Since I became vegan, my cooking skills have improved drastically. I used to feel like I had to stick to the recipe, scared that I’d mess it up. Now I feel that I am a master at creating meals from whatever we’ve got left in the fridge and cupboards, meaning cooking has become much more free and fun. It also means I can always quickly create a healthy, wholesome meal that will fill and nourish me, all whilst reducing food waste.
What are Buddha bowls?
A Buddha bowl is simply a meal consisting of a portion of whole grains, plant protein, vegetables and some kind of dressing. Apparently, this simple concept of a meal coined its name from the story of Buddha carrying around his bowl for villagers to give him little bits of vegetarian food, and the overstuffed bowl representing Buddha’s large belly.
Follow these steps to make use of whatever food you have to create a perfect, nutritious Buddha bowl.
Step 1: Base of grains
When I cook grains for a meal (e.g. pasta, or rice when I’m making chilli) I ensure I have some leftover. Then I just reheat in a microwave. Or if I haven’t got any leftovers in the fridge, I cook grains such as bulgar wheat or cous cous – which can be cooked in as little as 10 minutes)!
brown rice, bulgar wheat, quinoa, cous cous, pasta… there are so many!
You can replace the grains with starchy potato/sweet potato, which can be roasted, steamed, boiled or baked as a jacket.
Step 2: Bed of greens
The epitome of health, I always try to make sure I have a serving of greens with every meal. Unfortunately, these do have to be fresh, but varieties like kale last quite a long time so these are good to have in stock.
Curly kale, spinach, baby spinach, rocket, lettuce, even the leaves of beetroot and cauliflower can be steamed!
Step 3: Protein
Although every plant has protein, having a type of food which is particularly high in protein can make a meal more filling, not to mention incredibly healthy. The list is endless, and the beans are easy to always have in tins (I buy many tins of chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, butter beans etc for these sort of meals). If I’m feeling lazy I’ll just drain and rinse and have half the tin, but to make it tasty I’d usually roast the chickpeas with paprika in the oven for 20 minutes, or saute any of the beans in a pan with some spices). Alternatively, you can meal-prep falafels or bean patties.
Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, butter beans, lentils, tofu, edamame, tempeh, seitan, vegan meat alternative. OR make falafels or bean burger patties.
Step 4: Clear out the fridge of its vegetables
Use up leftover cooked vegetables such as potato, broccoli, cauliflower etc. and add a variety of chopped fresh vegetables such as bell peppers, thinly sliced carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, radishes etc.
Step 5: Make it tasty (while adding a fat source)
This is great for making your meal complete and satisfying. If you’re feeling lazy, add some sliced avocado, a handful of nuts or some hummus. Feel free to add any fresh herbs on top as a final touch. Or if you’re feeling fancy, make a dressing:
- Satay dressing – mix 1tbsp smooth peanut butter, 1 tsp soy sauce, juice of a 1/4 lime
- Tahini-lemon – mix 1 tbsp tahini, juice of half a lemon, crushed half garlic clove or 1/4tsp of garlic powder
- Easy guacomole (perfect if you’ve got a Mexican-style bowl with black beans) – mash 1/2 avocado, juice of 1/2 lime, small bunch of fresh coriander chopped, crushed half garlic clove or 1/4 tsp garlic powder, bit of sliced onion and tomatoes if you’d like
You can assemble all this together and eat it cold, or place in the microwave for a warming meal. Alternatively, you can heat each component separately.
Once you have created a few Buddha bowls, you’ll be able to make a nourishing and tasty meal in no time with whatever you’ve got lying around!
Sweet potato – chilli
Tahini-lemon Japanese Sweet Potato
Cheesy black-eyed beans
Let me know which ones you create in the comments below!
The Conscious Medic