Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen -- An enlightened meal: Buddha Bowls are beautiful, nourishing and creative

By JANINE GILBERTSON August 16. 2017 12:28AM
Himalayan Rice Buddha Bowl (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Buddha Bowls are having a moment on social media this year, and with good reason. They’re delicious, healthy and easy to make. If you’re looking for a fast dinner option, these uncomplicated Pinterest stars could become your new BFF.

While there are no strict rules on how to make a Buddha Bowl, there are a few basics to keep in mind when assembling one.

Start with a healthy, hearty grain like brown rice, farrow, quinoa or even a whole grain pasta, then add a protein.

Protein options can include things like chicken, tofu or even an egg cooked however you please.

A final essential component is a pile of vegetables which can be cooked, raw or a combination. An optional (but delicious) ingredient is a dressing such as a peanut sauce, curry sauce or even a salsa. You can also top off your Buddha Bowl with chopped fresh herbs, nuts or seeds.

If you’re trying to make your Buddha Bowl Instagram worthy, go for colorful vegetable blends. Bright, fresh veggies piled on top of black rice was the combination that caught my attention when I saw pictures online, and a modest drizzle of any tangy dressing will capture your eye and your taste buds.

One great thing about Buddha Bowls is that throwing one together makes a great opportunity to use up any stray vegetables kicking around in the fridge.

I decided to throw a few Buddha Bowls together to see what combinations I could come up with. I grabbed a variety of vegetables, cut them up and roasted them in the oven with a little olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. I chose a couple of interesting grains — pink Himalayan rice and wheat berries, along with some rice noodles made from brown and black rice. 

Instead of making a dressing from scratch, I bought a fresh curry sauce and a fresh Thai peanut sauce to save a little time. 

Roasted sweet potatoes and garbanzo beans seem to be popular ingredients in Buddha Bowls so I made sure I had some on hand.

Assembling the bowls reminded me of a video I watched a couple of years ago about cooking. Although I don’t remember the name of it, I remember how it focused on the zen of cooking and implied that preparing nourishing food for yourself and others can be a form of meditation. It also discussed how cooking for others and providing good food, either professionally or at home for friends and family (or even just yourself) is an honorable and noble thing. 

I’m sure the Buddha would agree.

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For the single-serving recipes below, you’ll need a deep-sided bowl, such as a cereal bowl. And remember, the artistic arrangement of the ingredients is part of the allure.
Himalayan Rice Buddha Bowl (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Himalayan Rice Buddha Bowl

1 cup of steamed pink Himalayan rice

1/4 cup roasted eggplant and purple onion

1/4 cup roasted beets

1/4 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed

1 egg, hard boiled and peeled

1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced

1/4 cup fresh greens

3 grape tomatoes

1 or 2 sliced small mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp store bought coconut curry, such as Maya Kamal

1 tsp sesame seeds

Add the rice to the bottom of the bowl. Set the greens on one side on top of the rice. Top the greens with the tomato, pepper, and mushrooms. 

On the other side, add the roasted eggplant, onion and beets. Cut the boiled egg in half and place in the bowl. Add the garbanzo beans on top, then add a dollop of coconut curry sauce in the center. 

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and sesame seeds before serving.
Rice Noodle Buddha Bowl (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Rice Noodle Buddha Bowl

1 cup black rice noodles, cooked and drained

1 small patty pan squash, sliced and roasted

1 small zucchini, sliced and roasted

1/2 cup fresh greens

2 tbsp chopped cucumber

1 tbsp shredded carrot

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced

1/2 cup extra firm tofu, chopped and seared

2 tsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp store bought Thai peanut sauce

Place the cooked noodles in the bottom of the bowl. Add the greens to one side and top with chopped cucumber and carrot. Arrange the bell pepper on the other side of the noodles. Place the roasted squash and zucchini on top, then arrange the tofu on the side of the noodles. Drizzle with peanut sauce, then garnish with parsley and sesame seeds, if desired, before serving.
Wheat Berry and Chicken Mexican Buddha Bowl. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Wheat Berry and Chicken Mexican Buddha Bowl

1 cup of cooked wheat berries

1/2 small roasted sweet potato

1/4 cup corn, roasted and removed from cob

4 grape tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup shredded cooked chicken

1/2 cup fresh greens

2 tbsp chopped red bell pepper

1 tbsp guacamole

1 tbsp fresh salsa (store bought)

1 tbsp chopped purple onion

2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro

lime wedges, for garnish, if desired

Add the wheat berries to a deep bowl and arrange the greens on one side. Top the greens with tomatoes and purple onion. Set the roasted sweet potatoes next to the greens, then add the shredded chicken. Pile the roasted corn over the sweet potatoes and chicken. Add the guacamole and salsa in the center, then garnish the dish with cilantro and lime wedges before serving.


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