12 Tasty & Nutritious Buddha Bowl Recipes
18 minute read
Buddha Bowls, also known as Macro Bowls, have been appearing on food trend lists for several years now. What exactly is a Buddha Bowl? The all-in-one meal typically features greens, raw or roasted vegetables, a cooked grain, some sort of protein, nuts or seeds, and a dressing.
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The combinations are endless and can take you around the world and to probably six or seven continents, all in a bowl. Whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of veggies make this a healthy meal option for a packable lunch or nourishing and satisfying dinner at the end of a busy day. Buddha Bowls are typically vegetarian or vegan but some prefer to add fish, chicken, or beef.
Here’s a look at the foundations of Buddha Bowls.
Most Buddha Bowls include dark leafy greens such as spinach, mixed leaf lettuce, or kale. The greens may be raw or lightly cooked. Greens are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and phytochemicals such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. Eating just one serving per day may decrease risk for cardiovascular disease.
The magnesium content and low glycemic index of leafy greens make them ideal for Type 2 diabetics and eating at least one serving daily may decrease risk for Type 2 diabetes. The vitamin K in greens supports bone health. In fact, osteocalcin present in dark leafy greens may lower the risk of hip fractures in middle-aged women by as much as 45 percent. Most leafy greens are a good source of calcium and iron.
The beta-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A, supports immune function, while lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids, protect against age-related macular degeneration and development of cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin have also been associated with decreased risk of certain cancers, such as lung or breast, and may prevent cardiovascular disease.
A bioflavonoid found in greens, quercetin, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory with unique protective properties against cancer.
Most Buddha Bowls contain some type of grain or pseudo-grain, which may be some type of rice, quinoa, bulgur, or even an ancient grain such as fareek. Whole grains, unlike refined grains, have not been stripped of bran or fiber, which delay the breakdown of starch into glucose. In contrast, refined grains can cause spikes in blood glucose.
Fiber can also lower LDL cholesterol and can potentially prevent the formation of small blood clots that can cause strokes or trigger heart attacks. In addition, whole grains are a source of phytochemicals and essential minerals, including magnesium, selenium, and copper, which may provide protection against certain cancers.
Including at least two servings of whole grains daily in the diet may even lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. Fiber and phytochemicals may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism compared to refined grains, which typically have a high glycemic index and load.
For those counting carbs or calories, cauliflower rice has become a popular alternative to grains. Cauliflower contains numerous health benefits, including fiber, as well as numerous vitamins, including 77% of the RDI for vitamin C. Cauliflower is a nutrient-dense alternative to carbohydrates, as the white vegetable contains several antioxidants that prevent damage from free radicals.
At a minimal amount of calories, cauliflower is a good source of choline, a hard-to-get mineral that supports metabolism, maintains cell membranes, and helps the body synthesize DNA. The mineral supports a healthy nervous system. A choline deficiency may be associated with an increased risk of liver and cardiovascular disease, as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
While Buddha Bowls may contain chicken or some other animal-sourced protein, these all-in-one meals are commonly appropriate for vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based diets. Plant-based sources of protein may include legumes such as lentils, tofu, tempeh, beans, hemp or chia seeds, or nuts.
Garbanzo beans or chickpeas are a popular ingredient in Buddha Bowls. One of the first legumes in history, these nutritional powerhouses are a good source of plant-based protein and one cup 12.5 grams of fiber.
In the vitamin department, garbanzo beans are an excellent source of B vitamins, including folate and riboflavin, essential for the reproductive, cardiovascular, brain, and nervous system, as well as red blood cell production. Just one cup of chickpeas gives you almost 90 percent of the recommended intake for folate.
Hummus is another popular addition to Buddha Bowls. The Middle Eastern dip or spread is typically made from cooked, mashed garbanzo beans blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon, garlic, and salt.
Another healthy plant-based protein featured in many Buddha Bowls, tempeh is made from soybeans that have been fermented or broken down by microorganisms, which makes it a good source of probiotics, as well as protein and other vitamins.
One cup of tempeh contains almost ⅔ of the calcium in one glass of whole milk. The isoflavones in tempeh and other soy products may reduce LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and oxidative stress.
One of the favorite additions to Buddha Bowls, sweet potatoes provide over 100 percent of the daily recommended intake for beta-carotene, which converts in the body to vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that may protect against macular degeneration. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium.
This versatile paste made from sesame seeds is popular dressing ingredient for Buddha Bowls. Tahini is a good source of minerals including phosphorous, lecithin, magnesium, potassium, and iron, as well as a methionine, which supports liver detoxification.
Tahini is also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin E, and B vitamins. The protein in tahini is 20 percent complete, which makes it better assimilated than most nuts. The high alkaline mineral content makes tahini easy to digest and the paste is high in unsaturated (beneficial) fat.
Tantalize your tastebuds with one or more of these delicious Buddha Bowl recipes. Maybe you'll even be inspired to create a few of your own!
