Meal in a Bowl

 Meal in a Bowl

There are times for wild creativity and experimentation in the kitchen.  And some of my recent culinary adventures include recipes from the pages of Michael Solomonov's, 'Zahav' and anything from the pages of an Ottolenghi masterpiece!  But most days, there's not a lot of time to page through paragraphs of instruction and my 'go to' is what will (hopefully) artfully and deliciously come together in a bowl from ingredients on hand.  Creating simple, beautiful, flavorful and nutritious meals is my passion.  And many times quite honestly I don't even cook with a recipe.  Instead of feeling stressed with an overloaded week-day schedule where dinnertime is just one more item on the 'to do' list, what if there was a way to calm the madness and create nourishing meals that fit seamlessly into the day?  Yes, there absolutely is. And it's all about a Bowl!

The key ingredient is preparation.  If you take one day of the week to stock up and prep, delicious meals will almost seem to create themselves the other days of the week!  For me it's Sunday.  I shop, to augment what's in the CSA box, and prep.  There's good music, lots of conversation as everyone is running to and fro from various activities, lots of chopping, steaming, stirring, grilling and roasting.  And when everyone arrives home at the end of a busy weekday, you'll be heartily rewarded by never having to wonder what's for dinner again!

Here's a simple guide to building a balanced, nourishing and delicious meal in a bowl.  Improvising is encouraged of course!  Let your imagination participate! Generally, components consist of choices from categories of whole grains (and cauliflower 'rice' is a great substitute for those who are grain free), protein, healthy fats, a seaweed or ferment and tons of veggies.  Then you might add a few key ingredients to spice it up and keep it fun! 

Building the bowl:
Start with a base of leafy greens, fresh or sautéed: spinach, kale, chard, mizuna, bok choy, shaded Brussels sprouts, beet greens and so on...
Next, add your veggies raw, steamed, roasted or grilled.  At least a couple of different selections are great.  Mind the seasonality -- and stay with local if possible: carrots, beets, Brussels sprouts, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, zucchini, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, broccolini, green beans ...
Include a grain or other starch:quinoa, wild rice, sweet potatoes, soba noodles, brown rice, faro, pearled barley ...
Include a protein (leafy greens already contain a nice amount of protein but here's your chance to add a a touch more to keep you satisfied long after the lunch or dinner hour): Chickpeas, lentils, cannellini beans, grilled chicken, tofu, roasted salmon, edamame, grass-fed beef, 8-minute egg ...
Healthy fats are a key ingredient to help round out the bowl: nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut or olive oil ...
Finish with a Ferment: any kraut or kimchi ... it will add a flavor punch and the probiotics are a bonus!
A drizzle is a must!  Tahini drizzle, pesto, tamari dressing, hummus, squeeze of lemon and grind of sea salt, ...
And crunch:  a favorite of mine is a pumpkin seed crunch, or simply scatter roughly chopped walnuts over top, sprinkle with hemp seeds ...
While at first this may seem like a long list, after a short while you will see how easy - and fun! - it is to put together different combinations -- and experiment without a book!
To get you started, here's a favorite (and quick!) Roasted Chickpea preparation as well as a

Tumeric Tahini Drizzle:

Yield: Just under 1 cup of dressing


1/4 cup Tahini
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dry turmeric 
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast 
1 Tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
1 tsp sea salt + freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 tbsp water, or as needed to thin to the consistency you enjoy
    Mix all ingredients together with a whisk. Refrigerate any leftover for up to a week.

    Roasted Chickpeas


    1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and patted dry
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    Grind of sea salt
    1 clove garlic, finely grated
    ¼ teaspoon chili powder
    ¼ teaspoon cumin


    Preheat oven to 425F and line a medium baking sheet with nonstick foil.

    Add the chickpeas into a medium mixing bowl and stir in the oil until coated followed by the rest of the seasonings. Add chickpeas onto the foil-lined baking sheet.

    Roast for 20 minutes. Stir the chickpeas and roast for another 15 minutes, until golden and lightly charred on the bottom. Cool before serving.

    Annette Shafer
    Annette Shafer


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