The ultimate one-dish meal, a buddha bowl includes little bites of this and small nibbles of that. As with many bowl recipes, it’s the sort of thing you can pull together at the end of your week, when the fridge is stocked with leftovers galore and you’ve got a small tribe of hungry humans to feed.
The gist of a buddha bowl – and possibly where it gets its namesake – is balance. A balance of macronutrients that includes protein, carbs, and fat. A balance in texture that hits crunchy notes and melt-in-your-mouth good. And a balance of color that gives you bits of rainbow rather than a monochrome dish of brown on white.
And while buddha bowls near and far tend to have a “look,” there are no hard and fast rules to creating the perfect bowl. Rather, use what you’ve got. And if you meal plan, chances are you already have all the fixings you need for the buddha bowl of your dreams.
If you’re a buddha bowl newbie or you feel like you haven’t quite mastered the art of a beautiful and effortless bowl, here are my three favorite tips.
#1 – Roast ’em like you mean it
Roasted veggies are essential to almost every buddha bowl – and really, almost any meal plan. With perks such as fiber and antioxidants, vegetables are as good for you as they are pretty. They also soften the cost of other premium items in your bowl – like meat from pasture fed animals or store-bought sauerkraut.
Which is why you want an assortment of plant foods on hand, ready to go when you are. Raw fruit and veggies require a quick chop…maybe a little peeling or spiralizing. But cooked veggies need more time and forethought.
On your big cook day – the one where all the meal making magic happens – get your oven going early. Rub down a handful of sweet potatoes in coconut oil and bake them until their flesh is creamy and their skin is crispy. Batch cook a million cubes of butternut squash. Get a delicious char on some cauliflower tossed in parmesan. And if you love a color, roast a bunch of beets and bedazzle your bowl with a spoonful of vibrant paleofied hummus.
#2 – Protein prep FTW
If you want a beautiful bowl that comes together in a wink, prep your protein. Whether you keep your bowls plant-based, inch into vegetarian territory with eggs, or prefer a grain-free and carnivorous bite – you will save time by thinking ahead.
This may mean soaking – then cooking – that protein powerhouse known as quinoa early in the week. Or perfectly cooking one dozen hardboiled eggs and then stashing them in the fridge.
Large cuts of meat like pork shoulder or even a whole bird, do well in a slow cooker and when shredded, fit neatly into your bowl. Even if it’s a quick bite like these tuna bacon cakes, plan to cook protein on your big cook day so that you can pull from it during the week and add to your buddha bowl.
#3 – Keep your fresh herbs…fresh
This tip is simple, but surprisingly overlooked.
Nothing is more devastating than bringing home several bunches of fragrant herbs, only to discover that they’ve wilted away on your countertop or grown droopy and shriveled in your refrigerator. If you haven’t had a chance to use your fresh herbs and want to extend their life, give them water and display them in your kitchen as you would a bouquet of flowers.
Throughout the week, you can then sprinkle vibrant sprigs of cilantro and dill over your bowl. Or tuck some bright, peppery leaves of basil against a spoonful of homemade sauerkraut. If you’re making your bowl with leftovers from earlier in the week, you’ll find that fresh herbs elevate any dish. Including your buddha bowl.