diet filled with things like smoothies and Buddha Bowls, you’ll meet that requirement easily.
Here’s how Buddha Bowls help you satisfy your protein requirement: protein is made of building blocks called amino acids. Of 21 amino acids, the human body synthesizes 12 of them. It cannot synthesize the other nine, and these are called essential amino acids. We have to consume these nine every day. Foods that have all nine essential amino acids include animal products like meat and chicken and fish and dairy — but also plant foods like soy beans and quinoa. You can also mix and match to create a complete protein by using foods with complimentary amino acids, for example, beans and grains. You don’t necessarily have to eat them at the same meal, just the same day.
So some of you may enjoy a bit of grilled chicken, a dollop of homemade yogurt or a hard-boiled egg with your bowl. But if you’re vegetarian or vegan, the grain and bean, seed and nut combinations in your Buddha Bowls make it easy for you too.
Here’s what I used in my bowl today: a mix of greens (lots of Asian greens and mizuna), chickpeas, wheat berries, zucchini, carrots, red onion and radishes. I even used some remaining fried eggplant as a last minute garnish. The peppers and tomatoes we’ll receive in our boxes this week will make nice additions to a Buddha Bowl as well. I topped it off with Tahina dressing. Here’s how I make that:
Tahina Dressing (sesame seed-based dressing)
Add the following to a blender, and blend until smooth.
- 1-1/2 cups tahina (I like Ziyad brand, available in many stores in the Chicago area)
- Juice of 1-1/2 – 2 lemons or at least 1/4 cup (I like a little more)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 TB salt
- 1/2 TB cumin
- pinch of hot paprika
- 2 cups water (more or less for a good consistency)
So throw away the recipe book, get creative, use what you have and delight your family while you nourish them.
For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.