Avocado Quinoa Harvest Bowl
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts
Sweet Potato Taco Bowl
Chili powder, paprika, cumin, kosher salt, oregano, garlic and onion powder
Cayenne pepper, optional
Sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
OPTIONAL TOPPINGS: Sour cream, jalapeños, sliced green onion, chopped cilantro leaves, lime slices, crumbles feta, etc.
Masala Chickpea Bowl
Carrot, chopped into 2-inch pieces
Red bell pepper, chopped
Garam masala, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika
Cooked spinach leaves
OPTIONAL TOPPINGS: Red cabbage Cashews Parsley Coriander Crushed red pepper
Easy Southwest Buddha Bowl
Bell pepper, sliced
Whole milk plain Greek yogurt
Crushed corn tortilla chips
VARIATION: Add crumbled feta cheese or shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Or add sliced avocado and cooked whole grains such as quinoa, bulgur or wild rice.
Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Chickpea Bowl
Butternut squash, roasted
Brussels sprouts, roasted
Shelled edamame beans
Sauteed or cooked spinach
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnishing
AVOCADO CREAM DRESSING
Full fat coconut milk (canned)
Freshly squeezed lime juice
Thai Tempeh Bowl
FOR THE BOWL
Seasoned, cooked tempeh
Freekah (or quinoa, wild rice)
Red bell pepper
Shredded purple cabbage
Roasted sweet potato
CASHEW CURRY SAUCE
Coconut aminos (or soy sauce, tamari)
Red curry paste
For tempeh: Chop into cubes and marinate in coconut aminos, sesame oil, rice vinegar for 10 minutes. Cook in medium frying pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes until golden and crispy.
For freekah: Place 1/2 cup freekah and 1 1/2 cups of water in medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to boil; cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
For sauce: Add cashew butter, coconut milk, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, and red curry paste in small bowl. Whisk vigorously till combined.
Coconut Jasmine Rice and Sesame Tofu Bowl
COCONUT JASMINE RICE
Light coconut milk
Rice wine vinegar
Oil for cooking
PICKLED CABBAGE & RADISHES
Thinly sliced cabbage
Thinly sliced radishes
OTHER TOPPINGS: Sliced avocado, sliced cucumber, shredded carrots, edamame
Buddha Bowl with Almond Turmeric Aioli
Cooked quinoa or brown rice
Dark leafy greens like chopped kale, spinach or arugula
Cooked, diced sweet potato or butternut squash (can be frozen and defrosted)
Roasted, diced beets
Black sesame seeds
Chopped, roasted almonds
ALMOND TURMERIC AIOLI
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch sea salt
Sweet Potato Chickpea Bowl
Olive, melted coconut, or grape seed oil
Red onion, sliced in wedges
Sweet potatoes, halved
Cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper, oregano, turmeric
1. Season dry chickpeas.
2. saute in hot oil until browned and fragrant.
TAHINI SAUCE (OPTIONAL)
Hot water to thin
Wild Rice, Squash, and Mushroom Bowl
Crimini or button mushroom caps
Olive oil spray
Thyme, rosemary, salt & pepper
Great northern white beans
LEMON TAHINI SAUCE
Cooked wild rice
Greens of choice
Pickled red cabbage
Falafel, Cauliflower, and Carrot Bowl
Salt and pepper to taste
Simple 5 Ingredient Baked Falafel
Chopped red cabbage
Jalapeño, cut into slices
Tahini, lemon juice, honey, and/or olive oil for drizzling
5 INGREDIENT BAKED FALAFEL
Fresh cilantro leaves and stems
Fresh parsley leaves and stems
Half a jalapeño (if you like spicy – leave ribs and seeds!)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse all ingredients except flour in a food processor until combined. The mixture should form semi-dry crumbles that stick together when you press them.
2. Stir in the flour – just one tablespoon at a time, until it’s just dry enough to handle. Form into 9 patties and bake for 18 minutes. Remove from oven and use in salads, sandwiches, bowls, etc. Refrigerate for a few days or freeze.
Moroccan Couscous, Chickpeas, and Olives Bowl
Uncooked couscous or quinoa
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Zucchini, sliced thickly
Eggplant, sliced thickly
Fresh mint, chopped thinly
Pomegranate, seeds only
Garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt & pepper
QUICK-PRESERVED LEMONS (Make at least a day ahead)
Crushed garlic clove
1. Scrub lemons very well. If they have a wax coating, immerse them in boiling water for a few minutes to dissolve it. Cut them into half lengthwise and then into very thin slices, as thin as you can.
2. Pound 1 tsp of salt and chili in a pestle and mortar until you get a thick paste.
Place chili paste, the rest of the salt, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Add lemon slices and rub the sugar-salt mixture into them. Stick crushed garlic clove into the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least one day prior to using.
The Bottom Line
Buddha Bowls are a healthy trendsetter and can be adjusted to suit a variety of tastes, as well as dietary preferences. By switching out ingredients, these all-in-one meals can work for a range of diets, from Paleo and ketogenic to plant-based and gluten-free.
Filled with greens, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, Buddha Bowls are typically an excellent source of antioxidants, micro- and macronutrients. These meals may be prepped ahead of time by cleaning and chopping vegetables, preparing grains ahead of time, and getting dressings or other ingredients ready to go.
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