Build-a-Bowl: A Healthy Meal Everyone Will Eat

By: Joanna McCracken for Clean Plates

It’s not easy cooking for more than one person on a regular basis. One hates tomatoes, but someone else can’t live without them. There’s a spicy food lover, but another can’t take the heat. Add the complication of convincing everyone to eat something good for them and you’ve got a real headache. But don’t break out the ibuprofen (or take out menu) just yet!

One of the easiest ways to please everyone’s palate while still providing a healthy meal is the Build-a-Bowl. Using a variety of nutritious foods and condiments, each person creates a custom bowl with exactly the flavors they want — and it comes together fast. Below is a step-by-step guide for this easy, modern and nutritious meal everyone will be excited to finish. As you’ll see, the key is in the condiments.

Step 1
Start by cooking a healthful whole grain such as brown rice, quinoa, millet or farro (an ancient Etruscan grain that’s easy to digest). This will be the base for each bowl.

Step 2
Chop up three to five vegetable toppings in a mix of colors and textures; try sliced cucumber, lightly steamed broccoli, cubed avocado, shredded carrots, tomato, spinach, kale or arugula.

Step 3
Prepare one or two protein options like beans, organic cubed tofu, etc.

Step 4
Offer several condiments for people to choose from. There are a variety of satisfying, healthful choices: Pesto, tamari, tahini, naturally fermented kimchi and sauerkraut, hot sauce, chili flakes, salsa, peanut sauce, olive oil and vinegars will give everyone the chance to get the flavors they crave.

Step 5
Give everyone a bowl and start building!

Recipes from Clean Plates:

Pesto and Tahini Build-a-Bowl
Serves 4

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups cooked white beans, great northern or cannellini
1 bunch kale, loosely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, cut into cubes
1 avocado, sliced

Vegan Pesto (recipe follows)
Lemon Tahini dressing (recipe follows)

Place all ingredients on table with serving spoons. Give everyone a bowl; build away.

Vegan Pesto
The arugula adds a pleasantly peppery note.
Makes about 1 cup

1    cup basil
½   cup parsley
½   cup arugula
½   cup walnuts
2    garlic cloves
⅓   cup high quality olive oil
¼   teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste

Combine basil, parsley, arugula, walnuts, garlic and salt in food processor or blender. Pulse to form coarse mixture. Keeping the blender or food processor on low, slowly pour the olive oil into the mixture until smooth.

Lemon Tahini Dressing
Makes about ¾ cup

⅓   cup tahini, well-stirred
¼   cup purified water
¼   cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2    garlic cloves
1    tablespoon olive oil
¼   teaspoon sea salt

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender; process until smooth.

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Joanna McCracken for Clean Plates

At Clean Plates, the mission is to make it easier and more enjoyable to eat healthy, sustainable food without sacrificing an ounce of taste. Whether a conscientious carnivore, a vegetarian, or going gluten-free — Clean Plates has restaurant reviews, news and tips to help boost your health and keep your taste buds happy. Founder of Clean Plates, Jared Koch graduated pre-med from the University of Michigan and completed programs at the Global Institute for Alternative Medicine and Institute for Integrative Nutrition with certification by Columbia University, Teachers College. He is a nutritional consultant and health coach certified by the Teachers College of Columbia University, the Global Institute of Alternative Medicine, and the Institute for IntegrativeNutrition. Jared began ten years of wellness study with the likes of Dr. Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra, raw food guru David Wolfe, and Walter Willett, Chair of Harvard's Department of Nutrition. He is also a certified yoga instructor with expertise in meditation and nutrition who has spoken at such organizations as Google, Sony, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, MTV, and Time Warner. Jared believes in offering individuals and groups that are committed to living a more conscious, healthier lifestyle the education, inspiration, resources, and support to be able to do so. @CleanPlates on Twitter

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